Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Humor Me

I am, I believe, the beneficiary of a sense of humor honed by both sets of parents. My mother, ever-proud of her Irish heritage, had the gift of Blarney and instilled in me a sense of how to tell a story.

She was also a voracious reader and a deep lover of words. She taught me all about puns and double meanings and wordplay.

My dad. half-Irish, had an extremely dry sense of humor. He was, by nature, quieter (the other half of his genealogical cocktail was German), but he had a large, infectious laugh and could cut a room in half with a quick observation.

His comedic viewpoint was shaped by the movies. Dad loved W.C. Fields (master of the withering remark), The Marx Brothers, and the Blake Edwards Panther films involving Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau. He adored It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and A Christmas Story, and there was not a time they appeared on television that he didn't tune in.

So my first exposure to funny was seen through those lenses. I remember cutting my teeth on the knockabout comedy of the Stooges and the silliness of the Little Rascals, both on a steady rotation of weekday UHF channels. Bugs Bunny emerged as a sort of animated Groucho Marx, and the multiple layers of those Warner Bros. shorts began to reveal themselves. As did the sophisticated humor of Rocky and Bullwinkle (The Ruby Yacht of Omar Khayyam, anyone?).

I migrated to Abbott and Costello and still enjoy their routines, even when they get tired. The 1940s vibe of their filmography appeals, and their best work, to me, is in Who Done It?

Guilty pleasures:

  • SCTV, which, in its heyday, was funnier to me than SNL. The problem became when the series exploded in popularity and, IMHO, lost its edge (I don't think it ever really recovered from the S2 loss of Harold Ramis [RIP]). 
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway? I've found this show funny since its first appearance on our shores from its home in Great Britain (Clive Anderson host). Drew Carey almost killed it, thinking that he was as funny as his cast -- he wasn't -- but it somehow survived. And it's back.
 I'm now surfing comedy on the Interwebs. The YouTube series Kid Snippets has had me in stitches most recently, but I'm finding a point of diminishing returns, where overexposure is lessening comedic impact.

Anyway, as a sampling, here are some of my comedy favorites from across the ages of funnydom: