Tom Hanks Project – “Hanksgiving” Master Pancake Interview

28 Nov
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When I found out about Hanksgiving, I had two thoughts: 1) Caitlin and I have to go*. 2) I need to talk to the guy whose idea this was. I felt like we’d be kindred spirits. Of course we went to the show (and reviewed it) and head Master Pancaker John Erler took the time to respond to a number of questions we had. I found out he was met with far more resistance to his Hanks plan than I was by Caitlin and that even though he chooses to mock Hanks, he’s got a lot of love for him** and even compared him to me and Caitlin’s favorite living musician. Erler covered everything from the Hanks peeing phenomenon to why he loves “Bachelor Party” and what he sees as the long-term plan for “Hanksgiving.”
*Duh!
**Who doesn’t??

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Rock Love Austin: How did Hanksgiving get started? How did it evolve from your original idea?
Master Pancake: My girlfriend and I sometimes host a day-after-Thanksgiving party at our house.  One year I thought it would be fun if we combined the party with a Tom Hanks movie-watching marathon and call it Hanksgiving.  It was as much about the name as it was because of Tom Hanks*. My girlfriend was not excited** about the idea so it never happened. A while later Master Pancake had some success in 2011 doing a Nic Cage clip show (Cage-a-thon, dreamed up by Joe Parsons).  When that went well I thought, instead of doing Hanksgiving as a house party***, let’s do Hanksgiving as a Master Pancake clip show at the Alamo.  The rest, as they say, is Hankstory.
*The name is genius.
**Who is this person?! How can you not be excited about Hanksgiving??
***We’re gonna have to have a Hanksgiving house party one year and invite Erler.
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RLA: Describe the work that went into compiling the footage for Hanksgiving. Did you watch any Hanks films for the first time? Did your opinion of his work change?
MP: We basically rented as much of the Hanks canon from I Luv Video and Vulcan Video as we could, divided it up between the three of us (me, Lance Gilstrap, and John Smith) and spent a couple weeks pulling clips we thought would be interesting, whether because he was extra good in it or just extra Hanks-y*.  The movie I watched for the first time during that process was The Green Mile.  We ended up putting a LOT of clips from Green Mile into the show. I wouldn’t say my opinion changed, but my appreciation for him did grow**.
*I love that this is a perfectly acceptable descriptor, and that everyone everywhere knows exactly what this means.
**Knowing that this was the outcome makes me love Hanksgiving even more, somehow.
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RLA: Why is Bachelor Party your favorite? (It’s our least favorite so far.) And if it’s your favorite, where was the Cocaine Donkey in Hanksgiving? (We weren’t the ones yelling “Cocaine Donkey.”)
MP: Bachelor Party is my favorite because I have good memories of seeing it as a teenager with my Dad in the theater in 1984 and both of us laughing our asses off*.  It’s not a great movie by any stretch but it’s got a lot of energy, it’s occasionally inventive**, and raunchy as hell.
*I feel like this tells us so much. I would NEVER watch a movie like this with my folks, I’d be squirming the entire time out of discomfort. I mean, I was somewhat uncomfortable watching with Zack! On the other hand, I could totally watch this with my dad. 
**I have to guess this is the first movie to feature a donkey OD’ing on a mix of coke and pills, so I’ll give it inventive. 
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Also, the vintage that we get in Bachelor Party is my favorite flavor of Hanks.  He’s a slob (a poor catholic school-bus driver) who’s going up against the snobs (his waspy future in-laws) which I’m a sucker for.  He’s more irreverent, confident, glib, and — I don’t know how else to put it — more sexual than in anything else after it.  In his pre-Bachelor Party work (Bosom Buddies, Splash) he’s a horn-dog, or at the very least a romantic.  In Bachelor Party he’s engaged to adolescent fantasy object Tawny Kittaen.  They had a very playful chemistry* that I guess made an impact on me.  I thought they were dynamite.  After Bachelor Party you never see that awesomely cocky Hanks again.  It’s like he was neutered**.
*This is a good point. Hanks is more traditionally romantic in his work in future decades, but there’s an undeniable young love connection between these two.
**Maybe, since I saw all of Hanks’ sweet non-raunchy films first, this is why it just didn’t play for me in Bachelor Party. I just can’t read Hanks as a horn-dog, ever (nor would I want to).
 
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RLA: What’s your honest take on serious Hanks? Philadelphia, Saving Private Ryan, Apollo 13, Captain Phillips, Cloud Atlas, etc. 
MP: I like Hanks as a serious actor.  He’s clearly really good and he’s honed his craft so well. It’s been amazing to watch him develop for the last 35 years. At the same time, he’s a little like the Paul McCartney of acting*.  At his best, he’s great and you just want to give him a big hug and thank him for all the good he’s added to the world.  At his worst he’s too bland, cute or clever for his own good**.  I’m a big McCartney fan but there’s a fair amount of his work that I will never be able to listen to.  And that’s OK because it doesn’t take away from the copious amount of great stuff he’s made.
*YES. A million high-fives for this.
**I really do love the Hanks-McCartney comparison, but I’d rather watch “You’ve Got Mail” half a dozen times before I listened to “Ebony and Ivory.” I rarely find T.Hanks as cheesy as Macca can be.
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RLA: At what point did you come up with the idea to tie all the peeing scenes together? What made it click that he pees a lot in movies? 
MP: When I was putting together the clips back in 2011 I noticed a couple of peeing scenes and thought it was an odd trend. I started searching online about it and found a website that listed even more pee scenes. Once we had them all together it became a question of how to arrange them. As you saw, the theme of peeing kind of comes out of left field within the clip show. We don’t announce it, it just starts happening*. Then it becomes funny how often he pees. Then, when we’ve seen all the different pee clips we end with the one from Green Mile after he’s been cured by John Coffee. He acts the f*** out of that one.  And in the context of all his other pee-scenes, it’s clearly his best. We make a pun of it being his pee-ace de resistance**.
*When the pee montage starts, you don’t know you’re in it and then … urine it (sorry.)
**One of the best puns of all time. I’m calling it.
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The big question is, why does he pee so much?  I don’t know. My best guess is that at first it was an accident but that once directors started noticing it, it just became a running joke*, like, OK how are we going to fit another Hanks pee scene in this movie**? It probably has something to do with the fact that he’s willing to do it. I’d imagine some other actors more concerned with their glamor*** might not be that excited about peeing for the cameras. Not Hanks. Another reason to love him.
*”I just felt like running. And when I had to go…I went.” 
**In Cast Away, as we learned at Hanksgiving, they really phoned it in.
***Is a Hanks pee scene the equivalent of a nude scene?
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RLA: What is your ultimate goal with Hanksgiving? Will this be an annual event? How do you like it compared to your other regular features?
MP: We have no agenda with Hanksgiving other than to have a good time and celebrate/roast Tom Hanks. We began it in 2011, skipped 2012, then brought it back this year since there seemed to be a resurgence of interest. I hope there’s always enough demand to keep bringing it back. Late November is the perfect time for a Hanks binge. When things start getting cold and bleak, or you feel stressed out from the holidays, just put on some Hanks and you can’t help but feel better.
Go to Hanksgiving:
Austin: 11/30/13 – Tickets Here 
Dallas: 12/1/13: Tickets Here
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2 Responses to “Tom Hanks Project – “Hanksgiving” Master Pancake Interview”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Introduction to The Tom Hanks Project | rockloveaustin - December 1, 2013

    […] HANKSGIVING Review | Interview […]

  2. Tom Hanks Project – A Second Helping of Hanksgiving | rockloveaustin - November 30, 2014

    […] Interview with John Erler about Hanks/Hanksgiving […]

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