Is there a Carol Tambor Award this year? I realize most of my comedy peeps (and by that I mean the funny little marshmallow birds who perform in specialized comedy clubs throughout Moravia) won’t be too aware of the award as it’s for (ugh) theater. But around this time in the fest, you usually see her name a lot in The Scotsman, marking the countdown to her “I’ll give you a run in New York, which is a big deal” award.
The first time I remember seeing her was at my grandfather’s funeral. I had heard of her and it seemed to be a notable thing to the relatives that she was there. She disappeared quickly.
The next time I saw her was at the Assembly Rooms presentation of the Carol Tambor Award in 2009. It moved me to see features I recognized in her otherwise- unknown-to-me face. I told Andrew Eaton, the arts editor of The Scotsman, a partner, it seemed, in the award (who was someone I actually knew), that she was my cousin and that I wanted to meet her. I couldn’t explain exactly how we were related. It came out sort of like she was my mother’s uncle’s cousin’s barber’s second cousin, maybe because that’s how it felt to me. But I should have said that her grandfather was my great grandfather. She’s my mother’s first cousin. My grandfather was her uncle, which is why she was at his funeral.
Her sister Joan came to our house with her family when I was a kid and we went to hers. My cousin Debbie, who’s the exact same relation to me as Carol and who I saw a few weeks ago at my niece’s bat mitzvah, was around, meaningfully, during my childhood. I remember her father, Harry Tambor (who was still around as late as 2004, hope he still is) and her mother, my Aunt Rosalind. So, Ms Tambor is, I guess, an actual relative. But even I didn’t feel the closeness of it ’til I thought about it.
Carol’s husband was very nice and Carol herself was nice enough, though she didn’t seem inordinately thrilled to meet me. Andrew Eaton told me she was having some kind of posh tea the next day, the implication being I should somehow get her to invite me to it. She didn’t though (I probably cut too “nouveau ragamuffin” a figure). She did say, “Tell me about my family,” which is a strange request to have to make. Hell, I’d like her to tell ME about my family.
She said I should call when in New York, which I have never done. It has occurred to me, though, during Edinburgh nights when I have been out late, maybe sitting in McDonald’s waiting for the gym to open, that I know someone who could use a financial award of some sort to subsidize my artistic ambitions.
But even if that were plausible, it would, you know, be cheating.