Friday, January 25, 2008

The Feast of Saint W.C.

Brothers, Sisters, and Transgendered Comedists Everywhere,

This week would see the 127th birthday of W.C. Fields, the famed alcoholic misanthrope. He had the rare ability to play a completely detestable character that you could not help but love. He is the ultimate in the role played so wonderfully these days by Bill Murray and Steve Carrell.

He left home and began performing at 18 taking a juggling act to Vaudeville. And quite the juggler he was.

But it was his appearances in film and on radio that created the character we came to love so much. The down on his luck drunk who hates kids and dogs, love wine, women, and song, well, at least wine and women. A guy who admits no flaws even when you can't help but stare right at them. A con man with a tongue as sharp as his patience is short who is always scamming for something.

It was a character that in parts resembled his real self. While he never drank in his younger days to keep his juggling abilities sharp, in his later years he did turn to the bottle enthusiastically and in the end it claimed his life. He also harbored deep bigotries, a misogynist and racist who in his will left a sum of money to start an orphanage that would be restricted to white children. A master at his craft, but a truly flawed character.

He suffered as an adult from rosacea, an illness which gave him the characteristic flush cheeks and bulbous nose that made him so recognizable.

We leave you today with some famous lines from W. C. Fields:

"How well I remember my first encounter with The Devil's Brew. I happened to stumble across a case of bourbon--and went right on stumbling for several days thereafter."

"I am free of all prejudice. I hate everyone equally."

"The movie people would have nothing to do with me until they heard me speak in a Broadway play, then they all wanted to sign me for the silent movies."

"Business is an establishment that gives you the legal, even though unethical, right to screw the naive--right, left, and in the middle."

"Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain unless you've used up all the other four-letter words."

"During one of my treks through Afghanistan, we lost our corkscrew. We were compelled to live on food and water for several days."

"Marriage is better than leprosy because it's easier to get rid of."

"Start every day off with a smile and get it over with."

"It's hard to tell where Hollywood ends and the D.T.'s begin."

"Say anything that you like about me except that I drink water."
Have a great weekend everyone.
Live, love and laugh,

Irreverend Steve