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January 26, 1995 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 1995-01-26

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, January 26, 1995
'Late Night' comedy assistant sketches his story I-

By SCOTT PLAGENHOEF
In another display infinite wis-
dom the good folks at WDIV here in
the Detroit market have dropped "Late
Night with Conan O'Brien" in favor of
"Jenny Jones." Fresh, innovative, in-
telligent late-night television sacrificed
to make room for an ex-"Star Search"
champion playing ringleader to a self-
righteous audience and a panel of dys-
functional guests.
Lost are the interviews with the
President's stationary face and moving
lips. Lost is "Oldy" Olsen cackling and
body-slamming eight-year olds. Lost
is Andy Richter.
Looking more like your older
brother's often drunk, yet obnoxiously
hilarious, old college pal than your typi-
cal television star, Richter has emerged
over the months from a late-night ne-
cessity, the requisite sidekick, into a
nightly pleasure. Whether creating vid-
eos of Eddie Murphy covers which
look like they were made at Macy's or
rallying Grammy award attendees
around aThin Lizzy tribute (Steve Tyler,
among others, actually lauded the pro-
posal), Richter has been allowed to lift
his butt off the couch and entertain the
insomniac masses. Unfortunately Tyler
and all his peers only lionized "The
Boys are Back in Town." Hey man
what about "Jailbreak?" Last week,
Richter took the time to speak to the
Daily to reflect on the first year of the
show and look to the future.
From his work on "Late Night" it
is no surprise that Richter's career is
rooted in improv theater and comedic
theater. Following a stint as an under-
graduate film major and two years at a
Chicago film school, Richter aban-
doned his first love, film, to perform.
A six month, critically applauded stint
as Mike Brady in the Annoyance
Theater's "Real Live Brady Bunch"
and work in various improv troupes
were to follow.
Richter attempted to break into
showbiz working in the menial posi-

tions of serving coffee and unloading
trucks beforerealizing that you couldn't
work your way up from the bottom,
"only to the middle before you have
kids and a mortgage and, can't take
chances anymore."
Richter therefore took up writing
after realizing that "Every pilot was
complete utter shit, so if I wanted to do
something good I had to write it my-
self." The result was, among other
things, apilot fora sketch comedy show
for MTV, "Head Cheese," which was,
of course, turned down for the vapid,
Gen X recognition crap that is "The
State." Richter figures the show was
refused because the troupe was "much
fatter and uglier than 'The State."' The
troupe also featured afew gay members
and some gay humor, which naturally
the cutting-edge MTV couldn'tpass off
to 14-year old girls in Peoria.
Richter, the first writer hired by
"LateNight," eventually tabbed as side-
kick has no regrets with his position
now however. Yet he continually lob-
bies to implement more sketch work
into the program. He idealizes a "cast
of recurring characters doing sketch
work" but recognizes the logistic limi-
tations. Amongst his favorite sketch
work has been the instant made-for-
TV movies, for instance one in which
he had the opportunity to portray
Roseanne, Tom and Karen Silva, all
at once. "Not only because I like dress-
ing up like a lady but it is fun to do
something a little more skit-oriented.
Sitting at a desk or a chair can be
confining," Richter admits.
Still the pressure of filling the shoes
of the new, and undisputed, champion
of the genre, David Letterman, is try-
ing. Despite the sometimes poor re-
views of "Late Night" the show is
remarkably similar to the genesis of
Letterman's NBC program. Each devi-
ated from the traditional self-serving-
celebrity-makes-shameful-plug for-
mula to attempt to create something
different. Each continually search for

innovation, recognizing that the
show's host and sidekick are, and
should be, the show's true star, not the
revolving door of guests which ap-
pear each night. Some ideas work,
some don't, yet O'Brien and Richter
actually have ideas. Richter laments
on the situation slightly, "Letterman
got to toil in relative obscurity for
years. We live under a microscope
because some people like to make a
living out of this sort of thing." Yet
now people treat them with "more
kindness and more generosity because
we're proving ourselves."
Still, whether or not it can draw a
necessary audience the show is inno-
vative. Richter singles out the music as
a particular source of pride. He is quick
to point that they deviate from simply
highlighting corporate musicians (they
even have some unsigned acts) in a
world in which "(MTV) considers the

Counting Crows to be an alternative
band. They're just sort of an Eagles
cover band."
Richter who had a part in the Chris
Elliott vehicle, "Cabin Boy" enjoyed
making the film and would like to do
others, but is comfortable looking for-
ward to continued success in his cur-
rent medium.
Yet if Chris Walken is ever per-
suaded to appear, we'll miss it. Hell, the
President could drop his shorts, reveal
his briefs (usually), and sing "Lydia the
Tattooed Lady" and we'd be staring at
promiscuous teens getting a make-over
and a firm frowning and finger-point-
ing from Jenny Jones. People are at-
tempting to save "My SoCalledLife"at
a grass roots level. The same urgency is
deserved for Richter and "Late Night."
Hopefully the show can be rein-
stated for this year's Grammy Awards
and a push for a tribute to Humble Pie.

Andy Richter, guy extraordinaire from 'Late Night with Conan O'Brien.'

It's all cool man, or The Case of the Rolling Stone Temple Pilots

An-Mofep Music
Matt Carlson
I almost missed it. That one vital
clue that meant all the difference.
Here's how the story goes: I'm
sitting in the Daily offices one cold
wintry morn', and my illustrious edi-
tor, Mr. Erlewine as we shall call him
to keep his identity a secret, came in
with the hot tip. "Carlson, get your
ass in gear on this story --the frickin'
Stone Temple Pilots just edged the
Rolling Stones out of the top spot in
Billboard's all-time most played Al-
bum Oriented Rock chart song." Well,
I'm sorry to bring it down so hard on
y'all, but this record of all records
thing is the single-most defining point
of this (my) twenty-something brat
pack from hell generation. I mean
what other band in all of history be-
sides the Rolling Stones holds the
most bearing on what our parents'
generation meant (like alcoholism,
greed, ego-trippin' and refusing to
age graciously)? Now, four young
fucks from San Diego were the Kings
of Album Oriented Rock.
Eventually, I discovered that I
would have to unravel the mystery of
how this changing of the rock 'n' roll

guard came to pass. My only attempt
to solve the Case of the Rolling Stone
Temple Pilots was my infiltration of
the grand-schmooze fest of '95 - the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induc-
tion Ceremony. If I were to find any
"experts" who might be able to give
me some clues, this little shin-dig
would be the spot to scope. Also,
everyone would be drunk and strung-
out and rolling stoned as hell, so I
wouldn't need to smuggle my so-
dium-pentethol past the rent-a-cops. I
immediately booked a plane flight to
New York City, hoping my Daily
credentials and handy-dandy press-
pass would get me in. Oh, I tried to
schmooze my way in but this behe-
moth bouncer with the eyes of a hawk
saw right through my piece of torn
notebook paper with the words
"PRESS PASS" scrawled in Burnt
Sienna Crayola across the front.
Fortunately, after being shoved to
the pavement, I spied the prime ve-
hicle for my penetration into the glitzy
gala - the Allman Brothers' water
bong! That fucker was big enough to
hold 25 comfortably. A mess of gruff
roadies were having one hell of a time
trying to lift the 30 foot high structure
off the truck (they were lifting with
their backs, not their legs!). I paid this
chick 20 bucks to create a diversion
for me - I would only need a few
seconds to scale the rungs of the pipe

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and hop down into the center. I wasn't
able to see what the girl did, but
judging from the catcalls of the few,
the proud, the roadcrew, it wasn't a
pretty sight. Anyway, down in the
bottom of the bong (hey, that would
make one hell of a cool song lyric), I
suddenly realized I had a huge prob-
lem - yep, there was no ladder on the
inside of the smokestack. Problem #2
- the aroma of stale dope resin stirred
the mother of all contact buzzes within
two seconds of my arrival. I had to
think fast! Holding my breath, I groped
around the cylinder for some sort of
door - after all, they had to have
some method of cleaning the thing.
Bingo. I gave the road crew enough
time to move the smoky tomb onto
the loading dock, unlatched the door
and stumbled out into the building.
Luckily, only Jerry Garcia saw me or
else I would have been a goner. He
just kind of rubbed his bloodshot eyes
and laughed like a good ol' stoner.
Oh, the stars of all stars were out
tonight and shining bright - Uriah
Heap, Grand Funk, Quiet Riot,
Candlebox, the Moody Blues, Jour-
ney and so on. The guest list of
washed-up rocksters all guilty of
bloated posturing sometime in their
careers never ended. I interrogated all
of 'em on the case, but none gave me
what I needed. Some schmuck from
Billboard tried to blow the whole thing
off, saying something about the new
Interzoned, digitized methods to mea-
sure the charts that doesn't allow for
error - the Stones could have been
on top for five or 55 weeks in '81. Not
good enough. I needed to find some-
one who knew the truth, the reason
why the Stone Temple Pilots would
forever be embedded in pop culture
as a classic band. I mean "Interstate
Love Song" is maximum rock 'n' roll
to be sure - its butt rumpin' riff buzz
sawing right into the skulls of
America's collective consciousness.
But topping the Stones was a feat that
belonged in the Book of Guinness.
There had to be more.

Then I spied the grandiose kings
of all supermusician ennui - Robbie@
Plant and Jimmy Page, who, as I drew
closer, began to smell remarkably like
a big vat of steamin' baked beans.
Confronted on the matter, Plant only
muttered a half-audible mumble of
jive about rippin' off the masters.
Page was even worse, drunkenly stam-
mering, "They made ... blech ... the
... beurp ... same dirty pact I made
with Satan on that ... kuhgh kuhgh ...
preordained All-Hallows Eve 25 years
ago ... urp ... (excuse me for a mo-
ment ... blech, urgh ack klach) when
the blood of the non believers dripped
from the unholy strings of my black
Les Paul ... belch." My story wasn't
aiming for the metaphysical angle, so
I left the flatulent fellows to stew in
their own gases.
Reeling away from the stench, I
saw the one man in the universe who
might be able to clear things up --
Keith Richards. I kneeled at the feet
of the Great One and said, "I humbly
beseech your majesty to unveil to me
the truth I seek." Now I can't quite
remember all of Keith's utterings, but
I believe he said, "Riught man, Betty
can not she go, heh heh, I mean what
man comin' around and ghemmean
all that jam and beggin' allfus on top
of all that right shit to rink it all down
into bat skraling put-on when she
may dee get on after duh pretty gurl,
right man?" Seeing the language bar-
rier, Jann Wenner, publisher of Roll-
ing Stone offered his services as trans-
lator: "Keith says 'It's all cooool
man."'
It's all cool man. What kind of
hogwash was that? I had traveled a
pilgrimage mile to hear jive like that?
Wenner offered his own insights on
the Billboard / Stone Temple Pilots
situation saying (THIS SECTION
HAS BEEN GRIEVOUSLY ED-
ITED OUT DUE TO POSSIBLE
FUTURE EMPLOYMENT AT MR.
WENNER'S FINE PUBLICATION.)
It'sall cool man. Leaving the build-
ing, my head hung low, I slowly be-
gan to realize that Keith spoke more
wisdom than we would ever know (or
understand). It was all cool man. The
Stone Temple Pilots may have set an
unbreakable record by conning us all
into following the actions of the big
business, puissant youth culture, but
the real truth of rock 'n' roll fame was
unveiled.
It's all cool man.

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