OF ALL THE LEVELS OF CONNECTION, the most consistent was humor. Humor, often meaning practical jokes. There was no one more gifted in this arena or as skilled a craftsman as Marlon. He possessed the sense of humor – which we both shared – of a child. I once asked him why it was that farts were always funny. He replied, “Because they are blatantly anti-social.”
He once asked if I would play a small part in a film he was going to do in Ireland. I agreed and asked if I shouldn't’t maybe take a look at the script. He advised me not to worry about it; I was simply going to play a journalist from ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine in New York. Simple enough, I concurred.
Friday evening, upon arrival, I was invited to dinner at his place. I had hidden in my pocket a brilliant little rubber device that, once mastered and properly lubricated, would emit the most genuine-sounding farts in the history of counterfeit fart noises.
He graciously greeted me at the front door and welcomed me in. As we approached the den, I put a firm squeeze on the contraption. BRRRTTTT. A quizzical look from Marlon. “Very good, John.” We sat on the couch. “Sorry, I ate something weird on the plane, I’m having a little..." BBBZZZRRRTT! once again. “Jesus, John, what the hell did you eat???” PPPHHHHRRRTTT!!!
I kept him going on for a good half-hour and only let up when his laughter turned to an expression of worry and he was reaching for the phone to get a doctor. “Ah... that’s not normal, John, you’re not well. You’re sick. You’re ripping about three beauties a minute and… ah, that’s just not right.”
My own tear-filled laughter gave up the charade. I reached into my pocket and revealed the culprit. Marlon’s face lit up like a Christmas tree, the smile of a five-year-old. I handed the fart unit to him, he held it up to the light and exclaimed, “I've found God!!!” I was so proud that, after a couple of years of being on the receiving end of Marlon’s practical jokes, I was finally able to swing back and connect big-time. But we were both winners, as the fart machine became a source of entertainment for many years.
After dinner, he informed me that since I was to begin shooting the film on Monday, I would need to meet the director tomorrow, Saturday. The next afternoon we went through a few costume possibilities and I was introduced to Tom, our director.
“How do you do? Nice to meet you. How’s the accent coming?”
“What????” I can still feel the look on my face and the panic that surged through my body. “What accent??!!” Tom looked at me quizzically; he recognized my panic as well as I did.
“The Dublin accent. Didn’t you read the script? You’re playing a reporter from Dublin!" I, officially, now had less than a day and a half to come up with a decent Irish accent before 5 a.m. Monday. Marlon nearly split himself in two laughing. He'd been planning this rotten trick for months.