Maynard James Keenan
Musician, Winemaker; appeared in several Mr. Show sketches
I knew those guys through Laura Milligan and the Diamond Club scene; she had a regular thing she did called "Tantrum," this variety show where she was a former child actress named Tawny Port. She had a boyfriend named Vince, this loser rocker who'd been in a Sunset Strip hair band but now he was in to whatever was popular that week: New Wave, grunge, metal, "improvisational" hardcore. That was my recurring character. We'd end the show by doing a song in whatever style he was into. It was a lot of fun. That's really where the roots of Puscifer starts, long before the "Ronnie Dobbs" sketch. So there were a lot of Mr. Show sketches in their infancy that I got to see getting worked out on stage.
There's a sketch where Jay Johnston talks about climbing a mountain and he keeps falling into the shelf full of knickknacks…it cracks me up every single time I see it. "The Audition" is absolutely genius. And anything they did with Pit Pat [a mascot for the GloboChem corporation] was awesome. Those three are the ones that really stick out to me.
I always make the parallel between what was happening in that underground comedy scene in L.A. to what was happening with bands in the late Eighties…you had some burned out space that you’d pay the landlord under the table and staple some cat-piss-smelling carpet on to the walls, and you could jam without being hassled by anybody. Those places are all hipster charcuterie spots now. But I feel like the comedy scene had that same thing: You had all these different little pockets of folks, your Diamond Club and Largo and Uncabaret groups, who were working their shit out without people coming in and killing the vibe. You'd watch people getting up there and trying to combine both of those things, or see where they could push stuff. It was a great time to just wander into those places and watch amazing shit happening in the comedy world. And Mr. Show was both the byproduct and, now, the time capsule of that moment.
It completely influenced what I did, and what I do…I still collaborate with Laura on film ideas. When you’re exposed to stuff like that, it pushes you to do your own crazy shit. "Okay, so now my character is split into two and he’s two different people. Why does it have it make sense? Just fucking go with it!" They brought that wide open thing they were doing in clubs to TV sketch comedy, and that was it. It was on from there.