The sound and fury of Homer Simpson

Actor Rick Miller isn't the superstitious type. He has no qualms about performing a certain Shakespearean play with a curse so powerful it can sometimes lead to death.

Actor Rick Miller isn’t the superstitious type.

He has no qualms about performing a certain Shakespearean play with a curse so powerful it can sometimes lead to death.

And that’s just for saying the play’s name inside a theatre.

To be on the safe side – just in case you’re reading this in a theatre – let’s refer to it as “the Scottish Play” or “Mackers.”

Mention the name just once and you need to leave the room, spit over your shoulder, spin around and pray to the theatre gods in iambic pentameter, to cleanse the production.

Imagine then what that curse might make of someone performing the play in the voice of Homer Simpson. And Barney. And 50 other Simpson characters.

MacHomer, who is Miller’s sacrilegious one-man mash-up of Simpsons and Shakespeare, is coming to Whitehorse as part of next week’s Nakai’s annual Pivot Festival.

“The curse hasn’t affected me much,” Miller told the News by phone from his home in Toronto. “Other than light bulbs blowing up and projectors falling and various little things like that that happen when you do a show for years.”

But then he mentions that on opening night of the most recent relaunch of the one-man show, the sound system blew.

He forged on, a cappella.

Then there was the time he lost his teeth.

It happened in Victoria about 10 years ago when Miller was still performing the show as more of a stand-up routine on the fringe festival circuit.

He was doing an Axl Rose impression, as a sort of intermission between acts, when things went drastically wrong.

Because if there’s anything worse than the Macbeth curse, it’s the curse of Axl Rose.

“I fell down, as I often do, but the mic stand came down with me and shattered my two front teeth right in front of the audience,” said Miller. “Weirdly, they thought it was part of the show.”

A dental assistant materialized out of the crowd, did what she could for him and scheduled a root canal for that evening.

Remarkably, after an Advil or two, Miller continued with the second act of the show that night.

“I had to. There was only 20 minutes left and it was a fringe festival, people had waited in line a long time to see the show,” he said. “But it was quite a memorable show, I couldn’t even make the S sound.”

“I think that’s part of the excitement of live theatre when things go wrong and teeth get broken,” he added.

“Not that I wish that on anyone. But it’s an occupational hazard. If that happens, the show must go on.”

Miller, who has worked with theatre legend Robert Lepage but is probably better known for his role as host of Just For Laughs, has been touring MacHomer sporadically for the past 16 years.

The show began as a cast party joke.

After graduating from architecture school, Miller joined Repercussions Theatre.

His first play was Macbeth, in the impressive role of Murderer 2.

For the cast party, Miller, who has a knack for impressions, created a 10-minute sketch with puppet Simpson characters performing Macbeth.

People loved the little show so much they suggested he develop it and tour it among fringe festivals.

“It’s still the same stupid idea, but executed in a far more elaborate and sophisticated way,” he said.

“But deep down it’s still one dysfunctional family does another and that was my joke from the beginning.”

Since then, Miller has taken the show from fringe festivals to Edinburgh.

This May, he’ll be performing MacHomer at the Stratford Shakespeare festival.

“Some people might scoff at a populist play like MacHomer getting to Stratford but a lot of Shakespeare scholars and purists think it’s really an interesting, worthy production of Macbeth,” he said.

“It’s brought Shakespeare to a lot of people who would have never stepped foot into a theatre.”

And Simpson’s scholars and purists will be happy to hear that the cast in the play are taken from the glory years of the show.

“Characters that aren’t there anymore, like actor Troy McClure, play a big role in MacHomer because that’s the Simpsons that people know and love,” he said.

And for those rare individuals who are fans of neither Simpsons nor Shakespeare, Miller has another act scheduled as a finale.

He’ll perform Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, as performed by 25 of the most annoying voices in the music industry.

Everyone from Bob Dylan to Barney the Dinosaur is lampooned.

Miller is fearless when it comes to making light of the legendary and sacred.

After all, the last time he was in the territory, he was performing in a show called Bigger Than Jesus.

“I tend to scoff at deeply held supernatural believes – not scoff lightly, I respect that people have these believes, but I certainly don’t share them.”

Miller views the Macbeth curse (not to mention the Axl Rose curse) with the same skepticism.

“I did lose my teeth,” he admitted.

“But I’ve also had some success.”

Contact Chris Oke at