~:W I T:~
In this month's issue of Premiere, comedy is the theme. Several comics say really smart things here about the intelligence of being funny. The first things that struck me was what Monty Python's John Cleese said.
" There was a fellow called Harvey Orkin who was an American agent in London; he worked on the old Phil Silvers 'Sgt. Bilko' programs as a scriptwriter, and he was probably the funniest man in London in the 70's. He said to me, "John, comedy is about meanness and jealousy and anger and frustration. If you show me a comedy about Francis of Assisi, I'll show you a bummer." And that always stuck in my mind.
There's a lot of truth to that. I once taught a class on Wit in Design and boy was it tough to be funny on purpose. Once people got more risky and mean - it came a lot easier. Sarcasm is a wonderful tool.
My all time favorite comedy is Young Frankenstein. "Yes! Yes! Say it! HE VAS MY BOYFRIEND!!!!" Remember Steve Martin talking about how to fold soup in his book Cruel Shoes? Brilliant. I read that in Highschool in the 80's and remember falling to my knees on the kitchen floor laughing.
A few years ago I hear him on NPR. he talked about his very beginnings noting that when he looked around, all the big stand up comedians were bitter and angry. (George Carlin, etc) And he thought he'd try a different approach. "I'm gonna be silly." And oh, how brilliant he was as that very silly person. We just loved him. Still do.
Remember him in The Jerk? Here's a bit from the movie quoted in the Premier article: Navin Johnson (who's new money tude has managed to piss off everyone he loves, including his wife and all the money he ever wanted... he's at his depth of despair and decides to leave his home: Well, I'm gonna go then. And I don't need any of this. I don't need this stuff, and I don't need you. I don't need anything except this. (picks up an ashtray) And that's it and that's the only thing I need, is this. I don't need this or this. Just this ashtray. And this paddle game, the ashtray and the paddle game ans that's all I need. And this remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game ans the remote control, and that's all I need. And these matches. The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control and the paddle ball. And this lamp. The ashtray, this paddle game and the remote control an the lamp and that's all I need. And that's all I need too. I don't need one other thing, not one -- I need this. The paddle game, and the chair, and the remote control and the matches, for sure...And this. That's all I need. The ashtray, the remote control, the paddle game, and this magazine, and the chair. (walking outside) And I don't need one other thing, except my dog. (dog growls) I don't need my dog.
So what about you guys? What are your favorite comedies/scenes/actors?