Whew, it's over! And I survived! I'm writing this on the day after my world premiere of "Hitler's Folly" at the prestigious SVA Theatre. And the reaction was terrific - no assaults, or verbal abuse, only laughter and applause.
In my early career as an illustrator and cartoonist, I loved to push the limits of good taste, and try to shock people. I found that my cartoons were much more effective if they were scandalous. At the same time, I was working for National Lampoon and that was their in-house style, to shock and disturb. In fact, they once published a book of cartoons called "Hitler's Favorite Cartoons".
I loved their style of humor - after all, I grew up enjoying Charles Addams' cartoons, they were always irreverent, too.
So, when I got the idea for "Hitler's Folly", a mockumentary about an alternate world, where Hitler got accepted into the art academy and ends up being a very successful cartoonist, I thought, "This is perfect for me!" A few years ago, I made a very popular short film called "Santa, the Fascist Years", which took a much-loved character, Santa Claus, and turned him into an evil dictator.
For "Hitler's Folly", I switched the roles and had an evil dictator become a kind, lovable artist. I find a lot of humor in taking something iconic and turning it into its opposite. It's a form of ironic humor.
But a few people who saw the rough cut of "Hitler's Folly" expressed fears that my career would be over and the Jewish Defense League would rough me up at the screening. So I didn't know what to expect as the movie-goers filed into the SVA Theatre to watch the world premiere.
As they entered the auditorium, I wondered to myself which of these people are "politically correct", or have no sense of humor and might be out to get me. Maybe one of them is wearing an explosive vest or something, it's not like I can afford bomb-sniffing dogs or metal detectors at the door. After all, three of my artists refused to work on my Hitler film and preferred to resign from the studio instead.
As I stood on the stage and introduced the stars of the film, I felt a little more comfortable from the polite applause. Also, it helped that we had a live version of the cartoon character, Downy Duck, milling around the cinema and on stage, dancing and mugging for people. He added an air of absurdity and fantasy to the evening.
As the film began and I heard the audience's laughter, I could finally relax and enjoy the show. Afterward I had a lot of people approach me and tell me how much they loved the film, and how they were going to tell all of their friends about it, so they can watch it streaming on www.plymptoons.com
I want to thank the staff and crew at the SVA Theatre for a great job, and also Emma Griffiths and John Holderried for their help in putting this wonderful event together.
Please check out my film "Hitler's Folly" on my web-site, www.plymptoons.com
And my thanks to Adam Rackoff for taking these great photos!