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Crumpet Goes West

August 10, 2016

I have an actor friend named Scott Gardner. He’s got some impressive credentials. He’s also a writer and a puppeteer. Very talented guy.

He got his early training in Hollywood, then decided he was ready for the big time: New Hampshire!

He made quite a reputation for himself here. If Scott was in a play, you knew it was a must-see.

One of his most brilliant (and funniest) performances was as Crumpet, the somewhat-embittered elf in The Santaland Diaries. It’s a one-man, one-act play based on David Sedaris‘ account of working as a Christmas elf at Macy’s department store.

Last year, Scott decided to return to California to pursue acting full-time. He took his mom along. Here’s a caricature I did for him.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
caricature drawing actor Scott Gardner his mom leaving NH for Hollywood look ma no mittens Crumpet Elf costume Charlie Chan Jimmy Chan Gee Pop

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highYou’re wondering, of course, what Charlie Chan and his son are doing in there. Like all inside jokes, it would take too long to explain, plus, when I was done, you’d cry: it wasn’t worth it!! So I’ll just tell you that it relates to some dialogue in the female version of Neil Simon‘s famous play, The Odd Couple.

If you watched a lot of Charlie Chan movies like I did as a kid, you’ll know that his son was always exclaiming, “Gee, Pop!!”blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
Fictional Honolulu Chinese detective Charlie Chan eating rice chopsticks asking son Jimmy what letter follows F Gee Pop

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highHere’s a publicity still of Scott for the Actor’s Circle Theatre production of The Santaland Diaries. Scott also recorded a series of interviews for the show.blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
Scott Gardner as Crumpet the Elf in The Santaland Diaries based on David Sedaris' essay about working at Macy's during Christmas performed in Peterborough, NH

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highAnd here’s a shot of the two of us at Scott’s going-away party. Hey, that guy on the right’s so handsome, he shoulda been an actor!!  : )blank vertical space, 32 pixels high
Actor Scott Gardner illustrator Mark Armstrong going away party Keene NH 2015

blank vertical space, 32 pixels highStrange the things that stick in one’s head. I’ll confess that one of my happiest childhood memories is watching the antics of Number One or Number Two Son in the old Charlie Chan films— especially the “Gee, Pop!!” schtick.

I decided to check YouTube for an appropriate clip. I found one posted by someone who clearly enjoyed the Gee, Pops even more than I did. It features Number One Son, Lee Chan, who was played by Keye Luke.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

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A final note:

The character Charlie Chan was created by American author Earl Derr Biggers— who was white. Three different actors played Chan in 44 films spanning the years 1931-49. All three actors were white. The films were a product of their time. Today there are many who would– justifiably– consider them racially offensive.

In 2010, author Yunte Huang had a huge national bestseller with Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History.

The book received overwhelmingly positive reviews, including this one by Harvard professor Doris Sommer:BlankVertSpace.8pixels

Yunte Huang restores our pleasure in Charlie Chan, and deepens it. Reading Huang, American fans of Chan novels and movies will feel relief from the automatic guilt we have learned to identify with the pleasure of enjoying a racially marked character… In Huang’s hands we recognize ourselves to be the butt of the Chinaman’s humor and the beneficiaries of his wisdom.

BlankVertSpace.8pixelsI picked up the book at a library book sale about a month ago. I’m looking forward to reading it.

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Any other Scott Gardner fans out there?

Can anyone explain the special appeal of murky old black-and-white films– or is it just me?

Does anyone have “Christmas elf” listed on their LinkedIn profile??

Hope you’ll leave a comment.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

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footer for all future blog posts showing picture of blog author Mark Armstrong, along with short bio and contact information

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