“I love when BOOM gets three generations of people sitting in the same row and afterwards they write to me saying, ‘We’ve never had a post-show conversation that lasted that long’.”
Things that go boom: atomic bombs, Apollo rockets, Little Richard lyric vocalizations, and post-war birthrates. All of these social, political, technological and cultural bursts, both literal and metaphorical, come under the scope of writer, performer and director Rick Miller’s latest one-man show BOOM at the Grand Theatre until May 2. You might know Miller from his comedic take on Bohemian Rhapsody, impersonating 25 of “the most annoying voices in the music industry” on Just for Laughs, or as the actor behind the hugely successful MacHomer, which saw Miller perform Macbeth in the voices of a multitude of The Simpsons’ characters in a 17-year international run. Now he brings his virtuosic talents to tap the historical highlights of the boomer years of 1945 through 1969, but with a serious undertone. Miller shares with us a few of his insights into one of the most transformative generations in the modern era.
BOOM packs in a lot of important social and cultural shifts, but you’re not a boomer. Did you have the sense growing up that this generation just hogged all the air time of the century as it were?
I was born in 1970 so technically I’m way out but, as far as my show goes, the show ends with Apollo 11, and that was the day that I was conceived. So there was a little baby boom there and I was a product of it. I didn’t grow up as a young kid thinking that the ’70s sucked, but as I got older I realized that all of the music I loved had its birth in the ’60s. So, yeah, of course I wanted to go back and be there when this stuff happened, but it was never a nostalgia. Even people who don’t know history, you tell them six or seven storylines, and they go, ‘wow, a lot of shit happened!”
In the show, with quick little recreations of events, are you sliding in some commentary, critique as well?
There is definitely some commentary but it’s not heavy-handed and it’s not overtly political. What I’m trying to do is not overtly focus on the ’60s but to tie it in to the whole generation. So as soon as the bombs fell on Hiroshima, it set in motion so many of the storylines that were to define the whole generation all the way to the end of the ’60s. For example, Vietnam, Korea, the Cold War, the space race, all of these things pretty much started and have their roots in the ’40s, and really in the ’50s. So I didn’t just want to say, ‘Look how cool the ’60s were, look at all of the great things we did.’ If anything, it was to tie it all together and to show that people growing up had no idea that the culture they were part of was going to become so damned political by the time they turned of age. For me, that’s the commentary: whether we like it or not, we tend to become our parents in ways that would really freak us out if you told it to us as teenagers. And also that politics and culture were so deeply connected in the ’60s and it caused this explosion of creativity – and of consequence – that really still affects us, for better or worse, today. And even boomers who grew up in it didn’t have that perspective that we do now when we look back. Continue Reading