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Archive for the ‘Marilyn Maxwell’ Category

Red Skelton: America’s Clown Prince

17 Feb

Red Skelton: American’s Clown Prince. TV Shows. Low Comedy. 5 hours Black and White 1961.
★★★★★
I would see that cheese-eating smile, surrounded by the destructive exclamation marks of his sycophantic dimples, I would see his sappy visage of a deranged choirboy, his body swaying constantly as though he needed to go to the bathroom, I would see that fidgeting left hand of his extended at the wrist like a male ballet dancer making a running exit – and I would make a running exit.

He repelled me.

He revolted me.

For I was never taken by the sort of comedian so popular in America of which he was a type: the schlemiel. Jerry Lewis, Bob Hope, Lou Costello, Danny Kaye – I was drawn to them only insofar as they evinced quick wit. But as dummies, they bored me. I was pitiless.

So I never saw Red Skelton. He made a movie with Fred Astaire, but I didn’t pay any attention to him. I found him profoundly unfunny, grating even, a suck-up.

Since I am sometimes interested in challenging my biases, I took this out of the library, and immediately rolled on the floor laughing. For me, now, he is a very funny man. I was mistaken. No, not mistaken about his cheese-eating persona, but about walking away so soon all those years ago. Once he goes into his act, he is titanic.

I never saw him on Television, and these are 10 shows from his TV shows. I don’t know which volume I have here, for there are many and they are not properly numbered, but it is the one with the show in which he, as Freddie The Freeloader and Ed Wynn, adopt a squalling baby. Even funnier is a skit with Jane Russell as a dance-hall hostess-cum-Belle Starr. And funnier still is the one with Marilyn Maxwell where he simply sits on a soldering iron, and we watch his face screw into madnesses of agony.

For as a performer he has a genius with props. And he has a genius with witty sets, grace á the imaginations of his designers. He is a good mime. And his characters work well because they are greedy, mean, overbearing, dumb, and in all ways drolly human.

Red Skelton is a tonic. I love low humor. Sometimes. And sometimes I have to question those “sometimes” and go back and check them out. As here. Thanks, Red Skelton. Sorry. And welcome.

 
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Posted in Ed Wynn, Jane Russell, Low Comedy, Marilyn Maxwell, Red Skelton, Slapstick Comedy, TV COMEDY SERIES

 
 
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