So What Is This Shit My Dad Says, Anyway?: A Movieline FAQ
By now, you've likely the heard the incredible tale of Justin Halpern: a 28-year-old guy who just happens to move back in with his parents in San Diego; then starts transcribing his 73-year-old dad's salty, irrepressible bits of grumpy wisdom and uncensored tough-love onto a Twitter account; then sees his followers grow exponentially as thousands upon thousands line up for a fresh, steaming serving of his father's hilarious spoken shit; then grabs the attention of Hollywood (forever on the lookout for the next scatological social networking phenomena); then finds his baby optioned by CBS and plopped into the hands of Will & Grace creators for adaptation into a sitcom pilot. It's an amazing story, and one that led Movieline's Pulitzer-prize-aspiring investigative department to compile this much-needed FAQ on the man, the dad, and the Golden Shit.
1. So does this shit-speaking dad actually exist?
He does. His name is Sam, and he worked for years in the field of nuclear medicine at UC San Diego, according to an LA Times profile. He's intensely private -- except around the house, where he frequently can be seen hanging out in the buff -- and therefore refuses to be interviewed, making him the Thomas Pynchon of the Twitterverse. Look for a Simpsons voice cameo shortly.
2. Is Sam aware of this Twitter site?
Justin broke the news in late summer. Sam "laughed for, like, 10 seconds, and then he goes, 'I can't find my cellphone. Can you call it?'"
3. So what does Sam think about his son's success?
According to the latest tweet, he doesn't want his son's, uh ... head to grow too large: "Remember this: you're just a lucky fucking guy. If people start telling you your dick looks bigger, remember that it's not."
4. But come on. Maybe this started as a few funny quips from the dad, but then once Halpern realized what he had, he just started writing to him -- right?
According to Halpern, no, obviously. He says he's been writing these down in a notebook for years. Still, some sound very plausible ("You need to flush the toilet more than once...No, YOU, YOU specifically need to. You know what, use a different toilet. This is my toilet.") while others strain credulity ("I just did an hour on the gym machine. I'm sweaty and I have to shit. Where's my fannypack, this workout is over.").
5. Is it really that funny?
How funny you find Shit My Dad Says sort of hinges on how willing you are to forge a silent deal with Halpern: He provides the wacky lines, you agree to picture a grumpy old man saying all these things to the twentysomething son who's recently moved back in with him. Remove that factor, and a lot of the lines aren't particularly LOL. Many feel as if they'd come straight out of a multi-camera sitcom script, appropriately enough, and would perhaps best be delivered by John Mahoney. Eg.: "Oh please, you practically invented lazy. People should have to call you and ask for the rights to lazy before they use it."
6. What kind of chances does it really stand as a TV series?
Bad ones, if you're to look at creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan's track record since Will & Grace (Good Morning, Miami, Four Kings, several failed autobiographical pilots). Also, see above re: tendency of source material to sound like hacky sitcom dialogue when plucked from its Twitter confines and robbed of its anonymous, 73-year-old dad mystique.
7. What do dad and son look like?
The only known photo of the two together is above, and was taken at San Diego's PETCO Park. (Justin is on the far right, Sam is -- well, you can probably figure that one out.) [Photo credit: Credit: Patrick Schumacker]
8. We know a lot about dad. Anything else we should know about Justin?
For starters, he has a job. He also has two brothers. He has an agent, a book deal, and is a fan of William Shatner and sleeping with one leg out of the covers, according to his Facebook page.