Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Happy Are the Mirth-Makers

Which came first, the twisted mind or the culture that twisted it? In my case, who knows. But I do know, for sure that Martin Mull and what turns out to be very short stints as Barth Gimble on Fernwood 2Night and then America 2-Night helped shape my sense of wit. We're talking years before Letterman, decades before Larry Sanders. We're talking the same spitting range as Mike Douglas and Merv, other fixtures of our televisual household (we were not an outdoors family). I learned a generation of wordless facial takes watching Mull mull-over the desperate, talentless, and clueless about him, and who doesn't feel that way about the world, especially at 14 and 15? How amazingly ridiculous everything seems, of course starting with one's own self, but it's so much easier to roll one's eyes in exasperation at everything not us, isn't it. (Please do not ponder how far I've grown past that 15-year-old, cause if you do I'll have to make a face.)

But my god how I like to make fun of things. And the roots of me as critic might start in parody like this, that essential sense of "aboutness." Sure you could create, or you can respond to what others create, and thus the ink doth spill, years and years of music reviews (we called them records then, kids!) and film and books and plays. If others didn't create I'd be nothing.

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Blogger George said...

And three footnotes--everyone knows Fred Willard now as part of Christopher Guest's stock company, but he'll always be Jerry Hubbard to me. That guitarist is the pretty famous Tommy Tedesco, who played on practically every TV shows theme song, from Bonanza to Batman. And Happy Kyne himself is the four-time Oscar-nominated Frank DeVol, soundtrack writer extraordinaire who might be most infamous for "The Brady Bunch Theme." Plus when I was in grad school, a fellow student had the last name DeVol. I, geekily, asked if she was related to Frank. He was her uncle. I was only the second person ever to ask her that.

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Freealonzo said...

Definitely was a huge F2N fan. Many of our peers didn't watch or get the humor which made me and my friends realize that we were really a lot cooler than the so called "cool kids."

7:59 AM  
Blogger Trekking Left said...

I think Martin Mull and Fred Willard are both hilarious, but I never saw F2N.

11:11 AM  
Blogger George said...

Free, actually it was your great Devo clip from SNL that was introduced by Willard that inspired this post.

TL, I don't think you were born yet....

WV: "moricona," an almond with a terrific soundtrack

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Freealonzo said...

I was wondering about the coincidence.

12:45 PM  
Blogger E-6 said...

Loved Fernwood, too. And I still slip up and call Willard "Jerry".

I saw Martin Mull at Gustavus College back when I was a senior in HS. He sang, he told stories, he was the epitome of droll. He also had one of the greatest comebacks to a heckler that I've ever witnessed. About halfway through his act, some drunken clod stood up and started giving him the business. Mull let his would-be tormentor prattle on until he ran out of breath. Pausing a beat, he said with a slow mocking shake of the head, "It's a shame when cousins marry." I still use that line.

5:58 PM  
Blogger Marty said...

Didn't you post Tom Waits' appearance on F2N or was that someone on FB? Anyway, maybe a reprise, but

12:02 PM  
Blogger George said...

Yep, posted that 2 and a half years ago. Can't get anything past you folks.

3:59 PM  

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