Bernie Mac is kicking back in Burbank in a maroon dressing room filled with vanilla candles and enough candy, cookies, and Cokes to feed a studio audience. Cool jazz fills the air and vintage nightclub posters line the walls. Mac, as he is known to intimates, waves me in like we're best friends and begins showering me with attention, introducing me to the cast and crew of The Bernie Mac Show and offering me ice cream and other goodies. I decline, and immediately start hounding him with my usual set of questions about where to go and what to do in his favorite city.

"You know, it varies, man," he says of his proclivities back home in Chicago. "I'm not a schedule kind of guy. I'm spontaneous in everything I do. That's why I have a real good time. I'm not a cat who says, 'I'm gonna go to Willie's,' or 'I'm gonna stop at Joe's.' The mood has to hit, same as my comedy."

Mac wants to hang out, be buddies. But I'm a just-the-facts kind of guy.

"I don't know if you've seen the magazine," I continue, trying to get back on track.

"I've seen it on the plane," he says, which makes sense, considering that he regularly commutes between his job in L.A. and his home in Chicago, where he lives with his family. But before I can press him further, an assistant rushes in and announces that Mac's needed on the set to film a scene. Mac grabs me, and, practically arm in arm, we're skipping off to the soundstage, where he seats me in the show's director's chair and instructs an army of assistants to take care of me while he's working. From that point forward, I am fawned and fussed over by cast and crew, who immediately consider me an intimate of Bernie Mac's, an insider, just for having the dumb luck to be in the presence of one of the true kings of comedy.