Waiting for Guffman

If a mockumentary about the citizens of Blaine, Mo., staging a musical to celebrate the town's 150th anniversary doesn't grab you, hold on. Actor-director-writer-composer Christopher Guest (guitarist Nigel Tufnel in This Is Spinal Tap) loads an arsenal of laughs into a deceptively small package.

Wearing bangs and speaking in a lisp that barely skirts gay caricature, Guest plays Corky St. Clair, back in Blaine after a failed go at Broadway. He wins the job of directing Red, White and Blaine from music teacher Lloyd Miller (Bob Balaban). And no wonder: Corky's recent production of Backdraft onstage galvanized Blaine. He burned newspapers in the air vent, hitting audiences with hot ash so they could feel the fire.

Guest's wicked cohorts, many from SCTV, include Eugene Levy as a singing dentist, and Catherine O'Hara and Fred Willard as travel agents with a yen for greasepaint. Parker Posey shines as a Dairy Queen doll who does a slutty version of Doris Day's "Teacher's Pet." The rest is too outrageously funny to give away. I lost it just watching Corky show off such memorabilia as My Dinner With Andre action figures and a Remains of the Day lunch box. Priceless.

 

From The Archives Issue 217: July 15, 1976
x