We can’t even remember what it was we originally rented when some sneaky ass clerk slipped us Man Bites Dog instead, but we do remember the day like a vivid dream. Maybe it was fate. Slowly being enveloped with the unusual musings of Ween during our first college campus excursion damn near sent us to outer space. Then there was our first road trip when someone put in a mix tape of schizophrenic punk rocker Wesley Willis. Within moments of our first listening of the passed around audio recordings of Peter and Raymond, two vile, arguing, aging alcoholics, we just couldn’t wait to unleash the thing on to somebody who was on the precipice of rebellion.
Shut Up, Little Man is the full length documentary of these recordings, and a fine a dandy document it is. “Eddie Lee Sausage” and “Mitchell D” moved into a ran down San Francisco apartment building in 1987 and soon found that their neighbors, Peter and Ray, were excellent drunks and terrible roommates. The new kids in town got the idea to record their neighbors chaotic and occasionally hilarious rants and share them with friends, which begat there friends sharing the tapes with others, which begat underground credibility, which begat mainstream competitive pursuits and litigation.
The film covers the early years of those recordings making the rounds, there surprising rise in popularity, and even tries to piece together who Peter and Ray really were. Well put together,moving at an excellent pace, and never short on humor, Shut Up, Little Man makes for an enjoyable night at the art house theater with a mandatory pub visit afterwords. A couple of minor issues with the focus and length is all that prevents this film from going down as a classic, but considering it was made by a first time director (Matthew Bate), it wouldn’t be asking too much to overlook these flaws.
The subjects of these raw recordings, the openly homosexual Peter and the homophobic Raymond, were two alcoholic welfare cases that invented dark new ways to verbally abuse each other. When one of them says ” You crucified Thankgiving dinner”, you believe it. There is a jarring enthusiasm to every taunt out of there mouths that invokes something similar to the exact opposite of Oscar Wilde. The title of the film is Peter’s catchphrase/ argument ender, and is used about a thousand times throughout the running time of this doc. That may seem like 990 times too many, and yet at the same time it has an odd duplicity about it. The repetition of this phrase will take you on a pseudo mushroom trip of a journey that can not be prepared for.