Thursday, February 4, 2010

Comedy

I have never thought of myself as much of a television or movie connoisseur. Until I was in 6th grade we had a television but only got 3 channels, French Canadian TV (sorry, I don't speak French well enough for that), PBS and CBS. I remember ZOOM, the Electric Company and Kojak. Then we moved "into town" and got cable after which I also remember watching Star Trek religiously, Benny Hill and the Carol Burnett Show. But not much else. We just weren't TV watchers. We read and listened to music mostly. In the summers we were at camp and we didn't have any TV at all there so we played outside and read and played cards and colored. And we just didn't go to the movies. I don't know if it was a money issue or my parents weren't that interested in movies themselves but we didn't go.

However, we had a Monty Python book. It was my Dad's. And he must have also had a recording of the lumberjack song because I remember him singing it at camp for us when he wore his red plaid LLBean shirt. He would get a goofy look on his face and do a silly dance around the camp and sign the song. Maybe he had eaten too many Fig Newtons. We also must have had recordings or watched a few episodes of Abbot and Costello and Laurel and Hardy because I remember my brother and I riding in the way back of the station wagon and doing skits over and over again for 14 hours on our way to Chicago to visit Mom's family. We laughed and laughed at our impressions of Laurel and Hardy.

More recently in my life I've met some real movie buffs and my 12 year old son has discovered Monty Python, the Muppet Show and tonight . . . Harvey Korman, Tim Conway and The Carol Burnett Show. And I've decided I have a real taste for TV and movie comedy. There is nothing quite as savory as a Monty Python or Mel Brooks movie. I cry whenever I watch Tim Conway and Harvey Korman crack each other up. (The Dentist is my current favorite of them. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9T8i4FkNVo&feature=related) In The Dentist I get the feeling that I'm sitting in church and I'm not supposed to laugh, which of course, makes me laugh harder and harder.

And what makes the albatross so funny as a motif repeated over and over in a half hour episode of Monty Python's flying circus? The first thing that makes that so funny for me is to think that someone would even dream up the concept of a grown man dressed up in a show girl outfit selling albatross instead of chocolate and cigarettes. Really, how did they come up with this stuff? But add onto it the absurdity of buying "Burden," asking for trouble, even paying for trouble, even selling Cooleridge's albatross at a show you go to for entertainment - well that's absurd. And that's the kind of comedy I like. Smart, intelligent and absurd. (Come to think of it, I've got this personal genre of literature I call Modern Absurdists that I like too but that's a topic for another post.)

But it's not just old shows and humour that I like. I also find I'm drawn to what is sold as kid humour but is smart enough for adults. This may be because I'm not really fond of crass, vulgar, in-your-face humour. I find Richard Pryor amusing but he's not laugh-out-loud-funny for me. But I DID love the movie Cars. There was so much in that movie for adults. Many times I was the only person in the audience laughing out loud and even though my son was just 9 at the time I managed to embarrass him totally.

So now I have a couple of movies that I want to watch. My dear movie buff friend says Biloxi Blues is a must and My Big Fat Greek Wedding has been recommended. Not too long ago I sat home on a Saturday afternoon knitting and watched A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum which was full of bawdy humor and awful puns and the wonderful Zero Mostel who, by the way, did my all time favorite sketch on the Muppet Show, Fears of Zero http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aJO5dRvpXc. Of course, the writing is excellent but the acting makes it funnier than funny and that FINGER.

Maybe I AM a TV and movie buff. Or maybe I could become a TV and movie buff if I narrow it down to comedy and humor of a certain base type. I'll take potty talk and fart jokes (the three cowboys around the fire) and I'll take sexual inuendo and puns and literary references. Politics are usually funny too. So hats off to you Dark Helmut, may the Schwartz be with you.

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