Ben Marble, Bob Zmuda, Lisa Marble
In case you haven't seen it yet, I was featured in Spike Lee's monumental Hurricane Katrina documentary "When The Levees Broke". Spike wanted me in it because I quoted The Dick to The Dick when I said "Go F*ck Yourself Mr. Cheney" on live international tv ruining The Dick's photo op in my neighborhood in Gulfport, Ms. on 09-08-05. So earlier this month I talked to Spike about the HBO Comic Relief for Katrina victims event on Sat. 11-18-06 at Caesar's Palace. Suddenly a few days later my phone rings and it was HBO saying that they had tickets for my wife, Lisa, and myself to attend the event with V.I.P access! I talked to a few people and did a little research about the event and we were excited that we were going to be able to go. But one thing bothered me: The commercials I had seen didn't even mention MISSISSIPPI as being part of the area devastated by Katrina when the eye of Katrina went over the Mississippi Gulf Coast! I knew if I could talk to the event organizers I was going to have to say something to them about this oversight. So anyway we booked our flight/hotel and off we went.
Back in 2003,Lisa and I were married in Las Vegas by an Elvis impersonator so we were looking forward to our first return trip there. After arriving we went shopping for something to wear to the event. I bought some new pants and a jacket but I "had" to wear my 'Dick + Bush = Screwed' tshirt underneath ( I created that slogan back in 2001 on www.cafepress.com/doctoro ).
Finally we arrived at the event. Luckily for us our seats were in the 2nd row on the far left about 8 feet from the stage (the first row was filled with event workers). The hosts were Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal, and Robin Williams. There was also a simultaneous FREE admission event from Harrah's in New Orleans with Wayne Brady as the host. The laundry list of performers was pretty impressive:
Whoopi Goldberg, Lewis Black, Roseanne Barr, Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, George Lopez, Robin Williams, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Sarah Silverman, Rebecca Romijn, Wayne Brady, Ray Romano, D.L. Hughley, Rita Rudner, Louis C.K., Steve Schirripa, the ENTOURAGE crew (Jeremy Piven, Kevin Connolly, Adrian Grenier, Kevin Dillon, Jerry Ferrara), and Desperate Housewives stars Doug Savant and James Denton. Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, Howie Mandel, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert made appearances via video.
My personal favorite comedians were Lewis Black, Roseanne Barr, and Kat Williams. We were laughing so hard we were crying during Kat Williams routine! Pretty much all of the comedians were funny to me except for the woman impersonating Oprah. Don't mean to hurt her feelings or anything as she did a good impersonation of Oprah but I didn't laugh once during the entire bit. At the end of the show all of the performers came back out to take a bow and so I was able to shake hands with Lewis Black at that point. It was a wonderful event EXCEPT not once did they mention MISSISSIPPI! During the show Bob Zmuda who is the organizer/president of Comic Relief spoke several times. So I realized he was the man I wanted to talk to if I had the opportunity.
So the show was over and the 'after-party' was poolside at Caesar's Palace. The line to enter was long but we were among the 'lucky people' allowed access. My wife is a huge Kathy Griffin fan so on the way in she said 'If I can meet one celebrity I want to meet Kathy Griffin' then strangely enough the first 'celebrity' we met was KATHY GRIFFIN! She was talking with Susie Essman and Joy Behar who laughed when she read my shirt. Kathy was really cool so we took a pic with her. Oddly enough a few of the celebrities recognized me and thanked me for what I had said to The Dick. We had fairly lengthy conversations with several of them. I really liked Roseanne Barr, Katherine O'Hara, George Lopez, and Bruce Vilanch as they were all very cool to us. There was one certain couple that were fairly rude but it was a very surreal experience standing in the middle of this crowd of people and everywhere I looked was another face from tv or the movies-Bo Derek, John Landis, Paula Abdul, etc. Still as we meandered through the crowd I was on a mission and Bob Zmuda was the man I wanted to meet the most. Then it happened, one of the cameracrew recognized me and ran over to Bob and told him I was there. Mr. Zmuda was gracious enough to talk to us. I shook his hand and told him I was a big fan of the work he did with Andy Kaufman. I also told him that we really appreciated all the work they were doing to help the victims of Katrina. We discussed details of what happened to us and what is still ongoing in the recovery process. Finally, I told him there was one thing I had to complain about. He seemed concerned and asked me "What is that?". I told him it was a bit of an insult to not even mention MISSISSIPPI in the event because the worst part of Katrina destroyed the entire 70+ miles of the Mississippi Gulf Coast with $125 billion dollars worth of damage, over 300 dead or missing with over 65,000 homes destroyed! Sure the man made disaster in New Orleans due to the levee failure was terrible and they deserve a lot of coverage but the media should NOT forget that the worst part of the natural disaster was in MISSISSIPPI! He reassured me that he would "see what he could do" and I thanked him for hearing me out. Though I know nothing may come of my efforts I still felt at that point that it was MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!
So the next day we flew back to the Mississippi Gulf Coast and on the front page of the Biloxi's Sun Herald newspaper on Monday there was the following story
All in all the HBO COMIC RELIEF 2006 was a great event and they have reportedly already raised $4 million dollars. Now if they can just make sure they mention MISSISSIPPI in there somewhere????
Ben Marble, M.D.
ps you can see the pics of some of the stars we met at www.hurricanekatrinasucked.com under the "HBO Comic Relief"