published Friday, October 17, 2014
Dallas — Here’s my proposal. Extract some DNA from Harry Shearer and implant it in every U.S. resident. We’ll all become smarter, more savvy about politics and less likely to fall for BS. We’ll allow creative ideas to grab a hold of us and then pursue them to fruition, utilizing whatever medium suits them best. We’ll be intensely curious about life, and caring, too. And we’ll all be very, very funny.
At age 73, when most cohorts are content with occasional light film and television gigs, Shearer crafted a comedic musical on J. Edgar Hoover; produced The Big Uneasy documentary on Hurricane Katrina’s multi-layered devastation of New Orleans; leads massive holiday sing-alongs with his wife, singer-songwriter Judith Owen; serves as artist-in-residence at Loyola University; helms the greatness that is the Le Show podcast; and creates webseries on everything from the final days of Richard Nixon as president, to the gastrointestinal crises of the starstruck Honey Poo Poo.
Shearer could easily have stayed with the mocumentary form he and Christopher Guest basically co-invented with This Is Spinal Tap. But why limit yourself when new avenues of creative expression are invented every day? He’s a surfer in that way, cresting the media wave and then heading back out to the creativity ocean before the prior wave hits the shore. That way he avoids what he calls Shearer’s Law: Hacks will eventually figure out the hit formula for a format and it’s best to depart before that happens.
It’s a perfect match then for such a Renaissance man and creativity junkie to be bestowed with the Ernie Kovacs Award by the Video Association of Dallas. It happens tonight at the Angelika Dallas Film Center, as part of the Dallas VideoFest. Kovacs also could not be pigeonholed and lacking the media options of today he bent the nascent form of television to do his bidding. While Shearer is known for his social and political satire, it’s too often overlooked that he, like Kovacs, is a very silly man who simply wants to make people laugh.
Because words can not convey all the imagination that is Harry Shearer, sit back and enjoy this prismatic selection of short videos showcasing a few of his facets.
In the webseries Nixon’s The One, Shearer portrays former President Richard M. Nixon’s final six minutes leading up to his resignation speech. Finding the comedy that Nixon unawarely projected, the series uses actual transcripts from tapes. Feature current David Frost re-enacting his past newsman role.
Shearer as Derek Smalls and others from the Spinal Tap bandmuse about Druids and Stonehenge.
The many voices of Simpsons characters from Shearer’s appearance on The Actors Studio. After multiple nominations, Shearer won a Primetime Emmy a few months ago for his voice work on The Simpsons.
Shearer gives a musical lecture on Bush politics and complicit media in 935 Lies That Led Us to War. So it’s not quite the level of the Grammy nominated Songs of the Bushmen and Songs Songs of the Pointed and Pointless, those aren’t on YouTube.
As an equally opportunity offender, Shearer spoofs President Obama in an “intercepted” phone call with German chancellor Angela Merkel.
Honey Poo Poo does a photo shoot. White clothes were not the best choice.