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Christopher Guest has written, directed and starred in a number of classic comedies, including This is Spinal Tap (1984) and Waiting for Guffman (1996).
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Born in New York City in 1948, Christopher Guest gained fame when he began writing and performing for Saturday Night Live in the 1970s. He went on to write, direct and star in a number of classic satirical films,
including the 1984 hit This is Spinal Tap--for which he wrote all the music--and Waiting for Guffman (1996). His other notable films include Best in Show and A Mighty Wind.
Christopher Guest was born to Peter Haden-Guest, a British diplomat to the United Nations, and his American wife, Jean Pauline Hindes, in New York City on February 5, 1948. The young Guest spent most of his childhood in London, where his father, the 4th Baron of Saling, in Essex, was a member of the House of Lords. As a teenager, Guest attended The High School of Music and Art in New York, ferrying back and forth between London and the United States. He credits his geographically diverse childhood for giving him his remarkable ability as a mimic: "I've always picked up accents without even really meaning to. It used to get me into trouble as a child. I'd be in a restaurant and the waiter would say [in an Indian accent], 'May I please take your order?' And I'd say [in the same Indian accent], 'Yes, you may.' My parents would tell me, 'No, you can't do this.' And I'd say, 'What do you mean? I have to do this. I've heard it and now I must replicate it.'"
One of Guest's earliest performances came in the Broadway show Moonchildren in 1972. But it wasn't long before he began moving in the direction of comedy, first contributing to The National Lampoon Radio Hour and then working with Chevy Chase in the off-Broadway revue National Lampoon's Lemmings. In the late 1970s, Guest began writing and performing for Saturday Night Live. It was there that he struck gold with This is Spinal Tap, a parody of an English rock band based on Guest's real experiences touring with an unnamed band in 1978. Guest would later team up with Rob Reiner and others to write the script and music for This is Spinal Tap (1984). In the cult classic, Guest plays lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel. First a satirical band, the group would eventually find itself selling out 6,000 seat arenas to excited live audiences for the next 20 years. Remarking on this unusual turn of events, Guest once said, "The ultimate irony is that we are playing every note live and nearly all 'real' bands are now using prerecorded DAT tapes."
Following this success, Guest joined Saturday Night Live in 1984 for a one year run as a cast member. Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, he made cameo appearances in such hit movies as Little Shop of Horrors and The Princess Bride. In 1989, he directed his first film, The Big Picture, which, while still a comedy, lacked the improvisation that had been Guest's signature style.
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