NUMBER FOUR OF FIFTY COOL THINGS
I got the following at the Universal Amphitheater, June 5, 1992…
4. SPINAL TAP EARPLUGS
David St. Hubbins: It’s such a fine line between stupid, and uh…
Nigel Tufnel: Clever.
David St. Hubbins: Yeah, and clever.
I was there with my friends from college to see the world’s loudest Rock N’ Roll Band on their “Break Like The Wind” Tour. I remember sitting in the balcony (We were in college! They were the best seats we could afford!) and watching Rob Reiner walk in from the back of the audience as all heads turned towards him and chanted, “Meathead, Meathead, Meathead…” My favorite moment (among many) came when Nigel was introducing the next song and yelled into the microphone, “The sun never sweats! Look it up!”
I’ve been a huge fan of Spinal Tap for a long time. Like most guys, I like to quote the movie at random times (“The numbers all go to eleven.”) and get an instant chuckle followed by a series of other quotes from the other guys I’m with (“Eleven. Exactly. One louder.” “You can’t really dust for vomit.” “It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.”). So you can imagine my excitement when I got to work with Michael McKean and he recorded the following for my answering machine…
It was super cool because his monologue randomly came to him without any prompts. But as awesome as it was to get him to record a bit for my answering machine, there was more to the story than that. Michael was actually at the studios to record the part of King Raymond for my “What A Cartoon” short, “Jungleboy.” Below is the “Awkward Family Photo” cast recording we did after the session.
Back Row: Kris Zimmerman (Recording Director), Michael McKean, Maurice LaMarche Front Row: April Winchell, Cody Dorkin, Candi Milo, Me, Roger Rose
Prior to this recording, I had done “Johnny Bravo And The Amazon Women” with one David L. Lander (A.K.A Squiggy from “Laverne And Shirley”). At that time, David was talking to me about a CD-ROM that he and Michael had been working on and like a fanboy, I told him, “You know, if you ever do anything with Lenny and Squiggy, I would be more than happy to do anything just to be a part of it!”
Apparently, the boys got the rights back to their characters after “Laverne And Shirley” ended and never did anything with them except for this 1979 live comedy album…
FUN FACT: On the above album, “Lenny And Squiggy present Lenny And The Squigtones,” the guitar work was done by Christopher Guest who was credited as Nigel Tufnel, the character he played on “This Is Spinal Tap.”
In that initial meeting with David and Michael, my then writing partner, Jason Rote, and I pitched them an animated idea for a “Lenny & Squiggy” movie.
Both of them were on board to do something with the idea and still are today. Unfortunately, because our schedules have been so all over the place, the project has somehow taken a back seat to other things going on in our lives. But once they agreed and trusted us with the characters, we had several meetings where David and Michael basically taught us everything there is to know about Lenny and Squiggy and schooled us on the art of being stupid. It was like a master class in improv (which makes me so glad we recorded those sessions!). Over the years, I’ve had other story sessions with the two of them, we’ve developed a script, we’ve gone into a recording studio and laid tracks, and even got character designs and an animatic. It’s been a long process, but we hope to someday take it out and get it made.
The neatest thing about this project has been the friendship I’ve struck up with David. As many of you may know, David has multiple sclerosis and has been a spokesperson and advocate for finding a cure since he went public with the fact in 1999. Knowing what I know, I see him as a remarkable and strong human being who can’t help but create comedy amidst his situation.
In my time with him, he’s shared some amazing stories about his time as a kid growing up on the east coast and watching live theater in it’s hey-day, not to mention his time with The Credibility Gap. For me, it’s fun to hear him talk about baseball because, if I remember correctly, he said that if he never went into acting, he would’ve loved to be a baseball announcer (which he got to do in “A League Of Their Own.”). So it made me happy to know that, for a while, he was a scout for the Anaheim Angels and later the Seattle Mariners.
I’d like to end with an excerpt from the rarely seen press kit for David and Michael’s 1979 album. I think the two gave some great insight into their characters when Lenny wrote about Squiggy…
And Squiggy wrote about Lenny…Read More