In my 20’s I worked the morning shift as a prep cook at a local Seattle alehouse. My co-workers and I would spend our mornings listening to music and getting ready for our lunch shift. Occasionally we’d break up the music with some of our favorite recorded bits of comedic relief, Wesley Willis was popular as was “Shut Up, Little Man!” – secretly-taped recordings of two alcoholic roommates named Pete and Ray. We’d double over with laughter listening to these two scream at each other, making little or no sense and often engaging in real-life violence. While it was a little depressing, hearing Peter shout “shut up little man” at Ray would somehow send us into hysterics every time, and we’d find ourselves quoting their rants at parties to our bewildered friends.
The recordings were made by Eddie Lee Sausage and Mitchell D, two Midwestern punks, living in the Bay Area. They had moved into a bright pink, low-rent apartment building in 1987 and dubbed it the “Pepto Bismol Palace.” “Shut Up, Little Man’s” protagonists Peter Haskett and Raymond Huffman were Eddie and Mitchell’s neighbors, and after listening to the two’s near-homicidal arguments between the paper-thin walls, they decided to document what they were hearing. Eddie and Mitchell would also sometimes record prank phone calls that they’d make to Pete and Ray, purposefully trying to rile them into another epic rant. They originally started spreading the tapes amongst their friends, but eventually interest spread outside their social circle and the recordings were “officially” released on CD in 1993.
“Shut Up Little Man” quickly gained a national cult following and was eventually adapted into comic books, zines, a theatrical production, a Devo song (“Shut Up Little Man” – as their surf band alter-ego The Wipeouters), and even a 2002 independent film “Shut Yer Dirty Little Mouth.” Unfortunately, Pete and Ray died in the 90’s of alcohol-related illnesses, so they were never able to experience the cult notoriety that they would achieve.
And now, they’ve been immortalized even further as the subjects of the recently released documentary “Shut Up Little Man An Audio Misadventure.” The film is showing on Wednesday, July 20 and Friday, July 22 at the Toby Theater in Indianapolis and you can pick up tickets here. We strongly suggest that you check out this exploration into the vodka and hatred-fuelled, real-life odd couple and the nosey neighbors that would turn them into cult-superstars. According to the filmmakers, this documentary “explores the blurring boundaries between privacy, art and exploitation” by telling the true story behind a “viral” pop-culture phenomena in the pre-YouTube era.