Plan 9 from Outer Space is one of the most iconic works to come out of Hollywood. Granted, due to its lingering reputation in pop culture as one of the worst movies ever made, its infamously iconic. However, regular readers of Ticklish Business will also remember, that I listed Plan 9 as one of my favorite first-time-watches of 2020 (yes, I was late taking the plunge). After sitting down and having the most fun of my life, I came to an epiphany… Plan 9 from Outer Space might be ‘bad’, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an absolute joy to watch– and it turns out the comedians of Hollywood agree with me.
The table read cast brings together who’s who from the stand-up comedy world reveling in the joy and delight that is Plan 9 from Outer Space: Dana Gould, Janet Varney, Maria Bamford, Bobcat Goldthwait, Paul F. Tompkins, Laraine Newman, Bob Odenkirk, Deborah Baker Jr., Janet Varney and Jonah Ray… to name a few. If you’ve ever moved in ‘The Nerdist’ circles (or watched Stan Against Evil for that matter) you’ll know this cast. Dana Gould adapts the script from Ed Wood‘s original screenplay.
I’ll admit to being a bit nervous as I saw down to watch this program. I’ve discussed a fair amount of ‘bad’ movies throughout the last few months here on Ticklish Business and they aren’t the always the easiest to analyze. There’s a very thin line between a ‘good/bad’ movie and a ‘bad/bad’ movie. In truth, it is possible to watch a bad movie and legitimately enjoy yourself while others come at something from a more patronizing ‘CinemaSins’ mindset. Critics walk a hard line and you stand-up comics walk a harder line.
Ultimately, the tone of a film starts with the script and I can’t think of a better person to shepherd this through than comedian Dana Gould. A stand-up comic and writer by trade (best known for his work writing for The Simpsons), Gould brings a tremendous consciousness and love of popular culture extending to the classic era and it shines through in his work.
In fact, Gould recounts a lengthy history with Plan 9 from Outer Space and even enjoyed a friendship with Vampira actress Maila Nurmi late in life. If there’s any questions to his intentions when tackling this subject matter, his sentiments become so clear when he talks about it. He truly loves it:
I took Maila Nurmi (Vampira) to see Plan 9 at the Cinerama Dome here in Los Angeles at a midnight screening on Halloween…. We were sitting there and the place was pretty packed and when Vampira came on screen, the place erupted…. I could feel her sort of beaming, it was sweet…
In fact, the there’s a well intentioned sweetness which comes through in this table read tribute in the very format alone. This is performed on Zoom. Part of Plan 9’s charm comes in its low-budget production value. In staging this production on Zoom, the performers find themselves alone in their kitchens and studies doing what they can to tell this story with only the props they can find (or even make!) themselves. All at once, this project taps into the slap dash nature of Plan 9 from Outer Space and it truly feels like a labor of love.
As mentioned, the cast unites a who’s who of comedy over the last twenty years in the industry and there really is someone for every comedic taste. Are you a fan of The Office? Oscar Nunez is terrific. Are you more of the Better Call Saul persuasion? Bob Odenkirk is delightful. Heck, for those whose tastes sway to Saturday Night Live at its most traditional and iconic, comedy legend Laraine Newman is pitch-perfect as the deadpan narrator.
So, while you’re tuning into Plan 9 from Outer Space tonight as part of the TCM Classic Film Festival, stop by a little early to check out the SF Sketchfest Presents: Plan 9 from Outer Space Table Read. It’s a perfect tribute to the simple joy that is Plan 9 from Outer Space. While some call it one of the worst movies ever made, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a fun watch.
SF Sketchfest Presents: Plan 9 from Outer Space Table Read airs as part of the TCM Classic Film Festival May 7th at 8:00pm EST and leads straight into the iconic film where it draws its inspiration.
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