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Live “Wire”

June 15, 2012

Although the likelihood of the following event is very, well, unlikely, if I were in some kind of hostage situation and forced at gunpoint to name from memory at least two mind-blowingly bad musicals that were never made, I could do it. One would be from Woody Allen’s standup routine from the 1960s, during which he joked that he was once “at a party with a very big Hollywood producer, and at that time he wanted to make an elaborate cinemascope musical comedy out of the Dewey Decimal System.” The other would be from the David Sedaris story “Smart Guy” in Me Talk Pretty One Day, in which he pits his own intelligence against that of his boyfriend Hugh, who once “with no trace of irony… suggested that the history of the chocolate chip might make for an exciting musical. ‘If, of course, you found the right choreographer.'” To my knowledge, both projects are neither in development nor should be (although with Kickstarter these days, anything’s possible). And so, meeting the eccentric demands of my imaginary abductors, I am freed. You might want to mentally file these away as a precaution; the world is a dangerous place.

The list of unlikely candidates for unnecessary musicals might have once have included The Wire, David Simon’s gritty, gorgeous drama about the complex social ecologies of life in Baltimore. (This month marks the tenth anniversary of its debut on HBO.) And while a full-fledged stage show is quite thankfully still a fiction, Funny or Die recently produced a commercial for The Wire: The Musical that reunites some of the original cast in a performance that is exactly what The Wire: The Musical would be if it were real — which is everything you remember about The Wire, but with more jazz hands and the occasional high kick.

Need another hit? Click through for a Victorian rendering of The Wire, and the inexplicably actual version for children.

In 2010, the Nickelodeon YA comedy iCarly (about which that’s literally all I know) incorporated one of The Wire‘s most sad and beautiful scenes into a quick exchange between two kids. Here’s reference to the original scene, for anyone who’s already seen it. If you haven’t, then please do what I did a few years ago and put your life and/or academic career on hold for a month or so and watch all five seasons of The Wire with the increasingly uncontrollable intensity of an addict. Then come right back here — welcome back, by the way — and enjoy the following clip:

Finally, of the many parodies and appropriations of The Wire — too many to name here, especially now that I am really thinking about watching all five seasons again, like, right now — one of the best and oddly most logical is that of Joy DeLyria and Sean Michael Robinson, who seize on the serial and long-form strategies of Simon’s work to reverse-engineer a Victorian retelling. You can read an excerpt at The Hooded Utilitarian, with a book-length treatment to follow later this year.

Image copyright 2011. Joy DeLyria and Sean Michael Robinson.

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