Chris Elliott in conversation with Dave Eggers
September 21, 2008 1:44 AM   Subscribe

A nice thirty-two minute interview taped a little less than a year ago. Interviewer: Dave Eggers. Subject: Chris Elliott.
posted by item (26 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Poster's Request -- frimble

I haven't really followed Chris Elliot much, but he's pretty hilarious. The David Letterman bit is where it starts to get good.

Eggers looks like he really hates having to speak to crowds when he's introducing him. And I half-expected the meandering, dry wit of, say, the copyright pages of vols. 1-4 of McSweeneys. But that alone would take the full half-hour, so it's probably best he just stuttered through his bit.
posted by disillusioned at 1:58 AM on September 21, 2008

OMG stop touching your face!
posted by forallmankind at 2:51 AM on September 21, 2008

Chris Elliott is single-handedly responsible for me becoming, and remaining, and total wise ass at the age of 15. Bananas, indeed.
posted by punkfloyd at 6:48 AM on September 21, 2008

Awesome, awesome, awesome.

The interview was cut off just when he mentions Cabin my opinion one of the funniest movies ever made. I still end up with tears in my eyes watching it.

"I just don't get it..she seems totally uninterested in me, despite my smothering obsessiveness!"
posted by chronkite at 7:15 AM on September 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Wanna buy a monkey?
posted by buriednexttoyou at 7:47 AM on September 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Wow, Crisco really does make good tanning lotion after all. Thanks Chris!
posted by buzzman at 7:59 AM on September 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Damn, just the mention of Chris Elliott brings back memories. Until just now, I had pretty much forgotten he existed. Like punkfloyd, Elliott was a big inspiration to me as a teenager. Something about his sense of humor appealed to me in a big way. My only experience of Chris Elliott was his appearances on Letterman.
posted by jayder at 8:21 AM on September 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thank you for listening to Part 2 in our 10-part series "One of my least favorite people on earth talking about one of my most favorite people on earth." We continue next week with Henry Kissinger recounting his lifelong friendship with Norm MacDonald, and ask Terrell Owens to share his memories of USO tours with Jimmy Carter.
posted by Damn That Television at 8:40 AM on September 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

Every time I see Will Ferrell or Adam Sandler play their one dimensional man-child characters I can't help but think that Elliot was the multi-layered Mozart of the genre who was just a little before his time. For the uninitiated, his best work was on Letterman Here's his interpretation of Rocket Man..
posted by any major dude at 8:50 AM on September 21, 2008

Just last night I was at Worst Buy trying to find any episodes of Get A Life. If ever there was a show that deserves the Box Set treatment...
posted by Gungho at 8:52 AM on September 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

Chris Elliott is a god. I remember staying up to watch the old Letterman show with my mom and just being blown away by him. His characters were so cheap and ugly and most of all gut-wrenchingly funny. Between him and Larry "Bud" Melman, the Letterman show had this underlying tone of absurd malice that was the perfect antidote to pretty much everything else on television during that time. Sad that it has to be Dave Eggers who fetes Chris Elliott, but the whole interview is worth watching. Even if only to get to this gem at the end:

"[M]y whole career has sort of been still in my mind you know, what makes...Dave Letterman laugh and...would he be proud of me or would he be happy that I am doing that. And I knew that he loved "Get A Life", you know. He had told me: "Oh that's perfect. That is just the perfect thing." And he had wished that...we had actually done something together before I left there. His production company wasn't up and running at the time. So...when...[Get A Life] went down, I think that was part of it too. I felt like a failure like you know, oh shit, okay Dave you know I failed. But then I did "Cabin Boy." And I sort of got his respect back with that."

If you've seen those old shows and how they played on Chris's barely concealed, jealous hatred of Dave (think Anne Baxter crossed with Crispin Glover), this window into the real Chris Elliot's emotions at the cancellation of his show is bound to leave a lump in your throat.

Yeah. And then there's "Cabin Boy".
posted by felix betachat at 9:01 AM on September 21, 2008

I've interviewed Chris Elliott a couple of times. He's awesome.

Just about the nicest fella you could meet, too.
posted by YoungAmerican at 9:14 AM on September 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

Rolling Stone apparently noticed him for the genginio that he is and gave him 10 pages (but not enough recognition to merit putting it to paper). It's pretty good, and pretty cool that they gave him as much credit for this new "awkward" comedy tred as they did.

But they didn't mention what I believe to be his best work and in my opinion, the funniest thing put to moving pictures (Only found through second hand VHS or torrents).
posted by Chris Brummel at 10:35 AM on September 21, 2008 [3 favorites]

Chris Elliott was one of my first big interviews. He had a lot to say about the advice that Letterman gave him. Really nice guy.
posted by ed at 11:31 AM on September 21, 2008

Who the fuck is Dave Eggers? I read the link and I still don't know. And where can I get a copy of this Norm MacDonald video?
posted by Eideteker at 11:37 AM on September 21, 2008

I'd totally forgotten about his Marv Albert bits, which were awesome. Unfortunately, YouTube's dry.
posted by davebush at 12:07 PM on September 21, 2008

After watching this I got interested in his "novels" (the "scare quotes" are Elliott's!) This interview he did with the Seattle Times about Into Hot Air is an interesting read. The reporter begins, "When I told Chris Elliott that I felt like I was sparring with a heavyweight, he humbly dismissed the notion." I would have snickered at that line, had I not just watched many of Elliott's jokes fly over the head of a starstruck Dave Eggers.
posted by cirocco at 1:08 PM on September 21, 2008

Writing is only his day job: Dave Eggers moonlights as a publisher, philanthropist and advocate for students and teachers.
Dave Eggers: 2008 TED Prize wish: Once Upon a School
posted by podwarrior at 1:14 PM on September 21, 2008

podwarrior: I came into this thread to post the link to Dave Egger's TED talk. Watching it is on my list of 'things I might do when I feel glum to try to feel better'. It makes me very happy.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 3:04 PM on September 21, 2008

I would rather slam my fingers in a door than spend a minute exposed to the smirky, gratingly unfunny one-dimensional "comedy" of Chris Elliott. The man is annoying in the extreme.
posted by longsleeves at 3:14 PM on September 21, 2008

Awesome post - where is the second half of that interview?
posted by allkindsoftime at 4:29 PM on September 21, 2008

Egger is a stand up guy. I hear a lot of dismissals of his writing, but I met him at an event with Valentino Achak Deng and I just wanted to say that he does what he loves, is popular for it, and gives the benefits of his writing very generously to causes he cares about. God bless the man.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:02 PM on September 21, 2008

I would rather slam my fingers in a door than spend a minute exposed to the smirky, gratingly unfunny one-dimensional "comedy" of Chris Elliott. The man is annoying in the extreme.
posted by longsleeves at 3:14 PM on September

I'll slam the door for you.
posted by Marla Singer at 2:41 AM on September 22, 2008

Egger is a stand up guy.

I'm only half with you on that one, Solon and Thanks.

I too met Eggers - at a reading he did at the 92nd Street Y here in NYC from his book What is the What (Valentino Achak Deng's semi-ficitionalized biography). As part of the reading, he and the other author reading took questions, which I thought was cool, so I submitted one - I asked what Eggers, given his exposure to the Darfur crises via Deng and his story, thought that young people could do to get involved in helping bring an end to the suffering there.

Now, this was about a year or so since I had first read What is the What. It was a powerful book for me and one of the main catalysts in me moving to Africa for ~1 year to work with a relief org there. And to my surprise, the interviewer picked my question as the last one. And Eggers responded:

I really don't know.

And that was the end of the interview portion, and we got in line for the book signing. When I got up there I told him that I was the guy that asked that question and I was kind of disappointed with his response. He didn't do a lot better in person - stammered about there being some other people here I should talk to but never really pointed them out to me before ending the conversation.

I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt - because he is quite simply capable of being a fantastic writer (I've only read WITW and I've heard very mixed reviews about his work on Sweeny's and his other books). I get the impression that he's one of those more introverted folk who are more comfortable dealing with the world from behind a keyboard. I get that because I very often feel that way. I dread being on stage in front of large crowds. Most of us do.

He may be a fabulous writer, but he's honestly not very good in front of people. Which is kind of the complete opposite of Chris Elliott. Which in a way kind of explains the idolization factor.
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:10 AM on September 22, 2008

For the record 'Into Hot Air' is the funniest book title I've heard in quite sometime.
Always liked Chris on Letterman and line Save E. I compiled a tape of his Letterman appearances. The funniest, this bit on how the audioanimatronic Chris Elliot works :
posted by evilelf at 3:17 PM on September 22, 2008

Anyone have any luck on finding Part II of this interview?
posted by any major dude at 8:53 AM on September 25, 2008

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