Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Wallace Shawn’s Birthday

Filed under: Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,News and Current Events,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:47 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Today is Wallace Shawn‘s Birthday.

Wallace Shawn is an avant garde playwright who was born in New York on this day in 1943. He’s the son of the former New Yorker editor William Shawn. I find him interesting, in part, because, even though his his friends took jobs writing for his father’s magazine, he didn’t. Instead, Shawn supported his playwriting by working as a photocopy clerk. But, and this is the idea that I like, he also got the idea of selling stock in himself, and managed to raise $2,500 from investors. To this day, he sends all those early investors a small annual check.

The other thing that fascinates me about Shawn is that you have probably seen him, even if you don’t recognize his name. You see, he wrote and starred in a movie titled My Dinner with Andre which came out in 1981 to much critical acclaim, which consists entirely of Shawn and the theater director Andre Gregory talking over dinner. I don’t know how well it did in the theatres at the time, but it became a cult classic.
You’re even more likely to know him as Mr. Wendell Hall from the movie Clueless, or Vizzini from The Princess Bride. Or, perhaps even as the voice of Rex from Toy Story. (For more of his acting resume, you can check out the Wallace Shawn entry on IMDB.)
I found it interesting that, for all his spot on timing in humorous roles, he claims not to understand what people find so funny about his acting or the characters he plays. He’s quoted on IMDB as having said, “I don’t happen to have a sense of humor personally, so I don’t know what’s funny about a character… This happens to be a feature of my life generally. I do things, and other people laugh at them. I rarely know what the joke is supposed to be or why they’re laughing.”

Anyway, he’s an interesting guy and I hope he has a happy birthday.

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