"They think I'm crazy."
Was he nervous?
"No, other than the first night — when I almost threw up."
In truth, his singing's a little pitchy, as they say on "Idol," but Haden does have a certain stage presence and funny way with a corn-pone line.
After his solo, Postman No. 2 is off, slipping into a seat in the theater's back row to watch the second act, in which he does not appear.
Seriously, despite the kids' terrific performances (particularly Cole Cuomo and Adrienne Visnic), the second act isn't just long, it's millennial. Think a 43-inning baseball game. Think a Saturday night in South Bend.
But I salute Haden, for sticking around for the curtain call, for bravely stepping out of his comfort zone and trying to bring together divergent parts of this sprawling, occasionally fidoodled university.
Comfort zones are so overrated these days. Me, I don't have one at all.
"The Most Happy Fella" runs through Sunday. Info: http://www.usc.edu/spectrum, or (213) 740-2167. Because of previous commitments, Haden will not appear in the two Saturday performances.