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My funny, evil dad is Chicago magazine


My Dad, Wally Odenkerk, could be angry at the rag he used to dry the car. If he dragged him through the hood and he attacked his pants and left a wet trail, he could explode in rage.

Damn it! What the hell ?! ” He will curse the sky, the rag and its unruly moisture. The universe would look back without giving an inch. It was funny if you weren’t too close to the unwarranted intensity of his emotional outburst. I inherited this “thermonuclear emotional latitude”. I can go from 0 (calm, smiling, friendly) to 80 (snorting, red face, dynamite) in zero-point-zero seconds. This can be useful in acting. In real life it can be nervous. I wonder how often this is unintentional and does not reflect my true state of mind, but is a kind of mirror exaggeration of my true feelings. And I guess it’s about as much fun as a mirror of a fun house, seeing this distorted rage pop up unexpectedly, as well as not very fun at all.

From the book Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama from Bob Odenkerk. Copyright © 2022 Le Foole Inc. Published by Random House, an outlet and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

Wally Adenkerk was also, oddly enough, if he wanted to be, deliberately funny. Expressing whimsical – mocking, rude, contemptuous – or just harshly sarcastic in the face. One day he stopped to get directions from a stranger, and the guy muttered embarrassed in response, and my dad said, “Well, thank you, buddy, you’re really helping! Glad you stopped! ” I was about 9 years old and the way he said it out loud and with a wide smile just killed me. His view, this firm attitude towards the Midwest, was to cut everything and everyone to size, and this is actually a very good POV for a comedy writer.

My father earned his living by business forms. Read this phrase again … yes, you are sleeping now and you will obey my order. He told jokes and loved to watch Hee Howe and The Benny Hill Show (British Hee Howe – He basically loved Hee Howein any language). It’s a humor that hits you on the head and it hurts me.

All in all, my dad was rude and too tense and those were his good qualities. He had never been around, and when he was, there was tension in the air. The older I got, the more grateful I was for not having it more often. When my parents finally broke up forever when I was 15, I was thrilled. My heart jumped, and rays of light flashed from my eyes. I could exhale. I saw my dad only a few times until I got a call when I was 22 and was told he was dying. His life was nothing but a tragedy, and a rather petty tragedy, a life barely lived. Saying goodbye to him was a matter of shrugging.

Listen to how Bob Odenkerk read this story.

My mother was also very committed to Catholicism and its principles. If I had as a child every time someone said to me, “Your mother is holy,” I would have had a penny, I would have gotten a lot of stupid cents. Saints are beautiful on prayer cards; personally, they find it hard to figure out what to do with them. Maybe some scandals in the church “Church” shook her boat a little, but let’s hide it under a thick blanket of distraction, right? The church was her stone, she was our rock, and, boy, we needed a stone. She was resilient. With her, the dollar has stopped, and I’ll just say, because it will please her: Thank GOD for that. My mom is also very funny, but she doesn’t know it. She has always been a big fan of not thinking too highly of herself or anyone else. This is a basic component of good comedic thinking and writing – a lack of respect for the world and one’s place in it. Thanks, Mom.

Adenkirki. Seven children! Can you believe it ?! What about those Catholics, huh? Our neighbors considered us a clan. And the truth is that we stuck together. We kids got closer as things got more shaky and shaky. In the background hung forever a gloomy existential uncertainty, accompanied by a trembling sense of imminent doom. It was a feeling based on information gathered directly from the horse’s mouth.

“Boys,” Dad took me and my older brother Steve aside, “we’re running out of money.” We stood in our new bedroom in our new suburban home that was being built around us, with new bunk beds and desks. Hell, it almost seemed like the beginning of some … hope. But here Wally told us that everything was about to come to a dark, terrible end, and soon! We would be “on the street” – such a phrase was heard during these six months of uplifting. I was 5 years old so I didn’t have a lot of good advice for him. Steve was 6 years old – maybe he had some idea of ​​the job market and financial planning. (Steve eventually became a banker, and I ended up going into comedy to laugh at the people in charge – so I think that moment and many other similar moments affected both of us.) I remember looking at that moment. . silence and metaphorically shit pants.

Bob Odenkerk as a boy scout. “Look at this baby … What could go wrong?” he says.Photo: Bob Odenkerk

These little doomed jumps from Cap’n were bright, scary and irregular enough to have the maximum effect. One day, when I was about 9 years old, this restless shuttle picked me up with my brother at 2am and said he would leave soon and send us money to pay the bills. I remember wondering: how would I write checks? At that time I had not yet mastered cursive.

I’ve always been a reader, and at some point I just started thinking of my dad as a character in the book – I guess, Dickens. As if he wasn’t really real, and everything he did or didn’t do – pour money out of bank accounts, lose his business, get into car accidents, disappear for a long time – it all happened with some imaginary trick, and I was safe to hear about it , all offset my enjoyment of listening. I overheard the last chatter about pathetic behavior and would just add it to the pathetic story I was “reading”. It worked well for me. Such a healthy detachment from reality can even be considered a skill for a future actor.

Meanwhile, I was very confused by life, and especially important aspects of maturation, sex was number 1. I spent a lot of time in Boy Scouts, looking for role models for men, and found a few. I was lucky when one of the offenders of this organization slipped through me, but I know friends who later told me some rough things they went through. Other bad things happened. In orientation in the pea mist of youth, Catholicism did not help, even a little.

Is it possible to end the “darkness” now? I think we all have enough of this sad story, and I share my here to say what you already think: they are nothing special, my psychological cracks. I enjoyed the deeply unremarkable suburban upbringing.

Two things have improved life in our home. First, my brothers and sisters, each with a good sense of humor and kindness to each other. We relied on each other and we laughed together, a lot. They were my first audience at the dinner table when Dad was away (most nights). My brother Bill, smarter and funnier than me, eventually joined, and it was my first “night with an open mic”. It is good that the parents had seven children – we had the main requirement for the theater: ass in chairs. I was the headliner. Basically I got up and played some idiocy from the day out, made fun of the people I met, or just was a clown.

Interestingly, the teachers encouraged and indulged my constant farting. In fifth grade, my science teacher allowed me to read a newspaper in class and even allowed me to have one lesson. I offered a silly lesson plan reef, laughed and went back to my seat. In high school, three amazing teachers conspired to allow me to put on comedy sketches for my projects. I did a work about the African nation of Ghana, one about Abraham Lincoln, the other about the Great Chicago Fire – all well rehearsed, with scripts, a classmate named Jerry Hink, rough scenery and costumes … and I got an “A” and applause for it all. They even sent me to perform these pieces at school in other classes. Do you think that impressed me? That, damn it, worked. Great time. It was my first big break. Teachers are changing livesso thank you teachers!


In high school from England an angel was sent from above to save me. An angel named Monty Python. You know what, let’s move away from religion and put it this way: Monty Python was the hip-hop that saved my life.

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