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Life is beautiful. For some of us, more than others. Ah, fishing.
August 8, 2009 4:54 PM   Subscribe

In the early 1990s, John Lurie videotaped his vacations with William Dafoe, where they did their own comedic re-interpretation of an early-morning fishing show. From this tape (or possibly so his fishing trips could be tax write-off), Fishing with John was born. The show is a series of six episodes (segmented on YouTube), each at a different location with a different fishing friend (though Lurie's trip through the Andaman Sea with Dennis Hopper spans the last two episodes). The show, called by some fishing as performance art, is pared with a soundtrack that is a mix of sounds, part Lurie's band The Lounge Lizards (discography), part overly dramatic .. something.
posted by filthy light thief (32 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
John Lurie was previously mentioned for his NSFW "Bear Surprise" art piece that spawned an odd meme.

Note: not to be confused with the other Fishing with John, a book that tells the story of John Daly, an impassioned and greatly talented fisherman who was convinced he could "think like a fish."
posted by filthy light thief at 4:55 PM on August 8, 2009


Fans of this site may appreciate that the episode with Tom Waits features Waits putting a fish...in his pants.
posted by middleclasstool at 4:57 PM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm pleasantly surprised to find that the Criterion DVD is still in print.
posted by box at 5:11 PM on August 8, 2009


*spoiler alert* if it matters...

I got a DVD of this from the library, and a friend and I watched several episodes before Willem Dafoe's death clued us in that it was a joke.
posted by cmoj at 5:25 PM on August 8, 2009


I really liked this when I watched it recently, especially the theme song and narration with the faux gravitas. Pretty much all the episodes (especially the one with Willem Dafoe) are great except the one with Matt Dillon. That guy really didn't have anything to say and the show was pretty much a blank slate because of it.
posted by dhammond at 5:31 PM on August 8, 2009


There were moments in the Matt Dillon episode that were pretty good, though it wasn't on par with the rest. Not flat, but definitely no Tom Waits (apparently) improvising a song as they row around, with Lurie tentatively joining the song, then yelling at Tom to keep rowing.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:37 PM on August 8, 2009


Glee! I have a copy of the series on DVD, and love it.

Even the narration was surreal -- a deep voice declaring that Montauk, NY was "a real Husker-Du kind of town" or suddenly breaking the fourth wall to intone, "I'd LOVE a bite of your sandwich."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:49 PM on August 8, 2009


I once cussed John Laure out.. have sporadically regretted it since then.
posted by edgeways at 5:50 PM on August 8, 2009


Fishing.....with John. Fishing...........with John.

Big fan.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:09 PM on August 8, 2009


Oh. god. yes.

I had no clue it was added to Criterion -- it just got too big too quick for me to keep up.
posted by FuManchu at 6:23 PM on August 8, 2009


Mrs Werkzeuger and I found this at the library and checked it out thinking it was a straight show about fishing. My favorite memory of it is Willem Dafoe and John Laure snuggled next to each other in sleeping bags in their ice house.

Dafoe: "Ya know...at night...I get a little sweet."
posted by werkzeuger at 6:37 PM on August 8, 2009


Wrote a paper on FWJ in film skool about the semiotics at work in a particular episode (the Jarmusch one). That was fun.

"How deep is the ocean? No one really knows for sure."
posted by Rykey at 7:00 PM on August 8, 2009


John Lurie: "Just tell me what you want, Tom."
Tom Waits (snarling): "To be on dry land."

Greatest. TV. Moment. Ever. (Except for the part where it portended Tom Waits not speaking to John Lurie for two years after the episode wrapped.)
posted by scody at 7:16 PM on August 8, 2009


I loved this. Willem Dafoe alone in the cold with him, in sleeping bags, suggesting that they "cuddle" . . . oh God, oh God!
posted by Countess Elena at 7:52 PM on August 8, 2009


Life...is so beautiful.
For some, more than others.
Every breath.
Every day of our lives.
Ahhh.
Fishing
posted by Casimir at 7:58 PM on August 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Or, um what the post is called. k.
posted by Casimir at 8:00 PM on August 8, 2009


Fishing With John is a long time favorite of mine. Thanks for posting this. The interview answers my question about how this show could ever have been made. Also, I never actually knew it was broadcast on TV. Amazing.
posted by bigtex at 8:24 PM on August 8, 2009


Before I had ever seen this, I went on a car trip with my friend Clayton and his dad, who happens to be named John. They had just spent the weekend watching as many episodes of Fishing with John as possible, and our trip became a litany of describing all the things John was doing with us:
Driving...with John
Eating...with John
Listening to NPR...with John
(et cetera et cetera ad nauseam)
posted by ocherdraco at 9:16 PM on August 8, 2009


Fans of this site may appreciate that the episode with Tom Waits features Waits putting a fish...in his pants.

And that specific clip is here. Conveniently, it is right at the very beginning of that particular clip.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:25 PM on August 8, 2009


The narration in the series is well done, and lends an air of legitimacy to the series. Robb Webb has only narrated a handful of things, but he's got the calm, knowledgeable voice down well enough that I gave him the benefit of the doubt long enough for the jokes to work.

John Lurie's a got to be brave to have gone to Thailand with Dennis Hopper, though - I can only imagine there being some stipulation for "special handlers" to ensure that Hopper showed up for the shoot...
posted by Graygorey at 10:50 PM on August 8, 2009


Thanks for the post. The great thing about Fishing With John is that re-watching it with the commentary is really like getting six totally new episodes. If you're a fan at all, pick up the DVDs for that reason alone.

*spoiler alert* if it matters... I got a DVD of this from the library, and a friend and I watched several episodes before Willem Dafoe's death clued us in that it was a joke.

[Possibly-unnecessary spoiler alert still in effect:] I was a bit slow on the uptake too, but, really? For me it was the first episode. As Lurie and Jarmusch amble out of their hotel rooms at some ridiculous hour of the morning to go shark fishing, and for no reason the narrator says, in perfect deadpan, "They wake up, covered in sores and boners."
posted by churl at 10:55 PM on August 8, 2009


The original Fishing (and hunting) With John (Candy), also six episodes, included guests The Tubes, The Plasmatics, Third World, Carl Perkins, Jimmy Buffett and Joe Walsh (Pt. 1. Part 2.)
posted by LeLiLo at 11:02 PM on August 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


John Lurie: "Just tell me what you want, Tom."
Tom Waits (snarling): "To be on dry land."


That's second funniest, in my opinion, to Tom and John talking about fishing using cheese for bait.

"You can wrap it in a, uh, you know, a little, um, piece of underwear."
posted by dirtdirt at 4:21 AM on August 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Clips from the Jim Jarmusch episode have also appeared in an episode of Spongebob Squarepants.
posted by Man-Thing at 6:38 AM on August 9, 2009


A good friend of mine was John Lurie's personal assistant a few years ago.

And so it came to be that I hung out in his cozy, extremely messy Soho apartment (which had an awesome roof deck and greenhouse) with her while she sorted through his piles of uncashed, six-digit royalty checks (he gets paid every time, say, TBS plays Get Shorty). He was trying to break into the New York art world at the time, and getting his apartment cleaned up to look like a sane person's was evidently part of this plan.

Then she saw him punch his girlfriend (herself his former personal assistant 20 years his junior) in the face during an argument and quit.
posted by deafmute at 6:41 AM on August 9, 2009


I cannot watch these - any time I watch even a clip from the show I end up wanting to have an impromptu Fishing With John marathon - and I just don't have time today. I hate fishing, but watching these makes me want to fish. But only with John.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:22 AM on August 9, 2009


(Except for the part where it portended Tom Waits not speaking to John Lurie for two years after the episode wrapped.)

Really? Geez, Waits should have considered himself lucky. Dafoe died on his fishing trip, but he didn't hold a grudge over it.
posted by homunculus at 10:16 AM on August 9, 2009


Tom Waits: "Where do you [hook the bait]?"
John Laurie: "Through the eyes."
T: "Oh god."
J: "You want me to do it?"
T: "Yeah, he already looked at me."

I love this.
posted by furtive at 12:18 PM on August 9, 2009


Does this have narration about "He had a wooden leg, but real feet"?

Courtesy of rtha, the fishing report, which has a real voice to it.
posted by Pronoiac at 3:59 PM on August 10, 2009


I was a bit slow on the uptake too, but, really?

Well, let me elaborate: I think we figured out pretty quick that it was funny, but not that it was "scripted" and constructed. We were fairly sure we'd have known if Willem Dafoe had died ice fishing.
posted by cmoj at 6:46 PM on August 10, 2009


Does this have narration about "He had a wooden leg, but real feet"?

Yes. And if you're wondering: Yahoo Answers says that's not possible.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:47 PM on August 11, 2009


For clarification, I was looking for a quick answer to which episode featured that line, not if this was a possible scenario.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:48 PM on August 11, 2009


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