Re: Bob Hope: Last of the "Elder Statesmen" of Comedy?

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Posted ByAlex Buck on July 30, 2003 at 08:07:04:

In Reply to: Re: Bob Hope: Last of the "Elder Statesmen" of Comedy? posted byjerry4opry on July 29, 2003 at 22:10:31:

: : Sad, but true....Benny, Burns, Berle, Gleason, Hope, Skelton and others had a "larger than life" quality about them.

: : Somehow when I look at the current crop of comedians hanging out at the Friars' Club (Jerry Seinfeld, Drew Carey, Paul Reiser, etc.) they just don't have that "larger than life" quality that the "old masters" had.

: : Bill O'Rielly did an interview with Jerry Lewis a few weeks ago but it wasn't ran until last night. If you saw the interview {Fox News Channel} you can tell how crass and wide the generation gap is between a Jerry Lewis and a Bill O'Rielly. O'Rielly's schtick, if that's the right word to apply to a newscaster, is being irreverent to the point of cruelty. He was asking Lewis all these questions about his health, his career, and what he thought of "today's" generation. There were a few bleeps when the interview started to veer toward Sinatra's mob ties, something O'Rielly stated was the reason he didn't like Frank, and Lewis replied with a response of "that's just bull s**t". i guess i much prefer an interviewer playing up to the subject they're talking to. I like reverence for who i consider legends but i guess O'Rielly is of the new generation and has the middle name of "cynic".

: Mark Evanier also does a wonderful job writing on the great voice actors like Daws Butler, Mel Blanc, Don Messick, and others.

: P.S.: Today's Hollywood or New York doesn't allow entertainers to become "larger than life" hardly anymore. The media used to be pro-celebrity and pro-America but after Vietnam and all those student protesters were given legitimacy from the news stories of maverick reporters both in print and on TV, the media for the most part seemed to jump ship and cater to the anti-war or the radical left and the ones who were patriotic were called "war mongers". Vietnam forward, the media and 90% all of Hollywood have become liberal and anti-war even when war is the only resource left. Not to drift too much into politics but "new Hollywood" as i call it is much the blame for a majority of the comedy legends not getting their respect.

The interesting question of “whose left” has been brought up. Its hard for me to put Jerry Lewis into the same grouping of Benny, Burns, and Hope since his comedy was so physical. I agree that the focus would need to shift to the 1950's or beyond. Bob Hope was the last of the Vaudevillians who would later dominate radio and early television. Its hard for me to think of any new talent of this comedic model that made their appearance in the 1950's and endured. Syd Caesar comes to mind as an early television star but his physical humor makes him more of a match to Jerry Lewis - both very dependent on sight rather than sound. As far as great presenters of monologues / standup, I think we may have to look into the early 1960's. This would imply that an entire generation was eclipsed by our Vaudevillian heroes and it would be a review of who made it to the big time and was heavily influenced by the B,B,&H group. Of course, the legitimate heir to the Benny throne would be Johnny Carson but he’s wrapped up in some self imposed exile. Does anyone know why he’s dropped off the planet? It always seemed odd to me for a man to confess such adulation towards Benny and the likes of Burns and Hope that he wouldn’t try to follow their example by being active up until the end. Maybe he doesn’t have to ($)? Anyway, I think as far as the title of “Elder Statesman of Comedy” is concerned, I’d look towards Bob Newhart (b. 9/5/1929). His A&E Biography stated that he was a big fan of Jack and that he treasured the memory of the few meetings they had in the 1960’s as he was an upcoming star mainly known for his comedy records. Just a thought.

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