I went to the ACC and stood by the stage for Russell’s 2nd sold-out show at the ACC. As I approached the venue, a couple of young guys approached. I figured they were scalpers looking to sell seats. They were, in fact, looking to buy tickets. Once inside, I got a bracelet and was led to the area beside the stage where a bunch of other comics were already gathered. Russell was already into his routine. His act works much like Cosby’s. It’s very narrative and personal in style. The jokes come as parts of the stories and it flows very naturally. What i really watched was the audience. I have never seen 15,000 people watching a comic. They loved him; not in the “this guy’s funny” way but in a “he speaks fo0r me” way. It felt more like a Billy graham religious event than a comedy show. The adoration was palpable. They figuratively carried him on their shoulders with their response. He is not an entertainer but a hero to his audience. He takes his responsibility seriously. After a 2 and a quarter hour show (!), he signed autographs and posed for photos for over 2 hours more. A crowd of well-wishers flooded the hallways of the ACC. I got 2 minutes to say hi, tell him it was amazing and get a quick hug. It felt like an audience with the pope, his time is so precious. After that, he was whisked to a private plane to head to Vancouver for his next arena show. Every person he dealt with was treated with respect and kindness. I was incredibly impressed. I couldn’t do it. Not that the mob is after me but I know I wouldn’t have the energy or patience to deal with that level of popularity. It is a job. And Russell does it in a way that only someone who loves the work and the fans can.