Tag Archives: comedy

Film: Young Frankenstein

Peter Boyle as the monster and Gene Wilder as Dr. Frankenstein perform "Putting on the Ritz." Uploaded by grouchoreviews.com.

When Mel Brooks was good (Young Frankenstein) he was very, very good. When he was bad (Spaceballs), it was uncomfortable to watch. In 1974, though, Brooks reached the zenith of his career, releasing both Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles. Now, that was a year.

Uploaded to Flickr by Matthew and Tracie.

Uploaded to Flickr by Matthew and Tracie.

One of the reasons YF was so good was who was in the cast, and who wasn’t. Gene Wilder was magnificent as the good doctor, and he also co-wrote the movie. Marty Feldman was the perfect Igor, Teri Garr was fetching as the lovely Inga, and Cloris Leachman stole the show as the spooky Frau Blucher. So whose omission from the cast made the movie better? Mel Brooks. He had a tendency to think he could act, which was a serious miscalculation.

It helps if you’ve seen the classics: Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and Son of Frankenstein. Brooks actually did a great job of recreating the settings, music, and cinematography of those movies for comic effect. And if you like fast wordplay and visual puns, Young Frankenstein has them in spades. (Dr. Frankenstein and Inga are standing in front of huge castle doors. Dr. Frankenstein: “What knockers!” Inga: “Why thank you, Doctor.”)

Young Frankenstein was number 13 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Funniest American Movies, and also was on Bravo’s list of 100 Funniest Movies. Here’s my favorite scene from the movie:

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TV Show: Seinfeld

The Seinfeld gang. Uploaded by fxuk.com.

The Seinfeld gang. Uploaded by fxuk.com.

Seinfeld is one of only three shows that went off the air while still number one in the ratings (The Andy Griffith Show, I Love Lucy). Who knows how long a “show about nothing” could have continued its run?

All it takes is a few words or a catchphrase to bring back an entire episode. “Yada, yada, yada”…”The puffy shirt”…”The contest”…”No soup for you!”…”Art Vandelay”…”Maybe the dingo ate your baby”…”Hello, Newman”…”Festivus”… “The mansiere”…”Bizarro Jerry”…”Man hands”.

I had to stop myself. Seinfeld captured the zeitgeist of a generation, and took off after a slow start to become can’t miss TV. Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer were people we knew – or at least, people we believed really existed.We knew that if we made it to the Upper West Side in New York, we’e probably run into them on the street.

Flickr photo uploaded by popartdks.

Flickr photo uploaded by popartdks.

The show stayed on for nine seasons, from 1989 through 1998. It wasn’t a show about “nothing,” but about the minor turbulence of daily life, like waiting in line at the movie theater and renting a car that had an odor.

Almost as funny as the four leads were the minor characters who moved through the Seinfeld landscape. Pardon another list, but it’s just fun to remember Jerry’s and George’s parents, Newman, J. Peterman, Kenny Bania, David Puddy, and Jackie Chiles.

All right, before we get to the video, here’s my favorite quote from the show:

GEORGE: That’s pie country. They do a lot of baking up there. JERRY: They sell them by the side of the road. Blueberry blackberry. GEORGE: Blackberry boysenberry. JERRY: Boysenberry huckleberry. GEORGE: Huckleberry raspberry. JERRY: Raspberry strawberry. GEORGE: Strawberry cranberry. JERRY: (pause) Peach.

Film: Animal House

The great Tim Matheson as "Otter." Uploaded by onlineducation.net.

The great Tim Matheson as "Otter." Uploaded by onlineducation.net.

Let’s total up the number of Academy Award nominations Animal House accumulated. Hmm. None. Then surely it’s on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Best Films? Uh, nope. Then how did it make this list?

Because it has one classic, memorable scene after another. The pledge party with Mohammet, Jugdish, Clayton, and Sidney. Dean Wormer putting the Deltas on double secret probation. Flounder shooting a blank gun and frightening Neidermeyer’s horse to death. Belushi piling food on his tray in the cafeteria line. The frat boys taking their dates to an all-black club.  The toga party.

I grant that guys probably love this movie more than women. (I mean, more than most women love this movie.) And some will say its humor is sophomoric. Yes. It is. I wouldn’t be surprised if “sophomoric” was invented to describe Animal House. And the producers and writers would probably take it as a compliment.

Uploaded by supak.com

Uploaded by supak.com

John Belushi, fresh after making his mark on Saturday Night Live, owned every scene in which he appeared. Director John Landis had to limit Belushi’s scenes so as not to diminish his impact. But I loved Tim Matheson as Otter. He was perfect as the smooth-talking president of the frat. “Hi, Eric Stratton, rush chairman. Damn glad to meet you.”

Donald Sutherland was the highest-paid cast member, earning $40,000 for his role. The movie cost $2.7 million to make. To date, it’s cleared over $140 million, making it one of the most profitable films ever. I’m not a fan of teen sex comedies, but I think Animal House is so much more than that. It’s one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. Relive some of the best bits in this 10-minute video:

Actor: Steve Martin

"Not mother?" uploaded by growabrain.typepad.com

"Not mother?" uploaded by growabrain.typepad.com

Steve Martin has come a long way since his days entertaining crowds at Knotts Berry Farm in Buena Park, California. He became a stand-up star, a Wild and Crazy Guy, an actor in bad movies, an actor in good movies, an Academy Awards host, a successful playwright, and a best-selling author.

uploaded by jimdayshow.com

uploaded by jimdayshow.com

Recently, though, he added another first that probably thrilled him as much as anything in his career. On May 30, 2009, Steve made his banjo debut at the Grand Old Opry. He performed songs from his new musical CD, The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo.

As for his movies, this is my blog so I get to say what I think of his choices. (You can disagree in the comments.)

The Good: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Little Shop of Horrors, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Housesitter, The Spanish Prisoner.

The Bad: Parenthood, The Pink Panther.

The Ugly: Pennies from Heaven, Sgt. Bilko.

His play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, challenged the idea that he was a lightweight comic. And his books have been funny and yet challenging.

Steve Martin could have remained the Wild and Crazy Guy, the stand-up comedy genius, and done quite well for himself. But he has so much more depth to his creativity. It’s time we recognized him for the multitalented genius he really is.

TV Show: The Cosby Show

uploaded by dvdmedia.ign.com

uploaded by dvdmedia.ign.com

It’s Father’s Day, and it’s not easy for dads to find a good role model on television these days. However there is one show that, although not on the air anymore, still gives us a picture of a loving father who raised his children with discipline and responsibility. That’s the Cosby Show.

There were solid lessons taught on this show, but they were brought with great humor and humanity. Cliff and Clair were professionals who raised the Huxtable kids to appreciate their heritage, respect their elders, and understand the value of money. (“No boy should have a $95 shirt unless he’s on stage with his four brothers.”)

And the show offered a refreshing blend of reality (“I brought you into this world, and I can take you out of it”) mixed with a healthy dose of humor.

Uploaded by ginavivinetto.files.wordpress.com

Uploaded by ginavivinetto.files.wordpress.com

I especially appreciated the interaction between Cliff and son Theo. Here was a father who had high aspirations for his son, but who never expected more of the boy than his best. I was raising sons during that time, and appreciated seeing someone on TV with whom I could identify.

Yes, the Cosby show did great things for pride in the black community, despite initial carping that non-middle-class blacks wouldn’t identify with a professional couple. As William Raspberry wrote at the show’s conclusion, “It taught us as television has rarely managed – and as too few of our leaders even attempt – how much alike we really are. And how little money, class, and race have to do with it. Thanks, Coz.”

The Cosby folks have asked YouTube not to allow embedding of videos from the show. However, you can see the great family lip synch to Ray Charles’s (Night Time Is) The Right Time here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSvGdfOfLFw Continue reading

TV Show: I Love Lucy

uploaded by rightyblog.com

uploaded by rightyblog.com

Do you realize many of these episodes are nearly 60 years old? And yet they’re still funny, still relevant, because they create a group of friends we believe are real. Ricky really does put on shows. Fred and Ethel actually do live upstairs and hang around the apartment.

And Lucy. Our brilliant, scheming,  wonderful Lucy. She knew her strengths, and used them perfectly. Whether she was angling to get into show business, or buying a freezer with 700 pounds of beef, or stomping grapes at an Italian winery, she used her gift for physical comedy that had America in the palm of her hand.

I Love Lucy is one of only three shows (The Andy Griffith Show and Seinfeld are the others) to go out while still number one in the ratings. Even now, the show is syndicated and watched by millions. Old/young, rich/poor, red state/blue state, we don’t see eye to eye on much. But there’s one thing we all agree about.

We all love Lucy.

Actors: The Three Stooges

Photo courtesy of Flickr, posted by artiefacts.

Photo courtesy of Flickr, posted by artiefacts.

Moe. Larry. And Shemp. And Curly. And Shemp again. And Joe Besser. And Curly Joe. The makeup of the Three Stooges evolved, as did their career through vaudeville, to movie shorts, to feature films, to television, to animation.

Some people think the Stooges are a guy thing. And it certainly seems true that men find them funnier than women. (Uh, I mean men find them funnier than women do.) They were masters of slapstick, and were among America’s highest paid entertainers later in their career.

Now it’s reported that the Farrelly brothers (There’s Something About Mary) are planning a new Three Stooges movie. All you need to know is that Sean Penn is scheduled to play Larry, and Jim Carrey will be Curly. If the movie is funny, it’ll be a first for the Farrelly brothers.

Nyuk nyuk nyuk.