Dennis Miller: Um, Why, Exactly?

Dennis Miller is my neighbor, loosely speaking. A mom whose kid went to the same preschool my son went to has an older kid in the school Dennis Miller’s kid attends. She tells the story of how Miller screamed profanities at her in front of the children in the parking lot at pickup time one day, clearly stressed out, presumably not just by her having made some driving decision too slowly in the presence of unpredictable four-foot pedestrians.

Another time, my daughter performed in a Bach festival at which Dennis Miller’s kid also performed. I didn’t realize Miller was there, but after the event, as we were driving away from the church where it took place, I needed to hit the brakes to avoid the mammoth black SUV that whipped out of the parking lot into the street in front of me, and then, when I gave an eyebrow-raise to the other driver, was surprised to see Dennis Miller nodding back at me, his look seeming to say that yes, I really had had a close encounter with a real-life celebrity, and didn’t I feel special?

There may be other points at which our lives have come close to touching, but those are the only ones I’m aware of.

I’ve seen him on TV for a number of years, of course. I watched him during his stint as the semi-funny anchorman on SNL’s weekend update, during that long dry spell when I watched the show in the vain hope it might one day live up to its past. I caught his broadcast once, I think, on Monday Night Football. And I watched his HBO show several times, though I can’t say I was a fan; it was more that I was unable to look away from the car-wreck-in-real-time of his segue into the monologue-ending rant, in which he would trot out his one trick for the knee-jerk applause of that part of his audience that sees the trappings of thought, and assumes (too hastily) that there’s something real behind it, hastening to add their stamp of approval so that they, too, might appear thoughtful.

Miller was visibly tired of the schtick then, but apparently it has gotten much, much worse since his political conversion. Witness the following clip, in which Miller “interviews” Eric Alterman on the lies of the Bush administration re: Iraq: Dennis Miller. Notice how he doesn’t even bother to parody having actual insights. He just slumps in his chair, makes a few incoherent verbal jabs (calling them “half-hearted” would be dishonest; I don’t think they make fractions small enough to measure that amount of heart), and, when the second hand reaches the magic point when he can end the interview, abruptly does so.

So, car-wreck-in-progress aside, is there any reason at all to still watch him? He comes off as profoundly depressed, or over-medicated, or both. I was reminded of nothing so much as Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, in the part of the movie where he has been crushed by the weight of repeating the same hateful routine over and over and over and over, and he finally snaps, breaking character and babbling incoherently into the camera before saying goodbye to Rita and stealing the groundhog.

If he wasn’t a neighbor, I’d say screw him. He needs more (or better) therapy, some near-death experience to snap him out of his midlife crisis, maybe. Whatever; it’s not my problem. But he is a neighbor, and neighbors look out for each other.

Get help, Dennis. Before it’s too late.

8 Responses to “Dennis Miller: Um, Why, Exactly?”

  1. John F Says:

    Turn back to the left, Dennis, while you still have a soul… :p :)

  2. rick Says:

    You know, I used to watch him on SNL, too. And, then he had some show on of the networks (not sure which, but not Hobo), and I kept hoping he would either get better material, or would work on his delivery. He wasn’t that great, but he seemed sorta likeable. But, I recently tuned in to his show on FOX, and I have to agree with you. He’s just lame. It’s like ‘I hate this job, but I need the money’ kind of work. It’s not really entertaining, and it most certainly isn’t funny. It doesn’t even reach the level of amusing.

    And, John F has got a point, and maybe it is this political shift to the right that has sucked whatever charm his schtick used to have, and left a mean little man in its place. Maybe his oxycotin supplier got busted in an Ashcroft sting, and his going cold turkey on national television.

    Whatever it is, I’m certainly not watching anymore. It’s too depressing.

  3. the liberal advocate Says:

    I think it’s too late for old Dennis. He’s sold his soul to the equivalent of Satan (The Bush Administration). He’s a lost cause. I used to watch his HBO show all the time, and as recently as last Spring, he was really knocking Bush for his load of crap, and now he’s done a complete about face. Wonder what kinda dirt they have on Dennis that made him do such an abrupt 180? Must be pretty incriminating stuff, that is all I have to say!

  4. steve Says:

    His cnbc show has gotten better , but so what! He could have been a comic genius if he wanted to, I mean the guy probably has something like a 200 IQ. Did anyone ever see ‘bordello of blood’,in that movie he had quik comebacks and really witty remarks, it was hillarious. I say go back to making funny movies intead of boring us with your politics.

  5. woof Says:

    I just finished watching Dennis Miller’s unbelievably bad show on CNBC. I felt so saddened by the discourse I witnessed between Dennis and his guests that I had to find out for myself whether people are actually listening to him out there.

    On this particular show, Dennis was ranting about how the US Army should ‘kick it up a notch’ in Iraq and start bombing mosques. One of his guests commented that such behaviour is OK because in War, anything goes: “..they bombed a lot of Catholic churches in the Second World War” he pointed out.

    I’ve been in the UK for about 7 years and have just moved back. I must say I am shocked – simply shocked – by the rubbish being put on television by the American networks.

    We need more people to let CNBC know that this guy is an ass and should be dumped.

    …and what is the deal with the Chimpanzee? Didn’t chimp jokes go out in the 50s?

  6. John Callender Says:

    What chimpanzee?

  7. Tom Baker Says:

    I used to be a fan of Dennis Miller. I even supported him on
    Monday Night Football. Mind you, I didn’t think he was good on
    the show, but I believed he could develop into the Cosellian
    prescence MNF has needed for decades now. But he never got much
    better. But he has turned into a mean little hatchet man for
    the Republican party. Granted, they got him a show, and he can
    afford to crank up his lifestyle, but at what cost? He looks
    profoundly unhealthy: dyspeptic, pasty, and a certain manginess
    has crept into his appearance even in his expensive suits. The
    sort of canine fealty he displays for President Bush is just sad
    to watch. Just sad. And his sickening hero worship of the
    Governator is even worse. Miller believes that California is no
    longer in financial trouble thanks to Arnold. Gee, I don’t
    think so. Arnold is the perfect Republican. He became the most
    famous athlete in the world without ever being in an athletic
    competition, he became the highest paid actor in the world without
    bothering to learn how to act, and he became Governor of the most
    populous state in the Union without winning a real election.
    Marketing, like martyrdom, can unfailingly make the untalented

  8. Dominic Says:

    You are all pretty sad.

    First off, I’ve never been a huge fan of Dennis Miller either; still not. But you guys

    are funny.

    To start, if your kid’s best friend’s mother’s aunt’s boyfriend’s cousin said

    something happened, then it is absolutely worth publishing.

    Secondly, leave it to a liberal to suggest the solution to every problem is medication

    and therapy. That’s what you keeps you guys so pathetic and dependant on everybody

    else. Get off the medication, get out of therapy, and get a job and some

    responsibility. That’ll cure what ails you.

    And come on, “sold his soul”?, “Turn back to the left…while you still have a soul”?

    I thought liberals didn’t believe in souls. Doesn’t this violate your credo?:

    Good stuff folks. Keep that crazy talk coming.

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