A few years back, a low-budget horror-comedy directed by Tom Lennon and Ben Garant called Hell Baby was shot in my house. In addition to Lennon and Garant (who also acted in the movie), the film starred a bunch of modern comedy favorites — Keegan Michael Key, Rob Corddry, Leslie Bibb, Michael Ian Black, Kumail Nanjiani, Paul Scheer, Rob Huebel, Riki Lindhome, and David Wain, just to name a few. Because the film was so low-budget, there wasn’t money to relocate me during the weeks of shooting they did in the house, nor was there money for all the actors to have trailers, so I lived in the house for the duration of the shoot and my kitchen became the make-shift makeup room and the place where many of the actors in the film hung out when they had downtime on-set. Thus, I was fortunate to have had many conversations with these folks — all of whom were just delightful, by the way — during this time.
One of the conversations I distinctly recall having with the Hell Baby cast centered around walking red carpets. It’s something that I’ve been mildly fascinated by for years, perhaps because I’m not someone who particularly enjoys having his picture taken. I’ve always thought that if I were somehow ever nominated for an Oscar, I’d probably ask if I could just enter the Dolby (formerly Kodak) theater through a side door or something to avoid having to do the red carpet walk. The whole spectacle, while somewhat fascinating to me, makes me uncomfortable just thinking about it.
Anyway, it was during this conversation with the Hell Baby cast that someone — I’m 99% sure it was Tom Lennon — declared that no sane person in Hollywood actually enjoys walking the red carpet, and that the only people who truly do enjoy it are psychopaths. This has stuck with me over the years and has sort of validated my loathing the mere thought of it.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I received an invitation to attend a screening at the Cannes Film Festival via Rémy Martin, one of the festival’s official sponsors for the 15th year in a row. I’d never previously been to Cannes, for the festival or otherwise, though I’ve long been intrigued by the idea of going — it struck me as a spectacle I’d like to take in for myself and see with my own eyes at some point in my life, though I’ve had little interest in attending it as a journalist. No, if I were going to go, I wanted to go as just a filmgoer, someone there to see that year’s crop of films, and maybe drink and party a little bit too. (I mean, why not, right? When in Rome and whatnot.)
Attending Cannes as a filmgoer, however, comes with a caveat: in order to attend a screening at the Palais, where all the films are screened, all men must be dressed in formal attire — preferably a tuxedo, and a bow tie is an absolute requirement. And … wait for it … the only way to enter the Palais is to walk the red carpet, arguably the world’s most notable and intense red carpet, one littered with photographers from around the world screaming out things in countless different languages. This prospect did not thrill me, to say the least. But after giving it some thought, I said “fuck it.” My desire to take in the Cannes Film Festival was outweighed by anxiety over walking the red carpet. What follows is a bit of a running travel diary of my 48 hours or so at Cannes, and my travel across the Atlantic to get there.