Review: Jonathan Richman with “There’s Something About Mary” at Lost Weekend Video, 8/19/2010

by Mielle Sullivan on August 20, 2010

Quite life-like.

Jonathan Richman in print and Jonathan Richman in real life.

Words by Mielle Sullivan. Photography and videos by Christopher Rogers.

I’ve been to a lot of Jonathan Richman shows. I see him almost every time I get the chance. I see him yearly at The Great American Music Hall; I’ve seen him at several residencies at The Make-Out Room; and just last month, I saw him at the Swedish American Hall.

So, I was delighted to hear that he was going to be appearing, a few blocks from where I live in The Mission.

But not at The Make-Out Room or any of the other bars or venues that often have live music — at Lost Weekend Video, the excellent, friendly, independent video rental shop on Valencia: survivor into this era of on-demand streaming movies because the staff are so much fun to talk to. They are like your own personal shoppers for film. You can go in and say “Hey, I feel like watching something like ‘Godzilla vs Mothra.’ But, you know… more romantic.” and they will have a recommendation that is exactly what you were looking for. Nothing like trying to hash through cryptic Netflix recommendations and cliched movie descriptions that seem also seem to be written by algorithm.

Anyway, the email about the show said basically two things: Jonathan will be re-enacting his role from “There’s Something About Mary” and get there early because Jonathan routinely sells out much larger venues.

The circular waves are reminiscent of Vertigo's poster.

The poster printed for the event. Only 70 were made.

Sure enough, I get there a half-an-hour early and there was a line around the block. I knew I should’ve come earlier. I had no idea how me, my friend and the hundred other people already in line were going to fit in the store with all the shelves and stuff.

Well, we do get in. They took out some of the shelves and even added a little refreshment bar with home-baked cookies. But, the few seats available are taken and for the first twenty minutes I can’t really see — I’m in the third row of people standing behind the chairs. Yet as the show progresses, people spread out and even begin sitting atop the shelves of DVDs. The whole thing takes on the air of kids piled into a playroom for Jonathan’s Fun-Time Story Hour.


Richman telling the story behind the multiple takes of the scene where Mary’s Dad greets Ted at the door before on Prom Night.

And that’s pretty much what we get. He brought his guitar, but only pulled it to reference riffs from the movie’s songs. And he doesn’t sing hardly anything at all.


He did not put down the guitar as he entertained the crowd, yet it was barely played.

What he does do is pause the movie every twenty minutes or so to tell funny stories about the filming: How he injured himself before filming many of the scenes through a combination of running and enthusiastic salsa lessons, rendering himself barely able to stand; How Cameron Diaz’s dad and the Farrelly brothers’ parents played bit parts in the film; How some songs came to be and how he would have done it differently if he could do it over.

Low light photo shoot? Make it work.

When he stood in front of the paused movie, the projection painted the film broadly across his body.

All Jonathan Richman shows are at least as much ad-lib as written lyric. There is a lot of conversation that blends into song. It always kinda feels like hanging out at a friend’s house while he plays you his favorite songs and a few he is still working on — which, from what I understand, is pretty much Jonathan’s musical philosophy. Intimate. Spontaneous. Simple.

Seemed like a nice guy. Quirky? Yes. But genuine.

Richman signed posters and spoke with fans after the show.

This evening was like watching old home movies with that old friend as he tells what the film didn’t quite capture and all that happened when the cameras were off.

If you haven’t seen Jonathan Richman play live before, and you have the chance — go. Or at least give his music a try. There’s a sweet, haunting simplicity to him that will stay with you.


Photos by Christopher Rogers

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