"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Inestimable Larry Miller

Larry Miller as Principal Jindraike in Disney's Max Keeble's Big Move - 2001Larry Miller is one of the funniest comedians around. Rather like a younger Bob Newhart but with a bit more of an edge, the balding, pudgy Miller has made a name for himself as a comic character actor in numerous movies and tv shows, but where he made his name was as a hilariously funny standup comedian who applied traditional morality and sound common sense to our crazy Omniculture society, a place that is simultaneously puritanical about progressive political shibboleths (such as tobacco, fatty foods, and economic freedom) and aggressively nonjudgmental about self-destructive personal behaviors such as sexual weirdness, drug abuse, willful ignorance, and atrocious manners.

Miller caught the inconsistencies and incongruities of that condition admirably, as in his memorable monologue about the five levels of alcohol drinking while on a night out, available here.

Miller has also become an accomplished writer of comic essays, primarily for The Weekly Standard's webpage, and he has a new book out, called Spoiled Rotten America, which sounds like great fun and a nice Christmas gift for your favorite blogger.

Comedy writer Warren Bell reviews it here. Here's an excerpt from the review:

Larry Miller is profound. He possesses an ability to look deep within a thing, whether it’s the racial divide in America, or the surpassing greatness of Lou Costello, and bring forth a richness of understanding, a new way of seeing it, or maybe a surprising and funny and sweet observation. His book is packed with laugh-out-loud moments, but they surround a wonderful, refreshing take on life, a traditionalist’s view that dares to note (for instance) that men are given to wander, but shouldn’t, because if they’re married, they promised not to. In the midst of a several-chapter rumination on adultery and the male libido in general, he hits on the Unified Moral Theory: “There’s no free lunch.”

Everything has a price, up front or later. That’s not cynical, it’s liberating, and a big step toward individual accountability, responsibility, and loyalty – which, if you think about it, is the whole point of the Ten Commandments to begin with. In fact, “There’s no free lunch” is a pretty good secular reduction of numbers 1 through 10 right there.

And here's a very brief excerpt from one of Miller's Weekly Standard Online pieces, discussing how he gives haircuts to his sons:

There was hair piled and sifted over everything in the room except for one place: the newspaper I had laid out. It was still as clean as when I slid it out of its womb that morning. It was amazing. That section couldn't have had less human hair on it if I'd left it wrapped on the driveway. The fact that it was also the section that has all the toupee and hair-restoration ads was not lost on me.

You can find Miller's Weekly Standard pieces here, and get more info on his book here.

1 comment:

Tom Van Dyke said...

Funny word, "inestimable," so great as to not be able to be measured. "Estimable," on the other hand, is also high preaise, as in worthy of esteem.

Sorta like flammable and inflammable. English cracks me up some times.

And thanks for the words on and a few gags from Larry Miller, STK. I've always enjoyed him on screen and stage, and that he's compatable with the Weekly Standard makes me appreciate him even more. (There aren't many of our cabal in the popular arts. He must be a brave man.)