Jill Scott

American 614, LAX to BNA, 11:22 a.m.

Asking celebs for photos is a big no-no. I mean, sort of. Obviously, they are famous and obviously they are aware that they have fans and those fans would like to take a picture with them. There are certain situations where taking a photo with a celeb is normal, even encouraged, like at a meet-and-greet or a celebrity outing: a golf tournament fund-raiser, for instance. Famous people get hit up for photos constantly, and they each handle it however they choose to. But there are also times when you’re definitely not supposed to ask a celebrity for a photo, and one of those times is when you are actually hanging out with them. If you’re at a party or a dinner or, I don’t know, sitting next to one on a flight, they’re supposed to be able to let their guard down and just talk to you like a regular person. I get that. But I can be weak. Not long ago I was invited to do a big fund-raising show at Madison Square Garden with Pete Davidson. He put together a show where the proceeds would go to charities that benefit victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and their families. The lineup was incredible: Dave Chappelle, Jon Stewart, Chris Rock, John Mulaney, and a dozen more comedy stars plus yours truly. It was an absolute honor to perform on the show. When my best friend from high school, Steve, saw the announced lineup, he told me he’d be flying from Florida to New York City because he had to see it. Steve has always loved getting “hooked up” with free stuff. In high school he’d ask the girl working at McDonald’s to give him free fries. He’d always angle for an extra set of anything he was buying: socks, oil, iced tea. He lives to see how much pull you have that can benefit him. I knew he’d flip at this event. I got him tickets and a backstage pass and then unleashed him. It was hilarious.

“Is it cool if I ask Jon Stewart for a picture?”

“I wouldn’t. I mean he’s just hanging out.”

“Okay… Hey, Jon, can I get a picture?”

I cringed.

He then did the ultimate faux pas after asking a celeb for a photo; he literally couldn’t figure out his phone. It kept facing the wrong way, wasn’t taking a photo when he pressed the button, and Jon stood there like a champ. He waited and waited. Steve, clearly nervous, was fumbling his phone like a clumsy bear. Jon waited some more, and the best Steve got was this: a blurry, moving photo.


Jon Stewart, me, and Steve, courtesy of Ansel Adams.

From there we went to Chappelle’s after-party. As you can imagine, more celebrities were casually enjoying themselves at a party where it was announced not to pull out your phone. Chappelle literally got on a mic and said, “We don’t take pictures here. We make memories.”

Moments later, high school Steve had his phone in hand.

“That’s Pete Davidson!”


“Is it cool?”

“I mean, I wouldn’t.”

“Hey, Pete! Can we?”

Pete was ear-to-ear smiling and obliged.

I turned to Steve. “Fuck it. Ask whoever you want.” And I took the photo.


Pete Davidson and big, dumb Steve.

Next was Jon Hamm, then Q-Tip, and on and on. It wasn’t until months later, when I was revisiting chapters in this book, that I realized I’m just like Steve. If you’re someone I want a pic with, I’m not going to hold back.

Jill Scott hates salmon. There it is. There’s all the proof you need that my conversation with her really happened.

We flew from Los Angeles to Nashville and talked for a lot of the flight. I recognized her, but I didn’t let her know immediately. We were in first class, and when the flight attendant came by, one of the options for the meal was salmon. Now, I’m not insane. I don’t get salmon on planes, but when you’re down on Earth, like walking around with your feet on the ground, and there’s a body of water nearby, salmon is one of my favorite things to eat. I love salmon, and I told Jill Scott that.

I said, “Salmon’s amazing,” and she goes, “I never eat salmon.”

“Well, how are you having it prepared?”

“In no way. I just do not eat salmon.”

So I started to describe my favorite way to prepare salmon, which is a classic French technique: Skin on one side of the filet. You put the skin side down in a pan with a lot of butter, some might say an obscene amount of butter, to which I say, “No such thing.” You season your salmon with salt and pepper and place it in the skillet on a low-medium heat. And then, after a few minutes, you flip it over. You want high-quality salmon, obviously, and it should be cooked medium rare. To achieve this, cook the skin side down for five to six minutes, then flip it and cook for another three minutes. Now, to feel like a chef, you can tilt the pan and with a spoon gather the butter that is forming a pool into that spoon and pour it back onto your filet. If you want to go all the way Français, then you’re going to need to make some beurre blanc sauce, but even without it, this is one of Tommy’s go-tos and it’s delicious. I told her all of this, and she actually seemed intrigued. “Okay, I think I’ll try that.”

Did I just get Miss Jill Scott to try salmon?

I asked her how she was liking Nashville and if people were friendly. And she said, and I quote, “I don’t need them to be friendly. Just cordial and polite is enough.”

I nodded in agreement, knowing exactly what she meant. “Friendly” can be a lot. Especially when it’s not real. When it’s not real, you know it, and it feels gross, like when a salesperson keeps laughing as they make meaningless small talk.

“You know, it’s fall so it’s not hot, but it’s not cold either! Hahahaha!”

It’s phony.

And then, as the flight was ending and we were pulling up to the gate, I said, “Do you mind if I get a picture with you?” And she said, “Wow, you’re better at this than I am.” And I snapped one.

Oddly enough, it’s one of the only pictures I can’t find.

Update: I ran into Jill Scott last night in Nashville. I told her we flew together a few years back and went into the details of the above story, and she said, “I don’t like salmon. I don’t fuck with anything pink.” I asked her for a pic, exactly the way you’re not supposed to. Here it is.


Second update: I found the original photo too.


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