Monday, November 26, 2007

Buh-Weet Sings! And other stuff...

What do these three statements have in common?

  • "It's like those French have a different word for EVERYTHING!"
  • "Did you ever try to blow out a flare?"
  • "It's my house, and if you don' like it, get the f*** out!"
Give up?

They are all part of comedy routines that I listened to religiously as a child. (For those who need extra help...I will include visual aids.)

The first one is from Steve Martin's "Wild and Crazy Guy" album...("A" side, I believe.) In my opinion, the "A" side of this album is superior to the "B", but that's just me. This album was actually my sister's, I believe, but somehow it just snuck its way into my collection.

"A Wild and Crazy Guy" was actually the FIRST Steve Martin album I had...I didn't get his "Let's Get Small" album (my VERY favorite, with "Grandmother's Song" on it) until I went to Chicago with my Aunt Martha in the 9th grade. Once I had that LP in my collection, I had all four of his stand up recordings in various forms. Now, of course, they're lost to the four winds...the LPs warped in the closet of my childhood bedroom because I didn't take the albums with me when I moved out of my parents house. What a dork I am.

But yeah...Steve...a funny white guy. Who knew? I loved his humor. What was really weird was that my whole FAMILY (as in mom, dad, sister and me) loved his humor! I figured my parents would hate it, but they didn't. Oddly enough, I still liked him even when my parents did. Usually, if parents think something is acceptable that usually sends their children into fits of some sort...but not in this instance.

If I had to pick a "favorite routine", I'm not sure I could do so easily. Committing them to memory, though...pretty damned easy, folks. (Except for "Grandmother's Song"...there's many verses to it and I always mess up on at least one.) Any of his songs were pretty high up there, though...especially the one he sings on his "Let's Get Small" album, side A:

I see people going to college for 13 years,
Studyin' to be doctors and lawyers,
and I see people going to work at 7:30 in the morning,
going to work at the drugstore to sell Flair pens!

(*BTW, if you're old enough to remember Flair pens, you should know that they're back on the market again, and Paper Mate makes 'em. Thank you, the management...)

But the most amazin' thing to me is...
I get paid for doin' this!
The second quote ("Did you ever try to blow out a flare?", which has nothing to do with the aforementioned Flair pens) is from Bill Cosby's album "Why Is There Air?"

This album...well...I think it belonged to my parents. However, when you're a parent, I think you kind of HAVE to give up on the idea of ownership of various items.

In my house, the items of dispute were record albums.

Mom and Dad could SAY an album was theirs...they'd do everything they had to do to mark territory short of peeing on it...but it wound up OURS (as in Ruthi's and/or mine). This album (the cover pictured at right) is one of those albums.

(*Please note that an album of polka favorites recorded by the fabulous group The Mom and Dads was NOT one of those albums. Thanks again, the management.)

Anyway...this album introduced the four-year-old me to Bill's humor before "Fat Albert" came on the air. However, a lot of the really good jokes went OVER my head. I guess I laughed because of the funny voices and because Mom & Dad were laughing.

But as I got older...I got the jokes. Oh BOY, did I get the jokes.

I think if I had to pick a cut off that album that's my favorite, it'd have to be the first few cuts on side A (I think there's four right in a row) that deal with Bill's school days starting with kindergarten. Between "idiot mittens", "grade triple Z paper", "lukewarm curdly milk", and the image of a kid wearing two jock straps at once slay me every time I think about them. OH, and let's not forget Richard, the kid who was promoted because he could tie his own tie in elementary school, and the pencils "big as a horse's leg".

Nothing like that stuff...

Now, the antithesis of Bill Cosby...Eddie Murphy. The last line listed above is from the infamous "cookout" routine, when Eddie is relating the stories of cookouts past. (Yep, good ol' Aunt Bunny with the mustache, "goony goo-goo", and Eddie's father yelling at everyone...classic stuff.)

Like many folks my age, "Eddie Murphy - Delirious" made more of a mark on us in the care and feeding of dirty words.

Let's face it...when I was fifteen years old or so, I didn't know anything about Lenny Bruce. I had seen George Carlin, and thought he was very funny, but to me...the coup de grace of profanity and how to work it into something that was absolutely hilarious was shown (to me, anyway) in Eddie Murphy's routines.

(It also didn't hurt that he wore leather outfits on stage, and it helped my budding libido out on occasion...oops...TMI!)

Anyway...what can I say about Eddie? Quite a lot, actually.

  • My sister and I spent a car-trip with Mom quoting Eddie Murphy bits all the way from Davenport, IA to our home in rural Washington, IA. I believe we finished up with the "G.I. Joe in the Bathtub" routine before Mom threatened to leave us for dead in the nearest soybean field. (I think the "and then a big brown shark came..." line did it for her.)
  • I dated a guy in high school that (like me) was a drama and music-head. He was a big white guy (as in 6'7"), and for speech contest, he memorized and acted out the classic Eddie Murphy bit "Ice Cream Man/Shoe Throwin' Mothers". Sadly, I don't have a video clip of my very tall friend pretending he's a little kid in the 'hood wanting Mr. Softee ice cream, so here's the ORIGINAL, folks.

Yep - when I was growing up, comedy was a BIG force in my life.

I remember coming home on the bus, ploppin' a record on the turntable (or a tape in the boombox) and listening to the same stuff over and over. I laughed at the same spots every time, and I didn't care. I was happy with it.

It wasn't just a case of "kid in the country doing weird things to relieve boredom" either. A good friend of mine (a "city slicker") and I go back and forth sharing our favorite gags and stuff from comedy routines we've committed to memory. We just like reliving the laughs and the shared experience of committing an entire "bit" to memory, and how it was SO important but we didn't always know why.

You don't see as many new-release comedy albums (as in audio only) these days. DVD and VHS technology has taken care of that, which I think can be a good thing. Seeing and hearing the routines being done are equally important.

But I will always smile when remembering those boring afternoons living in the middle of nowhere, listening to Bill Cosby and others, and laughing along.

So have YOU ever tried to blow out a flare?