Sunday, February 14, 2010

An evening with Mr. Wiseau

A day and a half later, I am still hoarse, and my brain aches. It's been assaulted by fermented hops and the romantic ramblings of a mad man.

The mad man, as previously mentioned, is Tommy Wiseau, the enigmatic auteur that wrote, directed, produced, financed, and starred in "The Room". This past Friday evening, he made his first appearance in Chicago to host two screenings of "The Room" at the Music Box Theater on Southport.

The line for the midnight show snaked up the sidewalk, fans of both film and camp stepped over half-melted snow banks left over from the weeks' storms. People made sure they had a solid inventory of spoons (I came with 100, which was grossly insufficient), sipped illicit beers, and occasionally ducked into adjacent alleys to relieve themselves.

Despite the cold, and the crowd's obviously high level of inebriation, there was a palpable camaraderie. The bond we shared was the common knowledge that it didn't matter if this was the first or fifth viewing we were individually about to embark upon, that we were all in for a bewildering journey into the depths of indescribable ineptitude, which tonight, would be potentially explained by its creator.

No such luck. If you've ever read or seen an interview with Tommy Wiseau, it quickly becomes clear that the incomprehensible piece of work he produced was not a fluke for this man - it is the only way he could possibly make a film. His trains of thought are nearly impossible to follow, made all the more difficult by his peculiar manner of speaking. Being on the tail-end of a power hour on a mostly-empty stomach doesn't help matters.

On our way in to the theater, we caught a glimpse of Tommy outside - shaking hands, wearing the same sunglasses from the film, and generally looking like a guy waiting to get invited to a coke party.

Before the screening began, Tommy took the stage to make a few remarks and answer a few questions. I didn't get a chance to ask mine, which would have been to query his Valentine's Day plans and ask if he thought, with the wild underground success of "The Room", it would be possible for him to be struck by lightning twice. I did, however, furiously type notes into my iPod to make sure I didn't forget what he said, which I certainly would have otherwise.

Tommy began by reciting Shakespeare's sonnet #116, a fitting choice given the film he made. When asked what his favorite band was, he replied, without hesitation, U2. Then, Tommy gave us some parting thoughts before the lights dimmed. It was so important to him, he said it twice.

My notes: "Yoyx can laugh you can cruvplrase Sony hurt each other."

Tommy's plea: "You can laugh, you can cry, but please, don't hurt each other."

I don't think he meant to be careful when playing tuxedo football with your friends.

"The Room" is truly something to behold. When you go, and you should, bring buddies, spoons, and a suspension of disbelief.


I mug for the camera while Paul plans his next attack on my backside. This is par for the course with us, power hour or not. I'm wearing a tie because dammit, you dress up for special occasions.

Steph (middle), Dan's better half, put together our power hour mix before her first-ever viewing of "The Room". She's smiling because she has no idea what she's in for. If she did, she'd be crying.

Ray Charles serenades Otter and Ryan.

Paul and I brought 3D glasses and road beers. The former did not improve the sex scenes, whereas the latter did.

Dan takes a photo of a motley crew (from left to right): Paul, Ryan, myself, Velk, and Otter.

And, finally, Otter and Ryan managed to corner Wiseau in the lobby while the rest of us were grabbing seats. Ryan got a photo op by saying he came all the way from Scotland for this show, which since he is actually in grad school in Scotland, is not a lie. Otter says that the fist-bump was Wiseau's idea, and the only way he would do the photos. These two were more than happy to comply.

Ryan later re-encountered Wiseau in the lobby on a popcorn run. Wiseau was so taken aback by Ryan's question of which city is his favorite to show the film in, Wiseau assumed he was a journalist. Buying popcorn. At 1 in the morning.

Otter, on this photo: "One of the top 6 moments of my life."