When Cleverness Outweighs Comedy
Between the Arthur movies, Foul Play and Crazy People, I've been a fan of Dudley Moore for quite a while. I feel like I should really know more about Peter Cook but the only thing that stood out to me was his name. I kept expecting for his face to ring a bell, but it never did.
I found this episode to be fun but flat with cultural differences to blame for the more subdued tone. Even the host announced the differences in their opening monolog, pointing out that the British are more stuffy and dry.
Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with British comedy. As a matter of fact, I was a huge fan of Benny Hill as a little lad. Though my dad likes to point out that I was only a fan of the "Big boobied girls," I was fond of the humor as well.
That said, Benny Hill was on the sillier side of the British humor, but even he seemed to stress the cleverness of his word over the exaggerated realness I find in a lot of American comedy. There's a classiness to British comedy, where their comedic actors heel like they're from the upper class where our comedians seem to have a scummier past.
This is by no means going to be the end all be all argument for the differences between the two styles. In fact, I'm ending it right here. I just had this thought as I was seeking my subject and found myself staring at the screen as I zoned out during a very British bit. As you'll see in my summary, this happened more than once.
And with that, I give you...
The Wicker Breakdown:
The show started with Garrett Morris finding a bomb under the stairs. He then tells the onlookers to get to safety while they wait for the bomb squad to arrive. This got my brain going when I saw Chevy Chase heading down the stairs thinking that this fall was going to be epic with there being a bomb involved. I was bummed to find that the opening pratfall I've grown to love again wasn't going to happen this round, but the sketch ended on an epic fail when a pie that was meant for Chevy's face ended up on the ground followed by a brief moment of entertaining confusion.
Then Peter Cook and Dudley Moore came out to open the show. Though I've heard the name Peter Cook before I couldn't place his portfolio no matter how hard I tried. They even referenced the differences between our countries comedic tastes as they went into a very British bit about a guy, Dudley Moore, missing an arm and a leg, who is auditioning for the role of Tarzan and can't understand why the director (Cook) did not seem to agree.
We then went straight into another audition sketch where inmates were auditioning to be in a prison version of the play Gigi. Every convict that comes in has a violent outburst to get them turned down for the role. I wasn't a fan of Chevy Chase's creepy attack of Gilda Radner, but I still love Garrett Morris singing I'm Going to Get Me a Shotgun and Kill All the Whities I See.
Neil Sedaka then came out to sing Breaking Up is Hard To Do.
This was followed by a fake commercial for Don Pardo's Holiday in an Elevator travel special where every floor is a different country that you pay per minute to see.
I'm still liking how the news is developing. I just wish there were more significant events from that time that might feel more significant to be able to grasp more than jokes about some of the more mundane moments in time.
The news's commercial was a repeat for the moving company that literally move the people that are relocating.
The news came back to Emily Litella which got me excited because I'm a huge fan of the character. The only problem was that I didn't get the joke. She was ranting about saving Soviet jewelry when the actual word was Jewry which is a term I've never heard before which made it harder to play along. The news then ended on the top story being repeated for those who were in the shower during the original reading.
Once again there was a sketch that was very British with Moore interviewing about his duties as a restaurant owner, that was very wordy and lost my attention as I stared at the screen, tuning back in for some funny lines of dialog, but I don't think there was all that much meat to the scene.
This was followed by a short film where we were given a tour of a novelty shop led by the old store owner who did sound enthusiastic but not all that entertaining in a way that the jeux de position made for a funny film.
Cook and Moore then sang I've Got You Babe in ridiculous outfits acting as Sonny and Cher.
Gilda Radner and the Muppet Scred then enter the frame in a way that I thought they were setting up a song of their own. Scred was dressed as a Bee and wanted to join the human cast and hilariously mocked Chevy's delivery of the news. Though they didn't sing they did introduce the next song.
Neil Sedaka then sang Lonely Night.
There was then a fake interview show called Backstage Banter where Belushi was playing an actress who was impersonating a man.
This was followed by a fake commercial for nothing, just Chevy Chase and some woman walking around town on a day date. The commercial even says it's for nothing.
A real quick sketch followed where doctors had to agree that the patient was dead before removing his heart for transplantation. All the doctors agree, but the patient raises his hand when the call goes out for those that disagree that he's dead.
The last full sketch was of Cook and Moore playing sheepherders from biblical times that was once again very British which led me to note, "Too clever for comedy" which incited the thoughts above.
Finally, the show ended with a correction of the opening sketch and Chevy got splattered with pie.
This was another episode that was fun to watch but a little hard to find my favorites. The only one that was obvious was Garrett Morris singing I'm Going to Get Me a Shotgun and Kill All the Whities I See since it was a classic from my youth. Scred came in second because his quick roast of Chevy Chase got me laughing out loud. Finally, the Sonny and Cher sketch was visually funny to me, so I decided to let it round off the list this week.