David Bianculli on Christopher Guest (above in Waiting for Guffman), who is the co-creator of the new HBO comedy series Family Tree:
Christopher Guest, of course, has made a career — quite an impressive one — out of marching to his own comedy drummer. As an actor, his standout bizarro roles include the evil six-fingered count in The Princess Bride, the clueless heavy-metal musician Nigel in This is Spinal Tap and a series of memorable characters in a brief but inspired stint on Saturday Night Live. As a writer and director, he amassed a batch of giddily original comedy films — movies with tightly scripted outlines but lots of room for improvisation. If you’ve seen one, you may have seen them all, because they’re habit-forming and they’re that good: A Mighty Wind. Waiting for Guffman. Best in Show. For Your Consideration.