Rich Hall is best known as sort of a modern-day Noah Webster. Like Webster, Hall has this obsession to define the English language. Unlike Webster, though, who was a pretty serious guy, Rich Hall makes up the words as he goes along. He calls them "sniglets," which he defines as "any word that doesn't appear in the dictionary but should."
Hall's three books of sniglets have proved, in fact, that Webster and all those other dictionary people missed out on a lot of important words.For example, circlocryogenic theory (sur klo kri o jen ik the uh ree): n. Postulates that no matter which way you turn a glass of ice water, the cubes will move to the back.
Or carperpetuation (kar pur pet u a shun): n. The act, when vacuuming, of running over a string or a piece of lint at least a dozen times, reaching over and picking it up, examining it, then putting it back down to give the vacuum one more chance.
Sniglets, as invented in the early 1980s by Hall on the HBO comedy series "Not Necessarily the News," are more than just definitions; they're proof that life can be annoying and amusing all at the same time.
Although best known for his books of sniglets and for his stint on the old HBO series, Hall is also a stand-up comedian - with an act that's very different from the garden-variety stand-up act these days. While other comics are making wry observations about fast food or their childhoods, Hall has an eye for the visually goofy.
He'll be bringing that vision to Utah on Monday at 8 p.m., at the Egyptian Theatre in Park City. Opening act is Chuck E. Weiss. Tickets - $8 in advance, $10 the day of the show - are available at Smokey's, Cosmic Aeroplane, all Smith'sTix outlets and at Get In Here! in Park City.
All proceeds will go to the Hold My Hand Foundation of Summit County, which provides medical care for children with terminal illnesses.
According to Hall, his stage act is very different from his TV work. "No sniglets, no impressions," he explains. "But very musical and very visual."
Hall, a native of North Carolina, began his comedy career after graduating with a degree in creative writing from Western Washington State College. He took to the streets, where he would pretend to be a director finishing a movie. Aiming his broken movie camera toward his gathering audience, he would convince them to act in his "film."
He graduated from passing the hat on the street to paid gigs at New York City's Improvisation, where David Letterman caught his act and hired him as a writer. He eventually won an Emmy for his comedy writing and later earned a spot on "Not Necessarily the News." Hall has also been a cast member of "Saturday Night Live" and was in an unmemorable movie, "Million Dollar Mystery." In addition to the three sniglet books, he is also the author of "Vanishing America," a collection of odd photos and comedic essays.
Starting next summer he'll have a cooking show for kids on the cable show "Nick at Nite." "It's an alternative cooking show, kind of punk or new wave," he promises.
In the meantime, you can see what's simmering in Hall's clever brain on Monday in Park City.