Judged and Forgiven

John Hodgman came to Madison last Saturday.

On the way to the show, it was a full moon, and Bad Assed Husband (BAH) and I were talking about the coming Super Blood Moon, so BAH experimented with taking pictures of the moon, to practice. The first one, he used the flash- in the car. So I laughed at him. But as you will see, to paraphrase John Lennon, "that instant karma will get you every time." And you should never laugh at your spouse. Except when you feel like laughing.

The ceiling in the Barrymore has the constellations. We got good seats, about ten rows back. It's a small venue, "Capacity 924" written over the doorway. It's an old movie theatre. BAH and I were talking before the show, and I was thinking about how I never go see comedy, because I'm afraid the comedian will make fun of me personally, and I am too shy for that. But John Hodgman seems like a nice, respectable dude, I thought secretly. John Hodgman would never make fun of me in front of everybody. 

Hodgman started the show by standing back stage and pretending to be the ghost "Barrymore Theatre" who would kill us if we took flash photographs. Among other things. (Have you guessed yet what stupid and nearly unforgivable thing I did when I went to the Barrymore Theatre Saturday night?) Non flash photographs, however, were not mentioned by the ghost named Barrymore Theatre, so I assumed they were okay.

Hodgman has a really funny bit and I completely recommend you go see him, if you are a later stop on his "Vacationland" tour. He was talking (somewhat ironically, considering what happened next) about his love for following rules, and how he so enjoys the way that the airport validates his love of following rules, when a little voice inside of me said, Shoshanah, this would be a perfect time to take a non-flash photograph of John Hodgman- for look! He is standing right in front of you, looking very Hodgmany, and well-lit, to boot! So, I snuck my camera phone out of my pocket, aimed it just right, surreptitiously keeping it low and unobtrusive and - the flash went off! John Hodgman, bless his heart, STOPPED THE SHOW AND POINTED AT ME AND YELLED IN HIS BOOMING BARITONE,


I was as terrified as I ever have been in my life. I hid behind my bunny fur sweater. I was hoping maybe a trap door would open beneath me, and I could crawl in. John Hodgman went on,


"I'm so sorry!" I squeaked to John Hodgman.

Beside me, very softly, I heard the delighted voice of my husband saying, "I can make fun of you for the rest of your life for this!"

"WHAT IS YOUR NAME?" said the booming voice. Judgement day. It had come. The thundering voice of Judge John Hodgman stood in judgment, and I was losing my case.


"Shoshanah, it was an accident, was it?" He was more calm, now. Perhaps he noticed I was terrified? (In person, he looks vaguely like my dad did at that age.)

"Yes, it was totally an accident! I'm so sorry!"

"Everyone," said Judge John Hodgman, "Repeat after me: 'Shoshanah, we forgive you.'"

"Shoshanah, we forgive you," said the 921 fellow fans of Judge John Hodgman. (Or maybe it was more like 200. It felt great to be forgiven. They didn't specify what I was being forgiven for, so I assume everything.)

"I forgive you, Shoshanah," said Judge John Hodgman. "And I love you... and that's the end of the show! I can't remember anything after that flash. Enjoy your picture!" He started walking to the back of the stage.

And then the mob killed me. Flash photography really was punishable by death!

This was the picture:

Aura of John Hodgman
The aura of John Hodgman, forgiver of sins. 

He didn't really end the show. He talked a lot more, and he even played a Handsome Family cover on the ukulele. The whole rest of the show, I had this existential urge to take another flash picture, just to see what he would do! But I was afraid he would kick me out, and I really was enjoying the show. And, you know, I'm a Midwesterner now. We don't do that kind of stuff -at least not on purpose.


  1. S., more terrified than in the Paris sewers/underground?

    1. I'd rather face possible death than social anxiety any day!

    2. And also, this was completely true... the Paris book was mostly true. Mostly. Truthy. Mostly. (i.e. I lied.)

  2. My knees would have been raw asking for forgiveness from the audience, too.