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Film: Waiting for Guffman

Waiting for Guffman is a Mockumentary starring, co-written and directed by Christopher Guest that was released in 1997. Its cast included Catherine O'Hara, Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, Parker Posey and others who would appear in several of the subsequent mockumentaries directed by Guest.

The residents of Blaine, Missouri - the self-proclaimed home of the first UFO landing in the United States (Blaine residents beg to differ with Roswell's claims) and stool capital of the world - are excited about the town's upcoming sesquicentennial celebration, which will have as its centerpiece the original musical production, "Red, White and Blaine." Corky St. Clair, the musical's writer/composer and former New York theater professional (off off off off Broadway) who currently leads the Blaine Community Players, will helm the production, assisted by high school music teacher Lloyd Miller. Corky and Lloyd are excited about their 'talented' cast of locals and the production as a whole, though Corky and Lloyd are themselves as untalented and unaware as their cast. Corky and company are especially anticipating the presence of a representative of the prestigious New York based Oppenheimer Organization, Mort Guffman, in the audience on opening night. In Corky's mind, a favorable review from Guffman means that the production is heading to Broadway. Through all the ups and downs (and more downs) of the pre-production, everyone in Blaine still can't wait for opening night and the arrival of Guffman, upon whom the cast and crew's dreams rest.

The title of the film is a reference to the Samuel Beckett play, Waiting for Godot similarly, the titular character never appears. As in the other mockumentaries created by Guest, the majority of the dialogue is improvised. Because the film is about the production of a stage musical, it contains several original musical numbers.

Waiting for Guffman contains examples of:

  • All Gays Love Theater
  • Anal Probing: A supposed visit by a UFO is a significant part of the history of Blaine, Missouri. One abductee shares his story, in which he details being probed for "three to four hours" by "five or six" aliens—not all at once but individually. Every Sunday around the time of his abduction, the abductee finds that he has "no feeling in his buttocks."
  • Artistic License - Music: In the overture, someone decided to dub in MIDI instruments, despite a live orchestra being the ones playing. This is either a gigantic In-Joke to musicians, or an Epic Fail on behalf of the music editor. It's not Lampshaded.
  • Bad Bad Acting: All the actors in the musical, especially the Albertsons. "Hubbub hubbub hubbub..."
  • Camp Gay: Corky has all of the mannerisms.
  • Correspondence Course:
    Clifford Wooley: "I had a... hankerin' to be an actor when I was a young feller when I got out of the Coast Guard, but I... I went to taxidermy school instead... well, I took a correspondence course."
  • The Ghost: The characters spend the entire movie preparing for the arrival of Broadway talent scout Guffman. During their performance, a distinguished man arrives late and takes Guffman's seat, but we later find out that he's just a random guy. Guffman never arrives.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: Possibly director Corky St. Clair's wife Bonnie though she supposedly lives in town with him, not in some distant locale. Nobody ever seems to have met Bonnie, and there are hints ("I buy most of her clothes") that "Bonnie" may be a cover story for crossdressing or some more peculiar activity.
  • Literary Allusion Title: To Waiting for Godot, as noted above.
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: The "theatre critic" turns out to be just a man who is in town to visit his niece, who has just had a baby. In the closing credits, he is listed as "Not Guffman".
  • Mockumentary
  • No Ending: The number "Nothing Ever Happens On Mars".
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: played with in "Red, White and Blaine", in which an alien's musical number is "Nothing Ever Happens On Mars". This was meant to be a Call Back to a song called "Nothing Ever Happens In Blaine" that got cut; note the audience's roar of laughter when it starts.
  • Serious Business: Community theatre
  • Stylistic Suck: The musical itself.
  • Transparent Closet: Corky St. Clair
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Corky St. Clair might be a closeted example. He often buys clothes for his wife Bonnie, a reclusive lady who nobody ever seems to have met.
  • Why Are We Whispering: Corky St. Clair does this.

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alternative title(s): Waiting For Guffman
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