STEVENS POINT, WI—Flashing his trademark wit, dermatologist and father of three Gil Schlerek amused onlookers in the parking lot of Christ Presbyterian Church by incorporating a popular movie catchphrase into his search for his car Sunday.
"Dude, where's my car?" asked Schlerek, 48, invoking Dude, Where's My Car?, the 2000 Ashton Kutcher–Seann William Scott comedy in which two hard-partying teenagers pose the titular question following a wild night on the town.
"Dude! Where is my car?" continued Schlerek, spinning around once before finally "locating" the family's 1998 Plymouth Voyager minivan. An estimated 10 parishioners, all over 40, were sufficiently amused by Schlerek's antics to emit guffaws ranging from medium to hearty.
Schlerek's antics were largely ignored by his three children, daughters Karen, 17, and Stacy, 15, and son Michael, 13.
"Come on, Dad," an irritated Karen told her father. "Can we please just go?"
Karen's plea only seemed to encourage Schlerek, who has a history of catchphrase-driven jocularity.
"That's just your father's crazy side coming out," wife Roberta told Karen. "Remember what happened at Disney World?" Roberta was alluding to the family's July 2001 Walt Disney World vacation, during which her husband, upon seeing a pair of park employees costumed as Pluto and Goofy, chanted the chorus to the Baha Men hit "Who Let The Dogs Out?" over the fevered objections of all three children.
According to next-door neighbor Corey Netter, 14, Schlerek frequently makes humorous references to pop-cultural touchstones in a misguided bid to seem "cool."
"He always has to crack some joke," Netter said. "The other day, I was at their house for dinner, and he was joking that Mrs. Schlerek puts a lot of garlic in her spaghetti sauce to kill vampires. 'She's like Buffy The Vampire Killer,' he said. He didn't even get the name of the show right."
Netter told of another instance when Schlerek, dressed in a black shirt and pants, likened his appearance to that of shock-rocker Marilyn Manson.
"He was like, 'Hey, I look just like that Marilyn Manson!'" Netter recalled. "'I better not walk too close to your school, or they might start hounding me for autographs, eh?' Yeah, sure, Mr. Schlerek."
Added Netter: "Nobody even likes Marilyn Manson anymore."
Though he hasn't had much success amusing teenagers, Schlerek's peers give him high marks for his wit.
"If you're ever down in the dumps, you can always count on Gil to pick you back up," said Beth Zanetto, 48, a fellow Christ Presbyterian parishioner. "I'll never forget last year's church Christmas party. He wore this crazy hat that had a mistletoe hanging over it, and he ran around pretending to try to kiss everybody. Talk about being a few cards shy of a full deck."
"Gil's a real hoot," longtime friend Donald Pulewitz said. "Sometimes, he'll even tell—I don't know if he'd want me saying this—some of the saltier jokes." Pulewitz cited a 1998 ice-fishing trip during which Schlerek told a joke about a ventriloquist and a Native American that ended with one of the two principals having sex with a sheep.
Schlerek's lighthearted outlook on life extends beyond his jokes and wisecracks. A tour of his den reveals a man deeply devoted to quirkiness, from his shelf of Dave Barry books to a wall plaque featuring the "Golfer's Serenity Prayer," a golf-centric send-up of the traditional serenity prayer.
Asked for comment on his parking-lot performance, Schlerek stayed true to form.
"What can I say?" he said, smiling and gesturing comedically. "I'm a wild and crazy guy!"