Get A Life

get-a-life

In this comprehensive post on Rotten Tomatoes, Nathan Rabin explores the long and impressive legacy of the criminally-underrated Chris Elliot vehicle, Get A Life.  This show was far and away one of my favorites growing up, and I could barely explain it to anybody I knew.  It was just a weird thing with this weird guy on this weird new-ish network.  In retrospect, it was my first exposure to the kind of surreal comedy I’d come to love years later with things like Mr. Show and the films of Charlie Kaufman.  Then it shouldn’t be surprising to me that Kaufman and Bob Odenkirk, among many others, got their start on Get a Life.  A partial list of folks that contributed to the show:

  • David Mirkin, who would go on to produce seasons 5 and 6 of The Simpsons
  • Adam Resnick, who would go on to write for The Larry Sanders Show and Letterman
  • Seinfeld writer Marjorie Gross
  • Roseanne producer Steve Pepoon
  • Dexter writer/producer Jace Richdale
  • Wings writer Ian Gurvitz
  • Mr. Show creator and current Better Call Saul star Bob Odenkirk
  • Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman

And among work that the article cites as being influenced by the show (we need to verify these):

 

 

We’re back.

How long were we out?  A couple of years?  No matter.  We’ve flipped the switch back on, the hum fades in, the tubes are warming up, there’s an old familiar crackle in the amp, and we’re about to rock this motherfucker out.  In the coming weeks we will tackle such subjects as: How Harold and Maude influenced Toy Story, the literary roots of Star Wars, how Scrooge McDuck inspired Raiders of the Lost Ark, how contemporary litigation trends are suppressing the natural flow of culture, and which movie is the purest cinematic expression of Darkness on The Edge of Town.  All this and more.  Cover your ears.

And for those joining us for the first time, welcome.  Here’s what this is about.

We’re Going to Miss You, Dave

We’ve been dark for a while here at Influenced.It, but David Letterman’s final show has jolted us back to the light. We couldn’t let this moment pass without a nod to the brilliance and trail-blazing that Dave Letterman brought to the past 19,932 guests and more than 6,000 episodes. Thank you so much for helping to shape who we are today, Dave. Enjoy building birdhouses…but don’t be a stranger.

Turns out, I owe Bobby Wilson a debt of gratitude…

This is a post about the influence of a father, but not my own. This father belongs to Andrew, Owen, and Luke Wilson of Dallas, Texas. While I am a fan of his offspring and their collaborators (more about that in a future post), today’s focus is his career as the first CEO of KERA and his role as importer of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. You see, my home state of Texas is a pretty conservative place (Willie Nelson, notwithstanding) and having access to comedy that was so avant garde, so mischievous, so absurd, and so revolutionary, continues to influence my perspective on the world today. Having the stones to put Monty Python on his TV station in mid-1970’s Dallas and thus introduce America to the troupe, makes Bobby Wilson someone we should all take a moment to thank.

Mind you, I am not strutting around NYC “Ministry of Silly Walks-style,” but those nights while Monty Python was pulsing on the screen left an indelible mark on my impressionable young mind. It developed my delight in the absurd, honed my suspicion of sentimentality…oh, and continually helps me remember that I’m responsible for finding the humor in life.

In direct contrast to American sitcoms at the time (set up, joke, explanation of joke, laugh track to ensure you knew when to laugh), the players in Monty Python’s Flying Circus put tremendous responsibility on the viewer to extract the laugh — wit, I believe it’s called. Wit had an illustrious past in American entertainment with practitioners like William Powell, Carole Lombard, Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, but it had lost its way. Bob Wilson helped define it for me and for that I — and now my kids — will always be grateful.

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Lordy. Lordy. Lorde.

Simply cannot get enough of this song and there are so many reasons why: social commentary, that hook, Goth gets cool…again. We love when women are empowered to take a genre to task…and kick ass in the process. And apparently we’re not the only ones who’ve been inspired. Enjoy.

Everything is a Remix

“I invented nothing new. I simply assembled the discoveries of other men behind whom were centuries of work. Had I worked fifty or ten or even five years before, I would have failed. So it is with every new thing. Progress happens when all the factors that make for it are ready and then it is inevitable. To teach that a comparatively few men are responsible for the greatest forward steps of mankind is the worst sort of nonsense.”

-Henry Ford

Rage drummer Brad Wilk on influence

“I think it’s really important, and it’s a lesson I didn’t learn until my late teens: Whatever bands that you love, go find out what bands they love, and what bands turned them on, and then you really start getting into the human aspect of it because the further back you go in time the less technology you had, and consequently the better records you had. There’s this incredible library of music thank god.”

– Brad Wilk, Drummer – Rage Against The Machine from the film Sound City via Media Redefined

Amen.

A Thin Line Between Love and Hate

The recent kerfuffle between Robin Thicke and Marvin Gaye’s estate raises an interesting issue for this project. It reminds us that the role of influence, and particularly the degree of influence that one work has on another, can be serious business. The licensing of a Song of The Summer like Blurred Lines can net the artist and the publisher additional millions of dollars in revenue, and extend the cultural impact of the song well after the kids have turned off their radios1 and gone back to school. Many a lawyer has made many a dime pursuing accusations of plagiarism between artists. And so it goes that Thicke pre-emptively sues Gaye and Funkadelic’s rights owner to protect those dimes, and inevitably they will get sued right back.

When I listen to Got To Get it On side by side with Blurred Lines, the threads of influence reverberate loudly, but Continue reading