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“When she was a baby I would play her Elton John and the Ramones,” he explains, before T. Swift got the best of the Oswalt household. Not that he’s complaining, exactly, since Oswalt has a remarkable love for the best in both high and lowbrow culture, which is why Silver Screen Friend is such a fun read. The book chronicles his life-changing yet painful early days as a stand-up (“It was very bad, very hacky. Just gross, easy stuff,” he tells us), his feature film debut (in that Kelsey Grammar classic comedy, Down Periscope), and a frightening first encounter with Nosferatu, his “scarring/gateway movie” that turned him into the film geek he proudly is today. And his chapter about Jerry Lewis’ lost Holocaust clown movie, which Oswalt once turned into a hit sketch at L.A.’s Largo club, is so horrifyingly hilarious we made him recount it for us in every cringe-worthy detail (“This was in the depths of his Percocet addiction,” he explains of Lewis.)
Oswalt surprises us when asked what movie he could watch forever on an infinity loop (one that is about “a world that I hate so much – the world of fashion”) and when he admits there is a part of the movie Young Adult, which he co-starred in with Charlize Theron, that still makes him cry today (hint: it’s in the final credits.) Of being cast in that film Oswalt humbly insists “it’s some kind of long-con prank that’s being played on me and they just haven’t dropped the other shoe yet.” But it becomes clear while talking to him why director Jason Reitman felt that Oswalt would bring the amount of humanity that the film so desperately needed, like when he starts advocating for the value of watching movies in a real theater with a real audience, which he insists “is an experience that will change the way you think about the people in your life.”
And what about reading, say, his new book?
“If you read a book and you think it stinks, that’s an experience too,” he concedes.
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