As the creator of the ’80s cult classic Sledge Hammer!, Alan Spencer perfected a certain form of TV satire, an over-the-top mélange of tough-guy cinema, deadpan wit, and hysterical violence. In 2012, that spirit carried over to Bullet In The Face, a slick variation on Sledge Hammer!’s straight-faced havoc for an era of cable antiheroes and bullet-time choreography. The series’ six episodes made a quiet stateside debut on IFC, and are just now coming to DVD thanks to Shout! Factory. In advance of the DVD release, Spencer—who began his Hollywood career in his teens, an early start that led him to cross paths with the likes of Mel Brooks, Andy Kaufman, and Marty Feldman—laid out a day-long binge of comic chaos for The A.V. Club, elaborating on his inspirations and influences along the way.
The A.V. Club: The theme of this marathon is “violence, sadism, tension, and melodramatic comedy.” Does that sum up your personal comic sensibility?
Alan Spencer: I think so, yes—and the influences on me, some of them during a seminal time. Only one of the selections is contemporary, which we’ll get into. I never laughed at anything that would be construed as “normal people humor,” per se, and there are a lot of things that I didn’t mention that aren’t comedy that I laugh at. But for the sake of being coherent, I decided to stay with comedies.
What’s interesting about influences: Often you’re unaware of the effect they’re having on your mind. You’re just watching them. These things kind of enter your subconscious and sometimes later on people point out things to you and you realize, “Oh, wow this really shaped my perception of things”—because at the time, you’re just enjoying them. Some of the things that are considered offbeat were normal entertainment to me. My taste tended to be very, very different. For example, half-hour sitcoms, because I was a latchkey kid spending all this time by myself—because my parents were working nights—anything on TV that resembled a domestic sitcom, or a family sitting around the dinner table, I had no point of reference for. But I could relate to Get Smart, because it was a single guy living in an apartment getting in a massive amount of trouble.
8 a.m.: It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)
AS: In the case of It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, when I first saw it I related to it as a human cartoon. I was in a movie theater and could make noise. I was allowed to laugh, because everyone else was laughing around us. I was very, very young and I could recognize voices of people like Sterling Holloway and Jim Backus—“Hey, that’s Winnie The Pooh! Hey, that’s Mr. Magoo!”
These are shows and movies that are not about healthy relationships. [Laughs.] People are killing each other and choking each other and there’s a lot of mayhem and destruction and antipathy, so that shaped me as a young man and made me sick. [Laughs.]
AVC: Do you get a charge from watching all these marquee names—Spencer Tracy, Sid Caesar, Ethel Merman—playing such terrible people?
AS: What happens with that is it takes the edge off it. When you have lovable people playing unlovable people, they still wind up being lovable, because of the residual feelings that you have about them. It’s kind of like James Stewart in Vertigo. He’s playing a creep, and it doesn’t seem like it, because it’s Jimmy Stewart. He’s making a woman dye her hair and dress up in different clothes. But it’s kind of like, “Well, Kim Novak is like Harvey. Maybe he did the same with the invisible rabbit.” But there’s a big difference between having Jimmy Stewart play that, rather than Christopher Walken or Steve Buscemi.
It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is interesting for that, because everyone is playing a negative, aggressive character. It’s a story about greed, and they are doing characters—even though there’s shtick and everything involved in that. It is a character comedy, and Stanley Kramer… a lot of serious directors have tried their hands at comedy—and they fail badly—but Stanley Kramer succeeded, because he didn’t direct it like a comedy. The framing of it is a drama. He’s focused on performances. He stays out of the way of it. He lets people do their jobs, and he stays on story. It’s ostensibly a tragedy. The car chases are not directed like slapstick. They’re directed with a degree of menace.
The ultimate example of what we’re talking about is the gas-station scene with Jonathan Winters. Everybody remembers that so well as a great set piece—and also because Jonathan Winters scored so heavily in this movie. But if you really watch what’s going on there, he threatens to kill those two attendants at the gas station—and even though it’s called slapstick, a lot of it really isn’t. It’s destruction. He is insane, and he levels the place. It’s fascinating to watch this movie, which is all about negative emotions. There’s not a single character in it that’s actually a good person—even the altruistic character, not to give any spoilers away, winds up turning. So in its own way, disguised in this gargantuan slapstick comedy is actually a dark movie.
11 a.m.: Get Smart, “Don’t Look Back” (1968)
AS: Get Smart, with all the mayhem, the violence, the shooting, the stabbings, and the satire, represented a sitcom to me. That’s what I thought a sitcom was. I thought all sitcoms had guns.
AVC: This episode is a fascinating case of dramatic tension: Agent Maxwell Smart has been accused of a crime he didn’t commit, which launches the show into an elaborate parody of The Fugitive. But from what we know about sitcoms, everything has to be back to normal by the end of the episode. When you first saw “Don’t Look Back,” did it give you a sense that Max wouldn’t get out of this jam?
AS: Yes, because he’s really over his head and it’s a very dangerous situation outside of the norm for him.
Get Smart is a classic for a reason. It’s the prototype that so many have imitated and a whole generation actually doesn’t even know the groundbreaking nature of Get Smart. They’ve seen Austin Powers, they watch Archer, they watch Naked Gun movies. It’s all imitated in different ways, but Get Smart was a sustained spoof with a rooting interest for the character—and that’s the flaw of many parodies. Part of the thing that struck me about the episode at the time, and it still holds up now, is that the heavies are very serious—none of the villains are making jokes. They’re played by real character actors, and the intent is to destroy Maxwell Smart. You feel empathy for the character. It stayed with me because I was tense and I was worried about Maxwell Smart.
This is not the funniest episode of the show, but it’s such an accurate parody of The Fugitive that it winds up mimicking the suspense and the jeopardy. Don Adams directed this episode, and Don brought a lot to it, because his favorite novel is Les Misérables, which obviously has a link to The Fugitive. In 25 minutes the show encapsulates the whole run of The Fugitive, and that was very influential to me. The flaw that a lot of people have when they try to mix crime and comedy is they can’t do the plotting. When Get Smart would parody a specific movie or TV show, it got the plotting right. It’s almost a disservice to call Get Smart a parody or a spoof, because it exists in its own universe. And that’s the other thing about it: You never had to see James Bond or The Man From U.N.C.L.E. or I Spy or The Fugitive to enjoy Get Smart. Too many parodies and spoofs rely on recognition: If you didn’t see the prototype, if you didn’t see the source of what they’re making fun of, you don’t get it. Get Smart exists on its own terms, and that was a big influence on me.
11:30 a.m.: Harold And Maude (1971)
AVC: There’s a degree of mayhem in Harold And Maude, but there’s also the poignant concept of not “backing away from life.” How does this movie square with your other, less life-affirming selections?
AS: I wanted to mix it up, lighten things a little bit, but there is mayhem and destruction in Harold And Maude. The scene that comes to mind is the one where his mother is prattling on as she fills out his dating form—and Harold, during it, is loading a gun and then shoots himself.
Bud Cort’s performance is peerless—I worked with him on Sledge Hammer!, which was a thrill for me. The dating scenes where he freaks out his dates have a serious malevolence to them, and they’re played very deadpan. Harold And Maude is played in a style that was atypical for American comedy, but you’re correct: It’s an affirming film and it’s a love story and it also doesn’t try to be a black comedy, which was a mistake I’ve seen a lot of people make where they intentionally try to make something dark. It’s just the truth of Harold’s character, but you have a contrary voice: You have Ruth Gordon teaching Harold how to live. He’s a guy in love with death and she’s in love with life and they meet at funerals and it’s an affirming film in every way. The message doesn’t negate what you’ve seen before. It doesn’t feel tacked on in a concession.
AVC: Did you identify with Harold when you were younger?
AS: I guess I share a kinship. I was in love with darkness and death and horror movies and things like that, but I still had a germ of something healthy in me, because I didn’t want to sleep with Ruth Gordon. It’s an early Tim Burton kind of image, what Harold presents in this movie. I did relate to it, but I was also getting engrained in me the message of the movie about not falling in love with darkness too much. I was a prankster. Being a latchkey kid, you spend time by yourself. I remember I used to have pizzas delivered to me at the house, and once I rigged up the chair from Psycho—with the mother in it. I pulled a string to open the door, the pizza man brought the pizza in, and I had the string turn the chair around —and there was a mummified mother in it. I think I had a recording of the “Psycho” music too. So it went off when he came in—I left the money out, but to his credit, he just put the pizza down and took the money and left. It didn’t really work, but he said “Thank you,” so I guess it alleviated the boredom.
1 p.m.: Evil Roy Slade (1972)
AS: I figure if I’m going to program something, I shouldn’t just put things on that everybody’s seen. What’s the point? Evil Roy Slade was a two-hour movie of the week, a backdoor pilot that didn’t go to series. Garry Marshall was involved with it—he co-wrote it with Jerry Belson, and Jerry Paris directs it. I saw Garry Marshall recently—he gave me an early writing job on one of his shows—and I let him know Evil Roy Slade was on Blu-ray. I’d had too much to drink—we were in a bar or whatever—and I think I talked to him about it for like 20 minutes too long. But he was very gracious about it. I said, “Did you know it was on Blu-ray?” He goes, “No, I didn’t.” I think I repeated for 20 minutes that it was on Blu-ray.
It’s a Western spoof—I think at the time it might have been viewed as a riff on the bad guy from Cat Ballou. John Astin is kind of genius in it. It’s a brave and insane piece, but it’s really violent and the main character is a villain and he’s filled with hate and antipathy and want and destruction. Every joke is born of his hatred of the human race. And he’s truly evil. He lives up to the title of the thing. He fueled Sledge Hammer! a little bit, too. He showed me something there: You can do a bad bad guy and not necessarily have him be a good bad guy.
It’s a pilot whose hopes were dashed. It goes in the category of Lookwell, the one that Conan O’Brien did with Robert Smigel. It’s one of those “What could have been?” What gets me about Evil Roy Slade is that people don’t know about it. That’s the danger of television. It’s a danger of movies too, but more of television. Somebody makes a movie and it’s not very good and it doesn’t work—invariably or not, it can still get released. There are people that do fabulous pilots and nobody ever sees them. Or maybe they wind up on YouTube. The world doesn’t know about Evil Roy Slade, but it does have a cult following. There’s a country-and-western band that calls themselves Evil Roy Slade, and the film has been available on home video and it’s been on Blu-ray. I believe it’s been screened a few times. I don’t want to overhype it. People have to remember that this is an MOW from the ’70s, but it predated Blazing Saddles and it has a very, very strange sense of humor. There’s a montage in it that I’m very fond of where Roy Slade is wreaking havoc, so they show trains exploding and guns being shot and buildings being burned and then there’s a subtitle all during it that just says the word “havoc.”
3 p.m.: Young Frankenstein (1974)
AVC: This is a film you have a personal connection to.
AS: [Sarcastically.] Yes, because I was stitched together from body parts. You’re talking about the fact that I snuck on the set, right? To me, it’s kind of like watching a home movie since I spent so much time on that set. Marty Feldman took me under his wing and fed me worms [Laughs.], and I got to know Mel Brooks and everything like that. So it’s a kind of an emotional thing about it.
Young Frankenstein represents to me a word that I use a lot: verisimilitude. The film is involving, and a lot of people when they do parodies and spoofs and satires are very specific. Young Frankenstein stands on its own. I remember seeing a revival screening of it, and a whole generation of younger people were there that hadn’t seen it before. Some of them were wondering why it was in black and white, because they’d never seen the original Universal Frankenstein. But they got over it real fast, because they got involved in the film on its own terms. Mel Brooks is the only person who has gotten Oscar nominations for “parodies”—Young Frankenstein was nominated for Best Writing, screenplay adapted from other material, and that says something about standing on its own terms. To me, despite being comedic, it’s the best version of the Frankenstein legend and it certainly has the best performance by any Dr. Frankenstein. Gene Wilder really captured the Promethean mad scientist. More than anyone else, he forged a love-hate relationship with the creature.
My favorite scenes aren’t comedic in it. My favorite scene is the laboratory sequence where he brings the monster to life, where Gene does this searing speech and ascends into the heavens, and Mel Brooks shows a masterful shot of Gene Wilder’s shadow being thrown on the wall as he ascends up on to the rooftop. It turns serious, and it’s magnificent and operatic. That’s the difference between then and now: There’s a spoof that’s aired recently, a parody of a miniseries, and they use cheesy effects in it. It’s low budget, so they’re showing cheesy sets and little miniature cars. They’re telling you it’s not real, and it’s hard to get involved with that in my point of view, because they’re pushing you away from it. They’re winking. With Young Frankenstein, the art direction, the cinematography, the music—and even the way the music is recorded, which was using some of the same techniques that they used in the 1930s—this is a real Frankenstein movie. It’s not an extended skit. The acting is legitimate. Marty Feldman is hilarious as Igor, but if you really are watching what Marty is doing, there’s some real menace going on in his takes. The confusion that Peter Boyle plays the monster like it is the real deal. It’s kind of the difference between a pop tune and a standard. Gene Wilder is not a comedian in that—he’s an actor. It’s the same with Peter Boyle and Cloris Leachman. If you really want to sustain a laugh, you’ve got to take it seriously, even if it’s funny, and that certainly is a lesson from that.
4:30 p.m.: Fridays, “Andy Kaufman/Sir Douglas Quintet” (1981)
AS: I didn’t know that the stunt, the incident on Fridays, was staged. Often Andy wouldn’t let you know those things—even afterward. Part of me wishes that it never came out that it was staged. I liked the mystery of it. I do remember being on the Paramount lot when Tony Clifton was kicked off and I was given a heads-up just to keep my eye on the sound stage. So that was one instance where I was told something was going to happen.
Tension and danger go hand in hand with Andy. The only other person that’s come close is Sacha Baron Cohen with Borat and some of the Ali G interviews. Andy has done talk show spoofs, and things like that—and they do them now, but they have no tension. They’re trying to be edgy, but they feel calculated and weird. Where Andy’s stuff just had a power to it and unpredictability—once again a verisimilitude—because he made this stuff real. He really looked like he destructed Fridays. He made headlines the next day. It was just remarkable, because a lot of people weren’t watching Fridays and hadn’t heard of it—and everyone was talking about it the next day, so Andy did his job. He was a masterful actor with these things.
The key to Andy’s personality—early on in Taxi, he showed me a National Enquirer story about him, and of course it was negative. I read it and I go, “Wow, this is really terrible.” And Andy goes, “Yeah, isn’t it? Can you believe they wrote that?” And I go, “Yeah, well. This is what they do, Andy.” And he goes, “But it’s really bad, isn’t it?” I go, “Yeah, it’s not good, but you know, that’s what the tabloids do. I wonder where they got this story.” He said “Well, they got it from me.” Andy was a very nice person. He was a cool human being. He cared about other people, but he enjoyed having two audiences to play to: the audience that was confused by what he was doing and then the other audience that was enjoying that audience watching Andy. I remember everybody in the industry after the Fridays aired: “What is wrong with Kaufman? He’s through.” The fact that Andy privately would laugh at this stuff was delightful.
5:30 p.m.: Monty Python And The Holy Grail (1975)
AS: People freak out at bloodletting in a comedy, and it creates a tension and a different vibe. Obviously the black knight sequence in Monty Python And The Holy Grail is famous for that. But the scene that resonated with me was when John Cleese storms the castle and kills everybody in his way. He attacks a plant on the wall. Innocent flower girls are lacerated. It’s hilarious, but you could see that this wouldn’t fly today. That’s a byproduct of the Internet: People have immediate voices. They can tweet something instantly and all of a sudden voices raise objection and there’s a groundswell on Twitter and there’s a petition being signed within a few minutes. It’s fascinating to see the same level of gore and debauchery from sword-and-sorcery epics like Excalibur applied to a comedy, and it makes it all the funnier. It’s fun and it’s ironic for me to look at comedy that’s groundbreaking, that everybody admires, yet they can’t do it today. Even an executive who loves Monty Python, faced with a script that says “the flower girls get stabbed”—is some person going to put their job on the line to fight for that? I don’t think so.
AVC: Is there a way to make comedy like that today? If so, where can you do it?
AS: I don’t know. I think that’s why people do things themselves on the Internet, unregulated on YouTube—before a network comes along and hires you and then you sell out. But I don’t think so. I think there are too many voices that can be heard individually. When that movie came out, you paid your money to see it in the theater, and if somebody wanted to write an editorial they’d have to take the time and put it in the newspaper. But look how many people get in trouble on Twitter. Somebody tweets something and then they’re under attack two minutes later. And then all of a sudden they’re issuing an apology and deleting the Twitter account and then they lose all their sponsorships and things like that. There was more autonomy before those kinds of conduits, the individual voices, came out, so I don’t really know.
Python had a point when they were doing these things, and they did it from intelligence, so they weren’t just doing things to shock. When I saw Spamalot, I don’t remember that sequence being in there. I remember the black knight was in there. I guess that’s where you draw the line: When you do a musical, you don’t take out the flower girl.
7 p.m.: Fletch (1985)
AS: What’s interesting about Fletch is Chevy Chase plays an asshole, but he’s our asshole [Laughs.] and it works so well in this, because of the character—his pithy one-liners and everything that he’s saying. The jokes, because of the danger and the tension, even if they weren’t half as funny, you’d still laugh at them, because they’re played against tension. “You’re going to need a bigger boat” isn’t a brilliant one-liner on its own—but in the context of Jaws, it’s hilarious. And so the tension around the world of Fletch and what he’s investigating makes it funnier—him being a wiseacre in the midst of all this heightens the danger, because he’s also infuriating all the people that could kill him. A scene where Joe Don Baker has a gun on Chevy Chase in the prison cell and looks like he’s really going to kill him, Chevy Chase is making it all the worse smarting off.
Then they did Fletch Lives, and it didn’t have any of that. It was more sketch-like and episodic and you’d have fantasy sequences that didn’t work whereas in this one they did. The tension in Fletch is a very powerful thing.
AVC: And it will probably be absent from the remake of the film that’s always threatening to go forward.
AS: I don’t know, because you’d still have a guy who’s an investigative reporter. It just fit Chevy Chase’s persona perfectly. He’s a character that’s often arrogant and sarcastic and smug, but when you take that kind of character and put him in an environment where guns are pointed at him, it just heightens everything. He’s a unique comedian and also a comedian not trying to be loved. His wry handling of the material is masterful. Just something he says to an attorney—“I can’t have my wages garnish-ied”—he’s making that funny with his delivery. I think it’s his best film.
9 p.m.: The Man With Two Brains (1983)
AVC: On the topic of comedians not trying to be loved—does that also apply to Steve Martin in The Man With Two Brains?
AS: Definitely. Steve Martin was always going to some dark places. Some people didn’t get this movie when it came out. Now it’s a cult film. [Martin’s character is] trying to kill women in it in one instance, so there’s a lot of misogyny in it—heavy misogyny—a lot of black humor and hate and Kathleen Turner’s horrific caricature of a femme fatale. I remember the scene when she’s tossed in the mud, saying in a husky voice, “You’ll be dead.” She plays it perfectly.
And then it has an ending that has some warped warmth to it. The final few minutes of it—where Steve Martin is trying to carry a rotund bride over a threshold—is to me the best physical comedy I’d ever seen him do. He’s a great American comedian. Steve Martin always seemed to me to be the heir apparent to W.C. Fields. I always saw similarities, even in their look. Photos of young W.C. Fields look like Steve Martin. W.C. Fields came from vaudeville—juggling and magic tricks—and Steve Martin was doing all those same things—banjo-playing and juggling and balloon animals. W.C. Fields didn’t try to be loved, and I saw Steve Martin a lot of the time go to dark places and subvert a goofy persona.
It’s a sick film, and that’s why I loved it. You have Merv Griffin as a serial killer. Steve Martin going to inject window cleaner to kill a woman to get a dead body or whatever—it’s just hilarious. I’m ashamed that I’m revealing so much of myself, of what I laugh at. I find the misogyny and the contempt in this movie to be very funny. So what does that say about mankind? He falls in love with a disembodied brain and he’s willing to kill any woman to get a body to put in there. It’s also a story of commitment when I think about it, to make a commitment to a relationship.
10:30 p.m.: Hot Fuzz (2007)
AVC: Have you had any interactions with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, or Edgar Wright? Do you know if they’re fans of yours?
AS: Edgar Wright said he’s a fan of Sledge Hammer! I assume he was. He told me he’d see David Rasche in movies and say, “Hey, there’s Sledge!”
Edgar Wright is a traditionalist: He deals with story and character, and it’s not just about jokes. He reminds me of Blake Edwards in a good way—Blake Edwards approached comedy seriously, but also gave it a look, and was sophisticated in dealing with it. So, I see Edgar Wright as an heir apparent. He’s innovative and he’s new school, but he also has the foundation of old school. The gore and violence in Hot Fuzz creates jeopardy and menace. Even though it’s a little incongruous to meld police action with kind of a Wicker Man mystery, he makes it work. The whole Cornetto Trilogy, I could basically put it here, but I’m only putting Hot Fuzz, because it exemplifies most what I’m talking about. I actually thought The World’s End was his best collaboration with Frost and Pegg, because it was elegiac, and you really got the sense of passage of time and aging. Thematically I thought that was really grand.
Edgar, unlike other people who do this sort of thing, is very good at action. And he also makes this stuff personal—they’re not just a pastiche of other genres. And there’s good acting in this—no mugging and no winking. That’s why Edgar Wright is the only kind of contemporary I’ve included in this, because I feel that he’s rooted in the classics and doing great work. I’ve overdosed on superhero movies and comic book movies, but I will certainly be going to see Ant-Man to see what he does with it, because he has his unique skew on things. There’s a lesson from him that if you’re going to do homages to other films and be influenced by other cinema, you have to have your own voice. Hot Fuzz has menace, jeopardy, good characterization, plot twists—Edgar is a filmmaker that’s getting comedy and understands act one, two, and three.
12:30 a.m.: The Magic Christian (1969)
AS: The Magic Christian is sadism on parade. It’s truly unhinged. Ringo Starr is super in it, but this really to me typifies Peter Sellers’ genius and madness. It’s a cruel, unrepentant movie where everyone is humiliated. The theme of greed that’s in It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is also in this one: people willing to do anything for money. At the time when it came out it was attacked for its sadism, but that’s what made it funny to me. The sequence I remember vividly is where Peter Sellers is among a group of rich duck hunters and he’s using mortars and cannons and a tank to shoot for sport. And they’re offended, because it has nothing to do with sport—I just love the decadence and the madness of this movie. It’s very cruel, it has no warm moments in it, and it’s cynical.
It’s like the Apocalypse Now of comedy. I miss that kind of free-for-all, that crazed, Ken Russell-style indulgence in comedy. You don’t see it. There’s a weird conservatism that’s crept in everywhere, even with the artists, because the artists want to keep working and nobody wants to fail. Everything’s risk averse: Executives are averse against taking risks, and so the artists don’t go there either sometimes. Artists themselves want to keep making a living and have a mortgage, and so they don’t necessarily want to go in and pitch and say, “Here’s a project based on my mental illness.”
2 a.m.: Theatre Of Blood (1973)
AS: The original title was Much Ado About Murder. It’s called a horror movie, but it’s really a black comedy. It’s a revenge fantasy. It’s sick. There’s beheading and impaling, a body is drug by a horse. It has gore, but it’s educational, because it is Shakespeare. It is consistent with what’s coming from Shakespeare and applying it to our real world, which makes it funny. Shakespeare didn’t appeal to me with a dull teacher reading it to us, but seeing Vincent Price killing critics using Shakespeare made me crack open the books. I went and dove into Richard III.
But the tension of the movie, besides the murder aspect of it, is whether to laugh, or be repulsed, or both—and you wind up rooting for Vincent Price—partly because of his persona and his star power and what he brings to it, but also because he’s killing critics and people who are mean and cruel. Everybody in our lives has been criticized and we fantasize about things we would do to the critics. I’ve seen it subsequently with actors and other artists and they cheer Vincent Price, because everything he’s saying they agree with. There’s one point where he tells a critic, “You spew vitriol on people because you lack the ability to create yourself,” and I hear people cheering when he says that. The tension and the anger that it taps into are fascinating, because it’s a healthy conduit for a need for revenge. It’s hilarious how he humiliates these people before taking them out in Shakespearean fashion. I was always concerned that Uwe Boll was going to see it and start doing this—and film it as a documentary.
What’s funny to me about it is that it’s an educational film. I learned Shakespeare from it. I aced my classes. I became a Shakespeare scholar after it. So I have Vincent Price to thank. A parent should feel secure that if your kid is going to watch a movie where people are maimed and dismembered and tortured, don’t show them Saw. Show them Theatre Of Blood, because at least they’ll learn Shakespeare. That’s positive to me. I wanted to end on a positive note with all this mayhem.