By Mike Pound
It isn’t often that I catch our 13-year-old daughter, Emma, speechless.
Well, except when she is in one of her moods. When Emma is in one of her moods, sometimes it is hard for me to tell if she’s breathing.
Did I mention Emma is 13?
But Emma wasn’t in one of her moods Thursday night. Emma was with her friends Katie, Kelsey, Emily, Luke and Will, so she was in a good mood. Funny thing, Emma only seems to get into one of her moods when she’s with her parents.
I was standing in front of our house with my friend Van Bennett and a gentleman Van had just introduced me to. Van told me he thought Emma might like to meet the gentleman.
When I called out her name, Emma got a look on her face that said “Daaaaaaaaaaaad. Stop it. You’re embarrassing me in front of my friends and now I will never be able to leave the house, which means I won’t be able to go back to school, which means I won’t go to college, which means I’ll have to spend the rest of my life working on talk radio.”
I did mention Emma is 13, didn’t I?
When I called Emma again, she started to give me more of that look, but then she looked at the gentleman standing with Van and myself, and suddenly her look changed from “Daaaaaaaaaad you’re embarrassing me” to one that said “Is that — ?”
About the time that Emma was wondering “Is that — ?,” Luke, who was standing next to Emma, said “Oh my Gosh!!!” and all of Emma’s friends got very excited, and then they got very quiet.
“Hey, guys,” the gentleman said.
“It really is him” is what the kids’ gasps said.
“Him,” as it turns out, was Bill Chott, who plays Mr. Laritate on the Disney Channel television show “The Wizards of Waverly Place.” Bill also has appeared in a number of movies including “The Ringer” and a host of television shows. A former member of the famed Second City Improv group, Bill has worked and still works with folks like Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell.
Bill, from St. Louis, is engaged to Van’s niece, Samatha Gross, which explains, in part, why he was in Carthage.
Emma doesn’t watch Bill’s show much anymore, but there was a time when she watched it all the time. So did her friends, thus their excitement.
Miriam Copeland, who is 9 years old, and was with Emma and her friends, watches the show all the time and was very excited to meet Bill, who gladly posed for photos and answered questions about the show and about the other actors on the show.
It was a neat moment, and Bill seemed to really enjoy himself.
“I love meeting kids,” Bill told me later. “I don’t get that whole fame thing from adults, so it’s nice to be reminded that I’m doing something important.”
I wanted to remind Bill that just by being in the Joplin area he was doing something important. See, the other reason Bill is in the area is because he and a group of his friends with Missouri ties, are planning a fundraiser to help Joplin. The fundraiser, “Stand Up for Joplin,” will be staged at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 19, at the Taylor Performing Arts Center at Missouri Southern State University.
Bill said the benefit is being put together by Branson entertainer Yakov Smirnoff. In addition to Yakov and Bill, who has been doing stand-up comedy for several years, the Joplin show will also feature David Koechner, who is from the Kansas City area. Koechner is a former Saturday Night Live cast member and was featured in movies such as “The Anchorman” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” He also has a recurring role on the television show “The Office.” Also scheduled to appear is Michael Jr., who, according to Bill, just taped a special for Comedy Central, and at least two other comedians who will be announced later.
Bill said admission to the concert will be free for Joplin residents. He said the benefit will be televised in at least 14 states and plans are being made to simulcast on SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
It’s a neat deal, and Bill is a nice guy. So nice, in fact, that this weekend I’m going to dial up “The Wizards of Waverly Place.” I figure it’s the least I can do.