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Waiting With Nathan
10.30.2002 by Dan Beirne, every Wednesday.

Nathan Lane comes over every Wednesday to the house to watch a movie, or just chat with Dan. Dan found these little chats so interesting, he decided to tape-record them and tell the world all the neat things Nathan had to say about movies and stuff.

Wednesday, September 25th, cloudy

Crumb (1994): Documentary on the comic-book artist Robert Crumb. Involves his life but also glimpses into the life of his two brothers and his mother. A study of critics' reactions to his often controversial work, and of his own psyche that produces this kind of work. Directed by Terry Zwigoff, and produced by David Lynch.

Me: So, Nathan, what did you think of that?

Nathan Lane: I liked it a lot. It was really moving. There was so much revelation of his craziness, but compared to his family, he seemed completely normal.

Me: Is there anything interesting you want to say about it?

Nathan: Um, interesting? What do you mean?

Me: Oh, you know, interesting. Like about the themes or something.

Nathan: Why, are you writing a report on this movie or something?

(sound of my chair cracking, it happens when I lean back too far on it)

Me: Uh, no. It's just usually you have interesting stuff to say about movies.

Nathan: Well, I thought I was saying something interesting. About how, compared to his family, such a seemingly deviant person, could seem so normal.

Me: Yeah, that is interesting.

Nathan: What do you think?

Me: Well, I think you're right. His brothers were actually far crazier than Robert could ever be.

Nathan: And his mother. His mother seems to be the most, like, tragic of all the characters. Like, she's totally this hermit that sits in her basement, and both her and Charles feed off each other's loneliness and neuroses.

Me: Yeah.

Nathan: And didn't you find it odd how Crumb seemed to be least comfortable around his own family? He was always putting on a fake laugh, and laughing at stuff that wasn't funny, but was actually pretty horrifying. He seemed most honest when he was with his wife Aline or just talking to Terry.

Me: Yeah, totally.

Nathan: One thing that's interesting about Terry Zwigoff is that even in Ghost World, a big-budget, star-studded movie, he manages to bring shades of Crumb along with him.

Me: Yeah, you want one?

(I'm offering Nathan a cracker with cheese on it that my mom made us. He shakes his head.)

Nathan: Like with the character of Seymour, like, that's obviously inspired by Robert Crumb. He loves old jazz, old furniture and artifacts, and even has an affection for old drawings of black people.

Me: I didn't see Ghost World.

Nathan: You should, it's awesome.

(sound of me getting up and going to the window)

Me: I think your aunt's here.

(sound of Nathan getting up and joining me at the window)

Nathan: No, that's not my van. And what's amazing about this movie is that it couldn't be made by anyone else. Crumb is such a huge figure in pop culture, we're just lucky that he happened to have a close, personal friend like Terry Zwigoff to make this picture, because it wouldn't have been nearly as good done by anyone else.

Me: Who's van is that then?

Nathan: I mean, you heard the way he hated his comics being adapted into cartoons, he really just hates anything that's not familiar; a neurosis that just happened to get exaggerated in his brother Charles, and just mangled in his brother Maxon.

(sound of me coughing. Crackers always make me cough)

Nathan: It's like he was from another time, which is something he said he's always felt, right? And that would explain his screwy taste in women. Man, it's just sinking in how good this movie is.

Me: I really think that's your van, it's still running.

(sound of the horn beeping)

Nathan: Oh, I guess it is my aunt. Maybe this is a loner from the shop or something.

Me: Yeah, probably. You want, like, a pear for the ride or something?

Nathan: Naw, thanks. I'll see ya.

Me: Yeah, see ya, man.

(sound of him saying good-bye to my dog, then a silence, then the door closing)

As always, you can e-mail Nathan Lane at to ask him about movies or talk about whatever.


Ghost World (2001) After High School ends Enid strays away from her plans when she meets Seymour, a musically obsessed middle-age man. Starring Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, and Steve Buscemi, directed by Terry Zwigoff.

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