As it happens, I've got a famous relative, big-wave surfer Ken Bradshaw. We don't talk that much, as his schedule is even more insane than mine: where I live in Minnesota and fly to LA and the east coast, Ken lives in Hawaii and flies to California, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, South Africa... We have had that conversation, though, and he says it's great having people recognize him and say nice things about him.
I have to agree. While we were taping the third date Friday, we went to a bar, and I had lots of folks coming up to me and saying they thought I was funny on TV and a great guy all around. I'm learning to smile and say "thanks!" when they do, even if I'm feeling wasted by the demands of the day. So far, it hasn't produced much of anything tangible for me all by itself, although that will someday change if it keeps up.
I'm not famous enough yet that people recognize me walking down the street out of the costume. I'm especially not famous in Fairmont, where very few people still know of my TV exploits. I do expect that to change at some point if this keeps going, but I doubt I'll ever be famous enough to have to disguise myself going out in public to take care of the necessities of life.
I don't think fame has changed me at all. I hope that it never does. I don't ever want to become so swelled-headed that I forget that everyone else out there is someone with their own value completely independent of their level of fame (or lack thereof). We've all heard of celebrities that treat the average person as beneath their notice. If I get that way, someone slap me upside the head, please.
Would I change anything? It's hard to guess at this point. I would much rather not have to have had to deal with the juvenile character assassination from the Slashdotters and Farkers, but the end result has definitely had its compensations. I don't know that I could have gotten here without going through all that.
The one thing I haven't become is addicted to it. If this all ended tomorrow, I'd sigh, relax for a while, then go back to my life as it was, with some memories I'd have gotten nowhere else.