‘Documentary Now!’ Does Spalding Gray
With a shout-out to Foster-Glocester! The second season of IFC’s “Documentary Now!” is off to a great start. The show’s creators and writers — Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and Seth Myers — are taking this mockumentary format to a whole new level. Tonight’s installment featured Bill Hader as a Spalding Gray-type (Gray grew up in Barrington, Rhode Island) performing one of his trademark monologues. There’s a supporting cast, but it’s still a one-man show. In “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything” we find the tortured genius spiraling out of control because he has to move out of his Manhattan loft.
Spalding Gray may seem like an odd target — he took his own life 12 years ago — but I think he would get these guys. (And of course: Tragedy + Time = Comedy.)
Here’s the bonus for Rhode Island viewers: Writers Hader and John Mulaney have their protagonist revisiting his childhood home in Rhode Island, but Grey’s boring Barrington has been changed to “Foster-Glocester!” I suppose they plucked it off of a map, and it sounds silly enough in this context. But for us natives it inevitably evokes “snow day!” which adds to the goofiness. Either way, it tends to undermine the devastation of the memories Parker is dredging up.
I don’t know whether those who haven’t seen Gray’s “Swimming to Cambodia” can truly appreciate the genius of Hader’s performance, but this is certainly a recognizable type.