April 06, 2008
Originally published August 4, 2003
I thought that this piece about bob hope was unneccessarily cruel. I usually enjoy Christopher Hitchens, but he seems like a pretty humorless bastard to me now.
No, I cannot remember a single Bob Hope moment that slayed me. But I can remember many a time that he made me laugh. Was he a "great" comedian?" Maybe not. Maybe he was just around for a long time.
I never thought that Henny Youngman was a great comedian, either, but throwing out one-liners is an art that some people simply do not appreciate. Comedy is hard work. Try it on stage, as I have done, THEN you lecture me about it. Just see how fucking funny YOU ARE first.
When I was in Charleston with my friend, Ken, he mentioned that teaching still thrilled him because when he had interested students paying attention and wanting to learn, teaching was "theater." I countered by saying that 95% of everything you do in life is "theater."
I really believe that. Some people are just better actors than others and some people simply never understand the audience they are playing to. I perform at work all the time, especially in situations where I have to discipline someone or I need to get my way.
I was training a green supervisor once upon a time, and I told him to watch me, keep his mouth shut and learn. I was about to create a deliberate, cold-blooded train-wreck. I had planned it for a day and a half and I was ready to go now.
I did everything but foam at the mouth and bite somebody's leg. I threw a temper-tamtrum that Baptist preachers would have envied. I drew a circle on the floor and pitched a hissy-fit inside it. I should have been elected the official shaman/witch-doctor of the plant after that. I damn near was, too. I got my way, ended the conflict, then sat down in my office with the green supervisor.
"How the hell did you DO THAT?" he asked.
"Years of practice," was my reply, and I was not kidding. 95% of life is theater. Never forget that fact. What do you REALLY think I do on this blog?
I've always liked comedians with an edge to their theater and Bob Hope never had that edge. He was Everyman's comic. He lacked anger and sarcasm. He wasn't as funny as Groucho Marx. Hell, he wasn't as funny as Moe Howard. He damn sure couldn't hold a candle to George Carlin or Sam Kinneson. And he was never off-beat and unique enough to compete with Steven Wright.
But he made a lot of people laugh, just the same. Don't call him an asshole for that.
Some people just like different theater than others do.
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