I hate to give you guys extra homework on a Wednesday, but you might get a little more enjoyment out of today’s comic if you read this one first.

It’s kind of funny how these things loop around. I have to chuckle a little bit because of how near prescient that comic from 2003 actually was. I tossed out 2007 from nowhere when I suggested Mike Myers self-plagiarism would cause his head to collapse. Who would have guessed that after the critical failure that was The Cat in the Hat he would go into exile away from movie screens for the next five years?

I like Myers, but you would have to be a poor student of comedy not to notice that he really only has four or five moves. Fortunately for him, he has an uncanny ability to insert catch phrases into the lexicon and that’s what gives his movies legs. Even one or two word catch phrases. Who could imagine that “…Not!” could become a catch phrase? Well, maybe Borat could. But no one else. Innocuous phrases like “Schwing” or “Yeah, baby” reflect that it’s not just the words themselves, but the way Myers says them that make them lodge in our brain. I give him a lot of credit for that.

But when I saw the trailer for The Love Guru, I rolled my eyes in disgust.

Undoubtedly, Myers creation of The Guru Pitka is an original one. Something we really haven’t seen in a movie before. But everything that surround him, we have. He bends his legs over his head like the Austin Powers villain Goldmember, he rides around on a motorized pillow reminiscent of Dr. Evil and his various troublesome chairs, he unleashes a stream of Freudian slips when he encounters Verne Troyer (“How do you do? Shrimp?” “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your gnome… name!” “You are a midget”) similar to Austin Powers meeting Fred Savage’s Number Three character in Goldmember. You know – the one with the mole? (“Moley, moley, moley!”) There is an Austin Powers-esque dance number and The Guru Pitka has unfortunate body hair like Powers as well – there’s another trailer showing him showering with long nipple hair that comes to a point like his beard.

That said, I do give him credit for the line he delivers when confronted by the cowboy in the bar. “Nice hat. I had a hat like that once. Then my Mom got a job!” That’s a good one.

It may seem nit-picky to point out these comparisons between The Love Guru and the Austin Powers movie, but it’s not a good sign when you’re watching a trailer and you keep saying to yourself “I think I’ve seen that joke in a movie before.” over and over and over again. I was initially excited for The Love Guru. The first trailer diminished that. Bad sign.

I was trying to think of a reason why I’m tagging Myers for self-plagiarism in this way. Certainly there are many other comedians who perform the same character or hit the same emotional notes from picture to picture. Fellow Saturday Night Live alum Adam Sandler, for example, could be considered on of them.

But for me it all came into focus after Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. There are jokes in that movie that could be considered outright theft from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery if it wasn’t Myers who wrote both movies. It’s one thing to have a running gag in a series of films. It develops a sense of continuity. It’s a completely different thing to tell the exact same joke twice.

Entertainment Weekly had a very interesting article about Myers that was posted on Monday. It’s a little on the long side, but I suggest you read it. The article delves into Myers exacting and demanding creative process and tackles his reputation as someone who is difficult to work with.

The article actually made me appreciate Myers again because – despite his negative reputation – it’s clear that he cares very deeply for his work and I admire anyone with that kind of discipline. Most people who are perfectionists in this way aren’t well-liked. But their contribution to the culture at large is usually profound. Myers takes being stupid very seriously. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny what his movies do for people. Critical observations aside, myself included. Even when I know Myers is trying to float the same joke twice, I laugh – because there is conviction behind it.

That said, did anyone see Myers on Late Night with David Letterman on Monday. Both Cami and I thought that he was struggling exceptionally hard to put on a front that was the antithesis to what the EW article portrayed him to be. Here are the two parts of his interview in cased you missed it.

I’ll probably end up seeing The Love Guru at some point this weekend. Cami is a long-in-the-tooth Myers fan and is extremely motivated to see it – despite what I think is worthy competition from Steve Carell and Get Smart.

We’ll go to the movie and I’ll laugh before immediately quoting lines from the movie – all the while kind of hating myself for it while I do. But at the same time I’ll be eagerly anticipating the DVD release of the film because that’s exactly the kind of hold Mike Myers has over my household and the culture at large.

↓ Transcript
What are you doing?

Refining my unified Mike Myers theory.

In 2003, I identified Myers' level of self-plagiarism was approaching critical levels.

But The Love Guru adds a wrinkle to the equation.

An eternally cheerful and disturbingly hairy man spouting catchphrases about love?


At this point we can only assume the worst...

If Myers continues at this accelerated rate he will tear a hole in the space-time continuum and doom us all to a temporal loop!

Or maybe he's found something audiences like and is simply sticking with what works?

Cami, please - I'm a scientist!