Not long before Christmas in 2005 we turned on our pink Hello Kitty TV and popped in the freshly pressed first issue of Wholphin, a DVD quarterly magazine of rare and mostly unseen films mentioned here before. We were enchanted by much of what we saw, and among the gems on issue one is a film we found particularly bizarre in the best way. We watched with open mouths and big eyes, and laughed – maybe from discomfort at first – at just how strange it was.
A man is overtaken by the urge to not only wear his mother-in-law’s vintage red jump suit, but compelled – once in this horribly ill-fitting monstrosity – to give himself over to a dance the likes of which you’ve never seen before, leaving him a spastic gibberish-spitting blank-eyed ball of confusion and, well, rapture. He doesn’t know why The Delicious makes him happy, but it does, and he can’t help but let his bliss overtake him and his “normal” life.
Scott Prendergast, the writer/director/star of The Delicious, commits so completely to what he’s doing in front of the camera that you can’t help but experience some measure of the same confounding joy his character feels in the jumpsuit. As soon as it ended – our mouths still open – we knew that Prendergast was someone to keep our eyes on.
After seeing a few more short films by Prendergast, two years later his first feature was released, in which he starred alongside Lisa Kudrow, Teri Garr and Chris Parnell. The film, Kabluey, showcased some of the trademark strange we came to know and love from Prendergast’s earlier work, and introduced us to even more idiosyncratic behavior, inspiring the question finally: who the hell is this guy?
He agreed to shed a little light on the mystery for us…
grippinglyauthentic: So, since we first saw you on Wholphin with The Delicious, let’s start there. Before anything else, though, we want to say that you were absolutely and magnetically odd in the film. Even after multiple viewings, the film still pops.
Scott Prendergast: Hey thank you!
ga: We couldn’t take our eyes off how absolute the obsession with the red jumpsuit appeared in your eyes, nor could we deny a certain vacancy in your eyes as well, nearly Zen in how consumed you were with this one thing. It made us wonder what in your life is equal to The Delicious? Is there something which compels you – perhaps beyond reason at times – the way the jumpsuit and dance compelled the character? What exactly do you know about obsession, and how personal is that knowledge?
(See part 2 of The Delicious here.)
SP: Hmm… Well, that’s a good question. I have been obsessed with a number of things throughout my life. And some of those obsessions have taken on a similar manic tone: I see something – I can’t resist it – I can’t stop thinking about it – I obsess over it. Here is a short list:
- French fries
- The Muppets
- Teri Garr
- Rear Window
- Tin Tin
- Paint samples
- Bruce Jay Friedman
- The Wizard of Oz / Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon combo
Of those items – I’d say only the Muppets drove me to distraction. When I was a kid I was so obsessed with the Muppets that I would get in trouble at school for making lists of Muppets instead of paying attention in class. In fact when “The Art of the Muppets” exhibit came to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the woman in charge of the exhibit called me and said, “Hi, I heard about you – this weird kid obsessed with the Muppets – would you like to work here and do demonstrations?” It was one of the greatest things that had ever happened to me.
As a kid, it seemed to me that the Muppets were speaking TO ME. That there was a greater mystery at work in my life and if I paid attention I would someday find myself working with Jim Henson – or somehow involved with the Muppets. I used to play daily games where I would imagine that the world was offering up clues and that if I could decipher them, they would lead me to NYC and to the Muppets. It was a mystery only I saw and there was a massive pressure to figure it out.
I sometimes planned to run away (from Portland) to NYC to find the Muppets. When I was in college in NYC I used to go by the Henson Associates brownstone on the upper east side and lie, “Hi, I’m here for the internship?” – which sadly never led anywhere. Although one day I did in fact run into Jim Henson – face to face bump. Unfortunately I was so star-struck I couldn’t say anything, and then two weeks later he DIED!