Waiting for Guffman

Waiting for Guffman

Waiting for Guffman is a musical mockumentary starring, co-written and directed by Christopher Guest that was released in 1997. Its cast of actors has appeared in a series of Guest-directed mockumentaries.

The title, but not the plot, is a play on the title of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot.


The movie is a loving parody of community theater set in the small town of Blaine, Missouri. It chronicles the trials and tribulations of a handful of utterly delusional residents as they prepare to put on a community theater production. The show, a musical chronicling the town's history, titled Red, White and Blaine, is to be performed as part of the town's 150th anniversary celebration.

Along with Guest, the film stars Catherine O'Hara and Fred Willard as Ron and Sheila Albertson, a pair of married travel agents and regular amateur performers who give their companions a little too much information at a restaurant dinner; Parker Posey as the perpetual Dairy Queen employee Libby Mae Brown; Bob Balaban as Lloyd Miller, the increasingly frustrated musical director who actually possesses some talent; Lewis Arquette as Clifford Wooley, a "long time Blaineian" and retired taxidermist who is "Red, White and Blaine's" bean-loving narrator; Matt Keeslar as the handsome and oblivious mechanic Johnny Savage who Corky goes out of his way to get into the play; and Eugene Levy as Dr. Alan Pearl, a tragically square dentist determined to discover his inner entertainer. Brian Doyle-Murray appears briefly as Savage's dad and boss who is immediately suspicious of Corky's eccentric behavior.

Corky has presumably used connections gained from his "off-off-off-off" Broadway past to invite Mort Guffman, a Broadway producer, to critique "Red, White and Blaine". Corky leads the cast to believe that a positive review from Guffman could mean that the group can take their show all the way to Broadway.

The program itself is designed to relive the history of Blaine. Blaine's founding father was apparently a buffoon incapable of distinguishing the geography of middle Missouri and the Pacific coastline. We also learn why the town refers to itself rather obtusely as "the stool capital of the United States." The music contained within is a series of grating and poorly performed songs such as "Nothing Ever Happens on Mars," - a reference to the town's supposed visit by a UFO - and "Stool Boom". The DVD contains "This Bulging River," which was edited from the cinema release.

Central to the film are St. Clair's stereotypically gay mannerisms. He supposedly has a wife although no one has met or seen her. When Johnny Savage is forced to quit the show by his suspicious father, Corky takes over his roles, which were clearly intended for a young, masculine actor: a lusty young frontiersman, a heartbroken soldier, and a little boy wearing a beanie and shorts. St. Clair never sheds his dainty demeanor, lispy accent or earring in spite of his historical roles, and his face is pasted with an overkill of stage rouge and eyeliner. Corky is also faced with creating his magic on a shoestring budget, and the cast almost loses him to a resulting emotional breakdown.

Unfortunately for the cast and crew of "Red, White and Blaine," Guffman never shows up, because his flight was canceled due to bad weather. A late-arriving audience member (Paul Benedict) is mistaken for Guffman. After the man tells him he is there for his niece's first baby, Corky reads the note he had recently been handed that Guffman won't be able to make the show.

An epilogue shows the fates of the cast: While Libby Mae has returned to the Dairy Queen yet again, Dr. Pearl and the Albertsons have both pursued their dreams of being entertainers: Ron and Shelia travel to Hollywood to be extras in a western, and Dr. Pearl now entertains Elderly Jews in a Florida retirement home. Corky has returned to New York, where he has opened a novelity shop, which includes such items as Brat Pack Bobble-head dolls, My Dinner with Andre action figures, and Remains of the Day Lunch Boxes.

References in Other Works

  • In the episode "Psy vs. Psy" (original air date July 27, 2007) of the USA Network television program Psych, Shawn Spencer (James Roday) asks an FBI psychic, "Waiting for Godot? ...Guffman?"
  • In the pilot episode of Dawson's Creek, the main characters all go out to the cinema together to see "Waiting for Guffman".

External links

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