Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Feasts of Saints Ernie and John

Brothers, Sisters, and Transgendered Comedists Everywhere,

This week saw the feast days of two Comedist saints. Ernie Kovacs was a pioneer in television comedy. Where all the comedy before him was televised versions of Vaudeville routines, it was Kovacs who was the first to really begin to experiment with the technology and humorous potential of cameras and televised stages. He was the Cecil B. DeMille of 50's television comedy spending huge amounts of money and efforts constructing sets for even a single gag. One of his classics was building a stage on a 30 degree slant and titling the camera at the same angle so it seemed straight and then playing a guy trying to eat lunch with everything rolling off the table. He played it magnificently. The milk pouring sideways is classic. But he is best known for a bit simply called, the Nairobi Trio. If you have never seen this, treat yourself -- it is one of the finest bit of mime clowning from the mid-20th century. Simple, elegant, hilarious.

Saint John Belushi defined comedy in the late 70's. Steve Martin could get laughs claiming that he was a wild and crazy guy, but Belushi really was. Especially watching him live, you got the sense that this comedic dynamo could explode at any moment. There is now a national chain called "Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger." How many routines make such an impact that they are so instantly recognized? Animal House, The Blues Brothers, 1941. We lost him too early.

But should any of you be suffering personal difficulties, here are some words from Saint John to inspire you:

D-Day: War's over, man. Wormer dropped the big one.
Bluto: Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!
Otter: Germans?
Boon: Forget it, he's rolling.
Bluto: And it ain't over now. 'Cause when the goin' gets tough... the tough get goin'! Who's with me? Let's go!
Let's go, indeed.

Favorite Belushi moments anyone?

Live, love, and laugh

Irreverend Steve