Monday, January 2, 2017

These Great Comedians Will Save You From Trump

[A nod of thanks to noted caliigrapher and funny man Gerald Moscato of Downers Grove, IL, who sent me the entire list of 2016 dead notables from which the following dead comedians are gleaned.)
The Doomsdays news of 2016 wasn't all in the political campaign.

Having been a comedy writer briefly in my checkered life, I can begin a post about comedians and laughter with the unfunny term "Doomsdays" and go on to write about the most obscene of all Death's tricks: taking away our comedians. (Being 80, I can actually do anything I want.) These deaths are my personal choice of most cursed events of 2016 because they diminshed the laughter in the world at a time we need it most.

And so here they are, those who left us in 2016 with memories of laughter. A final round of applause please for their absolutely last appearance:
FEB.2 – Bob Elliot, Comedian – one-half of the comedy duo of Bob and Ray – age 92.... Bob'n Ray invented what we know as modern comedy. Their improv radio show was a delight for about 20 years, followed by some TV appearances. Robin Williams and Jonathan Winters were their offspring. My husband knew them in the 1950s, and we both adored them. I don't think any of the rest of you know anything about them, do you? So they die a second death, that of oblivion.
FEB.3 – Joe Alaskey, Voice Actor – Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester, Tweety – age 63. WAIT! That's WRONG! Mel Blanc was the voice of these characters and created their personalities. He was doing Bugs literally before Alaskey was born. Alaskey took over after Mel Blanc died. Now Alaskey's dead. But BUGS BUNNY LIVES ON. (I had a drink with Mel Blanc once...before he died, of course. Never had a drink with Bugs.)

More Doomsdays... more days in 2016 in which laughter left our world. We are going to have to make more laughter somehow, I guess. Here's some more of those who took it with them:

MAR. 8 – Sir George Martin, Producer for the “Beatles” albums, known as “The Fifth Beatle” – age 90. He made them what they were in music and by doing so made their wonderfully funny movies possible. He even got recognition in the Oscars for his musical contribution to "Hard Day's Night". (Of course MTV sprang from it.) Wthout connecting it to his death in 2016, I just decided to watch it yet again the night before New Years Eve. It is still wonderful! ..."Such a clean old man."
JULY 19 — Garry Marshall, Writer/Producer/Actor – created “Happy Days”, “Mork & Mindy”, “Laverne & Shirley” – age 81. "Mork and Mindy" gave us Robin Williams. Anybody who helped give us Robin Williams gets a ringside seat in Heaven.

More of the Doomsdays when comedy died and our defense against insanity got dented:

AUG. 11 – Glenn Yarbrough, Singer – The Limeliters (1959-63) “Baby the Rain Must Fall” – age 86. The LImeliters' album "Through Children's Eyes" is true and gentle comedy. One of the finest albums ever made by anybody, a cult item. ......"My name is Steven!" (The sound on YouTube from their albums is atrocious. You can get the album on CD. You should.)

AUG.19 –Jack Riley, Actor – Elliot Carlin on “The Bob Newhart Show” – age 80. Anybody on "The Bob Newhart Show" gets a first class flight to Heaven. "Mr. Carlin" ate lunch next to us in a Mendocino restaurant, but we never so much as looked at him. Those who give so much to the public deserve their private lives.
The two cruelest Doomsday losses of all came last in the year, one in the time of harvest, the other as the door swung shut on 2016.
AUG. 29 – Gene Wilder, Actor – Blazing Saddles (1974), Young Frankenstein, Willy Wonka – age 83. Add to that "The Producers", my favorite movie of all movies. I will go on living in spite of him having left our world, but that time ahead without him is the punishment for all my sins.
DEC.31 – William Christopher, American actor, played Father Mulcahy on M*A*S*H –age 84. Yes, he was in "Mash". One need say no more.

Goodbye, dear old friends. You got us through so much. Save a seat for us at the improv show in the theater to come. Help our memory of you to keep us cheerful in the face of what comes on January 20. To be in comedy requires enormous skill and courage. May we be inspired to such courage and skill by your example. We are all going to need anything we can find. 

But I suspect you will look down in envy at the great material Donald Trump will be handing the living comedians. You can't have it all, fellows. At least you had Nixon. 

As for you out there in the audience, NOTICE please the average age of these deceased people of comedy. Of course we must exclude Joe Alaskey who died at a mere 63. (Well, obviously he had something wrong with him and he was, after all, actually a mere mimic of Mel Blanc.) Excluding the fraudulent Alaskey, these comedy people lived to an average age of 85!

Pretty damn good for a group in which everybody grew up a smoker. ("More Doctors Smoke Camels Than Any Other Cigarette.) Practiced their craft in the crazy pressure-cooker of show business at its craziest. Ate abominably by today's standards: "Another pastrami on rye and a side of potato salad and a double order of cheese cake for dessert." Were not strangers to hard drinking. Were born in the depths of the Great Depression into (probably) impoverished families who possibly could barely feed them. As youngsters they witnessed the most hideous event in human history: World War II. And the most shocking: the Holocaust. They had every reason to be glum and sickly and die young.

But they didn't. Instead they did what Glenn Yarborough and the LImeliters tell us to do: "Stay on the sunny side, always on the sunny side; Stay on the sunny side of life. You'll feel no pain as You-Know-Who drives us insane, if you stay on the sunny side of life."

The best revenge (and remedy) is to laugh!

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