June 02, 2004

The Making of Me

Every magazine interview with a famous musician starts with the question of their musical influences. While I am a student of music, I became interested in the idea of personality influences; characters and people that have had an effect on you. So in our next installment of "Getting to Know Chris", we delve into the various people, real or imaginary, that have shaped the person that I am.

My Influences Through the Years
(in mostly chronological order)

Ernie on Sesame Street. Ernie was the funny puppet. I wished to be fuzzy and orange in those days. I even owned an Izod shirt just like his. Of course, I eventually came to realize that Ernie and Bert were essentially puppet versions of "Jack & Will", but is that so wrong? In my teens, my first DJ Mash-up was Ernie's "Rubber Duckie" song with "Pump Up The Volume" by M.A.R.R.S.

Bowser from "Sha Na Na". He was the funny singer. I loved when he'd do the gooseneck thing with his arm when they sang "Goodnight Sweetheart." Also, I wished to sing all those cool low notes. Heck, even Ani DiFranco wanted to be him.

Barry Manilow. Let me explain. There was only easy listening stations on the radios in my house when I was little. Given the choices, Barry was my favorite. I reportedly sang a rendition of "I Can't Smile Without You" for my great grandmother for her birthday. Mom said that it had nothing to do with her death a few weeks later.

Kermit the Frog. He was the nice guy, trying to hold together all the chaos on The Muppet Show. That was me with my friends. I was more a magnet for chaos than a direct creator of it. I was always the idea guy, the Social Director, the spokesman when we got in trouble.

Jack Tripper from "Three's Company" (John Ritter). This guy was my idol. I wanted to be Jack Tripper when I grew up: Live in an apartment with a blonde AND a brunette, and be all suave with the ladies. He clinched it for me, I was going to be a comedian. Later, when I found I couldn't come up with my own material, I decided on just becoming a humor hobbyist.

"Face" from "The A-Team" (Dirk Benedict). The logical amalgam of Kermit's organizational ability with more dry, subtle humor than Jack Tripper. Plus, he had that charm to pull off the Team's con jobs.

That guy from "Greatest American Hero" (William Katt) If I was a superhero, I figured that this would be me: Amazing superpowers, but I lost the instructions, so it's all dumb luck if I succeed. Plus, there was a shortage of blond superheroes in the mid-80's.

Mikey from "The Goonies" (Sean Astin). This was the first movie that I saw in the theateres twice. I bought the VHS, watched it on TV any time it came on, and even bought the Nintendo Game (which I beat in a weekend). If Mikey could be the leader of an adventure like this, and overcome his athsma, I could surely overcome those clunky plastic glasses and braces.

Jam Master Jay from RUN DMC. I was heavy into the hip hop scene in the late 80's and even bought a custom DJ setup with turntables & a mixer. I was so cool with my big headphones with a microphone attached! I was top of my game, the absolute BEST DJ... in Dublin, Ohio... at my middle school... who was white. I even adopted a pseudo-DJ name from Jam Master Jay. My brother jokingly called me "Cassette Master Chris" one day, and it stuck. I still use "CMC" as a nickname to this day.

Javert from Les Miserables (Terrence Mann). My circle of friends was into singing and theater, culminating in "Les Miz." I knew that musical backwards & forwards before the year was out. The only part for a Bass was Javert, played by Terrence Mann on the Broadway Cast recording. He had this cool bass slide down to a really low note that was too cool. I practiced the run until I could actually hit it. After a while, I tried to make the musical a bit cooler by accompanying it with my Drum Machine. I called it "Les Mix." Truth be told, it was worse than a double-feature of Ishtar and Gigli, but my friends sucked it up and told me they liked it. THAT, true believers, is real friendship right there.

Barry Carl from Rockapella. *Poof* My previous wish to sing low like Bowser was granted by the genie of puberty! With my Theater days behind me, and my singing career stared in "B Natural" as a Bass, Barry Carl was the epitome of cool, testosterone-ridden bass singing. B Natural led me into my years with the UGA Accidentals. I met him a few years ago and told him that he was the reason I started singing A Cappella. He replied, "I'm so sorry."

Denis Leary. My freshman year at UGA, I absolutely wore out his "No Cure for Cancer" tape, and quoted him so much that I literally had NO original material for a year and a half. God, I must have been annoying. Justin and I one got into a duel, seeing who could perform his rant in the middle of Denis' "A**hole" song without dropping a word. I still remember that rant, and I've forgotten how to perform CPR. Priorities, man.

Chandler Bing from Friends (Matthew Perry) Please, could I BE any more like Chandler? Goofy, always cracking bad jokes, and ends up married to a great woman in the end.

Fox Mulder from "The X-Files" (David Duchovny). He looked cool in a trenchcoat, was generally reserved, but would occasionally crack some funny jokes. Generally respected, but misunderstood. This was how I saw myself after graduation. I'm sure that I'm not the only one who considered the FBI as a vocation becasue of this show. Watching the X-Files was the cornerstone of a relationship once. I wasn't obsessed with the series, but it became the most enjoyable part of our time together. Needless to say, we broke up pretty quick.

Dr. Dorian on "Scrubs" (Zach Braff). JD and the Janitor on Scrubs have a comedic rivalry that has not been seen since Seinfeld and Neuman. Also, he reacts to stress with humor, just like I do. Given, he's funnier, but he has a staff of well-paid writers, and this one-man show is working pro bono. (I also see that he shares my birthday.)



There. Now I hope that you have a bit more insight into what makes me tick. If you know me, I'm sure that you probably now can pick out some behaviors of mine that belong to these characters and/or people. To quote the movie 'Parenthood', "Great, I'm an Amalgam!"

To be fair, Mom, Dad, Brother and God did their part too, but the average reader is less likely to know my parents or sibling. Plus, their influences are too large to put a fine point on. It's like one of those shape-finder games that you find on children's menus: You try in vain to find the rectangle in a picture, not realizing that the picture itself is a rectangle.

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