Oprah Talks to Billy Crystal
Oprah: That's because it's you. It must be difficult to go onstage when your goal is to be funny.
Billy: It's an odd job. How do you find what's going to make everybody have this strange reaction in their bodies, this response that's sort of chemical and physical all at once—this noise and emotion that changes how you sit? A laugh is a weird sound, and when you get a couple thousand people making it at once, it's really strange. But when I can feel proud of myself for causing it, it's great.
Oprah: Speaking of gratifying, let's talk about something you told me earlier: After raising your kids, it's a full-circle moment to see Jenny raise a daughter. Weren't you there for the birth?
Billy: I wasn't in the room, but I was at the hospital with Jenny and her husband, Mike. If I had a son, it would be Mike. Before the C-section, we put our hands together, and we went, "Go, team, go!" When Jenny came out of the recovery room with Ella, it was such a privilege to be with her. An hour after I came home, I wrote I Already Know I Love You.
Oprah: I love the title. It's more than a children's book—when I read it, I got a little misty. I thought about what it would have been like to have somebody anticipate your coming and love you so much.
Billy: I just showed it to Jenny last week, because I was waiting for the right moment. This book was the easiest creative birth I've ever had. And Ella has come at such a perfect time in our lives. My wife and I are young. We still feel great. Ella is an enormous marker, this little beauty. I'm not getting maudlin here, but I go, "Let's say she's 25 when she gets married. Oooh, I'll be 81." That makes you love every second more. After the rough period we've been through with losing Mom [Crystal's mother died last year of a stroke], it has made me reexamine this time in my life.
> When Mom was in the hospital, my brother Joel's daughter, Faith, came to visit—she was six or seven months pregnant then. Mom said to her, "There's that baby girl." I said, "Mom, how do you know it's a girl?" She said, "God told me." To this day, I believe it. God was saying, "All right, Helen, here's what's gonna happen. I'll take you, but Faith will have a girl." Two months later, Holly was born.
Oprah: Wow. You've got me boo-hooin'.
Billy: The weekend before Mom died, I had to leave her to do a show. I hated to go, but the doctors assured me she'd come through. When I called the hospital, my two brothers were with her, and she got on the phone. She asked about the show, and I said, "Mom, there were 6,000 people there." She said, "Let me ask you one thing." I said, "What?" She said, "Were you happy?" I said, "So much." Then she said, "Well, isn't that everything?" That was the last time I spoke to her.