Thursday, January 26, 2006

Carnival of The Curmudgeons - Mark Five

A work in progress....I'll have to add to this Mark as the day goes along. I'm in the final stages of packing for a month of chasing the sun, so my mind really isn't into curmudgeonly stuff, but more practical stuff, like "do I REALLY need to take that bulky SOB this time?" I'm up to two check-in rollers and my roller laptop bag, and three of those babies are hard to maneuver in a crowded air terminal. I'm at that point where I still have extra room, but not enough extra to leave one bag home, and besides, I have to have room for the inevitable loot we accumulate while traveling.

UPDATE: Here's an added Curmudgeon link, to a post that I just wrote. I am so steamed that I'm pissing melted lard! It's about a new low in Sleaziness that the GOP just pulled off.

And is it just me, or do I detect that the curmudgeons are quiet this week? I haven't read much curmudgeonly stuff this week, certainly nothing that jumped off the screen at me and said "I'm headed straight for Curmudgeon Call".

One curmudgeonly trait is loyalty. I have to write SOMETHING, so here is a curmudgeon-factor example, that is also funny. Let's look at funny today, what is and what isn't:

If you remember the Original Hollywood Squares and its comics, this may bring a tear to your eye. These great questions and answers are from the days when "Hollywood Squares" game show responses were spontaneous and clever, not scripted and (often) dull, as they are now. Peter Marshall was the host asking the questions, of course.

Q. Do female frogs croak?
A. Paul Lynde: If you hold their little heads under water long enough.

Q. If you're going to make a parachute jump, at least how high should you be?
A. Charley Weaver: Three days of steady drinking should do it.

Q. True or False, a pea can last as long as 5,000 years.
A. George Gobel: Boy, it sure seems that way sometimes

Q. You've been having trouble going to sleep. Are you probably a man or a woman?
A. Don Knotts: That's what's been keeping me awake.

Q. According to Cosmopolitan, if you meet a stranger at a party and you think that he is attractive, is it okay to come out and ask him if he's married?
A. Rose Marie: No; wait until morning.

Q. Which of your five senses tends to diminish as you get older?
A. Charley Weaver: My sense of decency.

Q. What are "Do It," "I can help," and "I can't get enough"?
A. George Gobel: I don't know, but it's coming from the next apartment.

Q. As you grow older, do you tend to gesture more or less with your hands while talking?
A. Rose Marie: You ask me one more growing old question, Peter, and I'll give you a gesture you'll never forget.

Q. Peter, why do Hell's Angels wear leather?
A. Paul Lynde: Because chiffon wrinkles too easily.

Q. Charley, you've just decided to grow strawberries. Are you going to get any during the first year?
A. Charley Weaver: Of course not, I'm too busy growing strawberries.

Q. In bowling, what's a perfect score?
A. Rose Marie: Ralph, the pin boy.

Q. It is considered in bad taste to discuss two subjects at nudist camps. One is politics, what is the other?
A. Paul Lynde: Tape measures.

Q. Can boys join the Camp Fire Girls?
A. Marty Allen: Only after lights out.

Q. When you pat a dog on its head, he will wag his tail. What will a goose do?
A. Paul Lynde: Make him bark?

Q. If you were pregnant for two years, what would you give birth to?
A. Paul Lynde: Whatever it is, it would never be afraid of the dark.

Q. It is the most abused and neglected part of your body, what is it?
A. Paul Lynde: Mine may be abused, but it certainly isn't neglected.

Q. Back in the old days, when Great Grandpa put horseradish on his head, what was he trying to do?
A. George Gobel: Get it in his mouth.

Q. When a couple have a baby, who is responsible for its sex?
A. Charley Weaver: I'll lend him the car, the rest is up to him.

Q. Jackie Gleason recently revealed that he firmly believes in them and has actually seen them on at least two occasions. What are they?
A. Charley Weaver: His feet.

Q. According to Ann Landers, what are two things you should never do in bed?
A. Paul Lynde: Point and laugh.

The jokes are almost ALL Politically-Incorrect. That gives them a boost in my eyes, but they are also FUNNY, and a joke is supposed to be FUNNY. Do you want to get an idea of how bad comedy has become? Find a fellow curmudgeon with Cable or Satellite TV, invite yourself over (it helps to take a bottle) and watch some E! channel or Comedy Channel. If you time it right, there'll be some Chris Rock. The man can be funny, but how do you make a joke out of sixteen "Fucks!" and twelve "motherfuckers" in one sentence? There are lot of "edge" comedians who not only push the bounds of anyone's good taste, but seem to have it as their stock-in-trade, or schtick. It isn't funny, it's not comedy, it's just trash.

When I was a youth, I also watched edgy comedians. Dick Gregory, George Carlin come to mind. As far as black humor went, we could have stopped with Dick Gregory. He said all the funny things about his race that are there to be said, poked a good deal of fun at himself and his race, but had one standard: it had to be funny. Carlin was a "druggie" jokester. He could pantomime the condition of being high and the intellect-warping that occurs in that state better than anyone, and he had a lot of company (Cheech and Chong).

The subject of comedy can't be discussed without looking at TV, which, as a medium, is tailor-made for comedy, because the small screen is perfect for focussing on the comedican's face as he or she delivers the jokes. When is anything ever going to come up to the standards of Rowan and Martin's "Laugh-In"? Dean Martin, the perfect drunk comedian (who could do sober schtick better than most even while drunk, which he always was), and Dan Rowan, the perfect Second Banana. How many times did he hook YOU in by starting serious, then making a joke that made you laugh AT YOURSELF? Add to that the rapid-fire formats (the show had several, including the famous slamming-window closing), the cornball comedy of Grampaw Jones and HIS crew, who were good enough to have their own show (and I guess that they did, but it didn't play much where I lived).

Then we got into the Steve Martin era, which wasn't far removed from the Rowan and Martin era, but then comedy pretty much dies after that, in my book. Two reasons: First, there is NOTHING funny about political correctness, and when that lame restriction is applied to comedy it makes most of the human condition off-limits for comedic highlighting, and it kills comedy. Secondly, and I don't really know what this movement is called, maybe "Comedia del Arte" (the comedy of/in the art), it suddenly became cute for the boomers and younger to laugh at the little (but politically-correct) foibles of people that occur during real life. "Seinfeld" is a good example. It's funny occasionally, but it misses the funny bone more often than it scores hits. The problem with these shows is that they have to try too hard to make their comedic leads look normal so that they can then depart to the funny side (the humor is supposed to be in the departure). Their writers ignore this basic truth: normal is not funny. There are exceptions: "Larry, the Cable Guy" does regional Southern humor. Usually base humor, but he searches out little normal things that Southerners take for granted and finds that they tickle others' funny bones, and he works up jokes around those ideas. He's brilliant, both in his selection of foibles and his delivery. I love the guy.

Comedy is all about subject and delivery. Shakespeare knew that, and all the good comedians know that. Standup comedy hones the delivery to a razor's edge, which is why I like it, but so many young comedians work so hard on their delivery that they ignore subject.

If it's not funny, I don't care how well you deliver the punchline, it won't make me laugh.

Go to your room.

2 Comments:

Blogger GUYK said...

I once read that all humor was based on something different from what the audience considered normal. In other words making fun of some thing, some one or or one's self. When seen in that light it is tought to be funny and politically correct at the same time. I hear the term "insensitive to the feelings of other" kicked around a lot now. Well, I am just an insensitive MF I reckon. I do not go out of my way to insult people or a race as did a nut called Andrew Dice Clay did a few years ago. But PC I am not.

10:13  
Anonymous donna said...

i believe it was George Carlin, not James Carlin. How could you forget that name? Have a great trip. Tell wife that Evelyn & I are going to Las Vegas on Sunday. Remember, "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas"

13:34  

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