Don't answer yet. Let me tell you why I'm asking: I'm helping my friends Harry Shearer and Judith Owen produce their annual Christmas show — Harry is a legendary comedy writer and performer, who does a zillion voices for The Simpsons, as well as being part of the Spinal Tap trio; and of course, here at KCRW, he produced his legendary Sunday program, Le Show. His wife, Judith Owen, is a very talented singer and songwriter.
This all started years and years ago when we were neighbors: we'd gather some people together, do a Christmas music sing-along, I'd cook — it was homey and fun, and it quickly grew into something large and fun. We did it one year at Disney Hall – they didn't invite us back after Judith's dog left a Christmas package of his own onstage -- and since then Harry and Judith have taken it on the road. The shows are done for charity and it's a great night. Performers come and sing a Christmas song or tell a holiday story. The second half of the show is an audience sing-along which is fun and weird and always surprising.
So, are you free? Before you answer that, let me tell you why we do it.
I've been involved in an organization called My Friends Place for almost 20 years – it's a homeless youth agency based in Hollywood – right on Hollywood Boulevard, actually – and the people who work there everyday, and the good souls who volunteer there week in and week out – have a special kind of magic.
They know how to coax a suspicious and wounded young person into a conversation. They know how to initiate a small connection that may lead to a visit with a doctor, or to drug abuse counseling, to a warm place to stay, to job skills and education and the first steps towards life stability.
Sometimes, it's something simple. Sometimes, a young person just needs to get a copy of his or her birth certificate, which sounds simple but if you're a homeless young person, someone who has been shuttled around foster homes, victimized by adults, it's a complicated thing. A staff member once told me about going with a young client to collect a birth certificate and discovering, along with the young person, that the space where the baby's name would go was left blank. The child was born without a name. Imagine that. Imagine being so alone, so unwanted, that you don't even get a name.
But that's what My Friend's Place is for. That's why it's there.
And it's why My Friend's Place doesn't just need your money, it deserves it. It spends it wisely and effectively, and these days when most of us aren't feeling flush ourselves, that's not a small thing.
If you're interested in learning more, or in contributing to the cause, please head over to myfriendsplace.org – that's all one word – and help out.
Or come to the Christmas show – what we're calling “Christmas Without Tears” this Saturday in Los Angeles at the Largo Theater in Los Angeles. So, what are you doing – and who are you helping – on Saturday?
That's it for this week. Next week, we'll ring the doorbell.