Garth Algar was the best part of Wayne’s World. If you disagree with this, we have a problem.
I saw the film on opening weekend back in ’92, in a theater packed with people who could not have loved it more. It was one of my all-time favorite moviegoer experiences. Everyone just had such a blast.
Dana Carvey played Garth, and this will be the only time I mention him. Carvey did such a great job that I’ve never been able to see Garth as anything but real. He’s not Dana Carvey in a wig and glasses. He’s just Garth. Secretly the coolest mofo on the planet.
Seeing the movie again a few nights back, all of those great Garth memories came rushing back. I wouldn’t say that I wanted to be Garth, but upon reviewing my favorite bits, it’s easy to see how much he inspired me. Garth was creative, marched to his own beat, and could find immense joy in absolutely nothing. It was played for laughs, but for me, it ran deeper. I actually looked up to Garth.
Here are my five favorite “Garth things.” It’s okay if you have a different list. There were a lot of great Garth things. But if your list doesn’t include the donut creatures somewhere, get bent.
#1: Garth’s Cocktail!
“Listen man! I’m not goin’ to jail for you, or anybody!”
At the bar where Benjamin makes his sneaky pitch to buy the show, Garth orders THE BEST DRINK I HAVE EVER SEEN. Look at that thing! Some kind of Blue Curacao cocktail served in a literal punchbowl!
I have a thing for goofy and gaudy Polynesian cocktails, and this one is the end all, be all. It’s garnished with everything from a pineapple stem to a goddamned fringy foil 4th of July decoration! BEST DRINK EVER.
Note how the punchbowl portion is completely separate from the (already huge) cocktail glass, each containing liquids that can never mix. As a kid, I took this as a production goof, but looking back, it was probably intentional. They wanted this to be the most ridiculous drink possible, and they succeeded.
I generally end my drinking nights happier when I stick to beer or wine, but Garth’s cocktail set off a never-ending fascination with neon colored fruit madness. When I’m at a bar that serves drinks presented even remotely like this, I have to order them. To date, I’ve not found one as hilariously overdone as Garth’s, but that just gives me an excuse to keep trying.
#2: Garth’s Electro-Zapper!
“Excuse me? I’d like to get by now.”
Coming into the film, I hadn’t seen enough of the SNL skits to really “get” Garth. I mean, I didn’t mind him, but I certainly didn’t realize that he was the real soul of the whole shebang.
Well, this is the scene that taught me the true Power of Garth. Oh sure, he had some good bits in the film prior to this, but that’s all they were. Good bits. THIS is where I really started to get Garth, and I doubt I’m alone.
After being tossed to the floor by an enormous metalhead at the Crucial Taunt show, Garth has one thing on his mind: Revenge! He strolls outside and finds his weapon: A battery-charged belt, rigged to turn a tuning fork into a stun gun.
Back inside, Garth wastes no time in brutalizing his tormentor, gaining the admiration of a dozen beauties who really love it when men zap other men with homemade assault weapons.
Garth was high on the list of fictitious crafty weirdos that inspired me to be the best crafty weirdo I could be. None of my own inventions ever worked or even made much sense, but I sure had fun building them. Garth is one of the select few characters I have to thank for that.
So thanks, Garth. Thanks for turning every battery and busted radio I found into a world of potential.
#3: Garth’s Robot Arm!
“We fear change.”
Remember the scene where Benjamin runs the idea of making changes to the show by Garth? You might not. It was hard to pay attention to the lines when Garth was building A ROBOT ARM in the middle of the conversation.
It’s a great bit. The animated hand may have been linked directly to Garth’s brain, because just as he realizes that Benjamin’s screwing around, it starts to wiggle and shake, as if it’s thinking about choking him. Garth responds by beating the hell out of it with a hammer, which also works nicely to end the conversation.
I need to go back and check, but was he building that robot arm for any particular reason? A Wayne’s World sketch or something? Hope not. It’s more fun to think that this was the kind of stuff Garth did on his breaks, just to unwind.
#4: Garth’s Donut Creatures!
“Hey Mr. Donut Head Man, who’s trying to kill you?”
I have too much mental history connected to Garth’s cocktail to call anything else my favorite “Garth thing,” but this one comes verrry close.
Late in the movie, Garth sits alone at Stan Mikita’s. Using crullers and jelly donuts, he creates a series of edible monsters, and they are adorable. Held together by toothpicks, the chief characters include some kind of cruller centipede, and of course, Mr. Donut Head Man.
Owing to all the stress he’s been under, Garth takes his frustrations out on Mr. Donut Head Man, stabbing him repeatedly while making Psycho noises. The bit only lasts for a moment before Wayne interrupts, but even from my first viewing, it made such an enormous impression on me.
It was just more proof that Garth was the coolest guy ever. Keep in mind, he didn’t give life to those donuts in a feeble attempt to impress anyone. Making donut creatures was just what came out when he was being himself. That’s so great.
#5: Garth’s Powers of Persuasion!
“If Benjamin were an ice cream flavor, he’d be pralines and dick.”
Garth persuades the evil Benjamin’s second-in-command, Russell, to join Team Good. You’ll remember this scene mostly for the “pralines and dick” line, but that’s not why I’m including it.
Russell was played by Kurt Fuller, who I’d guess we’d term as a “working actor.” He’s never been a major star, but he’s somehow appeared in so many things I love, from Ghostbusters II to Scary Movie.
In particular, he was the bad guy in No Holds Barred, that ridiculous Hulk Hogan “wrestling movie” from 1989. I saw No Holds Barred in theaters, and since I was ten at the time, I loved it.
There’s a weird phenomenon that’s hard to put into words, but I’ll try. When we’re kids, we see a lot of movies that are specifically targeted at us. That’s obvious. Less talked about is the odd loyalty we apply to anyone who appeared in “our” movies. Money aside, that must be partially why so many big names are quick to lend their voices to Pixar movies and the like. Or maybe it isn’t, but the effects are still just as true.
I couldn’t begin to count the number of actors I’ve always rooted for, all because they appeared in something I saw as a kid. Fuller is just one of many examples. After his turn as the vicious bastard in No Holds Barred, I can’t tell you how happy I was to see him “go good” in Wayne’s World. It shouldn’t be one of my favorite parts of the movie, but it totally is.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that I have Garth to thank for it.
He was awesome in so many ways. The proof will be in the response to this article, because I’m confident that others would name completely different “Garth things” if challenged to celebrate him. This guy just couldn’t move without doing something right.
Garth, today is your day. Thank you for being you.