By Jerry Honigman
Margaret Oberman is my dear friend. Has been for over 40 years. We first met in 1980. At the time, she was married to Ron Oberman, head of A&R at Columbia Records, who had just signed my band, the Romeos, to a lucrative record contract. We all became friends and remained so, even after they split up.
Margaret is a comedy writer. Film and television. Some of her writing credits include the movies “The Man,” with Eugene Levy and Samuel L. Jackson, and the cult classic Girl Scout movie, “Troop Beverly Hills,” Shelly Long’s first major showbiz foray upon leaving “Cheers.”
Margaret kindly named two of the characters in the film after me and my daughter, Tiff. As a matter of fact, Long’s first words in the movie were, “Dr. Jerry Honigman is definitely boffing the blond in the English Tudor … and her daughter. And scout Tiffany Honigman earns a merit badge for Jewelry Appraisal.” I was infinitely proud.
Margaret also served a stint as a writer for Saturday Night Live. More on that later.
Around this time (’82-ish), after her split with Ron, she bought a house in Sherman Oaks on a street called Greenleaf – a nice, clean, wide street in a nice, clean neighborhood with homes straight from TV location scouting, the kind pictured in ‘50s and ‘60s shows like “Leave it to Beaver”, “Father Knows Best”, and “Donna Reed,” with well-manicured lawns and charming street lamps, all screaming “America the Beautiful!”
It was there that I was introduced to guys like Brian Doyle-Murray, Harold Ramis, and Trevor Albert. I was familiar with Harold from SCTV and “Stripes,” and I had just seen “Caddyshack,” his first directorial effort which he co-wrote with Brian, who was also featured in the movie. Trevor and I bonded over an enjoyable dinner with Margaret at the famed Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood, by howling out a passable a cappella duet of “Under the Boardwalk” in the Musso parking lot after the meal.
Trevor, who was soon to become a successful producer while guiding many of Harold’s future films such as “Multiplicity,” “Bedazzled,” “Analyze This,” and “Groundhog Day” (featuring Brian’s brother Bill), as well as “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” and the Oscar-winning documentary of Glen Campbell’s farewell tour “I’ll Be Me,” was also a part of “Caddyshack.” He was Harold’s assistant on the project as well as Bill Murray’s nemesis, the gopher – (lying in a box built under the ground with his hand inside the gopher puppet making him perform his iconic dance moves). All good guys. Brian, who was an old boyfriend of Margaret’s, even got me a bag of weed once, and Trevor and I remain friends to this day.
As an aside, I watched a movie with Stevie Wonder once. Can you say that? Bruce Gremillion, Dony Wynn and I saw “Caddyshack” at a theater on Hollywood Blvd. It was an afternoon matinee showing with maybe 20 people in the audience. But there, about four rows in front of us sat Stevie, just cracking up at all the jokes. He had a guy next to him whispering in his ear, obviously filling him in on necessary visuals, but Stevie was no doubt enjoying the hell out of the movie.
Sometime that year (’82), Margaret asked if I wanted to attend a performance of the dance troupe, Pilobolus, at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus with the Ramis family – Harold, his wife Anne, and their daughter Violet. I somehow pictured in my mind that this would be some sort of classical, ballet type of thing, so I trotted out the only suit I owned (which I had procured for my brother’s wedding a couple of years earlier) and off I went. Of course, when I got to their house, I found that everyone was dressed in typical Southern California casual – jeans, slacks, sport shirts, etc. Sore thumb, me.
Turns out, Pilobolus was a renowned modern dance company, and for most of their performance half of the dancers on stage were buck-ass naked, while I sat there, snug in my three-piece.
As I mentioned earlier, Margaret was a writer for Saturday Night Live in 1983 and ’84. While she was living in New York during that time, she allowed me to house-sit her lovely home in her absence. This was a very comfortably productive time for me, and I was most appreciative.
In June of ’84, upon her return at the end of the SNL season, she threw a little soiree at the house for a few of her friends, many from the show. The guests included, of course, Harold, Brian, and Trevor, as well as Catherine O’Hara, Christine Ebersole, Robin Duke, Mary Gross, and others. A pleasant evening with a cool and interesting crowd.
Harold’s movie, “Ghostbusters,” had come out that week, and I had seen it the day before. So, I said to Harold, “Hey man, I saw your movie yesterday, and it was a ton of fun. I hope it goes through the roof for you.”
He looked at me with a wry smile and said, peering over his glasses and rather prominent proboscis, dry as the desert, “It appears to be nudging the roof as we speak.”
Ah, comedy folk.