Influential People in the Life of a White Male Pseudo-intellectual in his Mid-twenties Volume 1: Bill Murray

Bill Murray portrait

Like Pagliacci, Bill blends the comic with an over-arching sadness, that hangs in the atmosphere like the peeling flakes of yellow paint falling lazily from the vaulted ceilings of a disused train-station vestibule. The tired snowflakes of a winter that has long outlasted its novelty.

He affects a lazy charm that suggests he wants you to be happy while, for him, the world has long since lost its juice.

In spite of the tragedies that have clearly befallen him, through watery eyes that seem forever on the brink of bursting their flood-barriers, he is not quite able to repress the twinkling comedy. When he amuses you it has the same poignancy as the memory of a departed loved-one slipping on a banana peel. Even a bankrupt farmer laughs at a greyhound skidding on ice.

Bill wore makeup for his cameo in Zombieland but it was hardly necessary. Surely, with that face, he died of a broken heart years ago. If he is still alive it is only as a bloodhound who pines at the side of his deceased master, interminably waiting out his own clock.

This enigmatic melancholy fuels the internet rumour-mill. It has long been established that he creeps stealthily behind strangers in Times Square and gently covers their eyes with his gnarled hands. When they turn expecting the ghost of a lost childhood love they are greeted, instead, by a mercurial sadness made flesh who whispers “no-one will ever believe you” before vanishing silently into the crowds. Photographic evidence proves that he crashes private karaoke parties wearing an old grey sweatshirt and accompanied by a young Dutch-girl. He entertains fans at rained-out baseball games by performing a “slip-and-slide” on the tarp covering the field. He helps tend bar when it gets too busy and he lets fans film him walking in slow motion for fake movie trailers. He says he took the job of voicing Garfield because he thought the script was written by the Joel Coen who wrote and directed Fargo, Blood Simple and Miller's Crossing with his brother Ethan and not the Joel Cohen who wrote Daddy Day Care. And I choose to live in a world where that story is true.

Who is this world-weary phantom? What has Bill seen? He has gazed into the eye of Cthullu and, knowing that we are all damned, he shoulders the knowledge of our doom offering the only respite he can give – laughter. He is a broken mirror, the last chipped teacup of a once impressive service that was pawned long ago, a first edition missing its cover, the noble parquet floor beneath a synthetic carpet, a single ballet shoe abandoned in the middle of a desert. He is peter Venkman, Grimm, Big Ern McCracken, Herman Blume, Phil Conners and Steve Zissou. He is Bill Murray. He knows the world is bad, but he is trying to help.

Bill Murray by the bins


  1. Hey Ryan, this is beautiful!

    Such poetic insight into that essence of character that is so completely and singularly BIll Murray. He is without a doubt one the most intriguing and wonderfully funny humans I've ever witnessed.

    And I love that image as well - is that one of yours?

    1. Thanks a lot Matt. I also (obviously) think he's great. But I highly doubt he'd approve of this gushing blog entry.

      Yeah, the image is one of mine. I liked him a lot less after staring at his face for a hundred thousand hours while working on it.