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.