Even when he’s paid to be nice, Dennis Miller can’t help but come off as snarky. ”I’m in the warm embrace of the Microsoft Network,” Miller smirks. ”It’s a big, happy, fuzzy club.” Yes, Bill Gates has hired the host of HBO’s Dennis Miller Live as spokesman for MSN, Microsoft’s online service. (Miller will also crack wise on some of MSN’s entertainment sites.) EW visited the rant artist in Manhattan for a face-to-face about cyberspace.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’re a man of metaphors. What’s a better way to describe the Internet than the Information Superhighway?
DENNIS MILLER: It’s a wide Sargasso Sea with many kelp beds that can hang you up, but clear sailing if you have the proper tugboat to lead you through the one deep channel.
Have you always been into technology?
No, I’m a complete jerk as far as technology is concerned. That’s why I’m surprised I like this computer thing.
You don’t like gadgets?
You don’t own a microwave?
What about a car?
Of course I have a car. I didn’t say I’m a f — — — ing Amish guy.
So why do you think you get cast as a techno-geek in movies like The Net and Disclosure?
I don’t think of my characters as defined by my occupation. I think of myself in movies as the exposition eunuch. They bring me in a third of the way into the movie when people are starting to lose the various threads. I ask the leading lady to f — — — me. She says no. I sit at the edge of her bed, and she does a Barnaby Jones unwind to my Lee Meriwether…. Then I go get killed.
What ticks you off about the Net?
I don’t know if it ticks me off, but I will say this: When you’re chatting with people from around the world — if you’re with five guys from Malaysia and two guys from Nepal and one guy from Afghanistan — it’s pretty much the same cocktail party. There’s always one guy who’s really interesting, and a couple of guys who are real jerks, and you want to go to the bean-dip bowl to get away from them. Things don’t change that much. People are people.
Let’s take a look at some websites.
Summon something up and I’ll give you my Rorschach reaction to it. Take me to Noel Cowardland. [We boot up a laptop computer and click to the Dennis Miller Routine-O-Tron — http://www.blair lake.com/dmiller/ — a fan site that generates random Miller-like rants from a hodgepodge of pop-culture references.] I love this idea. I always knew I could be reduced to an iambic stereotype. [We read a rant: ”Did you catch the speech by Bob Dole last week? I may be completely skewed here, but that genetic bouillabaisse makes me feel like a cast member in a model-airplane-glue-induced production of South Pacific scored by ABBA with Dana Plato.” Miller laughs.]
Bouillabaisse — one of my big comedy words…. They don’t get that weird. I don’t get that f — — — ing silly. [We click to a Dennis Miller home page — http://www.nd.edu/~jlaurie1/dmhome.html — and are greeted with a photo of the comedian leaning toward the camera.]