Shut Up, Little Man!

Some Notes Toward a History of Shut Up, Little Man!

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“That's Why I Call You Little Man” — The Burly Bear Network and other flourishes

According to Burly Bear Network is a next generation cable network and marketing company dedicated to the 18-24 year old audience. BBN is anchored by the leading college cable TV network reaching more than 5 million students across nearly 600 universities nationwide. The Network is piped directly into dorm rooms and college living space through contractual relationships with closed circuit college cable systems. As the 2000 presidential election debates were supposedly heating up, the Burly Bear Network contacted me about the possibility of utilizing Shut Up Little Man samples. So, in the Summer of 2000 the network ran an extended segment that showed recent footage of Al Gore debating George W. Bush cleverly dubbed exclusively with dialogue from Shut Up Little Man. Appropriately, Al Gore was Peter (the sharper and more eloquent of the two) and George W. was Raymond (the littler man with a very limited vocabulary and without a doubt the bigger drunk). Highlights of the piece included Al Gore taunting George W. with Peter's line: “And, that's why I call you little man. You'll never be a big man.” And, George W. smiling his impish grin and uttering Raymond's line: “Heh heh heh. That's about the only time you ever amused me, you fuckin' piece of shit.”

In early 2000 I was reading the debut book by Sara Vowell, entitled Radio On, in which she surveys the contemporary state of radio and broadcast programming. Vowell has since gone on to become a very popular writer and social commentator with regular appearances on Conan, David Letterman, This American Life, The Jon Stewart Show, etc. I was surprised to come across a short chapter about Shut Up Little Man. Vowell evidently heard some Pete and Ray rants on WBEZ. She calls the Pete and Ray rants “some of the strangest bickering I've ever heard.” She goes on to say: “Sometimes, one has the pleasure of meeting those sage, elderly men with deep, profound eyes and soft, knowing voices. And then there are these two: demeaning, sinister, crotchety assholes with nothing better to do than humiliate each other to death.”

In 2001 I received a phone call from a representative of Mike Mitchell, the film director. Mitchell was fresh off success from “Deuce Bigolo, Male Gigolo.” He had also directed “Saving Christmas” and “Sky High” had just completed and shown his latest movie at the San Francisco Film Festival. The movie was a clever, but very low budget puppet show featuring dialogue entirely from the Shut Up Little Man recordings. And, after securing permission from us, Rich Kronfeld in Minneapolis, Minneapolis staged yet another play based on Peter and Raymond.