Friday, September 23, 2011

My Personal Comedian

Over the past few months, I have become very fond of the Nerdist podcast, hosted by Chris Hardwick.*  The podcast focuses on comedy and on nerd stuff and their intersection as Chris and his pals posture themselves as nerds and are interested in comic books, superheroes, Star Trek/Wars, and all the rest while Chris and his pals are also standup comedians (and actors and more). 
The most recent podcast featured Tom Wilson, Biff of Back to the Future.  He has, of course, done far more than that, but the role of Biff crowds out everything else, especially in the public eye.  Of course, Tom played the gym teacher in Freaks and Geeks who dated Haverchuck's mother.  He is also an artist, with some great pop art.
 * Hardwick will be hosting a talk show about Walking Dead each week after each episode to add to his many activities.

I had a great encounter with Tom about 20 years ago.  Steve Oedekerk and Tom came to UCSD to do a charity show, but it was poorly, poorly advertised.  So, the comics barely outnumbered the audience.  My wife and I considered Tom to be our own personal comedian that night.  Steve and Tom gave us a full show (perhaps not the show they intended, but the full hour plus) despite only having a few people show up.  Tom was great that night, so I am pleased to see him pop up in things, like Freaks and Geeks.

Given how he has often been cast as a bully, especially the role of Biff, the podcast was most interesting because Tom informed us all that he started out small and picked on and only grew to be the big guy late in high school.  So, when preparing for Back to the Future, he identified more with Marty and less with Biff.  Fascinating stuff.

On the podcast, Tom does a great job of discussing the challenges of being an iconic character in a huge movie so central to pop culture so early in one's career.  Like Barry Williams (Greg Brady) and Mark Hamill, Tom has become identified with this single character so he gets the same kinds of responses again and again, even twenty-five years after the first movie came out (and as we approach the year in which many of the events of the second movie take place). 

So, Tom has come up with various strategies (like the postcard at the Nerdist link) and this song:

No comments: