By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on June 4, 2011)
Matthew Bate’s Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure takes its title from a popular catchphrase among “audio verite” fans (a pre-internet network of collectors who circulated cassette tapes of bloopers, outtakes and other found sounds).
“Shut up, little man!” was an oft-repeated admonishment from a drunken gay gentleman, who used to scream it at his equally soused and verbally abusive homophobic roommate. Highlights from this odd couple’s nightly spats were captured for posterity via surreptitious recordings by their next-door neighbors, two pals who moved to San Francisco from the Midwest in the late 80s.
How these recordings made the journey from obscure collector’s circles to inspiration for plays, underground comics, music remixes and three competing film development projects (whilst the original “performers” remained oblivious) makes for a twisty tale, as well as a treatise on the inherently exploitative aspects of outsider art. While frequently discomfiting, it’s oddly…compelling.