One of the funniest movies ever made, Waiting for Guffman spoofs everything from documentaries and talent shows to local politics and alien abductions. Efforts to put on a show celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Blaine, Missouri, provides the “hook” for all the hilarity presided over by Corky St. Clair -- played with great comic flair by director Christopher Guest -- an oh-so artistic drama coach who moved to Blaine from New York City. A wonderfully wacky group of townspeople portrayed to the hilt by Fred Willard, Catherine O’Hara, Parker Posey, Eugene Levy and Bob Balaban take part in this historic event. Excitement builds with the rumor that Guffman, a New York producer’s agent, will be in the audience on the opening night of “Red, White … and Blaine.”
In my first review of Waiting for Guffman, I admitted not being able to write much about it "because every time I think about it, I laugh so hard I can’t do anything else. Just be sure to see it!”
Unfortunately, not everyone shared that opinion. Although my husband and I saw director Christopher Guest’s comic gem three times during its first theatrical release and enjoyed it even more each time -- especially the quirky musical numbers, the rest of our family didn’t like it at all. Now, whenever I recommend a movie to them, they ask, “Is this another Guffman?”
Waiting for Guffman paved the way for Guest’s later, more popular mockumentaries Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. But for me, Guffman remains the cream of the crop. Why no widespread appreciation for it? Most of Guest’s admirers don’t even try to answer that question. As the great Robert Benchley once wisely observed, “Defining and analyzing humor is a pastime for humorless people.”
So, of course, I won’t try to analyze Waiting for Guffman. Instead, I’ll simply say that everything about this mockumentary seems funny to me each time I see it, from Corky St. Clair going before the town council to obtain more funds for his community show -- and calling these representatives “bastard people” when they turn him down -- to his outrageous final amateur production with routines that make me laugh so hard other viewers tell me to “please shut up.” But my favorite musical number here features Fred Willard and Catherine O’Hara as married travel agents, who call themselves the Lunts of Blaine, performing “ at the Oasis” with all the serious professionalism they can muster at their audition session.
Even the film’s end credits are hilarious. It’s such a treat watching Corky St. Clair lovingly show off all his showbiz memorabilia!Clearly, there’s no business like show business for this dedicated dramatic artist -- and, happily, there’s no more enjoyable show business for me than viewing Christopher Guest’s terrific Waiting for Guffman.
(Released by Warner Home Video and rated “R” brief strong language.)