SF Sketchfest Review: Fishing With John at The Castro Theater, 1/8/15

by Dakin Hardwick on January 12, 2016


A good critic thoroughly researches his or her subject well ahead of the event they are reviewing. They learn about the subject, the history of the producer, and a bit about the fans. I did not do this. I liked the name “Fishing with John.” And when I saw that Parker Posey was interviewing the creator of this thing, I decided that this was likely to be interesting. Also, I was in the neighborhood and heard rumor of transit delays, it was raining, and I just wanted to hide in a theater for a couple of hours while the storm passed.

So, without as much as even a looking up John Lurie on Wikipedia, I sat in a nearly packed theater full of rabid fans to view two episodes of a tv program that ran 6 episodes on IFC in 1998. (Thank you to the woman sitting next me to me that told me this when I blurted “wow, this was on television?!?!” after the first episode for giving me these facts. Also, for smiling when you told me this instead of looking annoyed)

The first episode they showed featured the great Willem Dafoe going ice fishing with Lurie. At this point, I’m not sure if this thing is fact for fiction. Dafoe looks like he knows what he’s doing, and the early voiceovers felt pretty factual. I also know nothing about fishing, and am quite gullible. The episode devolved into pure, delusional chaos. Dafoe proves he’s one of the great American actors, engulfing him in his role as a struggling ice fisherman, camping in the snow and failing miserably. By the end of it, I was laughing hysterically.

The second episode was a bit more direct. It flowed in that way that Christopher Guest comedies run. Dennis Hopper and Lurie were fishing in Thailand, looking for a rare squid that might be fictitious. It was surreal and dark. They spent a solid ten minutes on eating dinner at a restaurant in rural Thailand. Hopper freaks out over ice in his juice. Lurie obsesses over a bluish tint to his seafood. It was bloody brilliant.

We also enjoyed about 5 minutes of Lurie’s watercolors. I wished I knew more about art, as I just knew it was pretty decent. Of course, people didn’t buy tickets to watch tv. They came to learn about the creator.

Parker Posey came out first. Dressed in the widest array of different patterns that I’ve ever seen, including a monstrous infinity scarf. She immediately apologized for Lurie’s tardiness because he was in the bathroom. Lurie, of course, was right behind her. The two of them sat down, looked right at each other, and proceeded to argue about whether or not it was appropriate for Posey to discuss his bathroom usage. And how it really shouldn’t matter because he was neither late nor bathrooming. For a really long time. It was utterly weird, but my eyes were watering in hysterics. Lurie briefly discussed Donald Trump mocking Hilary Clinton for using the bathroom, marking the only serious moment in the chat.

The rest of the conversation moved between facts about the show and off the cuff banter. I was never quite sure what was real and what was fiction. I wok,d believe that Dennis Hopper had a collection of vagina coloring books and fought Thai pirates over a stolen case of Diet Coke. It made for an amusing q+a. Lurie is one of those guys that pretends to be grumpy, but isn’t. He made fun of nearly every question, but it as sincere jest. And, happily, there was only one hard core Posey fan that needed to ask about House Of Yes. Which you need to go see right now. I’ll wait.

For an escape from the rain, Fishing With John was a wonderful way to go. And now, next rain day, I know what I’m binging on.

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