Two Decades Later, a Short Film with a Restaurant Punchline Still Brings the Funny
The other night, I had dinner at Carbone, one of the biggest openings of the season in New York City. I loved the food at this Mario Carbone-Rich Torrisi paean to Italian-American restaurants, in the former home of Rocco’s on Thompson Street. Early in the experience, while sitting with the skyscraper-sized menu (wish I had a photo) listening to the litany of specials from the tuxedoed waiter, I was reminded of a short film that ends with a deadpan, endless riff on the exact same type of recitation, complete with two (unseen) diners holding similarly gargantuan menus.
The film, The Waiters, isn’t about restaurants — it’s an extended play on its title, an absurdsit, at times David Lynch-like look at various “waiters” that ends with the restaurant variety (that bit begins at the 5:10 mark). Enjoy:
I first saw this movie about 20 years back, when I organized a short-film series at Cascabel restaurant, in the space that is now home to Michael White’s Osteria Morini. The film was made at NYU, written by Thomas Lennon, who went on to a successful career as a comedic writer and actor, and directed by Ken Webb. Though I hadn’t seen or thought of it in ages, it came right back to me at dinner. Guess it was there in my memory all along, just – er – waiting to be triggered.