We — those of us whose cultish adoration and devotion to the book would probably lead to us being institutionalized in less forgiving times and places — need you to do us a favor. There’s a reason this incredible book is the rare decades-old international bestseller that’s never been made into a movie: it’s about an extraordinary person placed in extraordinary situations. And, as Harold Ramis –who himself attempted to produce a Dunces adaptation starring John Belushi — noted, such a thing is a violation of the “basic bylaws of movie comedy,” which posit that for a movie to be funny it has to involve a normal person placed in an extraordinary situation or an extraordinary person placed in a normal situation.
So, in order for a Dunces movie to ever succeed, two things are probably necessary: a perfect script and the perfect actor to play Ignatius. Presumably, a perfect script, or at least the outline for one, has already been created. Still, the movie can’t happen without your participation because there’s simply no one else out there right now who can pull off Ignatius. (Some have even suggested that it’s a role you were born to play, and I tend to agree with them.) Yes, whether you know it or not, you’re the only person with the comedic acting chops who looks the part AND can put seats in movie theaters on opening weekend with your name attached to the project, and it’ll be years before someone else comes along who fits the same criteria.
Conversely, because you’re the only person who can play Ignatius, you single-handedly possess the power to stop this movie dead in its tracks. I trust in your sensibilities enough that you’ll know if this thing is on course to be something great (I look forward to watching it with a big bucket of popcorn at the Prytania, just as Ignatius would, if so) or become the next The Scarlet Letter or something. And if that is indeed the case, I, we, ask this of you: kill it, and kill it with fucking fire.
I mentioned this elsewhere yesterday, but I hold an unreasonable, childish sense of possession when it comes to A Confederacy of Dunces. Like so many others, especially college kids from Louisiana and the greater Gulf South, the book spoke and still speaks to me in profound ways.
Then there are the personal connections. My uncle, now a Tennessee Williams scholar, taught with John Kennedy Toole at UL. I was taught at UL by Maurice duQuesnay, the jumbled mess of a genius whom many believe is the basis for Ignatius. Years later, my dad became neighbors with Dr. duQuesnay, and he enjoyed the daily circus of Maurice attempting to “walk” his little dogs while bike riding.
I’ve resigned myself to the inevitability of a movie being made, whether it’s this one with Zach Galifianakis (who is great, of course) or something five or ten years from now. It probably won’t do justice to the source material, and that will probably irritate me. And that makes me happy, because it proves that there are books that have impacted me in meaningful ways, and it shows that I have it pretty good if such things are the irritations of life.