A Wiseau Man Once Said…

‘You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!”

It’s the money line in a movie full of money lines, and for all the wrong reasons. I’m speaking, of course, about ‘The Room’ the fascinatingly, jaw-droppingly, so-bad-its-mind-altering movie written, directed, co-produced and starring that magician of cinematography, Tommy Wiseau. I spent a rainy Friday night (April 16th) at the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, MA witnessing ‘The Room’ for a second time, but for the first time in the presence of the man himself, Mr. Wiseau, who along with co-star Greg Sestero, helped bring the experience of this cult phenomenon to the Boston masses.

I’m pretty sure I experienced something transcendent, but I’d be hard-pressed to describe it in any way that can do the night justice. Three midnight showings in the Coolidge’s main theater – all sold out. A long, winding line of people around the corner waiting to get in. Fans sprinting down the aisle to get close to the man and a photo opportunity. Standing ovations. A 15-minute Q&A before the film that left me incapable of laughing at the film itself – I literally ran out of laughter.

Awaiting entrance to 'The Room'

For those who don’t know ‘The Room’ I’ll try and do a brief recap justice. Fuck it, there’s no way. It’s a train wreck, airline crash, earthquake and volcanic eruption all rolled into one with a tornado thrown in as a cherry on top. All woven together by Mr. Wiseau, a mysterious man of possibly Eastern European descent with a thick accent and questionable filmmaking skills. The tragic thing is that he intended ‘The Room’, which was filmed and completed in 2003, to be a drama. He’s used a bit of revisionist history to since call it a black comedy, but he seems to have come around to the fact that people are laughing at him, as much as with him. I don’t mean this to sound as negative is it might read. There is genuine affection for Tommy and what’s he produced and that affection was palpable Friday night. Fans shout out lines, they throw plastic spoons at the screen. It’s an event. It’s just obvious that Tommy Wiseau’s created more melon than melodrama.

To get a feel for what I’m talking about, I’m including 10 minutes of footage I shot from the Q&A Friday night. If you’re new to this phenomenon, it’ll give you an idea of the man behind the myth. Don’t worry if you can’t make any sense of it. I’m pretty sure nobody can.

For some more background, check out this Onion AV Club interview with Tommy from June 24, 2009. ‘The Room’ may have taken on a completely different life than what its creator intended, and some people seem to feel there’s an element of tragedy to the whole endeavour. They feel audiences are laughing at Tommy’s expense and he doesn’t really understand this. I think he’s created something that is obviously bringing joy to a lot of people, even if it’s not in the way he intended, and there’s no way something that generates that much heartfelt laughter can be bad.

‘The Room’ has survived and is now in fact thriving seven years after it was made. It’s making the rounds across the country and playing to packed theaters. It’s a long way from its humble beginnings in June of 2003 with a small run at a theater on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles and, if anything, it’s making a bid for the public’s consciousness on a much larger scale.

But speaking of Los Angeles…

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