Whiskey Bear Comedy presents a live reading of the Coen Brothers classic on Friday, Aug. 9
Confession: I’m a long-time fanatic of the Coen Brothers’ movie “The Big Lebowski.”
The 1998 film played on repeat in our house throughout college, and I’ve memorized the most trivial bits of information from it, including the amount the Dude writes on his check when cashing out at Ralph’s (69 cents). It’s among the most re-watchable films ever made, with its labyrinthine plot, instantly quotable lines and memorable major and minor characters. It also contains a number of universal truths, such as cops can be fascists and the Eagles are an undeniably terrible band.
Indeed, when I was an intern at Spin years back, I even managed to get the second-ever Lebowski Festival in Louisville, Kentucky, into the magazine’s list of “19 Events You Can’t Afford to Miss This Summer.” The fest founders later documented this occurrence in their book, I’m a Lebowski, You’re a Lebowski, with one small error: They wrote that I submitted the fest as “a joke,” but it was out of legit excitement, and I even attended it that year.
Needless to say, I was stoked to learn Whiskey Bear Comedy would present a live reading of “Lebowski” at MadLab on Friday, Aug. 9, with comedian and Whiskey Bear founder Dustin Meadows taking on the role of Vietnam vet, Jewish convert and avid bowler Walter Sobchak, famously brought to big-screen life by the great John Goodman.
Here are the scenes/moments we’re most looking forward to hearing Meadows re-enact this weekend.
“OVER THE LINE!”
Arguably the most-quoted “Lebowski” line, Sobchak leaves pacifist Smokey shaking after calling the silver-haired bowler out on a lane violation. “Smokey, this is not ’Nam. This is bowling. There are rules.”
“Dude, I’m sorry”
Walter often speaks loudly and carries a big stick (or crowbar/bowling ball bag, anyway), but he lets his guard down briefly after memorializing departed friend Donny, who loved bowling. Anyone who follows Meadows on Facebook and/or Instagram and has been gifted with his tasteful nudes knows that the comedian also has a more sensitive, naked side, which should shine in this moment.
One of the numerous beauties of Goodman’s performance as Sobchak is how quickly he pivots moods, falling off from a rant to a polite aside as naturally as a car downshifting. My favorite might be when he’s working himself into a lather over the Dude’s rug being peed on, only to quickly pivot to cultural sensitivity. “I’m talking about drawing a line in the sand, Dude. Across this line YOU DO NOT… Also, Dude, Chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian American, please.”
"You see what happens, Larry?"
Then there are the times that Walter doesn’t pivot, allowing his rage to boil over into fits of ear-biting (“Anti-Semite”) and car-smashing, as he does when he thinks he’s being stonewalled by Larry Sellers, the dunce son of writer (and Sobchak hero) Arthur Digby Sellers. Meadows will be great letting it all out here. But will he run with the script as written or clean things up as in the safe-for-TV version? (“You see what happens, Larry? You see what happens when you take a stranger to the Alps?!?”)
The entire diner scene
This scene has everything, from Walter chuckling at the ease with which he could obtain a human body part (“You want a toe? I can get you a toe, Dude”), growing increasingly irritated while recalling Vietnam (“Lady, I got buddies WHO DIED FACE-DOWN IN THE MUCK!”) and, ultimately, resignation (“I’m staying. I’m finishing my coffee. Enjoying my coffee.”)