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August 21, 2006 3:56 PM   Subscribe

Under appreciated, once almost-famous comedian Chris Elliot is, in a word, odd. His start as a runner/page on the early days of Late Night with David Letterman led to his recurring roles as "the guy under the stairs" and "Marlon Brando". Soon after he landed a sit-com called "Get a Life" on a fledgling Fox network, which can only be described as surreal. From there he created his first (and last) feature length star vehicle "Cabin Boy" (which features a hilarious cameo with Letterman in his only movie role). These days he is more known as a character actor in comedic roles. But a few books and a look back at his work makes you wonder why he might be the only celebrity on the internet with no apparent fan site.
posted by BrodieShadeTree (61 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Yea,yea lots of Youtube, but things like full EP's of Get a Life being there when it isn't available on dvd or vhs anywhere else make it great.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 3:58 PM on August 21, 2006

Long live Chris Elliot! Stereophonic pumpkins...
posted by pantufla at 3:58 PM on August 21, 2006

Just a guess, but he probably doesn't have a fan site because he is annoying as hell.
posted by necessitas at 3:59 PM on August 21, 2006

I think there used to be at some point (there was a site where I used to get GAL sound clips, but it seems to be long gone now).
posted by stifford at 4:00 PM on August 21, 2006

annoyance is a part of it, certainly.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 4:01 PM on August 21, 2006

I never really paid any attention to him until I saw Cabin Boy. He sucked so bad that I almost instantly grew to hate him. Only after that did I see re-runs of Get A Life, and it really wasn't much better.
posted by Kickstart70 at 4:05 PM on August 21, 2006

I'll be pedantic and supply the correct IMDB link and spelling of "Elliott". (Not that I'm all that familiar with this guy - I was just pretty sure I remembered him in "Groundhog Day".)
posted by forblaga at 4:05 PM on August 21, 2006

eep! what a faux paux!
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 4:07 PM on August 21, 2006

Oh, and here's a fan site.
posted by forblaga at 4:07 PM on August 21, 2006

I'm a fan of his dad.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:08 PM on August 21, 2006

Yeah, I was thinking I could have sworn I saw him in Something about Mary.
posted by necessitas at 4:09 PM on August 21, 2006

I guess the right spelling helps (just found the link that forblaga posted, googling).

And pity all those who don't recognize the genius of Cabin Boy.
posted by stifford at 4:10 PM on August 21, 2006

And pity all those who don't recognize the genius of Cabin Boy.

Cabin Boy rocked.

He also guzzled a whole bottle of Crisco oil on the Letterman show in a "taste test". What's not to love?
posted by doctor_negative at 4:16 PM on August 21, 2006

I loved Get a Life as a kid. It stretched the limits of the possible for my then-limited mind. I thank it for that. I think I got an unsignificant part of my personality from that show. I also loved Sledgehammer but it didn't hold up too well when I watched it recently. I'll go check out GAL now and see about it. Not that it matters.
posted by Aghast. at 4:21 PM on August 21, 2006

Wait; I own Get A Life on DVD. Is it not available any more?
posted by mrnutty at 4:21 PM on August 21, 2006

These pipes... are clean!
posted by cell divide at 4:21 PM on August 21, 2006

Actually, David Letterman was also in that movie about Andy Kaufman, remember...? So Cabin Boy was not his only movie...
posted by Ben Grimm at 4:24 PM on August 21, 2006

get a life was scheduled for release in 3 eps dvd sets. One was released. So, 3 eps on dvd only.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 4:24 PM on August 21, 2006

Just to nitpick, Letterman was actually in a few movies. Off the top of my head, he played himself in Man on the Moon as well as that awful movie where Whoopi Goldberg coached the Knicks, and he did a lot of voice work for some animated films.

Speaking of which, one of my favorite Chris Elliott roles was when he did the voice of Dogbert on the Dilbert animated series... the series itself was sub-par but the quality of the production and voice work was superb.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:24 PM on August 21, 2006

Maybe he needs to lay off of the ganja.
posted by snsranch at 4:26 PM on August 21, 2006

Well , to be nitpicky Elliott was on Late Show not too long ago and Letterman called the scene in Cabin boy his only movie role, so I was going off that. I imagine it to be his only "role" wherein he did not play himself.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 4:28 PM on August 21, 2006

Letterman's filmography as an actor. Wow, he was in "Mork Goes Erk"... who knew?
posted by forblaga at 4:29 PM on August 21, 2006

I loved cabin boy, it's got the same surreal level as baron von munchausen, but with a bit more caustic wit. The next Chris Elliott vehicle I saw was his appearence in Abyss. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for him to drop some much-needed comic relief into that flick, and went home disapointed.
posted by nomisxid at 4:36 PM on August 21, 2006

"Get a Life" is in fact on DVD. He played a similar role on "Everybody Loves Raymond" for the last few seasons.
posted by wfc123 at 4:45 PM on August 21, 2006

His dad was much funnier. He's still living in daddy's shadow. Chris can be funny, but not every time. Sometimes I get the feeling he is bribing Dave and that's the only way he still gets air time.

I miss Teri Garr...
posted by ZachsMind at 4:51 PM on August 21, 2006

The Legend of Cabin Boy
posted by smackfu at 4:56 PM on August 21, 2006

I miss Teri Garr...
Teri Garr is a gem.
Ever since she made it public that she had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, she's been very active as a national spokesperson for the NMSS. She's a lovely speaker.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:07 PM on August 21, 2006

Man oh man I hate those fancy boys
posted by edgeways at 5:13 PM on August 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

Say what you will about "Get a Life," but it is the genesis of Handsome Boy Modeling School, a project that has had some pretty good moments, if you ask me.
posted by kosem at 5:18 PM on August 21, 2006

Get a Life, other than the episode with Spewy the Alien, does not hold up well, either.
posted by absalom at 5:29 PM on August 21, 2006

Whatever happen to this guy? He hasn;t made a film in while.
posted by jacob hauser at 5:29 PM on August 21, 2006

Fancy Lads.
posted by cell divide at 5:33 PM on August 21, 2006

The laugh track was heinous, but I still regard Get A Like to be one of the finest shows ever. Guess I'm part of a very small minority. Oh well...
posted by daveleck at 5:37 PM on August 21, 2006

One of the funniest moments on tv, is when he went back to letterman and was reminicing about being the man under the stairs. Then he commited suicide. Comedy gold
posted by Mr_Zero at 5:42 PM on August 21, 2006

When I worked as a stock boy I once labeled a box of pants hangers as "kpants hangers" in tribute to the episode where Chris had toxic waste under his house.
posted by cheineking at 5:43 PM on August 21, 2006

"Under appreciated, once-famous almost-comedian "

Fixed that right up for you.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:51 PM on August 21, 2006

I just read the Get a Life Wikipedia entry to jog my memory. Who the hell knew that it was Charlie Kaufman's first writing job?
posted by Iridic at 5:53 PM on August 21, 2006

"Teri Garr is a gem."

"What knockers!"

"Oh, sank you doktorr."
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:54 PM on August 21, 2006

He wrote a book recently called The Shroud of the Thwacker. It is an absurd DaVinci Code type book. It is a novel. I found it to be fantastic. It actually told a story and had characters in addition to the typically nutty Elliot-type things (cellphones in the 1890's that are oil powered, large, and carried in large boxes, eg).

I thought that some of his Letterman segments were phenomenal. He did not do funnier versions of things than other people. He did different things. It is unusual to find in a comedian.

Still, I thought that Cabin Boy was terrible. I was very, very disappointed. He also had a pilot for some sort of television show for this fall, but I believe that it has not been picked up.

Again, I highly recommend The Shroud of the Thwacker.
posted by flarbuse at 5:57 PM on August 21, 2006

Chris Elliott was also in at least one episode of The Adventures of Pete & Pete, which puts him in the "awesome" category.
posted by Mikey-San at 5:58 PM on August 21, 2006

Wow, he was in 'Mork Goes Erk'... who knew?

I did. I remember him being on Mork and Mindy (and I used to watch his morning show before he started doing Late Night.)
posted by kirkaracha at 6:05 PM on August 21, 2006

I love synchronicity. I just watched 2-1/2 seasons worth of The Adventures of Pete and Pete on DVD this weekend.

What an awesome show that was - lots of cameos: Iggy Pop, Michael Stipe, Steve Buscemi, Janeane Garafalo... Only the best kid's TV show ever ( I'm just a 45 year old kid, I guess).
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:20 PM on August 21, 2006

True fact: Chris Elliot is the son of Ray Elliot, of WOR's old "Bob and Ray" radio show.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:33 PM on August 21, 2006

False fact: Chris Elliot was supposed to officiate the recent Test between England and Pakistan, and is known to take a more relaxed view of ball-tampering than Darryl Hair. A head cold kept him out of the action.
posted by kosem at 6:38 PM on August 21, 2006

I've always been a huge Chris Elliot fan. Easily my favorite was his Action Family Special and his FDR: A One-Man-Show. It's too bad that it's only on VHS, but get it if you can. Early appearace by Seth Green. This is out of print, but 19 people are selling it at
posted by Chris Brummel at 6:44 PM on August 21, 2006

His father is funnier.

To my way of thinking....
posted by IndigoJones at 7:07 PM on August 21, 2006

I loved Get A Life when I was a kid. It's hard to believe that something that bizarre even made it on TV, prime time at that. The humor is really Adult Swimish. I watched a few of the GALs reecntly on DVD and I can confirm it's brilliance, although it's a bit inconsistant. The climax of the spelling bee episode (alluded to by cheineking) is porbably one of the funniest things that has ever been on TV.
posted by Kronoss at 7:10 PM on August 21, 2006

Yeah, some of you guys didn't hold out for the London Broil, and let them pass off some of that "Flank Steak" on you.
posted by TedW at 7:26 PM on August 21, 2006

If Chris Elliot is odd, his dad, Bob, is odderererrr. Bob and Ray were way ahead of their time.
posted by plinth at 7:27 PM on August 21, 2006

And to those who are fans of Bob and Ray; being Bob Elliot's son in comedy has got to be kind of like being Julian Lennon or Jacob Dylan in rock and roll.
posted by TedW at 7:31 PM on August 21, 2006

DAMN, but I forgot how funny that clip from "Cabin Boy" is -- Letterman is amazing. Wonder how much of that bit was improv?
posted by davidmsc at 7:35 PM on August 21, 2006

True fact: It's BOB Elliot. Ray was the other guy.

Chris Elliot is one of those geniuses we'll only appreciate long, long, after he's dead, probably from a nasty staph infection. And "Get a Life" was the greatest sitcom in the history of television. Also, radio.

Hot Dog Boy = genius. The Spewey saga = double genius. ("He tastes even better the next day!") Bob Oedenkirk was a writer. (Or was it Steve?) So was Charlie Kauffman. (Yes, that Charlie Kauffman.) I went to a retrospective at the Director's Guild about 6 years ago -- Chris didn't show up, but the fervor of the 50 or so groupies there was something to behold.

A tidbit I remember hearing long ago, re how Chris got the job on Letterman. Possibly apochryphal, but related by Chris himself:

Chris is a 21-year-old NBC page, taking tickets at the door for the Letterman show. Dave Letterman shows up with his father, and introduces him.

Dave: "Hi, Chris, this is my dad. Dad, this is Chris Elliot, one of our pages."

Dave's Dad: "Pleased to meet you, son."

Chris: "So that'll be one adult and one child, then?"
posted by turducken at 7:36 PM on August 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

Chris Eliot's HBO specials were frigging genius as well.

Cabin Boy? Well, of everything he did (and I'm not counting his appearences in the Scary Movie franchise here, just the stuff he wrote), that's the one that bothers me the most.

It pretty great in a freakishly surreal kind of way, but you can also see how in two or three movies he was going to be a genius.

Too bad about that never being allowed to happen.
posted by lumpenprole at 8:13 PM on August 21, 2006

I loved Get A Life and was sad when it was cancelled. The show was really bizarre, even for Fox at that time (I think it came on after Herman's Head). There were several episodes where Chris's character died at the end (including one show where his head gets ripped off and kicked around like a soccer ball). There was the episode where he and his dad built a submarine in the bathtub. There was the time where he hung out with construction workers and heckled women and got in a tool fight. There was the father and son picnic with American Gladiators. The show had it all.
posted by jefbla at 8:26 PM on August 21, 2006

I'm going to echo those who say that his father was funnier. Find a copy of Bob and Ray: The Two and Only if you don't know what I mean ... although it's probably too dry to be successful nowadays. Sigh.

Thanks for posting the Cabin Boy clip. That was the only thing I wanted to see in that movie.
posted by pmurray63 at 9:17 PM on August 21, 2006

Elliott Elliott Elliott Elliott
posted by gubo at 9:51 PM on August 21, 2006

Chris Elliott is a comedic genius.

Recently, the Onion sponsored a showing of some GAL episodes at a movie theater in the Village, after which Chris and Adam Resnick took questions.

Fascinating stuff. A lot of the stuff he talked about was addressed in his AV Club interview.

Oh yeah, and, Zoo Animals on Wheels!
posted by Afroblanco at 10:40 PM on August 21, 2006

that marlon brando shit was hilarious. thanks.
posted by phaedon at 3:46 AM on August 22, 2006

Bananas...I loved Get a Life when it was on, and I was amazed about a year ago, to see a television listing on my satellite for a show called Get A Life and the description said something about an adult paper-boy who lived with his parents. Sadly, the show was called Get A Life, but it wasn't the Chris Elliot show had nothing to do with the noted description, they must have culled it from some long extinct database...bah
posted by phirleh at 7:39 AM on August 22, 2006

Thank you Turducken. That's a classic.
posted by joecacti at 8:22 AM on August 22, 2006

Sharing the love for Bob & Ray, which has caused a deep affection and appreciation for their "special" love-child, Chris.
posted by Floydd at 8:38 AM on August 22, 2006

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