What Do You Mean, “Move?”
“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.”
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.
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?