Sunday, April 3, 2011

Honoring the Goofs

A person who holds their comedy icons in reverence could not approve of New Year's Evil (1980), which features a serial killer stalking victims in a Stan Laurel mask.  But, unfortunately, fans of classic comedy have long had to endure seeing the likeness, catchphrases and mannerisms of beloved comedians turn up in a variety of guises and permutations.  What would Groucho Marx have said if he knew that his act would one day be co-opted by a cartoon stork hawking pickles.

Stork?  Hawk? I believe I just made a joke, son!

By the way, Foghorn Leghorn was one of the first in a long line of cartoon characters modeled after a popular comedian.  The model for the talkative rooster was the talkative radio comedian Kenny Delmar.  As fond as I am of Foghorn, I can't help but feel bad that a cartoon counterfeit of a comedian can be better remembered than the actual comedian.

Perhaps, though, a disservice to Stan Laurel greater than transforming his lovably buffoonish screen character into a knife-wielding psychopath was the woefully misguided way in which Lucille Ball impersonated him on her 1960s sit-com.

Someone should have let Ball know that, although Laurel often scratched his head for comic effect, he never once scratched his derby.

These representations tend, in their wake, to diminish if not tarnish the memories of the originals.  I, as one humble fan, celebrate these men and women in their true form at this and every other opportunity. 

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