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Archive for the ‘TV COMEDY SERIES’ 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

 

The Starter Wife

01 Mar

The Starter Wife — TV Series Comedy. A discarded wife decides to make her mark in Hollywood. 2 discs Color 2007

**

The great Judy Davis supplies that soft quick downplaying humor to all her scenes and it is a treat to see her bring them off. What a tonic she is!  Debra Messing is also expert at what she is doing here which is to play a person who is up to her nostrils in a swamp. This tends to monotonize the role, but it’s not her fault. Here, she either has a pretty man and feels secure or does not and does not. So this is not a particularly telling script, this being the story of a woman who is trying to rise above the males that surround her to make a career as a writer in Hollywood. But in fact, what she is actually striving for is the freedom to write a piece of her very own schlock, very much like the series we are watching. To have an ambition to be free is one thing, but to be free to produce a crumby woman’s movie is scarcely a charming goal. David Alan Basche gives a lovely Jack-Lemony performance as her husband; Hart Bochner, to play the handsome lug, takes care not to separate his lips very far when speaking; Joe Mantegna alone brings a touch of aristocracy to the proceedings. Yet, who cares about these spoiled Hollywood phonies? The difficulty with the material is that it is about Hollywood, a crass place as we all knew before we started, Also, its relatability is limited to jilted females of forty all of whom are worth more than Debra Messing’s character as they sit before their screens watching her. And so all they get to sort through is very expensive rubbish. The trouble is, you can’t write a satire of Hollywood, for Hollywood is in itself a satire. As for the humor, some snappy repartee, yup, but not a single character with any strength of character.

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