What’s so funny about a near-death experience?
Comedians Joe Minjares and Kristin Andersen-Anderson will tell you Saturday at the New Hope Cinema Grill, where they are performing an 8 p.m. show with the title “A Lung Transplant and an Aortic Aneurysm Walk into a Bar.”
Minjares, an actor, playwright and former owner of Pepito’s on Chicago Avenue, had a lung transplant in 2017. In August, Andersen-Anderson was performing for one night in New Jersey when she had an aortic aneurysm.
“I get on stage and [a sensation] starts running down my jaw. My aneurysm was rupturing. It was happening and one of the symptoms is it going down your jaw and neck. I knew something was really wrong. I tell comedians ‘I killed, I had the best set of my life,’ ” she said Wednesday.
“When the other comic got done with her set, she took me to a gas station to get a baby aspirin instead of going to the ER. Ridiculous. Went back to the hotel room. Packed up my stuff and I called her: ‘We’ve got to go to the ER.’ By that time my legs were numb, it was difficult to walk. What happened to me is what killed John Ritter — and I was very close. A very dear friend of mine, singer Patty Peterson, same thing happened to her. What are the odds? They put me in an ambulance for an hour and half to Penn Hospital in Philadelphia and there was a surgical team scrubbed and waiting. I tore through all three layers of my aorta. I was under anesthesia for a week. I was out of town for a month, away from my family. Now I have aortic disease I’ll be managing it for the rest of my life. I take 13 or 14 pills a day. I’m 53 and feel like I’m about 150.”
Q: Where’s the humor in this experience?
A: The first show I did a couple weeks ago, the [stage] light was really bright and I couldn’t see anybody [in the audience]. I stepped to the right of the light and said, “You know what? I’ve already walked into one light this year. I’m not walking into another one.”
Q: Did you see a light when you were having your aneurysm?
A: No! This is the honest to God truth. I didn’t see Jesus, I saw Matthew McConaughey. I am not lying to you, girlfriend. The first thing I said to him was “Really? The car ads, buddy? You’ve got to stop them.”
Q: You know he was in Minneapolis a couple of years ago, apparently traveling with his wife who had business here?
A: In my hallucination, he was married to Kate Hudson. I ended up in their home in the Valley somewhere and I walked into that place and said, “Wow, you guys. This is all you can do? A little something in Malibu, maybe?” I didn’t say that to them, I was thinking it.
Q: Who was the first comedian who made you want to do this for a living?
A: Steve Martin.
Q: Long time ago, I saw him at an airport and noticed he’s translucent.
A: Yeah. [A great chuckle] I have a friend who was set up on a date with him. She didn’t really like him. But anyway, I was 12 years old. I went to the State Fair. I knew his albums by heart. And then, of course, Lily Tomlin.
Q: Have you met Tomlin?
A: I met Lily Tomlin because a friend of mine, decades ago in Los Angeles, Susan Norfleet, was going to the Improv to audition for “The Tonight Show.” It was my birthday and she told me Lily Tomlin would be there: She’ll wish you happy birthday. Well, of course I’m going. I met Lily, and she said, Is it Kristine? “Yes, Miss Tomlin. You can call me whatever you want.”
Q: Name the comedian with whom you do a Minneapolis to L.A. road trip?
A: Wow. His name is Phil Palisoul. He dropped everything and flew to be by my side in the hospital. He’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever met in my life.
Q: Ever thought about dropping one of the Scandinavian names?
A: [Laugh] I was a maiden name s-e-n and I married an s-o-n. When Facebook came along and everybody was using their maiden and married name so everyone would know “Hey, I’m married,” that’s what I did because I thought it was funny.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.