Friday, May 30, 2008

Now Go Do That Voodoo that You Do So Well!

Two comedy elder statesmen passed away this week, Dick Martin and Harvey Korman. Dick Martin is best known for co-hosting the groundbreaking and quintessential 1960's comedy show Laugh-In. His partner in crime was Dan Rowan. Along with The Smothers Brothers, they were probably the last successful example of the classic straight man/dumb guy comedy team. Their show, also like The Smothers Brothers, was topical, but they avoided getting into the same controversial waters with a show that flung jokes at a breakneck speed, most of them just dumb and silly. If you were offended by something, you didn't realize it until ten jokes later.

Here he is being serenaded by Tiny Tim - an immensely popular novelty act from the era.

While the kooks were running the asylum at Laugh-In, more traditional comedy variety was being done on The Carol Burnett Show. A staple of the ensemble was Harvey Korman. Korman was a brilliant comic actor who knew how to add gravity to a scene. He also perfected the arrogant comic villain role when he was perfectly cast as Hedly Lamarr in Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles. His Hedly was a combination of Mussolini and Donald Duck. If the Academy Awards were more sympathetic to the work it takes to do brilliant comedy, he would have walked away with an oscar.

Here he is in one of my favorite Blazing Saddles moments where his character has assembled a great army of bad guys to run the folks out of Rock Ridge and he makes them take a pledge to him.

Rest in peace Dick and Harvey. Thank you for the inspiration and the laughs.




My play Cheddar Moon will be part of Chicago Dramatists 10-Minute Play Workshop. There will be a staged reading tomorrow performed by professional actors. My play is one of six.

Saturday at 2:00
1105 W. Chicago Ave

Public Invited - $5 Donation


Yesterday, I asked...

"According to the journal Nature, scientists enabled two monkeys to do what?"

20% said "Perform brain surgery on humans"
- I think this an idea being driven by health insurance companies trying to reduce payouts.

No one said "Shave a quadriplegic" or "Speak English"

80% got it right with "Operate a robot arm with their thoughts"

According to The Los Angeles Times, two monkeys have been trained to control a prosthetic arm with nothing but their thoughts, transmitted through an electronic sensor in the brain. The video, below, from University of Pittsburgh scientists, shows a monkey, with its arms restrained, using, as some have rather sensationally called it, "mind control" to snack on marshmallows.

I have my own issues about the horrors of animal testing, but this is downright creepy and conjures up images of rampaging robot monkeys scouring the land in search of marshmallows. But if I'm going to die, I think I would rather die battling Chim-Chim the monkeyborg than battling any conventional terminal disease.