Laugh and the world laughs with you . . .

Lying in bed last night, I got to thinking about the state of comedy these days, and recalled an incident that occurred earlier in the week while I was driving to the grocery store.  We are blessed (cursed?) to have Sirius XM satellite radio in both of our cars.  So, whenever I am driving more than a mile or two, I invariably tune to one of three comedy channels I have designated as favorites.  This particular afternoon, it seemed that no matter which of the three channels I was tuned to, the humor was almost entirely “toilet” in nature.  It became a game to listen to the first station, hear a curse word, immediately switch to the second, hear something off color, and then change to the third, where my ears would be assaulted with still more filth.  I repeated the process at least three times, each time with the same result.  Finally, in disgust, I turned the radio off.

As any of my friends will tell you, I am not a prude, and I enjoy a dirty story as much as the next man—occasionally.  But having three comedy radio stations at my disposal, and not being able to find one single comedian who spoke in anything other than four letter words was kind of a shock.  So I started to take a mental inventory of the comedians who’d really made me laugh through the years.  Some of the names I came up with were Billy Crystal, Jonathan Winters, Hennie Youngman, Don Rickles, Bill Cosby, and Rich Little—pretty much household names to anyone in my age group (70s).  I realized they all had one thing in common: none ever uttered so much as a single curse word during their acts.

But the one name that stands out among all the comedians I have enjoyed is Bob Newhart.  His routines were always about the most commonplace topics such as driving instructors, famous presidents, and submarine captains.  His humor was creative, clever, and, at times, side splitting, yet he never ventured off color.  Never.  I defy anyone to listen to an old Bob Newhart routine without laughing aloud at the visual pictures he painted with his imaginative humor.  I love his story about “Crazy” George Washington, who insisted upon standing at the front of the boat, as it crossed the Delaware.  It never fails to crack me up.  The same goes for all the other comedians I mentioned earlier.  Just watch an old Johnny Carson rerun, and you’ll see what I mean.  They were all extremely funny—without ever resorting to foul language.

Despite the predominance of potty-mouthed comedians who monopolize the airways today, there are others whose acts are pristine.  They just don’t get as much airtime.  For every dozen or so cursing comics there’s a Ray Romano, a Mike Berbiglia, a Jerry Seinfeld, or a Jim Gaffigan, all of whom are very funny in their own right, without ever resorting to expletives to get a laugh.  And, I’d be willing to bet there’s a good chance they’re all fans of those other great comedians I mentioned, especially Bob Newhart (just a guess).  But, one thing is certain. Aside from having “clean” acts, they all have one thing in common, something well deserved: Each of them is laughing all the way to the bank.  And to that I say, good for them— and good for us!

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About AuthorJoePerroneJr

I am a former professional fly-fishing guide, and I write the Matt Davis Mystery Series, which presently consists of five books: As the Twig is Bent, Opening Day, Twice Bitten, Broken Promises and Deadly Ransom. The series is set in the real town of Roscoe, NY, in the Catskill Mountains, where I guided for ten years. I love fly fishing, movies, cooking (and eating), and music. To learn more about me and my writing, please visit my website at: http://www.joeperronejr.com.
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20 Responses to Laugh and the world laughs with you . . .

  1. I agree with you all. Once in Las Vegas, my husband and I went to see the man we enjoyed so much on TV – George Carlin. To my disgust, all he did was stand on stage and spout filthy language. For twenty minutes he simply said all the dirty words he could think of – and worst of all, the crowd roared! They loved him. We left and wished we had not spent our money on him. Today, all the movies use the F-word constantly. Every other word is F…. I get so sick and tired of what is passing for entertainment today. I don’t know real people who use that language and I know I am not in the mainstream of “what is happening” but do you know people who speak like that all the time?

    Liked by 1 person

    • For some reason, somewhere along the line, it became acceptable, even fashionable to use profanity in movies and in nightclub acts. Police and criminals use profanity in real life, but I found it difficult to employ that kind of language in my own murder mysteries. After the first one, which was set in NYC, I went in a different direction and turned my Matt Davis Mystery Series into more of a cozy mystery series, just so I wouldn’t have to use gratuitous profanity to move the storyline along. I think that’s why I have so many female readers.

      Like

  2. Missing the good old days when comedy was really funny and clean too…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. balroop2013 says:

    I wonder why humor has degenerated and stooped so low…is it the acceptance of curse words, many of which have found their way into books of today? Blue humor puts me off and makes me sneer rather than laugh!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Allie P. says:

    Mike Berbiglia definitely has not gotten enough attention. He used to do a radio bit called his secret public journal which cracked me up every time. Like you I don’t mind the occasional blue humor, but when every other word is designed to shock or offend I find the opposite happens and myself tuning out if not turning it off altogether

    Liked by 1 person

  5. And those who made you laugh through music like Victor Borge! Blessed are the times of old.
    Missed are the times of old! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0xIBBgy_Sw

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Bruce Pfeffer says:

    One of my favorites is Jonathan Winters. At the end of his television show he would be handed a prop and make a comedy scene using it. So creative and funny. Don’t forget Ernie Kovacs

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jonathan Winters was my alltime favorite when I was in high school. I used to memorize all the skits from his albums. I can still do at least three of them: The Oldest Airline Stewardess in the World; Smiley Service Station; and “Oh, oh, there goes Otto.” I think he was a German rocket scientist. I used to love Ernie Kovacs’ Eugene, and the Nairobi Trio. He died way too young. Pure genius.

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  7. KiM says:

    I haven’t heard of a lot of your suggestions. I like clean comedians Chonda Pierce, Jeanne Roberston, Tim Hawkins, and Brad Stine and while we don’t have satellite radio, when my computers are working we have YouTube 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Michael Landolfi says:

    Hey Joe! I can’t agree more. Back in the day a comedian might use an off color word or two to emphasize a point but these days some routines are nothing but nasty words or scenarios – no evidence of creative genius. Possibly, all the best stuff in the universe was used up in the ’70s. Michael Landolfi

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Add Flip Wilson, Rodney Dangerfield, Jack Benny, Red Skelton, Bob Hope and a few more. They worked at their craft and used self deprecation in their delivery.
    I do not enjoy the profane approach that seems to have taken over comedy. They have also become way too political. At the moment I could not name a single comedian and never go to the Sirius radio comedy programming.

    Liked by 1 person

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