Among Simpsons scholars, it's known that America's first family is quite versatile--from meeting the first President Bush to doing a rendition of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven." Rick Miller has taken the family's artistic achievements one step further.
About 10 years ago, Miller, a Toronto-based actor, wrote MacHomer, an adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth that uses the traditional Shakespearean language tweaked with a heavy dose of The Simpsons. The one-man show--Miller performs as more than 50 Simpsons voices turned Macbeth characters--comes to Fort Worth's Bass Performance Hall on Tuesday. For ticket information, call 817-212-4280.
I suppose it's safe to assume that you're a big fan of The Simpsons?
I'd say so. I tend to draw the line between fan and fanatic. I've met some fans who border on the frightening--the Star Trek convention kind. I'm not that kind of fan. But I think it's one of the best, if not the best, shows on television. I don't watch TV very much, but when I do, it's usually The Simpsons.
Not a fanatic? Unfortunate. I've long contended that you can apply lines from The Simpsons to everyday situations. I do it regularly. It just sort of happens. Then people stare at me.
[Pause; possibly appalled.] I do that...uh...sometimes...our stage manager, she does it, too. But I think that shows that it's more than just a phenomenon. It's good content, it's good writing, it's funny, and not only irreverent and slapstick in the way of South Park, but you identify and warm to the characters...there's some brilliance there...[Does a Barney voice]: "Don't cry for me, I'm already dead. "
Hold please, laughing. Do you have a favorite episode?
"Streetcar Named Marge." I love when they sing. There are two musical Simpsons interludes in my play. At the end, I sing "We Are the World" for no apparent reason, except that I think it's fun... I think the last time I read Macbeth was freshman year of college...and I cheated on my test. Is it easier to absorb Shakespeare when it's couched in The Simpsons?
I find that the first few minutes the crowd is going, "Oh, that voice is good. That voice is good, too." There's not much listening done by the audience. But I think after a while they warm up to it, and we have graphics onstage that let them know what voice I'm doing. The thing about Shakespeare is a lot of people find it unintelligible, but when it's done by characters they know, they get past that block in their head. And, really, when Shakespeare was writing, he wasn't writing for a highbrow audience. He was writing for the television audience of today; it was more for the bar crowd. Macbeth was the action flick of today--it's bloody and violent. It's just that the language of the day was so beautiful.
You have pretty much all of Springfield represented in MacHomer, but I noticed that Apparition No. 3 is O.J. Simpson.
Originally I had him in when he was doing his, uh, thing. Then I took him out. I brought him back recently when he returned to the public consciousness; I think he was on a reality show or something. There's a bit of a murder joke in MacHomer, so, you know.
Have you received any feedback from anyone who's worked on The Simpsons?
I met the cast in Edinburgh in 2000, and they told me that they were thinking about doing an episode of Shakespeare but they'd heard it had already been done. That was kind of flattering. Do any Shakespeare purists ever get on your case?
They never come to the show...they don't bother...I bet there are people who feel that way, but I think it's a little close-minded of them...
Can you gimme a few lines from
[He morphs rapidly from MacHomer to Lady MacHomer to Ned Flanders as Banquo to Krusty as a porter.]
That was funny and disturbing.
Kinda like the Exorcist, huh? --John Gonzalez
Sack of Kittens
In this installment of Sack of Kittens: Eden Automatic. Looks like? One girl who's hot in kind of a strip-club-waitress sort of way, and three meatheads who look like they work at that strip club. Sounds like? Sometimes in really crappy TV shows and/or movies, the main characters will go into a bar, and there's usually a very stereotypical band onstage playing very stereotypical rock. Lots of unnecessary emoting, practiced stage moves, terrible lyrics--that kind of thing. It's all generally awful, but no one admits as much, and everyone dances, even though no one has full-on danced at a rock-and-roll show since Bill Haley died. Eden Automatic has a future playing that stereotypical band in these scenes. Closest brush with really crappy TV shows and/or movies until that happens? Their song "Need" (off 2000's Glimmer) appeared on the soundtrack for 2002's American Nightmare. Why haven't I heard of this particular film? Maybe because, as one IMDB.com user suggests, "If you have absolutely no regard for your loved ones, rent American Nightmare with them." Bands they've been in that somehow had worse names? Bassist Greg Terhune played with the trip-hop outfit Parasite Lost; guitarist Doug Conlon was in XEQ while living in Denver; singer-guitarist Annette Conlon sang backup vocals for Love Garage and the Earth Muffins. Oh, and she was also that band's choreographer. Seriously, she was their choreographer? Yep. That's just weird, isn't it? Very much so. Number of kittens in the sack they're currently standing on? Two, and they could all use a good dance lesson. --Zac Crain
A Gay Scam Robs Now
...otherwise known as Cowboys Anagrams, returning for the second season. Whats in a name? Sometimes nothing and sometimes everything; Quincy Carter becomes quartercynic, which we think reveals, well, something. You be the judge as we scramble and decode the names of some Dallas Cowboys starters and spares. Robert Wilonsky
Wide, able, ill
A brainy? Not. Not.
Soon, vain ace
Leg, sir, leg
Now git, boy!
I am bad--jeers
Yuck! I so lame.
Jack some in
Tall demon child
My lame riches
New, recent, mean
Ya! Net dung.
Sinner off job
Zits rule him
Meek as result
A ratty, old sewer
Seeing it wrong
Ha! Man jewels.
I'm a lowly sir.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Observer's biggest stories.