It is as I feared, but the kinda-famous monologist Spalding Gray was found dead after weeks of not being found. The story of his missing and now of his death are easily found, but at this time, I wish to share my personal experience with his work.
While Gray appeared in many movies, including a couple which set to capture his live monologues, these films did not succeed, in my opinion, to capture the energy and talent that he projected in a live forum.
The closest he came to capturing the experience were a couple of PBS specials he made – the best one used a single static camera pointed at him. In it, he sat at a desk with a shuffled stack of cards. He revealed each one showing the title of one of his stories and that’s how the show went.
The other show was more of a show as it used actors to illustrate the story of his buying a home. The voice over style that was applied was very reminiscent of the stories of the late Jean Shepherd whose work was immortalized in The Christmas Story, It Runs In The Family, and numerous other PBS specials.
One movie “Swimming to Cambodia”, which is available on home media (DVD, VHS) started out like one of his monologues, but digressed into a distracting series of sound and lighting effects, none of which were in his live presentation.
Compared to Shepherd, Spalding Gray’s work was more introspective and bordered on the self indulgent at times. He only tried to be funny at times, and resisted attempts at being funny, (although his monologue about buying a house was hilarious) which made his humorous stories only more so because of their honesty.
Gray was the victim of a terrible car crash, which crippled him and threatened his career as an actor. It seems he never got over it. He attempted suicide, but came back from it. It seems this time, after having seen the movie “Fish Story”, he gained a sense of peace and developed the courage to do it again.
Knowing that we will never see any more from Spalding Gray, he will be missed.