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No Laughing Matter
May 14, 2007 2:28 PM   Subscribe

Rosato was arrested after repeatedly complaining to police that his wife and their infant daughter had been replaced by imposters. Tony Rosato, former Saturday Night Live (81-82) and SCTV cast member, has been in jail in Canada for two years without as trial. He has been diagnosed with Capgras syndrome.
posted by Joey Michaels (73 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
That's so bizarre - I had never heard of Carpgras Syndrome before and I just read about it in this book, and now look! Here it is!

Weird how that happens.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:34 PM on May 14, 2007


how sad
posted by caddis at 2:45 PM on May 14, 2007


without a trial?

I just cannot remember that guy at all...
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:48 PM on May 14, 2007


I think the term is 'Capgras.'
posted by inconsequentialist at 2:49 PM on May 14, 2007


I wonder if there's a connection with cocaine abuse? I mean, the mesolimbic dopamine pathway is (apparrently) the site of cocaine addiction, and also implicated in schizophrenic disorders. This sounds like a subset of that kind of paranoia/halucination to my entirely unpsychiatric ears.

Hm. From the wiki: "Among the first casualties after the 1981 Season were Rosato (who later said that the firing was the best thing to ever happen to him, because the SNL environment helped encourage his drug addiction)"

How sad.
posted by metaculpa at 2:50 PM on May 14, 2007


What with SNL frequently replacing good comedians with less funny imposters I can understand why he may have started to see a pattern.
posted by well_balanced at 2:52 PM on May 14, 2007 [5 favorites]


Tony Rosato via YouTube.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:53 PM on May 14, 2007


Poor dude, that's tragic.
posted by dejah420 at 2:53 PM on May 14, 2007


I frequently experience Capgras' Delusion when I visit MeFi.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:54 PM on May 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


That's not Tony Rosato. But it looks like him.
posted by tkchrist at 2:55 PM on May 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


That's a sad story, I used to see him at my old work when he would come in to do voice-overs. I always liked his Chick Monk: Roadie for the Defense character.
posted by phirleh at 3:00 PM on May 14, 2007


This is a really sad disorder. One of the reasons that the sufferer doesn't recognize or misidentifies persons that are close to her is that, I think, from what I've read about it in the past, the usual emotional responses that she experiences with those people fail to occur.

Another similar disorder (I forget the clinical name) happens when a person fails to experience any emotion in response to anything. With this kind of disorder, people think that they are dead.
posted by inconsequentialist at 3:01 PM on May 14, 2007


I wonder if there's a connection with cocaine abuse?

From the Toronto Star article:
"The rare condition is most commonly associated with schizophrenia, but according to Dr. Graham Glancy, a forensic psychiatrist with Metro West Detention Centre and Maplehurst Correctional Complex, it can also be caused by metabolic diseases, delirium, brain injury or drugs such as cocaine."
posted by ericb at 3:01 PM on May 14, 2007


And ... "Rosato at one time admitted to being into hard drugs, says his friend Truss. But Rosato told him he'd managed to kick the habit after leaving SNL, adds Truss, who met Rosato more than 20 years ago when the two were doing comedy auditions around the city."
posted by ericb at 3:03 PM on May 14, 2007


The Italian-born, Toronto-based actor, now 53, has had a bail hearing and a preliminary inquiry. Both of them are subject to publication bans.

Well that's fucked up. Thank god I live in a country with freedom of speech...
posted by delmoi at 3:04 PM on May 14, 2007


Terribly sad.

I think that this is pretty common, but on odd occasion I have had fleeting moments when I'm with my wife, my family or some old friends and I can look at them directly and "feel" like they are absolute strangers. The feeling never lasts more than a half-second, but I wonder if capgras is an extension or magnification of this same phenomenon.

Or, maybe it's not that common. And I should get it checked out.
posted by psmealey at 3:07 PM on May 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I just read about it in this book

The Echo Maker?
posted by mattbucher at 3:07 PM on May 14, 2007


Both of them are subject to publication bans.

Brings to mind the publication ban in the murder trial of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka and the electronic chatter on Usenet.

And a more recent situation: Borderless Blogs vs. Canada Press Ban.
posted by ericb at 3:09 PM on May 14, 2007


ALL preliminary hearings (in Canada) are subject to publication bans, so that the jury pool isn't tainted.

I'll resist the temptation to make a joke about two many breakaway bottles to the head.

(whoops)
posted by evilcolonel at 3:12 PM on May 14, 2007


Man, I fucking hate crabgrass.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 3:12 PM on May 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


chuckdarwin, maybe you don't remember him because he was HOWLINGLY unfunny. None of which, of course, mitigates the tragedy of his current situation.
posted by adamgreenfield at 3:13 PM on May 14, 2007


A number of years back, there used to be a series of missives in the Village Voice classified ads section from someone named Zev; each week, a Dr. Bronner-esque litany would appear, claiming President Reagan and a number of other individuals were clones, dopplegangers, or corrupt imposters.

Reading this thread brought it all back.

Other ailments of the mind that are worth mentioning include Cotard's Syndrome, the delusion of bring sublime or exempt from reality, Fregoli's Syndrome, where the subject accuses several people of being aliases of a single individual, de Clerambault's Syndrome, where the subject is convinced someone else is actually in love with them, and Gasner's Syndrome, where the subject feels compelled to provide deliberately innacurate or misleading information.
posted by Smart Dalek at 3:19 PM on May 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


I blame Joe Piscopo.*


*(I do remember him vaguely & it's obviously sad. It just seemed as good a time as any to blame Joe Piscopo for something.)
posted by miss lynnster at 3:20 PM on May 14, 2007


It's always a good time to blame Joe Piscopo.
posted by adamgreenfield at 3:26 PM on May 14, 2007


I have to confess, I was this close to titling this post "Rosato Stoned" in reference to his drug use, but decided it was in poor taste.

Apparently not in poor enough taste to keep me from adding this comment, I guess.

Rosato was a fairly strong utility player who did some excellent character work and may have done better with stronger writers. Indeed, unlike many SNL alumni of that era, he went on to do a considerable amount of work post-SNL. Until, of course, he was arrested.

This era of SNL was arguably the worst. Every time a new cast comes in, somebody cracks that it is the worst era, but I lived the transition from the original cast through the Charles Rocket years through the rise of Eddie Murphy. There is no doubt in my mind that 80-82 was the low point.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:34 PM on May 14, 2007


this is sad--and he should be in a hospital getting help, not in jail.
posted by amberglow at 3:34 PM on May 14, 2007


Joe Piscopo did and does suck major ass, but he deserves at least a small amount of credit for his turn as Danny Vermin in Johnny Dangerously.
posted by psmealey at 3:35 PM on May 14, 2007


Shorter Piscopo:
"Ahm fum joisey and not funny."
"Ah you fum joisey and not funny?"
posted by hexatron at 3:35 PM on May 14, 2007


There is no doubt in my mind that 80-82 was the low point.

I liked those years on SNL, and they desperately needed new blood at that point. : >
posted by amberglow at 3:36 PM on May 14, 2007


This era of SNL was arguably the worst.

Given the decades long stretch of mediocrity the show is currently undergoing, I am not so sure. I suspect the 1980-81 cast suffered more from being compared to the first (and best) cast, and that it might not be so terrible if you were to compare to some of the seasons in the Tina Fey era.
posted by psmealey at 3:37 PM on May 14, 2007


Rosato's situation raises troubling questions. Why must he wait so long for a trial? And if he is suffering from mental illness, why isn't he in a hospital room instead of a jail cell?

"On the date of his trial Tony Rosato will have spent more time in custody on a harassment charge than any other convicted prisoner in Canada has ever spent on the same charges," says Brodsky, who took on Rosato's case in March. "On average, someone convicted of criminal harassment spends one day in jail and two years on probation."


Yeah, why isn't this guy in a hospital, not jail and without a trial? That seems wrong.

Interesting comments metaculpa and Smart Dalek, thanks.
posted by nickyskye at 3:40 PM on May 14, 2007


Joe Piscopo -- Bodybuilder.
posted by ericb at 3:41 PM on May 14, 2007


it just struck me--Jimmy Fallon is today's Joe Piscopo.
posted by amberglow at 3:44 PM on May 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


it just struck me--Jimmy Fallon is today's Joe Piscopo.

LOL. I guess it's a bit of curse when your only talent is being able to do one and only one good celebrity impersonation.
posted by psmealey at 3:47 PM on May 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Jimmy Fallon is today's Joe Piscopo."

But less funny, which was previously considered impossible.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:48 PM on May 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


How depressing. He obviously needs help, not jail.
posted by grytpype at 3:48 PM on May 14, 2007


metaculpa: I mean, the mesolimbic dopamine pathway is (apparrently) the site of cocaine addiction, and also implicated in schizophrenic disorders. This sounds like a subset of that kind of paranoia/halucination to my entirely unpsychiatric ears.

My understanding of it is that Capgras is a result of a disconnect between facial recognition areas and the amygdala (emotional response). Not so much a paranoia or hallucination in and of itself, but more of a reaction to the absence of feeling an emotional response to seeing [insert close relative here]. So the person sees their loved one, recognizes all their features, knows that they love them, etc... but just doesn't get that visceral emotional feeling. Thus, "my wife and daughter have been replaced by imposters". However, they often emotionally recognize them when on the phone.
posted by CKmtl at 3:57 PM on May 14, 2007


I think some people on AskMe suffer from Gasner's syndrome.
posted by atrazine at 3:59 PM on May 14, 2007


Dealing with mental issues is a big challenge for the authorities, keeping folks safe and trying to help the afflicted really is a bad fit for government. Oh and this .
posted by Iron Rat at 4:01 PM on May 14, 2007


Or, maybe it's not that common.

I think it's pretty common. I know I've had the experience you describe, except I'm not sure when. Long ago, though—I don't think I've had any weird psychological experiences like that since my 20s, excepting these days I do very occasionally get irrationally anxious.

I can't understand at all why Rosato is languishing in jail and not in a psychiatric hospital when he hasn't actually comitted a violent act (as far as I can tell from the article).
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:05 PM on May 14, 2007


it just struck me--Jimmy Fallon is today's Joe Piscopo.

LOL. I guess it's a bit of curse when your only talent is being able to do one and only one good celebrity impersonation.


What's Jimmy Fallon's one good impersonation? A shitty version of Jimmy Fallon?
posted by Greg Nog at 4:32 PM on May 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


A shitty version of Jimmy Fallon?

Impossible, this would cause some sort of shit singularity and all consciousness in the universe would end, collapsing into a shitty black hole.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 4:46 PM on May 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I remember despising him on SCTV.
Which could be because everyone else on that show was brilliant.


I wonder if this has any relation to the “alien limb” syndrome.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:47 PM on May 14, 2007


There is no doubt in my mind that 80-82 was the low point.

Um, what about 85-86? The cast was mostly actors like Anthony Michael Hall and Randy Quaid, who were just not up to sketch comedy. The only real standout was Terry Sweeney who did a wicked and brilliant Nancy Reagan imitation.

I remember despising him on SCTV.
Which could be because everyone else on that show was brilliant.


My first thought on seeing this was "I hope Robin Duke is okay" because they always shared a credit screen.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 5:19 PM on May 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jimmy Fallon's one good impersonation?

I am no fan of Fallon's, but I have to concede that his impersonation of Mick Jagger is pretty much spot on.
posted by psmealey at 5:28 PM on May 14, 2007


The loyalty of his friends is commendable.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 5:54 PM on May 14, 2007


Apparently, Robin Duke is just fine.
posted by gimonca at 6:59 PM on May 14, 2007


And Canadian.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 7:25 PM on May 14, 2007


I once edited a medical report about a case of Capgras syndrome. It was every bit as bizarre and heartbreaking as this story.
posted by planetkyoto at 7:27 PM on May 14, 2007


I myself was replaced by an imposter in 1994. If you see the real me play me some oldies radio.
posted by davy at 7:35 PM on May 14, 2007


I feel for the guy, but since you see a story every day about a mentally ill or just violent man murdering his wife and kid(s) I'm relieved his wife was smart enough to get out with their kid once he started isolating her and disconnecting from reality completely. Too often the loved ones stay around to help, and suffer the consequences.

I hope he gets help soon; hopefully the publicity will make a difference.
posted by emjaybee at 7:37 PM on May 14, 2007


With the day I had, I really wish someone would replace me for a while... meanwhile I'll fly off to visit friends in various remote countries, hanging out eating baguettes & drinking the local alcohol until people notice I'm missing. Which hopefully they never do. Leastwise until things don't suck like they did today.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:43 PM on May 14, 2007


emjaybee, fuckin A.

This disorder is just terrifying, for the person who has it and for the person who's "been replaced". How awful for him and his family. I don't understand why they still have him in jail rather than a hospital, but I'm glad they haven't released him outright.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:59 PM on May 14, 2007


Next week, on a very special "House M.D." ...
posted by RavinDave at 8:01 PM on May 14, 2007


He's been "in jail in Canada"? He's Canadian. They usually throw us in jails in this country.

delmol, your comment about living in a country with freedom of speech is a larf, thanks.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:04 PM on May 14, 2007


Ethnomethodologist: He's been "in jail in Canada"? He's Canadian.

Not everyone here is Canadian or knows that Rosato is Canadian, so I figured I should be more specific.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:29 PM on May 14, 2007


This is obviously a fake article planted by the abovementioned aliens as we all know that things like this only happen in the USA and Canada is an ideal paradise with no problems at all. None.
posted by acetonic at 9:13 PM on May 14, 2007


This is a very sad story. He deserves better treatment than this.
posted by homunculus at 9:16 PM on May 14, 2007


He is obviously in jail because he could not get bail because he is a danger to his wife and kid. I wouldn't call having prelim being jailed without a trial, except in a technical sense that a prelim is a hearing. But it is quite a full hearing of evidence, not a small thing.

They can't force him to participate in psychiatric examinations or treatment, which may be a big part of why he is not in a forensic psychiatric institution.
posted by Listener at 9:17 PM on May 14, 2007


Wasn't there a Twighlight Zone episode like this?

Or maybe it was the episode where his wife, child, and neighbors, didn't recognize him and he was hauled away by the police.

Then there was that episode where the guy thought there was something not quite right with his family life. Then he noticed a door that didn't go anywhere. Then a director yelled 'cut', and everyone left the set, leaving him alone, trying to figure out what just happened to his life.

It is hard to imagine living a real-life Twilight Zone episode.
posted by eye of newt at 11:07 PM on May 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, why isn't this guy in a hospital, not jail and without a trial? That seems wrong.

Maybe (I'm only guessing) because he thinks there are imposters living in his home and he tries to throw them out, and if they lock the doors, maybe he even breaks in Shining-style -- I might do something like that if I thought imposters had disappeared my family and taken over my home and no one would believe me and I just had to get my family and my home back.

Something like that. What else could you do but lock him up with the guy who thinks he's Napoleon? (Does anyone believe himself to be Napoleon anymore? That's the delusion I want. People would love it.) And they've closed most of the loony bins, so maybe there's only jail for the scary ones.
posted by pracowity at 12:42 AM on May 15, 2007


(By the way, I have a feeling Dr Lolcat wrote this part of the Capras syndrome page: "It can may extend to animals and objects.")
posted by pracowity at 12:46 AM on May 15, 2007


Capgras. Capras syndrome is when you think everyone is a director of screwball comedies and heartwarming films with populist themes.
posted by pracowity at 12:49 AM on May 15, 2007


"And they've closed most of the loony bins, so maybe there's only jail for the scary ones."

And jail doesn't help. Kentucky's had a problem with jail suicides, for one thing.
posted by davy at 12:54 AM on May 15, 2007


I believe that was the new TZ from the 80s, eye of newt.

On the topic of being reminded of things, this story brings to mind a MeFi post from a few years ago regarding another odd mental condition. It was a story about a british professor that would have hallucinations, but would usually know that they're halluncinations. Ivy on the wall paper would appear to grow, staircases in his house that pop up for no reason, etc.

The notable exception was an incident at the train station where the train was idling at the platform, doors open. He asks he conductor if that train is going directly to some such place, only to be told that there was no train there.

Am I the only one who remembers this?
posted by dr_dank at 6:28 AM on May 15, 2007


Am I the only one who remembers this?

Yes. And you know why, don't you?
posted by pracowity at 7:03 AM on May 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


psmealy:"I think that this is pretty common, but on odd occasion I have had fleeting moments when I'm with my wife, my family or some old friends and I can look at them directly and "feel" like they are absolute strangers. The feeling never lasts more than a half-second, but I wonder if capgras is an extension or magnification of this same phenomenon."

That feeling is called a jamais vu. Makes you feel like you're in a Hitchcock movie, doesn't it?
posted by Siberian Mist at 7:15 AM on May 15, 2007


He seemed enormously likeable at the time. I remember laughing out loud at times, watching him on SCTV and in his The Alan Alda Guide to Sensitivity SNL skit. I still remember his outfit in the latter: very disco swinger with open shirt, ample chest hair and enormous astro love medallion. That I remember the SNL skit first is opposite to the way it usually works for me--that people from SCTV were usually at their funniest when on SCTV. I expected all to do so much better than so few did. But that is a tragedy or two of another sort.
posted by y2karl at 7:37 AM on May 15, 2007


I may be the only one here who's been on the Internet long enough to remember Gary Sollman (also here). Surprisingly, he has no Wikipedia page or entry in the net.kooks archives.
posted by scalefree at 5:21 PM on May 15, 2007


That should be Stollman. My bad.
posted by scalefree at 5:22 PM on May 15, 2007


They've moved up his trial date, likely in response to the news coverage
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 11:47 AM on May 16, 2007


I get that Hitchcock feeling all the time. It's called MacGuffin Vu.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:05 PM on May 16, 2007


..oh. And I don't know who Rozatto is, cuz I stopped watching SNL some time soon after it became the Murphy Piscopo Show. I occasionally happen upon the Weekend Update thing or otherwise channel surf and see half a skit. It's unfunny. I change the channel. I think that's the only reason I even know names like Dana Carvey or Jimmy Fallon. That and the occasional bad movie containing alumni from the Not Ready For Not Ready For Prime Time Players.

SNL is still on the air? Why?
posted by ZachsMind at 1:09 PM on May 16, 2007


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