(Editor’s Note: On the 35th anniversary of the iconic rockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, we are honored to have Marty DiBergi Jr., son of filmmaker Marty DiBergi, take a look back at the film’s funniest moments. Below are his words, as he takes us on a trip through the classic film’s most humorous scenes.)
My name is Marty DiBergi, Jr. I’m a writer. In the late fall of 1982, my father, filmmaker Marty DiBergi, heard that the UK band Spinal Tap were releasing a new album called Smell the Glove, and were planning their first tour of the United States in almost six years. He jumped at the chance to make a documentary, which hit theaters in March 1984, and the rest is history.
Little did my dad know the cultural phenomenon that his documentary would soon become, and still remains 35 years later. And while his intention was to offer a serious, objective view of Spinal Tap, Newsweek called the film “the funniest movie ever made about rock and roll!” Needless to say, guitarist Nigel Tufnel, singer David St. Hubbins, and bassist Derek Smalls were not amused by the reaction to the film, but in retrospect, the movie’s humor is undeniable.
As a young boy, I often found myself around the band while my father was filming, which allows me to offer never-before-told insight into some of the most memorable scenes in the movie. But hey — enough of my yakkin’. Whaddaya say, let’s boogie, and look at the 11 Funniest Moments From This Is Spinal Tap.
11. “This Miniature Bread”
In this scene, we see Nigel struggling backstage with the small pieces of bread provided with the cold cuts and cheese, telling manager Ian Faith he had been “working with this now for about a half an hour.” Fun fact: Nigel had actually spent two hours with the bread, at one point Scotch-taping four pieces together to form one “normal” size piece of bread.
10. “Do You Have Any Metal Objects in Your Pockets?”
Ah, yes — a classic! Good ol’ Derek was caught with a foil-wrapped cucumber in his pants at airport security. It was the talk of the band for days, as they wouldn’t let him live it down. But what people don’t know, and what my dad told me later in life was that Derek is actually very-well endowed. He used the cucumber to take attention away from his natural bulge, about which he was quite self-conscious.
09. “When You’ve Loved and Lost the Way Frank Has”
Honestly, I felt bad for limo driver Tommy Pischedda in this scene. The band had no business rolling up the partition window on him. He actually moonlighted as a Frank Sinatra tribute singer on weekends, and get this: I became friends with his son, who was around the same age as me. And guess what Tommy Jr. is doing today? An Uber driver. No joke! Dead serious — and he looks just like his dad, god rest his soul.
08. “Do Me a Favor, Just Kick My Ass, Okay?”
This was an unfortunate scene, and Artie Fufkin really was to blame. He actually had the date wrong in all the promotion. Crazy thing is that 200 people showed up at the record store for the signing the next day, but my dad was no longer there to film it, and the band was long gone. Oh, and what you don’t see in the film is that not only did the band take turns kicking Fufkin in the ass, but they actually took him out back and really roughed him up. I don’t think anyone has ever heard from him again.
07. “These Haircuts Wouldn’t Pass Military Muster”
This guy, Lieutenant Bob Hookstratten, was quite the character. He comes off pretty square in the scene, but word has it he was a big-time cokehead. And if you watch it again, it really makes sense. I believe he was honorably discharged from the Air Force in the early ’90s after a drug-fueled rage that apparently remains the stuff of legend.
06. “Shit Sandwich”
Two-word review of this scene: instant classic!
05. “Stonehenge” (18 Inches High)
My dad actually picked up the infamous napkin on which Nigel illustrated the 18-inch Stonehenge, after Ian had thrown it to the floor in disgust, and still has it to this day — framed, at his home in Boca Raton. Better yet, he also kept the Stonehenge piece, and uses it as an end table.
04. “None More Black”
I don’t know if this is common knowledge, but Spinal Tap actually get 1 percent of all sales of Metallica’s “Black Album”. Yes, that’s right. The Tap had threatened Metallica with a lawsuit, but they came to the friendly agreement, which alone has put Derek Smalls’ seven children (with seven different women) through college.
03. “Hello Cleveland”
A moment stuck in time! How many rock bands have yelled “Hello Cleveland” on the way to the stage since the movie came out? Thousands, if you ask me. While Spinal Tap eventually made it to the stage, a few members of the film crew are still unaccounted for. My dad holds on to the hope that they made it out alive, but deep inside, he knows it’s wishful thinking.
02. “Rock and Roll Creation” (Derek Gets Stuck in a Pod)
Crazy thing is that this prop worked five out of five times in rehearsals, with the band’s sound guy standing in for Derek. Just Derek’s luck that he gets stuck. It reminded my father of the time he was stuck in an elevator at the Director’s Guild with Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. One of them repeatedly passed wind (I won’t say who), making the hour unbearable for my old man.
01. “These Go to 11”
An iconic line that has since been adopted as a battle cry by the metal world. My dad was never allowed in that room again. Funny thing is that Nigel now owns a condo down the road from my dad in Boca. It’s on the 11th floor, and the unit is 11-11. They actually get together for early-bird specials every 11th of the month. God bless ’em!