Word has it that that comedian phrase comes from Jackie Gleason's character Ralph, in "The Honeymooners."
We've been chatting here at "the couch", not about what your dreams mean, or why you have a phobia of bats and tapioca pudding - that would be Freud's couch. No, we've been talking about humor.
Recently, I watched footage of an old Kennedy press conference - that guy was funny! Relaxed, (buzzed?) at ease with reporters, and avoiding answering any questions he didn't feel like answering - but with off the cuff wit that someone my age could only associate with Reagan or Clinton.
"But," you ask, "for those of us who don't sit around watching grainy archival footage for fun, what is there for US to laugh at?"
Hehehe. I promise not to name any politicians in response to that.
See? No one named. I stay true to my word.
Laughter. As Reader's Digest informed me at a tender young age, the best medicine. I was heavily influenced by Reader's Digest as a child. I still remember a joke I didn't get. I get it now.
A family favorite for turning on the guffaw is a classic John Cleese British television series, "Fawlty Towers." Cleese, the gangly-legged member of Monty Python who still turns up in random roles (Nearly Headless Nick, in Harry Potter movies; the voice of a villain in "Fievel Goes West) plays an insufferable jerk who runs a hotel - not a good combination in the service industry. Once again, I plug online movie rental services: you can have obscure things like this pop up in your mailbox without having to suffer through the fact that the Blockbuster down the street doesn't even carry "The Godfather" anymore. Yes, that happened to me. A sour-looking youth in a blue shirt raised his eyebrow. "Basically, if it's good, classic, old - we don't have it. Try Patti's Video Barn down the road. SHE has everything." Oh, jaded English majors everywhere, cynical with the world.
One world development I'm very pleased to see in my lifetime is the advent of the boxed DVD series. Your favorite side-splitting show, available to watch again. And again. And again. Seinfeld. Everybody Loves Raymond. Malcolm in the Middle (to this day, Dewey is one of my all-time favorite TV characters.) 20/20.
Not really 20/20.
A fairly family-friendly movie I saw recently that had me laughing much more than I expected? "Get Smart," starring Steve Carell as Maxwell Smart. The funniest cameo in the film, by far, was Bill Murray in a tree. IN a tree. This should've done far better at the box office. But a line in it makes fun of Hollywooders who constantly issue a stream of political opinions, so it's possible the marketing department kind of shrugged and let this one fall to the side.
A hilarious kids' movie is "Flushed Away" - very British humor, which, ever since I saw a British improv troupe perform "Romeo and Juliet" in the streets of "England" in Epcot Center when I was six, has caused me to laugh until I cry. I laughed so hard, standing there at Epcot, that they finally paused and commented on it. Sometimes I wonder what cultural preferences are tacked onto our genes like a car-top carrier. Bagpipes have a very powerful effect on me, it's quite visceral and irrational. I want to dance, to kill something, to smear war paint on my face. Rainy days make me feel at home. Monarchy seems natural; but so does rebellion, which I think is where the Scottish influence is evident. I delight in verbal quips, puns, and plays on words. And I felt like I was going home when I visited the wind-whipped western Scottish shore.
My mom has always laughed at the British "Keeping Up Appearances," featuring Hyacinth Bucket ("it's pronounced Bookay"), and Dad has always laughed at the classic "Andy Griffith Show," especially Barney ("what's the matter Barn, eat too many green apples?") My brother howls with laughter at the show "The Office," but also giggles at the zombie/romantic comedy "Shaun of the Dead." I personally howl with laughter at the little-known British film "Death at a Funeral." John laughs at "Family Guy" and "The Office," and loves Will Ferrell's "Anchorman."
Let's not forget the rich comedic value of "The Muppet Show," which I sat and watched the other day with three other twentysomething's. We laughed and chortled. That Steve Martin is one wild and crazy guy.
I look forward to seeing the action-spoof "Tropic Thunder," and will be interested to see if this Thanksgiving "What About Bob?" makes it out of its box with John's family, since we won't be there for Christmas. I named a goldfish after the fish in that movie once.