1/6/09

RVOD042 Self-Conscious Guy

(1951, Educational/Short, b&w)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

Not caring that you suck is the key.

Rating: **1/2

In a nutshell:

Turns out the cures for self-consciousness are apathy and blame-shifting.

Summary:

Now known as Shameless Guy.Marty’s bashfulness causes him to imagine a spotlight in his face at all times. This stymies him in his attempts to deliver impromptu speeches and try out for school plays. He’s not bashful at all about ping pong though, a sport that gives his more dramatically inclined friend Jack the shivers. Eventually, Marty concludes that in order to have self confidence, you must either a) not suck or b) not care that you suck. Shifting the blame to others and acting like a goofball for no real reason are good ways to shake off that ubiquitous metaphorical spotlight as well. With these tools in hand, Marty lands a lead in the school production of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Thoughts:

As a former high school drama nerd, I’m a bit taken aback by the stilted, overexaggerated acting style of the school production. We were bad, but we weren’t Oscar-Wilde-performed-as-some-awkward-combination-of-vaudeville-and-kabuki bad. If that’s the best Marty can do, then he probably should be self-conscious. Aside from that, I’m a bit skeptical about the short’s advice, to wit: either get good at something or be shameless about your inadequacy. Isn’t caring what others think sort of central to self-consciousness? Just relax and do your thing.

Marty's lovin' that spotlight now.Mike, Bill and Kevin put the already-nervous Marty though the wringer. When Marty obsesses during his attempt at impromptu speechmaking, Kevin obsesses along with him: “Was my nose bleeding? Had a dog crapped in my hair?” As Jack becomes self-conscious during a ping pong match, Mike explains that he isn’t really: “I just can’t see the damn ball with that light in my face.” My favorite line was only in the live version; when we see the Coronet Pictures logo, Bill says, “We’re small, shrill and we blow.” (In the pre-recorded version, he simply says, “We’re small and shrill”.) I’ve seen this short both as part of the live online riffing and as the pre-recorded short, and I have to say that the live riffing was better. It had an energy that the pre-recorded version, though funny, seems to lack. It’s worth seeing, though.