You're Joking, Right?

Word has it that the Deer Hunter-obsessed heckler at the John Milius/Oliver Stone discussion on war movies actually didn’t create the most uncomfortable moment experienced at an Austin Film Festival panel this weekend (though I for one can’t wait for my commemorative tee-shirt emblazoned with “What the fuck, Milius? What the fuck!”).

While I was too busy chasing Mr. Milius at the time (more on that soon), friends who attended the “Improv in Comedy” talk tell me things got pretty squirmy when Victor Fanucci, director of competition feature Beyond the Pale, arrived partway through as a late addition, and panelists Harris Goldberg, Larry Willmore, and moderator Warren Etheridge didn’t seem to know if he was for real and whether to let him join in. Meanwhile, the audience wondered whether they were witnessing some prankish illustration of improv comedy principles, like a guerilla Curb Your Enthusiasm moment curdling into something a little more Andy Dick ... and one of those moments that really help give a festival some spice.

Most likely an honest mistake or miscommunication heightened and prolonged into comedy of discomfort by the mere topic of the panel itself, the tale made the rounds as one of those events where “this isn’t funny” becomes the funniest thing to say. I don’t care to know whether it was real – whatever that means in this case – so my apologies to the panelists and fest organizers, but all should take some satisfaction in knowing that the legend made for better conversational lubricant at parties than even the 360 Vodka.

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