Hey, that’s not funny…
by Josh Sullivan
I think about what to write. I just wrote someone that I lived in Utah and had a dog named Albert. That isn’t true because I live in Florida and have a cat named Slap. I think it’s a little weird to be having the air conditioner on in October with me growing up in Michigan and all, but then again, this is Florida. I’m Josh! The exclamation point stands for how forceful I want you to know it. I look 12 and love every minute of it. Welcome to my world.
Today, I got the urge to find Corey Haim and hang out with the lovable 80s star. As you can tell, my mind is a little warped. Don’t get turned off by this first entry to the column. I could get better.
I guess I can start writing about something a little more important.
Let’s talk about comedy, kids. Comedy has been a part of my life for a long time. I love examining it because I love to make people laugh. I have a healthy obsession with silent films and slapstick comedy. Buster Keaton and The Little Rascals make me swoon. Laurel and Hardy make me want to dig them up and hang out with them. The Marx Brothers were as obnoxious as hell and I clamor for more. Charlie Chaplin is probably the most famous of all from this time period when movie millionaires were the comics and swashbucklers. Ally McBeal’s friend, Robert Downey, Jr. found time to play in a movie about Chaplin’s life when he wasn’t busy taking part in extracurricular activities.
I love seeing the world how it once was in the work of these stars. You can watch Model T’s, old schoolhouses, full-fledged acting gangsters, sandlots, old architecture when it was new, and a lot of original comedy to boot! One day, when I build a time machine, I’ll hang out in this era. That’s the ticket! “Marty! We have to go back… back to the future!”
Everything is so different nowadays. The only humorous stuff you are likely to find is either in cartoons or some of the offbeat independent comic books that are so rare anyway. Sitcoms are stale. Supposed funny movies are just plain knock-offs of other supposed funny movies, which adds to the notion that maybe there isn’t any creativity this day and age.
Thankfully, a resurgence in popularity of some of the legends of yesteryear has occurred. The result is more films being seen by a wider audience as well as winning over younger generations with subtle and sometimes violent comic shenanigans. American Movie Classics and Turner Classic Movies have both been showing a tiny batch of silent and early talkie slapstick cinema for some time. AMC has started showing Little Rascals films every day as part of features hosted by that bastard Frankie Muniz (he plays the smart aleck chump on Malcolm in the Middle). Little film fests have been popping up all over that sometimes even include showings of these early flicks. Check some of this stuff out if you’ve grown sick of every Saturday Night Live alumnus getting his/her own show or movie. Yes, I even mean David Spade.
Today, giant movie studios, television executives, and corporate media moguls control how funny something should or shouldn’t be. Once, there was that magical time when comedy was left up to the people making the movies, not those distributing them. Independent stars got big because of the humor involved in their work and the quality they put out. It didn’t happen because of millions being spent to promote it. Television wasn’t around for them to run ads, and the MTV generation was a good seventy or eighty years away.
The vaudeville lifestyle of comedy, musical, and stunt acts traveling the globe was around in the late 1800s and early 1900s for those who wanted to enjoy authentic creativity not hindered by powerful people in the business. It was very popular up until, ironically, it was killed off by the advent of films. Chaplin, Keaton, The Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields and many others got their starts in vaudeville. Their performances in their younger years built names for them and eventually lead to those lucrative film careers later on. They didn’t get that chance to go on Total Request Live to hang out with Carson Daly and hock their movies to an unappreciative audience. Its too bad times change.
Well, I’ve run out of stuff to talk about on this matter. I’m listening to the ska noise of Day 19, which is great because I’m writing this for Ink 19! I promise to fill you in on more useless thoughts for you to drool upon next time. I’m your lover, Josh Sullivan, signing off!