I am a purveyor of chairs.
So is my biggest idol.
How am I defining idol? My idol is the person who has influenced me most to become the artist I am today. Here is a list of my top 25 idols in order: (I know that most of you aren’t going to click on the clips I’ve linked to, but if you have to click on only one, watch the Gilda Radner one)
25. Gilda Radner – Would be much higher if I had discovered her earlier, but most of the influence she would have had over me had been accomplished by others by the time I started watching her.
24. Charlie Kaufman – The way his intense self-hatred and self-love comes through in his work has made me want to do the same.
23. A.A. Milne – Every archetype I’ve ever found interesting was created in Winnie the Pooh: The excitable man-child (Tigger), the apathetic but content stoner (Pooh), the constant depressive that we’re supposed to laugh at (Eeyore), the sidekick (Roo), and the pissed off neurotic (Rabbit).
22. Shel Silverstein – Treating children like adults with different tastes is important to me. So is rhyming. I like language and I don’t like censorship.
21. Beyonce – Forcing problematic issues of gender into your art has been around for a while, but forcing it down people’s throat using art they had already committed to liking was Beyonce’s game. Plus her journey through feminism in video form is awesome.
20. Voltaire – Really I just want to follow up Beyonce with Voltaire. I actually don’t know a lot about him, I’ve read Candide and liked it, but I put him on this list because nearly everyone who influenced me was influenced by Voltaire so I figured I’d give him some credit.
19. Christina Aguilera – Yes, her songs are really preachy and not that nuanced or subtle, but at the time I got really into her, she helped me discover the ability to preach while performing.
18. Dr. Seuss – As I said, I like rhyming. Even more important than putting fun words together though was the power of imagination to me as a child and Dr. Seuss was a big reason I felt comfortable creating my own fucked up world that was in my mind.
17. The Algonquin Round Table – Pretension has always been interesting to me, but valid pretension is the most fascinating thing in the world. Pacing is something I pride myself on in art and that was all learned from Kaufman and Benchley and Woollcott.
16. Tina Fey – She redefined the archetype that started with Annie Hall and such to be smarter and more self-sufficient. There is a lot more to go with the archetype, but her ability to redefine things is inspiring.
15. Charlie Chaplin – I became a comedian because I found out that people laughed when I fell over. I got good at falling over because of Charlie Chaplin.
14. Princess Superstar – Creating a character to be meta about before Lady Gaga even existed.
13. Richard Pryor – He made stories and misadventures sound so interesting. He did storytelling before The Moth was even an idea. And he was stupid, he made mistakes, but he talked about it and that made it okay. Plus his suits were awesome.
12. Coen Brothers – All their characters are terrible people and their dialogue is unbearably realistic and so well timed.
11. Judd Apatow – He taught me how powerful a mirror to society could be.
10. Chris Rock – He made indignant ranting about the shit he hated that masqueraded as comedy. He told people what he thought about the world and he had audiences thinking they were watching a comedy show. Brilliant.
9. Lady Gaga – Gaga perfected all the shit I said about X-tina, Beyonce, and Princess Superstar. And she be popular.
8. Kurt Vonnegut – He taught me that everything you say is important. Every sentence should be incredibly important. Don’t say something unless it ain’t worth saying. Unless you’re blogging.
7. David Wain – His list is probably the same as my list minus the pop star women. Meta, comedy, silly physicality, self-deprecation. He’s everything I want to be better than I could want to be it.
6. Groucho Marx – Wit is only funny when you use it to make fun of yourself as much as others. Also when you walk weirdly and wear a fun suit.
5. Harpo Marx – My voice was squeaky and too loud when I was a kid. I had to find a way to make people laugh without it. Harpo is the reason I did. Harpo is the true reason I became a comedian.
4. Dorothy Parker – Depression is hilarious. Dorothy Parker was the only person to truly understand this and find the perfect mix of the two. She also was a great person who stood for what she believed in every arena of everything. And she was sexy. I would make love to her dead corpse.
3. Larry David – Hates others, but hates himself more. A meta character. A indignant frustration with the social cues of the world. This is too obvious to explain. Also I re-watched this clip and I cried.
1. Andy Rooney – Andy Rooney thinks what he thinks. He’s not afraid of hypocrisy and everything he thinks is the most important thing to be thinking about. He is unsatisfied with his world and he strives to change it by molesting our ears with his indignation. There is nothing I strive to do more than to follow in his footsteps with reasonable opinions.
Runners Up: Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Steve Martin, Fiona Apple, Tim and Eric, Will Ferrell, Chris Farley, Jonathan Safran Foer, MC Escher, Banksy, Chico Marx, Jon Stewart, JD Salinger, Ogden Nash, Noah Baumbach.
Additional info: 12/25 are Jewish, 7/25 are women, 11/25 are primarily comedians, 12/25 are dead, 12/25 were raised in New York City area, 4/25 had made it big at a younger age than I am now (only David Wain wasn’t a pop star girl).