As someone based and working in Hollywood, I run into a lot of celebrities.
As someone working in Hollywood, I try my best not to talk about celebrities I run into or work with simply based on the fact that they’re people just like you and me. In fact, I’ve known many a celebrity to not wash their hands after going to the bathroom (just like you!) or steal a free bite from the pile ‘o apples at the local supermarket…just like you! But sometimes…an event occurs that I cannot keep quiet about.
This time…that event is my attending The Mike Myers Comedy School.
The Mike Myers Comedy School is something you can’t find in the yellow pages or the creative directory. It’s much like Los Angeles’ The Magic Castle — an exclusive locale that you can’t even get into unless you know someone. In the case of The Mike Myers Comedy School, I happened to know a comedian who used to write for SNL during the Mike Myers days who let me know that in preparation of Myers’ new movie The Love Guru he had decided to personally teach a one-day class to friends of friends.
I was desperate to learn from the great one (Myers)…so I got on the list.
There’s been a lot of negative press lately being written about Myers. About his egotistical attitude or his inability to see the forest from the comedy trees. Well, I’m here to tell you that all those people are simply jealous. Myers is a comedy genius who most others are jealous of. I mean, if you had created characters like Wayne & Garth and/or Austin Powers/Dr. Evil and made billions of dollars in the multiplexes, you’d better believe people are going to show up for the Mike Myers Bashing Party.
I spit on those people.
The Mike Myers Comedy School started at 5:45 am on this past Saturday morning. It was hosted in a large conference room at the Writers Guild of America, West offices in Hollywood. Upon walking in, all twelve of the attendees (I was one) are met by Myers-regular Verne Troyer (Mini Me) who (apparently) is responsible for getting everyone’s checks for the event (made out to Myers for $400). Yeah, it’s steep — but for that you don’t just get the class. Troyer hands each attendee a big bag (with The Love Guru logo on it) that included: all three Austin Powers DVDs, both Wayne’s Worlds on DVD, a DVD of So I Married An Axe Murderer and a free trial pass for NetFlix so you can order the rest of the Myers canon of films. In addition, everyone gets a rubber nose kit (sort of a costumey thing to help with creating characters) and a book of rhyming words (mole, pole, toll, hole, goal!). The book, in addition to the DVDs, was a gift the rest of us were laughing over as we waited for “The Great One” (which Troyer informs us we have to call Myers) to arrive.
At 9:15am, Myers walks into the room.
Fortunately, over the three and a half hour wait, the twelve of us got to know each other and talk to Troyer about why we love Myers so much. Myers, who seemed extremely friendly and genial upon his arrival, got up on a mini-stage kind of thing and gave us an intro speech about what comedy is. I happened to bring my iPhone so I was able to type some of it out so I wouldn’t forget. Here’s just a few of the gems Myers threw out to us during his opening “monologue”:
“Comedy isn’t about making people laugh. Comedy is about making people laugh at themselves.”
“There’s no such thing as romance in comedy. There’s comedy in romance, there’s drama in romance…but romance itself is never the main focus of anything…primarily based on the fact that most romances end up destroying and blackening ones’ soul.”
“The basis of all my comedy stems from what I like to call the too-big/too-small coefficient. If you are a giant or a dwarf, that is funny. If you are overly-egotistical or extremely self-conscious…that is funny. If your genitals are elephant-huge or cockroach-small? Hilarious.”
Once Myers was done giving us his speech laying out the basis for his comedy theories, he showed everyone a trailer for The Love Guru. He told us that now he was going to teach us (the friends of his friends) the easiest and most successful way to create our own quirky characters and to create an entire world around said characters…so that we could eventually write a movie starring said quirky characters and sell said movie and quirky character so that a movie would someday be made starring us as that character. The fake nose, said Myers, is the “key to becoming someone else, mostly because deep down everyone’s snot is different.”
I didn’t know what that meant, but I loved the fake nose.
At that point, Myers broke out a chart that I wish I had been able to take a picture of (but Troyer was watching us like a hawk). The chart basically had eighteen squares in three columns. At the top (and it looked like Myers had used this quite a few times for his own work) it was dubbed “The Character Creation Chart.” Myers told us that we were to pick one box for each column and those three boxes would create our quirky character for us. We were to pair up into teams of two and then try our creations out on our partners.
Between 9:30am and 11:30am, we did just that.
For my character, I chose the three boxes that included “Scottish Accent,” “Lives In Parents’ Basement” and “Drinks Nothing But Grape Juice.” The name I chose for my quirky character was “Scotty McJuicer.” My partner (whose name I will keep anonymous) chose the boxes “Angry & Bald,” “1970’s Porn Star” and “Head Too Big For His Body.” His quirky character, “Long John Picard” was pretty damn hilarious — he spoke with a British accent and was always falling over because of his lack of balance due to the huge head. I was a little jealous, but I soldiered on.
After lunch, when Myers had finished all his phone calls (he was doing some radio interviews we suspected for the opening weekend of the movie), we all presented our quirky characters to Myers. Among the group’s presentations we met a eunuch who loved Junior Mints, an Irish sniper with tourette’s syndrome named Misguided Mike, a voluptuous dental hygienist who drank nothing but grape juice, an angry & bald guy with a huge head who lived in his parents basement and plotted world domination and the crowning jewel of the day’s class: a Scottish secret agent whose alter ego is a well-endowed Irish secret agent always fighting with his inner self.
Myers was, needless to say, extremely impressed.
As the afternoon approached, Myers tweaked each of our characters as we presented them. Just a little bit, mind you — just to give the characters the “Myers Mold” he would say. For example, my creation of Scotty McJuicer wasn’t really Scottish after all…his backstory (that Myers gave me) was that he was obsessed with Star Trek’s Scotty! That added a whole new level to my character and a reason for his Scottish accent…and he even gave me a great line for my character to say when he was in dire situations and based on the fact that he lived in his parents always-flooding basement: “Beam me up…stairs!”
Myers went on to explain that every quirky character needs at least two very special sayings. From Austin Powers’ “behave” to Dr. Evil’s “one milllion dollars” to Wayne Campbell’s “party on” — everyone needs one or two. While I had already gotten mine (see above), the rest of the characters got theirs too. The funniest was the tag line for the eunuch who loved Junior Mints character, performed in a high-pitched voice: “Fresh as a testicle…and that ain’t from personal experience!!”
By 4pm, everyone had created a unique character at The Mike Myers’ Comedy School and developed great sayings and quotes for their creations. Myers had imparted upon us his comedic theories and even given us some great schwag to take away from the day. But before he closed us out, he gave us three bits of advice for writing the screenplay for the movie, starring our quirky character. Troyer allowed us to write them down, and so I am reprinting them here word for word:
- Stealing a funny joke from someone else isn’t plagiarism, it’s flattery.
- When you find yourself stuck in a hard place without a joke, mentioning testicles can always free you.
- Funny accents are funny.
For a guy with such a lauded history of successes in the motion picture and television industry, I will embrace his teachings like the Bible. Or more, maybe.
In the end, my Saturday spent in The Mike Myers’ Comedy School was better than my Saturday in Driving School, better than the time I graduated from high school and far better than all those S.A.T. prep classes. At least I got something out of Myers’ Comedy School.
Two words: Scotty McJuicer.