See Addendum at the end of this post.
I am spending more time in the Internet age with comedians, and far less with serious people – you know, thinkers, hacks, non-listeners. The latter, most people, are especially annoying. I can see in the darting eyes no point in trying to engage in serious conversation with most everyone I know face-to-face. They are only lightly engaged in real life.
On our recent vacation, I attempted to engage my grandsons in some serious reflection, telling them that Climate Change is not real, that there is no need to fear any “virus,” but teachers and media have such a hold on them that they are trapped. I do hope in the coming years as they mature that they come to appreciate that one person attempted to tell them the truth, while every other person in their lives, some knowingly but most not, lied to them. Life is absurd, I hope they come to realize.
Media, i.e. TV, YouTube, Facebook and the like … I’ve virtually blocked it out of my life. We have a Samsung TV on our wall, and it sits blackened 23 hours a day, that one remaining hour devoted to a search for wholesome entertainment. We did find it in a British TV series, Call the Midwife, set in London in the 1950s and 60s. It has profound appeal to me as its central characters in part are Anglican nuns of the Order of St. John the Divine. I was taught by Dominican nuns in my formative years, and the portrayal in Midwife is so profound and accurate concerning the quality if these wonderful women.
I say that knowing full well their flaws, servile obedience to others, forsaking independent thought. That’s not only a choice, but a vow they make, along with poverty and chastity. Only a very few humans are strong enough to be so dedicated to such questionable undertakings. Sex and money have a place, even for chaste and non-greedy people. To forsake them entirely must have other underlying motives. So be it.
Back to comedians, here’s a brief flirtation with one, a woman enjoying success in her mid-twenties, Taylor Tomlinson. In her act she claims to be an introvert, not unusual at all in people who perform for others. She calls out to the audience … “How many introverts are there here?” There is some applause and a few “Woos” in response, the wooers completely oblivious to the fact that she just outed them. Introverts, they are not.
That is really good insight for a twenty-something. I will follow her career now, as she shows potential.
Johnny Carson, I hear from those who knew him well, was saddened by the passage of so many great comedians … Jack Benny was his ideal. Someone, Conan O’Brien?, said that this is an illusion, that the “greats” take on an aura but that each age has its own set of very funny people. I’ve a long list of such people who will someday pass and be revered as “greats,” Conan among them.
Speaking of Conan O’Brien, he does a podcast, Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, that is now at a hundred or so episodes, a treasure trove. He is able to attract some of the funniest people alive, and engage them in pure silliness. O’Brien eschews anything serious, having no reflections on politics or “serious” issues of the day. He views his life’s work as offering escape to people like me. Listening to him and his guests, I laugh out loud, and often.
I was only vaguely aware of O’Brien, and stumbled on him in a YouTube interview he did with one of the funniest men currently alive, Mel Brooks. Mr. Brooks also understood his job, laughter for its own sake, and gave us such treasured works of art as Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and Space Balls. It is an important body of work, far more so than than that offered by serious writers like Steinbeck, Hemingway, or even Dan Brown.
At one point in the interview, Brooks reflects on the quality of being funny. To be “naturally funny” is a rare quality, and he said to O’Brien that he was just that, naturally funny. That endorsement in mind, I sought out O’Brien’s body of work. What joy!
David Letterman is, lately, taking himself a little too seriously for my taste. Back in my first life when I was a good dad and bad husband, when the kids were young and the wife would stumble off to bed, the house finally quiet, I would turn on the TV to watch Letterman, pleasure delaying until then a bowl of ice cream and a cherry coke on ice. Dave in those days was much like O’Brien now, not to be taken seriously. All he wanted to do was make people laugh, an important calling.
Johnny Carson stepped down, and his slot was given to Jay Leno, never one I cared about. Letterman, disappointed, left NBC and took a shot at prime time at CBS, and for over two decades would occupy that slot. The search was on for his late-night replacement, and in one of the boldest and most insightful moves I have ever seen, on recommendation of Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels, the late-late post-Tonight Show slot was given to an unknown and obscure SNL writer, Conan O’Brien.
This was unprecedented. O’Brien’s career up to that time was behind the camera, writing for The Simpsons and SNL. Michaels, always with an eye for fledgling talent, saw something there that others did not, a charming, hard working and naturally funny man. While it took a while for him to catch on, and while the specter of unemployment always hovered, O’Brien persisted, noting that he and his people could make a studio audience laugh, so that eventually he would catch on. Indeed he did, more than two decades of success to follow.
O’Brien was given the Tonight Show on Jay Leno’s retirement, a fiasco I do not understand well, where Leno went into prime time in a failed venture, and stepped back into the Tonight Show, casting O’Brien to the wind. Perhaps it was for the best, as O’Brien, far more talented than Leno, would meet us again on TBS, and other various undertakings, and will now be seen in a weekly show on HBO. The Tonight Show was given to Jimmy Fallon, who does not, as I see it, have the staying power of a Carson, Letterman, or O’Brien. He quickly wore thin on me, but I’ve often been wrong about things, you know.
Carson lamented the passing of greats, not understanding that each generation spawns its own. I have a long list of favorites, some of them “greats” – Dana Carvey, Norm MacDonald, Martin Short for instance. If you, like me, realize that life is an absurd proposition, and must be embraced with laughter, then be thankful, as am I, that YouTube, while censorious and ridiculous and not to be taken seriously in in all matters of importance, is a cornucopia for laughs. Use it for what is is useful for, an outlet for some of the most intelligent people alive, comedians.
Addendum: Stephers went rabbit hole on us and came up with the following links concerning Dr. Thomas O’Brian, Conan’s dad. He is not just an important man in WHO and CDC circles, but a very important man. Given this knowledge, I think it safe to speculate that Conan O’Brien did not “lock down” as California underwent that brand of fascism, nor has he been tested, ever, or vaccinated. His connection to Dr. Thomas O’Brien tells me that he is in on the game.
In each of the following links I have inserted a space at the beginning to prevent the whole article from reprinting. To follow them, copy the link and remove the space at the beginning.
The following are screen caps of two other links, not complete. You need to dive in a little bit to follow them to their sources.