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George Bernard Shaw
Christopher Guest shakes his 'Family Tree'
Christopher Guest shakes his 'Family Tree'

A powerful recurring motif in the varied works of Christopher Guest is the dummy. From early sketch comedy on "Saturday Night Live" through a series of mock documentaries, the looming figure is an essential part of the Guest aesthetic. It can be a truth-teller as on his new HBO series "Family Tree," where a sharp-witted monkey hand puppet accuses a bubble-brained wife of being "inflatable." Or it can also be a flesh-and-blood dimwit such as Nigel Tufnel, the "This Is Spinal Tap" guitarist who boasts his special amp's volume goes to 11. It turns out the deep fascination with dummies may be embedded in the family DNA. Guest discovered, after...

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