French-Kissing a Picture of Myself

The Paul Rust Annotated Script Archive

I know, I know. Writing extensive "background info" on your No Shame Theatre pieces is both self-obsessed and pathetic. For me, there's nothing sadder than an amateur artist believing his/her work is worthy of examination, discussion, and analysis. HOWEVER! I know if any other No Shame writer did this, I would be completely fascinated/irratated/fascinated.

The preceeding paragraph functioned as both an excuse and an apology.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

December 1, 2000

SUMMARY: Gary, a Billy Crystal fan, re-enacts a scene from City Slickers. Comedy sketch.


RECURRING THEMES: Fanaticism. Attempts to impress others. Celebration/mockery of "conventional" comedy.
Obsession with popular culture.

- City Slickers
- The King of Comedy

Blanket statement of the month: All comedy can be categorized into the "Two Bills": Bill Murray or Billy Crystal. Comedy can either be effortless (Murray) or strained (Crystal), fiercely confident (Murray) or profoundly cloying (Crystal), honest (Murray) or phoney (Crystal). One is cool and the other is lame.

Such distinction can be applied to No Shame Theatre - a forum which, during my time, welcomed and encouraged a bunch of smart-asses (with 2-ton bullshit detectors) to convene and bitch and make each other laugh. And if you did it all without seeming too cynical (and - I dare you - with grace, earnestness, and charm), then you were a hit. As such, Peter Venkman is No Shame Theatre's grandest architect.

Mr. Crystal, on the other hand, is the polar-bear opposite: ingratiating, old-comedy schmaltz. The grand-kids hate Billy Crystal. You should, too.

So if one writes a piece about their contempt for Billy Crystal, how do they do it? Obviously... you play a character who adores him. This, above all, is to avoid alienating your audience. No one - even those who would agree with me - want to hear somebody bitch about how Billy Crystal's not funny. But everybody - men, women, and li'l pumpkins - like a moron who joyously exclaims his love for something. Get-the-Audience-on-Your-Side Tip #39: "Folks hate lectures and love dum-dums." It's scientific fact.

Incidentally, this blurring of the line between contempt and adoration would continue throughout my subsequent work. Of the seven pieces I did during my first semester at No Shame Theatre, "Crystal Pepsi" serves as the most represenative of what I would do in my next two semesters - particularly in my frequent celebration/mockery of old-entertainment conventions and cliches. This, of course, leads to a certain degree of ambiguity when watching a piece: "Does Does Paul really like Billy Crystal? Or does he despise him?"

To answer your un-asked question... you remember that scene in Raging Bull? That one where Jake La Motta discusses a good-looking opponent and surmises that he doesn't know if he should "fuck him or fight him?" Well, for the next few semesters, I too would be debating if I should ask Henny Youngman to be my wife or smother him with a honeymoon-pillowcase.

And finally, to again exemplify Bill Murray's heavy influence on comedy, I'd like to point out that he was doing all this - all this - years prior with his "Nick the Lounge Singer" character on Saturday Night Live. We kneel before Peter Venkman.


"Funny how completely Rust was able to recontextualize the video clip for his own purposes." - Nick Clark