What Do You Mean, “Move?”
I LOVE OLD MOVIES. It doesn’t hamper my enjoyment if it is a film that is 20 years old, or 30, 50, or even older than me.
“Oh, it has sound. What fun!”
Last night, at an ungodly hour, I grabbed the remote and tuned into my 173rd viewing of “The Producers,” a gem of a movie from 1967 with Gene Wilder in his first major role and the completely insane Zero Mostel.
If you have never seen this movie, Shame on you! Go to your room!
There I was at 5:15 AM chuckling to myself trying to not make too much noise. If I had been in the house alone I would have been howling like a wild animal with an abscessed tooth.
My favorite line in the film comes near the end when Wilder and Mostel are trying to save their skin by dynamiting a Broadway theater. If you’ve seen the movie before you’ll understand. If you haven’t – trust me.
In the scene Mostel says, “We have to kill the actors!” Wilder responds with, “You can’t do that. The actors aren’t animals, they’re people!” To which Mostel says, “Oh, yeah? Did you ever eat with one?” It is on that line that I have to exercise maximum control to not wet the bed.
I laugh like a fool at that line, an obvious inside joke. If you’ve spent any time with actors you would appreciate it more. It reminds me of a specific incident in my spotty career. Let me explain.
In the early 1980s I was working as part of an Improvisational Comedy group called “Anchovi Daiquiri” in the San Francisco Bay Area. The group worked several nights a week in one of the local comedy clubs and then sniffed out other gigs wherever they could be found.
In the 1980s Comedy was the new Rock and Roll. Clubs popped up everywhere like mushrooms, and disappeared just as quickly. Comedy even became a topic for scholarly debate. A local University staged an event to explore the wide range of “The Comedy Explosion,” and, in a weak moment, the University hired Anchovi Daiquiri to take part. We were to entertain and then engage in an “Academic Discussion.”
We performed and then we were invited to dine at a buffet before the “Discussion” part. Remember what Gene Wilder said, “You can’t kill the actors. They’re not animals, they’re people.”
Well, putting a bunch of actors in front of buffet is a lot like throwing a three-legged puppy in front of a pack of wolves.
Polite society would tell a normal person to take a plate, go down the buffet line and move on, but these were young actors who looked upon that island of food like a boatload of shipwrecked sailors after a month adrift at sea. It was like a scene of a feeding frenzy from “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel.
Once we got in front of all that food we didn’t move. We just stayed there – eating. Everyone else in the room just stood there, awestruck and hungry.
After several minutes of watching this scene that resembled Killer Whales feeding on a school of wounded tuna, one of the people in charge stepped in. She marched up to us and laid down The Law.
“You’re going to have to move eventually – it might as well be now.”
We were living examples of justification for Zero Mostel’s line in “The Producers.”
“Oh, yeah? Did you ever eat with one?
Never have eaten with a Comedy Group, but have witnessed near the same enthusiasm among a group right here in our City. It is a performing group, also, like yours, but in a different way. I won’t give the name, as it is a popular group of individuals from all walks of life. When I belonged, nearly 30 years in, we were asked annually to perform for one of the large industrial businesses’ Christmas Dinner. Before the main course we did what we did, then filed out to the front area of the dining room. There was always finger-food of all kinds, including jumbo shrimp that was iced down. Tasty, fresh, tender, juicy jumbo shrimp. Looked good…..tasted better. In this performing group were near to 70 participants. As soon as no-one connected with the business that hired us went back in the main dining room, all 70 ran to the table with the shrimp and stuffed their cheeks with those free tidbits. Some even stuffed their pockets with them to take home. Of course, I was embarrassed as can be……while stuffing my pockets until the shrimp were falling on the floor. Shameful to say the least…..but, man they were good.
After the third year of this we weren’t invited back for some reason.
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LOL! It must be genetic.
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I never comment on anything but you got me. Youre the only other person I know that consider Zero’s line the funniest moment in the film My sister is an actress who was in OITNB. I was also in the business for a while. I was once onstage in a “dinner theatre” and I had a guest table. My sister was seated next to Robert Vaughn. At some point she actually leaned over to him and said “Are you going to eat that?” It was a buffet LMAO.
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Some things never change.