Friday, August 18, 2006

LIP (Laugh In Peace) Bruno Kirby

There is a special level of Comedy Heaven for straightmen and Bruno Kirby is there. He was a fine actor, appearing, notably in The Godfather (I and II), but he was a magnificent comic foil playing playing opposite some of the funniest comedic actors where he could deliver a dry, self-deprecating line with the best of them.

He was a master at playing the schlamazel, portraying characters you would laugh at instead of with, but could still feel for. As Lt. Hauk in Good Morning, Vietnam, you couldn't help but feel bad and annoyed at the same time for a guy who tried so hard to be funny and knew, and resented, that he was outclassed.

I understand you're pretty funny as a dj, and, well, comedy is kind of a hobby of mine. Well, actually, it's a little more than just a hobby, Reader's Digest is considering publishing two of my jokes.
He was amazing as Harry's best friend Jess in When Harry Met Sally,
You made a woman meow?
and as Ed in City Slickers,
Shut up! Just shut up! He doesn't get it! He'll never get it! It's been 4 hours! The cows can tape something by now! Forget about it please!
But the classic was the cameo as the limo driver in This Is Spinal Tap,
You know, it's just that people like know... they get all they want so they don't really understand, you know...about a life like Frank's, I mean, you know when you've loved and lost the way Frank has, then you, uh know what life's about.
He was a man with integrity. After City Slickers, Billy Crystal declared that there would be no sequel -- of course, there wouldn't. A good movie, not a cinematic classic by any stretch, but a solid comedy, it wrapped up neatly and sequels for such movies are craven, financially motivated, not artistic, undertakings. And then City Slickers II was proposed. Kirby could have cashed in, it was a guaranteed seat filler for a couple of weekends until the fact that the film was sure to be crap killed it. But he said no and held the line. This was a man who turned down sure cash to not be a part of bad comedy.

Bruno, thank you.