Out, damn Homer, out I say!

CALLUM TOWNSEND
Last updated 10:03 28/07/2011

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The interview had been going only half a minute and Police Chief Wiggum, Moe the bartender and Barney, the longest-serving alcoholic on television, had already made appearances, courtesy of Rick Miller.

The Canadian comic is bringing his Simpsons-Shakespeare amalgam, MacHomer, to Wellington's St James Theatre.

The one-man show has toured the world since the mid-1990s.

Miller's impressions were instantly recognisable as he leapt seamlessly between characters, despite the staccato Shakespearean dialogue.

Although it appealed to a different audience than a performance of Macbeth, Miller said Shakespeare purists would not be disappointed in MacHomer.

"It's trying to pay tribute not just to The Simpsons, but to Shakespeare as well."

It was amazing how people actually heard the story for the first time, Miller said, when it came out of the mouths of the familiar Simpsons characters.

Traditional Shakespeare fans, far from being skeptical about the show, had been some of its biggest supporters.

They were eager to broaden the Bard's appeal, and Miller said The Simpsons made ideal bedfellows for Shakespeare.

The characters were quite loveable, and focus on character and story gave the show a lot of heart, though others made sharper social comment and pushed the boundaries of irreverent humour further.

Shows like Family Guy and its carbon copy, American Dad, "went through the door The Simpsons opened", but focused more on tiptoeing along the fringes of bad-taste gags.

MacHomer was created about 16 years ago, when The Simpsons was coming into its own as cutting-edge satire.

About half of the original MacHomer survives - Miller rewrote material when he felt the show needed a shot in the arm.

Such a long run spawned memorable performances, including an early brush with the famous curse of the Scottish play - Miller knocked out two teeth onstage in the show's second year, though he managed to finish his performance.

Though such heroics might not be required this time, Miller promised a vibrant show. zMacHomer, St James Theatre, August 11 to 16.

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- The Wellingtonian

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