Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Rant #718: Comedy Redux

Yesterday, I pontificated about the new Three Stooges movie, which I--and the world--could have lived without.

But I got to thinking, that this wasn't the first time that our beloved comedy teams have been portrayed by others, mainly on television.

Some of the portrayals are pretty good, some are pretty awful, but comedy teams seem to be ripe for this sort of thing.

"Bud and Lou" was a 1978 TV movie purportedly showing the real relationship between Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Lou, played by Buddy Hackett, came off as an overbearing, career-directed mole in this film, while Bud, played by Harvey Korman, came off as something of a drunken wimp.

I remember that Korman and Hackett appeared on "The Tonight Show" to push the film, and actually performed the classic "Who's on First" routine pretty flawlessly.

But the film fell flat, because it was a drama about a beloved comedy team, and basically showed how wretched they supposedly were.

Where's "Susquehanna Hat Company" when you need it?

Another portrayal of a comedy team was that of Laurel and Hardy on a number of TV shows and TV commercials by comic actors Dick Van Dyke and Chuck McCann.

This was a more reverential portrayal of the comedy team than was the portrayal of Abbott and Costello by Korman and Hackett. When you would see Van Dyke and McCann do their takes on Ollie and Stan, you got the sense that they really loved the comedy team, and their portrayal was pretty much picture perfect.

McCann--a little more robust than he is today--had Hardy's slow burns down to perfection, while Van Dyke's Laurel hit the mark by mixing the innocent with the comic, which is really what made Stan and Ollie the benchmark for all comedy teams.

I have included a clip of the two from "The Gary Moore Show," and you can see for yourself how two comic geniuses portrayed two other comic geniuses without missing a step.

Van Dyke and McCann put on their Laurel and Hardy guise with other sidekicks, but I would say the two of them together were absolutely incredible. Their portrayal of Stan and Ollie was spot on.

There have been others who have portrayed comedy teams on TV. One that I could think of was a portrayal of the Marx Brothers by none other than the Sweathogs of "Welcome Back Kotter" fame.

Gabe Kaplan almost made a career out of this, playing Groucho on the small screen and on the stage.

But looking at all of these, from the depths of the Korman/Hackett impersonation to the heights of the Van Dyke/McCann portrayals--and with everything in between--there is just nothing like the originals.

Why watch copies when the originals can be viewed so easily?

I guess that can be said for the Three Stooges film.

Why watch a copy when all you have to do is put in a DVD and watch the masters at work?

And no, I don't look forward to any Cheech and Chong reduxes in the near or distant future.


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