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May 30, 2008

Comedy Isn’t as Funny Anymore

Reading Gina's post about the passing of Harvey Korman caused me to start thinking about comedy in general.

I have loved comedy since I was a little kid. I remember the great comedians like Red Skelton, Jackie Gleason, Milton Berle, Alan King, Dick Van Dyke, Bill Cosby, Bob Hope, Carol Burnett, Tim Conway, Harvey Korman and many many others. All of them showed us how to laugh at ourselves and everyday living. They weren't crude, rude, didn't need to cuss, nor make lewd remarks. They all provided laughs with their ad lib comments and actions. Today's comedians would do well to watch these greats in action and learn why they were so great.

I don't find much comedy funny today. It is usually done at someone's expense, sexual in nature, gross, and sometimes downright mean. Today's comedians are lazy comedians because they want the laughs without doing the work. I believe one of the common threads for all of these great ones were their understanding of human nature and the fact they could see humor in their own lives.

A number of comedians today started out the same way. I remember Jay Leno before the Tonight Show and he was genuinely funny. He didn't make lewd remarks or do sexual humor and he became known for it. Then he began hosting the Tonight Show and, as far as I am concerned, he has ceased to be funny.

One exception today is Bill Cosby. I have followed him since the '60s and he is as funny today as he was then and he has remained true to his art. No cheap laughs, just great humor.

God gave us humor in order to lighten up our lives. But as with so much else today, we have cheapened it.

Here is a clip of Tim Conway and Harvey Korman's dentist sketch. This is an example of true comedy. If you can view this and not find it funny, I advise you to check your pulse.

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Comments

Chuck

I agree. Korman was a great comedian and actor and he did so without being crude. I saw that Dick Martin passed away also. Although Laugh-in was and still is by some,considered irreverent, the banter between him and Dan Rowan was great. Martin played the "goofy/naive" character to a tee. Both of these guys will be missed.

Randy Schwartz

You're exactly right Dennis. You really have to hunt to find comedians who don't take the easy way out by using profane language etc. Thanks for the link to the old clip...I remember my mom laughing so hard she had tears rolling down her face while watching Tim Conway and Harvey Korman skits.

Chris Clukey

I agree with both of you, and hope you'll get something out of this recommendation. One comedian who has never "worked blue" is a Canadian named Brent Butt. He has a sitcom called "Corner Gas" that ran on Canadian TV for the past several years and is now airing on WGN. It's an ensemble piece following seven quirky main characters who live in Dog River, a small town in Saskatchewan.

Corner Gas is not only well-acted, well written and very clean, it makes Seinfeld look like a funeral. If you don't get WGN, get it on DVD, it will be worth the investment, and it's something you don't see anymore: A sitcom you can watch with your kids.

dennis babish

Chris,
Thanks for the recommendation.
I'll look him up on WGN.

labrialumn

RIP, but I always found Korman & co. rude, crude and unfunny.

I'll take Britcoms any day of the week.

Or even the Cobear Repor

Leta

I'm not saying that inappropriate comedy is acceptable, but some of that wouldn't be funny today because it has "been done". Humor tends to follow the rule of diminishing returns. It's really only funny when it's a surprise.

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