Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Saturday's All Right For Talking

Bill picked me up around three on Saturday to take me to the DVD commentary session. He had just picked up Leon at the airport.

His play is about to open in Los Angeles, and he was regaling us with playwright woes on the way to the studio. One of his actresses, relatively inexperienced, is a very popular model, and has missed many rehearsals because of gigs that, you know, pay money.

Another actor had missed some rehearsals because he got an acting gig on a popular television show. Upon his return, he was rehearsing a scene, when he asked the director if he could try something, because the scene wasn’t working for him. The director agreed.

The scene consisted, apparently, of him listening to another character tell a story. So the actor commenced to comb his hair, tie his shoes, twitch – in short, do everything in the book to upstage the other actor. The director halted the scene, and told him to go back to what he was doing before.

“But what is this scene about?”

The director explained that it was about him listening to what the other actor was saying.

The actor acquiesced but wanted the director to know: “This scene is dead to me.”

Oh, the venue is next to a high school, which recently re-lit the football field. So performances will be rivalling athletic events. Then there’s the tent, erected for a hip hop party, which will be held the night the play opens.

Good luck, Leon! We love show business.

Dan was napping on a couch when we arrived, but woke up when he learned that pizza had been ordered.

Jim arrived soon afterward, fresh from rehearsing BEWITCHED, the Hollywood version of the sitcom, in which he is playing the updated version of Larry Tate. He informed us that Michael Caine was a really nice guy, and Nicole Kidman was very down to earth. What, no dirt?

Under the watchful ear of our two engineers, Rick Alber, our webmaster, Neil Sheehan, our producer, and Ed Rachles, a guy we know, we began the session.

Being the Ducks, of course, we did not feel obligated to comment on the images we were watching, as such, but went off on wild tangents, including reminiscences about the time I found out I had mononucleosis. We had just begun a tour, at a Kentucky college, where the promoters had made us sign a contract that if we had any curse words in our show, we would not get paid. Later that night, we went to a bootlegger, which we hoped would be a thrill, but it was just a guy with a bunch of beer in his garage. We wanted stills! Revenooers! What a bitter disappointment!

After we wrapped that commentary, everybody told us to do another one, commenting more on what we were actually watching. Killjoys.

We stayed on topic the second time around, pretty much, trying to remember the origins of sketches, where costumes came from, etc. But we did go off on a side trail when Dan opined that Mr. Rogers’ son hated him, a premise vigorously rebutted by the rest of us. I informed everybody that Mr. Rogers’ son was actually Roy Rogers. This was, of course, a lie.

Dan and Jim also remembered a trip they’d taken to Ken Kesey’s place in Oregon, where they met Allen Ginsberg, and Gregory Corso kept them up all night as he wandered about the property shouting and screaming. That story had something to do with something, I'm sure.

I am certain our fans will be amused and educated.

Afterwards, we looked at what special features might be included. Well, there’s the commentary. Also deleted scenes (sketches cut from the show for time, but still viable comedy-wise), archival footage (covering twenty years), audio bits, and backstage/making-of footage. All in all, it should be a rich comedy package.

MAY CONTAIN NUTS: A VERY LOOSE CANON OF AMERICAN HUMOR, published by HarperCollins, is now available in a book store near you.

Along with pieces by Roy Blount Jr., P.J. O'Rourke, Joe Bob Briggs, and Michael Ian Black you will find a very amusing piece called "The George W. Bush Memorial Library," by Merle Kessler. So go buy one.

More info here: http://www.mirth-of-a-nation.com/


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