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Brother Theodore, one in all David Letterman’s all-time most memorable company, lectures us on ‘Foodism’

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Brother Theodore, one in all David Letterman’s all-time most memorable company, lectures us on ‘Foodism’


“My title, as you will have guessed, is Theodore. I come from a wierd inventory. The members of my household had been principally epileptics, vegetarians, stutterers, triplets, nail biters. However we’ve all the time been blissful.”—Brother Theodore

I’m undecided this story qualifies as an precise anecdote or only a meandering means of introducing an incredible assortment of YouTube clips, however right here goes nuthin’…

As a lad rising up in Wheeling, WV within the 1970s, at roughly the age of twelve, I made a decision that I used to be not going to eat the meals I used to be being served by my mother and father. In a house the place greasy pan-fried hamburgers (or “Steakums”) had been the everyday major course and Kraft macaroni and cheese substituted for the “vegetable group,” I merely wished to eat more healthy. My mother and father weren’t very blissful about this this demand—for that’s what it was—and it appeared actually insulting to them, however what might they do? The severity of my new weight-reduction plan will need to have actually taken them abruptly. I turned, just about a Fruitatarian, or a uncooked foodist, years earlier than this was widespread. What influenced my twelve-year-old thoughts to do one thing like this was an obscure guide I discovered within the native library with the distinctly unappetizing title, Mucusless Weight-reduction plan Therapeutic System by Dr. Arnold Ehret.

I received’t go into the small print of the weight-reduction plan, which extols the worth of avoiding “mucus” and “pus” in your meals—appears like an admirable purpose, proper?—however suffice to say that whereas Dr. Ehret’s work nonetheless has many followers—he’s considered the founding father of Naturopathy—many weight-reduction plan consultants contemplate him a complete quack. However I’m not right here to debate the deserves of his concepts, professional or con, merely to supply some temporary context earlier than I ship you off to learn this brief essay, The Definitive Treatment of Power Constipation.

Okay? You bought that? On the very least skim it. The language he makes use of is fairly distinctive isn’t it? The overall disgust he expresses in regards to the workings of the digestive system is nearly Nietzschean in its peculiar character. This absolutist tone should’ve contributed tremendously to my pre-teen curiosity within the weight-reduction plan.

Now flash-forward to the late 1990s, New York Metropolis. I had change into associates with the then 91-year-old Theodore Gottlieb, better-known because the notorious darkish comic Brother Theodore, a giant affect on monologists Eric Bogosian, Lydia Lunch and Spalding Grey, who had been performing his completely insane one-man present on the tiny 13th Road Theater in Greenwich Village for ages and was a frequent visitor on David Letterman’s late evening talkshow through the 1980s. Theodore, or relatively his persona, was as soon as described as s “Boris Karloff, surrealist Salvador Dalí, Nijinsky and Pink Skelton…concurrently.” That’s not far off the mark.

At his age, it was not a lot of an exaggeration to say that Theodore had “been round eternally.” He was delivering traces like “The one factor that retains me alive is the hope of dying younger” lengthy earlier than I used to be born. What was a terrific gag when he was, say, 50 years outdated, after which to STILL be delivering a line like that on the age of 93, as he did on my UK tv collection, Disinformation, effectively that, let’s consider existential rigidity is what made his nonagenarian performances so extremely spell-binding.
His present was within the type of a stern lecture. It was almost inconceivable to inform if this was an act you had been seeing or if he was totally batshit loopy, a berserk “genius” impervious to laughter so long as an viewers purchased tickets. The props had been a chair, a desk, a chalk board and a styrofoam cup. There was a single highlight. If you happen to had been anyplace close to the stage in that little theater he might completely scare the shit out of you. After all, every time I introduced associates, I took them proper down the entrance!

It was an act, I can guarantee you. Theodore in actual life was a mellow outdated bohemian man who lived a number of lives in his 94 years. He’d been in Dachau, as an example. His mom, stepfather and sister had been killed, however Theodore’s launch was secured by none aside from Albert Einstein—his mom’s adulterous lover!—who paid his approach to America after the battle. He’d additionally been on Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin and most famously on Late Evening with David Letterman (Theodore, together with Harvey Pekar, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson and Captain Beefheart, was one of the memorable and emblematic oddball Letterman company of his early period).  He was in The Burbs enjoying Tom Hanks’ nice uncle and was the voice of “Gollum” in The Hobbit cartoon. He had a cameo in Orson Welles’ The Stranger. He was even in a porno film, an X-rated parody of Jaws known as Gums (Theo performs the boat captain, in a fortunately non-balling function. The previous focus camp prisoner can be seen, relatively inexplicably, sporting a Nazi SS uniform for a lot of the movie). In his nineties he was courting a girl in her mid-forties. He rode a motorbike round New York Metropolis till he was effectively into his eighties. Theodore was an outdated Beatnik, that’s the way in which I noticed him. I feel that’s largely the way in which he noticed himself.

And speak about a bizarre approach to make a dwelling! He actually wasn’t something like his crazed monk act in actual life, although. And let me inform you, when you find yourself in your thirties and have a good friend who’s of their nineties… you study issues about life. Not all of them good, both. 94 years is a very long time to stay. Too lengthy, when you ask me. I’m fairly certain he felt that means, too.

Theodore apparently had nice issue memorizing traces, even his personal materials and so he solely actually ever did two main monologues—he’d swap off between them when he felt prefer it—for over 40 years. One was known as “Foodism”—we’ll get to this one in a minute—and the opposite was known as “Quadrupidism” the place he’d extol the virtues of human beings getting down on all fours (every part went to hell when our ancestors stood up in keeping with his theories).
At some point I used to be visiting Theodore at his condominium and I used to be taking a look at his sparse guide shelf. On it sat The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, Baudelaire’s Les Fleur du Mal, an Edgar Allan Poe anthology, The Moveable Nietzsche, some Saint Augustine, and… ta da… The Mucusless Weight-reduction plan Therapeutic System by Dr. Arnold Ehret. I remarked to him that I actually was a pre-teen adherent to Arnold Ehret’s unconventional concepts about weight-reduction plan and he replied that it was the inspiration for his “Foodism” monologue.  “I merely exaggerated his writings. Simply barely. That was all it took!”

My jaw hit the bottom. He’d managed to craft one of the good comedian monologues of all time based mostly on Ehret’s zany diet-sprach. I used to be awestruck at how wonderful this revelation actually was. I imply… how artistic!!!

You learn that essay about constipation, proper? Promise me? Now go watch this prolonged excerpt from the “Foodism” lecture carried out on Late Evening with David Letterman within the mid-80s.

And right here’s the true deal with: Each single Brother Theodore look on Late Evening With David Letterman!

BONUS: The notorious episode of The Merv Griffin Present the place Brother Theodore let’s Jerry Lewis HAVE IT with each barrels. Merv properly simply lets it occur…


An prolonged excerpt from Jeff Sumereal’s documentary ‘To My Nice Chagrin: The Unbelievable Story of Brother Theodore.’ Watch it on Amazon Prime.

Theodore does his complete “Lizalotta Bindel” routine as Letterman appears on.
A Secret Noodle Ring in Minnesota
New York Occasions obituary for Theodore Gottlieb
Brother Theodore is Useless by Nick Mamatas
Brother Theodore by Jon Kalish (the “TV producer” referred to right here might be me)
Brother Theodore was my babysitter

Posted by Richard Metzger



01:07 pm


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