An example of the late Roger Ebert's grace | Bleader

Friday, April 5, 2013

An example of the late Roger Ebert's grace

Posted By on 04.05.13 at 02:51 PM

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Roger Ebert
  • Robert K. O'Daniell/AP
  • Roger Ebert
In 2007, I reviewed an off-Loop production called Siskel & Ebert Save Chicago. In this goofy little Factory Theater spoof of James Bond flicks, suave superagent Gene Siskel and his pudgy sidekick Ebert defeat a plot to take over Chicago by Oprah Winfrey, Richard Roeper, and Mancow Muller. Roger himself attended the performance and was—or at least seemed—vastly amused. I was surprised, considering that his friend Siskel had actually died eight years earlier; the joke in the play was that Siskel had only been cryogenically frozen. Roger could have found that joke offensive and tasteless; instead, he took it for the bratty comic conceit it was. More remarkably, Roger was portrayed onstage by actor Chas Vrba as a plump compulsive eater forever stuffing himself with food and drink. In fact, by 2007, his jaw cancer had made eating impossible. Again, he could have been deeply offended, wounded, and angered; instead, he laughed at the lighthearted mockery of his former self (who did indeed like to chow down). He was there to enjoy the comedy and support a risk-taking storefront theatre. Roger Ebert was a class act—and one of the bravest people I have ever known. Here's my review of the show.

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