James Leroy Wilson's blog

Friday, February 01, 2013

Larry Miller, Andy Kauffman, and 99 Bottles of Beer

On his latest podcast, Larry Miller recounts how, while on a road trip, he and his kids sang "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" in its entirety. A proud accomplishment.

Inspired by the late comedian Andy Kauffman.

One time in a show, Kauffman started singing the song. He made a mistake at 97 beers, and started over. Then he continued. The audience was amused at first.

When he got into the 80's, people were saying "enough's enough."

Into the 70's, the protests were louder.

And the 60's, even more.

In the 50's, the entire audience was yelling at him to stop.

But nobody had left.

In the forties, members of the audience looked at each other, thinking, He's actually going to do it! And started to smile.

In the thirties, some in the audience joined Kauffman in the song.

More joined and soon everyone was singing along, and when the song ended Kauffman received thunderous applause.

What does it all mean? I don't know. Kauffman's entire act, in whatever venue, seemed to be less about about him than how the audience reacted to him. There was the staged fight with Michael Richards on the live show Fridays. There was the staged punch by Jerry Lawler on Late Night With David Letterman. There was the Saturday Night Live vote to ban him as host forever. Among other things. I was just a kid and don't remember them all.

But there's something oddly inspiring about this "99 Beers" story.

  •  First, they like you and what you're doing.
  • Then they grow tired of what you're doing.
  • Then they hate you for what you're doing.
  • Then they "get" what you're doing.
  • Then they love you for what you have done. 
So if you believe in what you're doing, persevere!  

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