Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Only Superhumans Qualify As Entertainers - Buster Keaton






Kali just turned me on to Buster Keaton films.I had seen Sherlock Jr. and Steamboat Bill way back during college days but was too into discovering lost cartoons to be paying enough attention to silent films.

Thanks, Kali for correcting my oversight.


Anyway, Keaton really illustrates a point I have been making on this blog-that only people who have amazing ability should be entertainers, not just average people who live next door to you, like we have today.

Nowadays we have cartoons by people who can't draw (or write), "voice actors" by people who don't have distinct voices or acting ability, "songs" where people talk instead of sing and tell you how great they are without having to prove it to you with skill and talent.

Imagine if the people who run entertainment today took over sports?

We'd have basketball teams with short fat bald white men, Ultimate Fighting would pit skinny little emo cartoonists against each other, people who can't swim would be water sports heroes having female fans screaming at their drowning contests.

While we're at it, let's also have chefs who have no sense of smell, 110 lb firemen, nearsighted arthritic surgeons, paraplegic dancers, presidents with low I.Q.s, people who can't animate writing books telling you how to judge animation and scientists who believe in Intelligent Design.

A few decades ago, people automatically assumed that when they went to witness professional entertainment, they would be watching superhuman talents doing superhuman feats - doing things that they never would have imagined themselves being capable of doing.

Not any more. Everybody alive can talk and they can write sentences. That qualifies you to be a writer and a rap star or a cartoon voice. You don't have to be able to do something that takes years and decades of practice and skill and super talent.

Is there anybody alive that couldn't write or draw Family Guy? Anyone looking at that or listening to a rap "song" can easily imagine himself with a couple weeks practice and some luck being able to be a big star.

Yeah, I know the blind deaf and dumb South Park fans are gonna get on here and argue, but that's my point. When you see a REAL entertainer, you can't argue that what he or she is doing is not amazing when it is so far above the level of average or even exceptional ability. You can argue all you want about today's crap because it is so vague and amateurish, it all comes down to the general level of gullibility of the entertainment-starved unwashed masses who have been raised on low expectations and will fight to the death over stuff they could do themselves.

Now no one could watch Bugs Bunny and say, "Oh I could do that." Or "The Honeymooners". Can anyone imagine regular people being that funny?

Now, watch Buster Keaton and see if for a second you can imagine yourself doing what he did to earn his fame and immortality.



Get Sherlock Jr. and be absolutely amazed at what a true genius can do without the aid of special effects or executive meddling.



And go to Kali's blog and thank her for being smart and having extraodinary taste in an age where there isn't much.

http://kalikazoo.blogspot.com/2006/11/buster-keaton-genius.html


She also pointed out to me that the only modern heir to Keaton is Jackie Chan who of course, once he came to Hollywood, the execs made him do much less of what made him famous and waste most of the time in his movies with bullshit "story" and "heart".

You should all be really mad, knowing that superhuman entertainment is actually possible, but corporate America won't let you have any.

I hope you are broadening your minds by seeing some of the feats of human prowess I introduce you to on this blog. There is a ton of it out there. You just have to dig back a few decades and then keep working your way back through history to find truly inspiring and exciting things to make you proud to be a part of a species that once was great.

By the way, a lot of gags that you associate with cartoons were invented by Buster Keaton and other silent comedians.

91 comments:

Freckled Derelict said...

I whole heartedly agree! A perfect example of that is the acting Vivan Leigh does in gone with the wind!
If you see the new special features they show all the rejected actors screens tests and ugh, I can't belive they even tried out for the part knowing they were only sub-par.
The same goes for 90% of the crap on cartoon network these days.

Fire Exit said...

Most people are under the impression that talent comes on a platter and have a wish to magically 'make it big' even if they don't put any time or effort into it. Sadly most of the 'talent' that makes it into the media is given on a platter and based around good looks, background and not on musical or artistic ability.

It reminds me of a quote from Blues Brothers

'Walk away now and you walk away from your crafts, your skills, your vocations; leaving the next generation with nothing but recycled, digitally-sampled techno-grooves, quasi-synth rhythms, pseudo-songs of violence-laden gansta-rap, acid pop, and simpering, saccarine, soulless slush.'

We live in an age where skill and dedication arn't rewarded, controlled by what-ever popular nonsense MTV and Cartoon Network find it easist and cheapest to make and what the uneducated masses find easiest to digest.

You're right though, there is talent out there. It's just nobody recognises it when they see it.

stiff said...

Bravo. This is exactly why I listen to the music I listen to. If it's easy to play, I'm not usually interested in listening to it. And the AfterEffects-heavy cop-out bullshit on Cartoon Network sickens me. I do have to defend a very limited amount of hip-hop (not rap) which, lyrically speaking, has very interesting rhyme schemes and rhythms...but I agree that 98% or so of that genre sucks.

I got my George Liquor t-shirt today...gotta say that the color-matching is less than accurate -- and even I can tell. His skin is all red. Is this a fluke?

P.S. I finally got back into drawing the lessons, and posted some today; I'd really appreciate any comments.

Anonymous said...

YES, YES, YES!!! I am an artist, trained, experienced, and yes, talented. Cartoons like South Park and the Simpsons send me screaming for the changer. I will not permit them to exist in my home. That these monuments to ugliness are popular and run for years offends me deeply. Then, there's one, whose name I blissfully cannot recall, that seems to be electronically animated from live action. WHY????

Fortunately, there still are a lot of superhumans in film and TV. Also fortunately, electronics have been employed to make stunningly beautiful movies such as were not possible in the past.

Infortunately, those superhumans and sensitive artists have always been in the minority. The only recourse we have is to shun the ugly and spend our money on the beautiful.

Elliot said...

First, I should say that I'm a big fan of this blog. I have, in fact, been learning an awful lot from your blog about design, composition, etc. I also really loved your talk in SF.

But I have to take issue with the sentiment that "only people who have amazing ability should be entertainers, not just average people who live next door to you, like we have today." Or at least, I take issue with how people might read into what you're saying.

It harkens back to the "But my little sister could do that!" school of art criticism, a kneejerk reaction that's usually dead wrong.

For example, take the great New York poet Frank O'Hara. When a class of high school or college kids read O'Hara, a few of them are bound to say, "This is just talk. Anyone could do it." Ask the same kids to write an O'Hara poem, and they'll be dead in their tracks.

Because it's not easy. Having enough control over the lexicon (be it language, paint, acting, etc.) that every move you make looks uninflected--or common--takes a hell of a lot of work. This is true of O'Hara, Sam Shephard, Jean-Michel Basqiat, and Ren and Stimpy.

Most young artists I know are producing work that looks like their favorite artists on a really bad day. I would kill to see more art my little sister could create.

Gabriel said...

I was thinking of Jackie Chan before coming to the end of the post. I always thought of him as fighting Harold Lloyd, his best stuff is full of visual inventiveness. The physical feats are amazing too but the fights in those chinese movies he did in the 70s/80s are unpredictable, elegantely calculated and super funny. I'm so puzzled about how hollywood managed to screw that up. I think they should send him back to China with a ton of money and tell him to come back with a movie in one year.
I don't know how it is classified, but there's a certain type of comedy kung fu movies that produced a lot of great stuff some decades ago, it's a pity not many people are aware of it.

Chris Wyatt said...

I still appreciate South Park, even though it's poorly animated and not that interesting to look at. I agree with their views on politics and life and I enjoy watching the cartoons, even though I realise it's crappily drawn. Family Guy on the other hand, I have trouble appreciating it, and I could probably write that crap myself.

Looney Tunes did start off quite crappily, but the beautiful thing was that it got better through time until it peaked sometime during the fourties, I reckon if a big corporation like Paramount or whatever gave a bunch of up-and-coming animators the time and money, they could have a decent cartoon on their hands, but until that happens we're left with uninspired shit.

Anonymous said...

I love Buster Keaton! Lemmy is pretty super human too and everything he touches turns to gold. So, yes sir, I agree!

Anonymous said...

Yep! I've been a Buster Keaton fan for over 10 years now. I first saw his film Cops inwhich he was chased by every cop in the city. But then I saw his feature length film The General and I became a fan right then and there. He is truly something to behold. I don't own Sherlock Jr. but I have rented it from the library many times.

True fact about Sherlock Jr.: Buster actually broke his neck during one of the sight gags. But, he didn't even know it for 3 weeks. In the mean time he kept performing other stunts all with an "excrutiating headache that wouldn't go away". Now, THAT'S dedication.

Anonymous said...

John, have you ever heard of Sturgeon's Law? "90% of everything is crap."
Someone should put that on a t-shirt.
Also, Arrested Development had a Buster Keaton homage in one of their episodes where a house falls on Buster (Bluth) just like in Steamboat Bill, Jr.
That was a show that had some pretty adept entertainers. And it goes without saying it was cancelled prematurely.

Sean Worsham said...

Buster Keaton, only followed by Jackie Chan and to a certain extent the Jackass crew. Nonetheless it's sad to hear that certain people would disagree w/ your points of hiring only whoever's best at doing the job. What a damn society of red tape, beauracracy and crap.

Anonymous said...

John,

I think that you have a problem here. Are you saying that Keaton walked into vaudeville doing these things? Do you think the Marx Bros hit the big time first time out? I don't think so.

The Marx Bros used to do stage shows of their early movies to get the timing down. Ever notice that the pause for laughter? No? Must'a been because you were laughing.

Keaton had someone who taught him this stuff. The Marx Bros. saw what came before and used that to give themselves a leg up. Not to diminish in anyway what they did in anyway, but they didn't invent the idea of snappy dialog or pratfalls.

So I like South Park, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and Family guy. What do I think about the animation? It totally sucks. It blows chunks. But, as sitcoms go, they are funny as hell.

But, the AFX "style" of ATHF or a dozen or so shows on CN/AS does diminish the art of "cartoons"... and that's okay.

They can want those kind of shows, they can watch Happy Feet and say, what amazing animation when all the movement in the movie is mocaped. They can think that Monster House is a good film, I'm more scared of the kids than the evil house. That's fine.

There are still the Aardman's, still the Pixar's out there doing animation... you are still doing work. Who knows, maybe the next Disney feature done traditionally will live up to its ancestors.

As a little guy, I am worried that you are saying to me that I shouldn't do what I've got to do. I'm sorry, I'm not going to do that. I'm going to take (bits of) your advice, and the advice of about a dozen more artists and try to be all that I can be. I may not be Buster Keaton... ::shrug:: who knows what I'll be...

Anonymous said...

John,

I think that you have a problem here. Are you saying that Keaton walked into vaudeville doing these things? Do you think the Marx Bros hit the big time first time out? I don't think so.

The Marx Bros used to do stage shows of their early movies to get the timing down. Ever notice that the pause for laughter? No? Must'a been because you were laughing.

Keaton had someone who taught him this stuff. The Marx Bros. saw what came before and used that to give themselves a leg up. Not to diminish in anyway what they did in anyway, but they didn't invent the idea of snappy dialog or pratfalls.

So I like South Park, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and Family guy. What do I think about the animation? It totally sucks. It blows chunks. But, as sitcoms go, they are funny as hell.

But, the AFX "style" of ATHF or a dozen or so shows on CN/AS does diminish the art of "cartoons"... and that's okay.

They can want those kind of shows, they can watch Happy Feet and say, what amazing animation when all the movement in the movie is mocaped. They can think that Monster House is a good film, I'm more scared of the kids than the evil house. That's fine.

There are still the Aardman's, still the Pixar's out there doing animation... you are still doing work. Who knows, maybe the next Disney feature done traditionally will live up to its ancestors.

As a little guy, I am worried that you are saying to me that I shouldn't do what I've got to do. I'm sorry, I'm not going to do that. I'm going to take (bits of) your advice, and the advice of about a dozen more artists and try to be all that I can be. I may not be Buster Keaton... ::shrug:: who knows what I'll be...

Kris said...

Frankly, I don't believe in talent. I think all of those people with unbelievable superhuman skill worked very hard to get that skill.

That said, I suspect that there are just as many amazing people around as there once were. They're just harder to find than mediocre crap, since mediocre craps sells just as well as good stuff, and dealing with strong creative personalities (like you) is probably a pain for the studios that want to control your creations.

Mitch K said...

That bridge deal is pretty amazing. I wonder how many times he had to nearly kill himself before he got that one down! Wow.

Art F. said...

ALL the best Jackie Chan movies are the ones with subtitles. i also began watching some Buster Keaton stuff. never was much into him when i was younger, but now i guess i can appreciate him more.

Sam Logan said...

Honestly, I think the truth of it is that most people simply do not take their entertainment all that seriously.

They don't care -- or even notice -- the level of craftsmanship behind what they are reading, watching or listening to. It's not a factor. After all, whatever it is only has to amuse them for the few seconds that they devote to it before flicking over to the next thing. Something that you enjoy that briefly only needs to have one stand out element. Everything else is basically disposable.

Family Guy isn't popular because its fans are under the dellusion that it is well-animated. It's popular because its fans don't care if it's well-animated. They only care if they find it amusing, and clearly they do because otherwise there'd be absolutely no reason for them to view it. If it makes them laugh they watch it, and if it doesn't they watch something else. That's all the thought that goes into it.

They don't care about the craft because they are not animators or animation enthusiasts – they are (conciously) not interacting with what they are watching on that level. They wouldn't be any more entertained if Peter had a nicer looking walk-cycle.

I only say this because, well, sometimes I feel like the sentiment around here is that, "If great-looking cartoons were being made and properly marketed again, people would choose to watch them than this other crap." Maybe I'm just cynical, but I'm not sure that's true.

Anonymous said...

Here comes the nostalgic hate-fest of anything new.

Family Guy isn't a great show, no. But I'd love to see these cynics write an episode of it. I mean, it sure is easy to summarize all modern cartoon as 'pop culture references', but can anyone actually prove that it doesn't take skill?

It should be considered separate entertainment than physical comedy such as Loony Tunes and the Three Stooges, etc. All great, but not in the same category whats so ever.

Like the Flintstones, the art is amazing, the animation is great, but the writing is so privative and dated that the only thing a lot of people watch it for now is because the outdated values from the 60s are fun to watch on an ironic level. But it works for what it is and pioneered a lot of the conventions and story structure that thousands of shows have adopted, but that doesn't make it more intelligent than South Park.

South Park isn't trying to be Loony Tunes but failed. And until people can prove that it's amateurish by coming up with a better product in the same vein, then I don't see how it can be labeled as that.

There's no need to lump stunt men in with actors either. Take Ricky Gervais. Physically, he obviously doesn't do things that other people can't. Does that make his writing and acting worthless? What about stand-up comics like Rodney Dangerfield, Mitch Hedberg and Steven Wright? Is their comedy shallow because it's not wacky and physical?

I'm not saying anyone is better or worse than Buster Keaton, but they're obviously very separate.

I hope I don't get bombarded with hate, I just think all kinds of comedy and entertainment should be appreciated without them all being lumped together.

Brian said...

Just today I was in a photo shop and OVER THE HEDGE was playing on a demo TV. It always makes me wonder how much better one of these slick 3D rendered flicks would be if they hired talented voice *talent* in stead of well known celebrities. One recent show that *does* hire real voice talent is Comedy Central's DRAWN TOGETHER. I like this show more for is sarcasm about the animated world than for its actual animation, but I've always loved the voice work.

Anonymous said...

Keaton is the greatest. Sherlock Jr. is amazing and College is one of the funniest films I've seen.

Jack Ruttan said...

I'd want to see skinny emo cartoonists extreme-fighting.

The Butcher said...

Jackie Chan on the original Drunken Master did a "headspring". Literally, jumped with his arms behind his back, bounced off his head and landed on his feet. Seriously, if I tried to do that, there'd be nothing but brains and skull fragments next to my headless corpse.

Julián höek said...

jim carey is one of the superhuman talents today. he can do stuff that nobody could do even with years of preatice. his body bends in tons of imposible and hilarious ways. i saw him once in an special about the begining of his career doing stand up, it was amazing! the guy did a clint eastwood impresion and he mold his face too really look like eastwood!!

Anonymous said...

JohnK,
What would be your top five books on the principes of film/ cartoon composition you would recommend?
Thanks,
Ken

S.G.A said...

Rowan Atkinson did well with mr.Bean,
those are worth while.
I also am really frustrated with stuff like South Park and most adult swim stuff, It's just yelling and gore and crude jerky movements and referencing stuff and and flat wasxhed out color or bright hammer over the head color.
But, the main thing is it doesn't make me laugh ,.. it wears me out.
That's not entertaining.
Maybe if we slowed down a bit and took some time, Christ I mean I think people watch too much tv and alot of it isn't worth watching.
The more I learn the more selective I get, I'm looking for quality, not quantity.
PS, that thx intro for Tenacious D was great.

queefy said...

Bruce Lee > Jackie Chan

Anonymous said...

JohnK,
What would be your top five books on the principes of film/ cartoon composition you would recommend?
Thanks,
Ken

Anonymous said...

Do you want some cheese with that wine?

You have great valid points in regards with cartoons. One only has to put on Teletoon or Cartoon Network at night to see some really badly drawn cartoons. Or web-comics made of pixel art.

But why are you raggin' on everybody else? If someone has a simple blog they are entitled to call themselves a writer. If I played tennis I could say I'm a tennis player. I think you are confusing terms from the amateur to professional.

Some rock stars can't sing live, but as Gene Simmons would say, being a lead singer has nothing to do with vocals, it is all about presence and attitude. That is what sells a concert. Even some bands that have amazing singers have people say they suck. I could name hundreds of examples.

Then you rip into all sorts of professions. So a chef can't be a chef because he or she can't smell? Way to be discriminating. What about taste? That is similar to saying someone who is blind can't play music cause they can't read music notation then right? Wrong sir.

I think you need to screw your head on tighter.

Anonymous said...

Curly Howard was a superhuman. Nuk nuk nuk! His acting on the Three stooges is believable. He must have looked in the mirror for hours as a child to learn to act with his face. The confused look he does. The absolute look of shock. These looks had to be practiced. He was as they say, " an animated character."

Anonymous said...

The missing link between Buster Keaton and Jackie Chan is, believe it or else, Fred Astaire. Check it. Prodigious physical talent married to creative genius and an ability to use an entire set - every object and surface - in their choreography.

And the sets themselves tend to be great examples of design and color theory.

Anonymous said...

wow. i'm so glad there's more buster keaton praise going on here.

i've just done a minor rant on kali's site before, now i come here and see an extension of kali's stuff.

yeah. man, i wish more people would think like this. today's entertainment SUCKS!

i'm lucky to have been exposed to the good cartoons and films as a young kid and can discern between the good and the bad.

Anonymous said...

Evening Mr. K, I was reading a post you left a while ago in which you spoke of notes for Ren and Stimpy background paintings. I was hoping that there might be a way by which I might aquire these coveted items. I loved your colour theory posts and all the art examples you show on this site. It's really helped in my approach to painting BGs. Your interest and dedication in imparting your knowledge blows me away. Don't stop, Please! I haven't gone more than a day without checking out this blog since I found it a week ago.
I'll have to start a blog in order for you to read this and I'll put up a painting or two.
Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised this is the first time Keaton has been mentioned here since you obviously appreciate the work of the old greats. The General is one of the greatest films of all time.

queefy said...

I think the best modern day performer would have to be Michael Richards(Kramer to most). The man is amazing. I would definitely put him on the list with the old greats.

Im little biased though because Seinfeld is my favorite tv show.

Steve said...

Hey man I just got the Ren and Simpy lost episodes dvd today and I love it! I watched your show as a kid with my dad and I am going to buy him the whole set for the holidays!

Please keep them comeing!

Señor Chips said...

All old movie stars are superhuman, this is because of their training through the vaudville years. on stage you had to know how to sing, dance and act. now with cameras and editing anybody can get their big break. another great reference other than keaton are the marx brothers, if you want character acting there you go! by the way John, I just saw your and Lynn's name in the credits for the smurf xmas special. I wanna hear stories about that!

Anonymous said...

"I think the best modern day performer would have to be Michael Richards(Kramer to most)."

I agree, but have you heard about his recent racial rant on stage? He's finished now, haha.

Anonymous said...

The guys from "Jackass" mentioned in the same sentence as Buster Keaton and Jackie Chan? Don't those JA guys actually epitomize what John K. was railing AGAINST in this blog post?

That aside, I have enjoyed the odd episode of "Jackass," but they're amateurs compared to Keaton, Chan and Harold Lloyd. That's why they have to put all those disclaimers on the show- anybody and his brother can and DO do their stunts.

No need for anything like that on a Keaton film, or a Chan movie.

Anyway, I didn't come here to argue but that one comment jumped out at me as being pretty blatant.

For the most part I agree with John K. (what a surprise!). Everyone seems to think because they have a dream and ambitions, the world's supposed to bend over backwards... or forwards... for them. Look at all the "American Idol" rejects, the ones who get super-pissed when they're told they don't have what it takes. When they're so amazingly lousy you have to believe they must be delusional or demented not to recognize it themselves.

They can't handle being told the truth. Our feel good self-esteem based dumb-it-down society has not prepared them for reality.

I'm not saying they shouldn't try, just that they should accept that they got their shot and couldn't hack it. Move on to another dream.

And acting like a star before you're actually a star is just... stupid.

Anyway, preach on, John K.! Preach on! This post made my evening!

Anonymous said...

Oh... and I second Sarcastro about Astaire but I'd add Gene Kelly to that. Now that was a superhuman dancer. He was amazingly athletic and powerful in his movements.

I feel sort of like one of those "American Idol" rejects I ranted on there, too, when I see some of the art on this blog from John's heroes, and from a lot of the commentors on here.

I was doing those Preston Blair lessons- and I consider myself a decent, semi-fair drawer- and some of these people just blew me away with what they produced. Vastly superior to my attempts.

Oh yeah... and the artists linked here. Even Eddie's stickfigures cut my best crap to shreds.

pglatz said...

I heard Bob Clampett give a lecture once; he said 90% of the Looney Tune gags were inspired by the Keystone Kops and Hal Roach comedies. This is the basic grammar of classic cartoons. Max Fleischer took it a step further with "if it can happen in real life, it's not animation." Keaton was beautiful and had a long career (see "Sunset Blvd." and a classic Twilight Zone he did), and was a truly amazing athlete in his early films. Another wonderful superman was Harold Lloyd, who looked like Joe Average (which made it even better) and had exquisite timing and great physical abilities. Look for the new DVD of his restored works for a real treat.

pglatz said...

I heard Bob Clampett give a lecture once; he said 90% of the Looney Tune gags were inspired by the Keystone Kops and Hal Roach comedies. This is the basic grammar of classic cartoons. Max Fleischer took it a step further with "if it can happen in real life, it's not animation." Keaton was beautiful and had a long career (see "Sunset Blvd." and a classic Twilight Zone he did), and was a truly amazing athlete in his early films. Another wonderful superman was Harold Lloyd, who looked like Joe Average (which made it even better) and had exquisite timing and great physical abilities. Look for the new DVD of his restored works for a real treat.

Anonymous said...

The General is one of my favorites.

I don't think John is suggesting talent is disconnected from skill. Reading his blog and regularily being reminded to "do yer damn Preston drawings!!" is proof enough.

However, there are those special people who care enough about the medium they are in to meet those skill requirements, and then elevate their craft by inventively and intuitively going beyond. What is disappointing is that the mediocre is being touted and celebrated by those with the cash, the mediocre is being elevated to the level of cultural benchmark purely because of its marketing muscle.

lastangelman said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Amen!John , go order from Amazon, Unknown Chaplin, find a tape of Buster Keaton:A Hard Act To Follow and get some Harold Lloyd and Laurel and Hardy and Fatty Arbuckle. These people's movies are still funny. Screamingly funny. AND absolute geniuses. They knew comedy inside and out. AND Buster Keaton was probably THE best gag man, instinctively, than any of them. It's very tough finding anyone who even approaches the funny today. God, now I'm depressed.
BTW, I just bought the new Looney Tunes compiliation, it has Bugs Bunny Superstar. Half the original cartoons in the film have been replaced by their newly "remastered" versions, while the ones not remastered are left alone. What a difference! Between real art and candy colors.

The Butcher said...

"I think the best modern day performer would have to be Michael Richards(Kramer to most)."

Funny that you say that now.

Gabriel said...

ALL the best Jackie Chan movies are the ones with subtitles

Yeah, or it's badly dubbed, which can make it even funnier!

I'll never understand what's so good about Bruce Lee, though. I've seen many of his films but they're mostly boring, badly edited, lack interesting fights and are just too damn serious. I like serious stuff, but fun is fun! Fun is better than no fun, does that make sense?

Anonymous said...

It is a huge nostalgic misconception that there were no mediocre artists in the past. The extremely talented individuals have always been in the minority; there have always been a majority of mediocre talents involved in entertainment.

Buster Keaton is far more popular nowadays than he was originally...publicly outshined by Harlod Lloyd, for instance (who is still okay by my standards even if he's no Keaton).

This is the way that great talent wins...not in the short run, but in the long run. It may seem sometimes like everything around you is crap and that they recognized talent back in the day, but it only seems that way because the talented people are remembered, while the mediocre are forgotten.

Being too nostalgic for a false conception of the past risks not being able to appreciate current talent and innovation for what it is worth. Remembering that most artists in any popular field are going to be mediocre, hip-hop cannot be judged on the basis of what is popular any more than rock music should be judged by Pat Boone.

South Park isn't great animation, but it isn't trying to be...it is trying to be a cheap and fast vehicle for the creators' views and ideas, and should be judged on that level.

A general public ignorance of animation may cause South Park to be detrimental to the cause of quality animation (which I respect and admire), but the weakness is in the ignorance of the public.

Again, that which has cultural significance and quality will survive ---that which is mediocre will be forgotten. This isn't always satisfactory, but it is something.

tedrex said...

Lets hear it for amazing abilities! While we're on the topic of UFC, John, who are your favorite fighters right now? Do you watch the Ultimate Fighter? (Reality TV sucks total ass, but where else can you see a fight like that every week?)

Not exactly on topic, I know, but not too many other cartoonists seem to like the best sport in the world..Ultimate Fighting!

Anonymous said...

If you've not watched a lot of keaton(yet)you're in a position I'm jealous of--all these unbelievably fantastic shorts and features to watch for the first time!

"The Cameraman" is my favorite...and the one with the monkey on the boat; hmm...the Damfino? Or was it another one? Anyway, Keaton was a bona fide genius(much bandied-about word true in one fiftieth of cited cases), incredibly unassuming, and had bad taste in 2/3rds of his wives but in his professional life is so graceful, clever and sly that he's superhuman, indeed.
Not to mention devastatingly attractive. ; )

Eric C. said...

Cool John, I love silent comedies too. I also like the Marx Brothers, The Goon Show and Monty Python.

I heard that you also liked Monty Python.

_Eric ;)

COOP said...

Thanks for more great writing and discussion, Mr. K.

As others have already pointed out, a long apprenticeship in vaudeville is the reason why so many of the performers from Hollywood's Golden Age seem so amazingly gifted from our modern perspective. To add another example: Cary Grant. He started in vaudeville, too. Can you think of a leading man-type today capable of the broad range of performances Grant could pull off? He was a great wacky physical comedian in movies like Bringing Up Baby.

I think the vaudeville connection applies to classic animation as well. I'm certainly no animation scholar like some here, but I seem to remember reading about a vaudeville past relating to some of the Looney tunes guys (perhaps the mighty Clampett even?)

The larger point I wanted to make is that some kind of long apprenticeship, where a talented person is given time to grow and hone their skills, is something that has largely disappeared today, in all forms of the arts. Thanks to today's "Rock Star" mentality, most kids think they are failures if they are not rich and famous by age 24.

Daniel Thomas MacInnes said...

Wise of you to point out that Jackie Chan is the rightful heir to Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. It's also no secret that his tenure in Hollywood over the past decade has been frustrating. It's amazing that some studio hack would have the temerity to tell Jackie Chan how he should do stunts or fight scenes. Puleez.

The pop culture is awash in sewage, but hasn't it always been this way? I'm reminded of Mike Judge's new satire, Idioocracy. If the dumb-dumbs in this land are willing to settle for the likes of "Ow, My Crotch!" then that's what they're gonna get. A generation that has no ability to think for itself will become slaves. Simple as that.

So may I suggest that the kids start, I dunno, reading some books? Watching some real movies, which means pictures that are older than they are? Same for music, too. If your idea of pop is today's cookie-cutter Ken and Barbie dolls and their insulting minstrel show, then you're seriously lacking something, amigo.

Of course, we could also just choose to turn off the TV and entertain ourselves. You know, get off your lazy, expanding posteriors and actually DO SOMETHING.

vanillatray said...

kurt vonnegut wrote a short story in the 50's about the futuristic world where everyone was made the same and equal to one another. Everyone that was smarter, stronger, or faster had to wear a handicap that would limit that ability.

For those smarter, they would have an earphone setup that would ping loud sounds every so often to keep them from thinking too much.

For those that were faster or stronger they had to wear weights on their arms or legs to keep them from moving as fast.

And so on.

But yes, there aren't enough talented people in any industry these days.

Kion said...

I agree with everything you said except rap music. Like most things on the radio these days its all crap, but there are some great rap/hip hop artist you just have to dig through all the sh@t to find it.

Anonymous said...

In his better movies, Jackie Chan was usually assisted by two guys named Yuen Biao and Sammo Hung. The three of them grew up in a Chinese theater/orphanage that trained them physically their entire childhood.

Yuen is a fantastic acrobat, and Sammo is a great fighter.

Aside from their team-up movies like Project A, you should look into Sammo's own movies, especially this one called "The Odd Couple." Seeing Sammo in his youth is amazing. He has to be 200, maybe 300 pounds, but the man can jump, backflip twice and kick three guys in the face before his feet even touch the ground.

Today's Jackie Chan would have to be Tony Jaa. Check out Ong Bak or Tom Yum Goong (stay away from the shitty American releases, though!) Amazing fights with no wirework or special effects.

Jeremiah said...

Keaton sets the bar pretty damn high. He's my all-time favorite filmmaker.

Jorge Garrido said...

Michael Richards
Jim Carrey
Rowan Atkinson

Our only superhuman physical comedians left, as everone said, but you guys forgot the BEST SUPERHUMAN:

JOHN K! He writes, acts, sings, plays guitar, dances, teaches, DRAWS, animates, directs, creates, innovates, designs, and mesmerizses extremely well!

I'm not just kissing ass, it's true.

>"voice actors" by people who don't have distinct voices or acting ability

Billy West always has alot of great things to say about this shallow, stupid celebrity voice actor trend and how their voices won't live forever like Mel Blanc's because nobody will remember them in 5 years.

>You can argue all you want about today's crap because it is so vague and amateurish, it all comes down to the general level of gullibility of the entertainment-starved unwashed masses who have been raised on low expectations and will fight to the death over stuff they could do themselves.

I'll concede that, even though I like SP, the fact that I'd have to ARGUE about it's quality PROVES that it's nowhere near the level of skill of say, an average cartoon from the 50's. You can't argue aobut teh quality of a Tex Avery cartoon, there can be no argument of its greatness because it's so readily apparent.

>Anyone looking at that or listening to a rap "song" can easily imagine himself with a couple weeks practice and some luck being able to be a big star.

This I will disagree with, John. Freestyle a rap for me, put it on youtube, and put your money where you mouth is. Dn't worry aobut bars, production, or sound quality, let's just hear some rhymes. It's poetry, John. Everyone could do it but not well, and not off the top of their heads. I certainlty can't.

Hip-hop is our equivalent of jazz and Rock & Roll. Black music alwyas skips a generation and the older generation can't appreciate it, not because they don't want to, it's because they CAN'T get it, it's like beyond their scope. Rock & Roll was too loud and had too muhc beat for the older generation in the 50s.

>If your idea of pop is today's cookie-cutter Ken and Barbie dolls and their insulting minstrel show, then you're seriously lacking something, amigo.

There's two kinds of pop: Traditional POPular music like Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby, and bubblegum pop like The Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears which actually began in the 60's and influenced The Ramones.

sean said...

i liked your posts up until this one. and i thought more people would call you out on it. you have many worshipers on here that will agree with pretty much anything you say.
you over simplified this whole thing i think. generalized things that may be true in specific cases. the whole talent thing. how could any of us know how dedicated anyone else is. we are not them. we don;t see them practicing and learning. assuming is bad for the rep.

as for comment posters.

"i'm lucky to have been exposed to the good cartoons and films as a young kid and can discern between the good and the bad."

get over yourself. everyone saw good movies and cartoons when they were young. anyone can "discern" between good and bad, thats called having an opinion.

am disappointed a bit. like someone else said earlier, the impression i got from what you wrote is that we should not even try if we're not the best. and thats wrong.

JohnK said...

>>you over simplified this whole thing i think. generalized things that may be true in specific cases. the whole talent thing. how could any of us know how dedicated anyone else is. we are not them.<<

so what's your point?

Talent plus work and skill equals amazing to watch.

??

JohnK said...

>>get over yourself. everyone saw good movies and cartoons when they were young. <<

No they didn't.

I saw a few good things when I was a kid and then hunted more down as I got older.

Today it's harder than ever to find good old stuff.

I always have to introduce my young crews to great stuff they never knew about. Just as I do here.

sean said...

"so what's your point?"


hmm, i didn't write that right. my initial point was more toward the way you describe voice actors of todays cartoons. the way i read it, it sounded as if you were trying to say that voice actors and writers just do things non-shilant. as if they don't put effort into what they do. i mean in a world as competitive as it is, it seems like only the truly talented could possibly make it big. i mean, am i wrong?

"No they didn't.

I saw a few good things when I was a kid and then hunted more down as I got older.

Today it's harder than ever to find good old stuff.

I always have to introduce my young crews to great stuff they never knew about. Just as I do here."

i am sorry, i mean that in a different context. i am 20 and when i was a kid nickelodeon would play old looney tunes and tex avery cartoons all the time. tons of people saw it, i thought that was what ecto was referring to.

look, i think you've made some good points. and if you don;t say it who else will. but i do think that as culture changes so does entertainment.

thanks for the reply

FLAMINGPINECONE said...

Family Guy theory:

Seth "Talentless Hack" Mcfarlene has 1 unique joke, that 'Meg is fat' is all his, the rest are either from Simpsons or internet jokes.

also i had the misfortune of seeing some Family guy last night and they made fun of Popeye. YOU DONT MAKE FUN OF SOMETHING LIKE THAT IF YOU CANT DO BETTER.

god what a talentless hack, why did they bring Family Guy back at all?

i also dont know why they dont hire talented people anymore. Will Hung makes records that sells millions, Lil John says the same 3 phrases over and over and sells, yet no one remembers talented musicans like Led Zeppelin or Frank Zappa. Pink Floyd does a reunion concert and what happens?

MTV takes a massive shit on it by putting there stupid Vj's all over it.

shame, there are talented people alives, always will be but no ones hiring them.

point in case: Rachel Ray.

B. Durbin said...

"non-shilant"

Nonchalant? Not trying to be snotty, just wondering if that's the word you meant. From your description, you meant acting in a manner that is called by many "phoning it in", which is not precisely what nonchalant means. (It means not displaying anxiety or other emotion... come to think of it, maybe that IS what you meant.)

*cough*

When you started writing about superhuman entertainment, my mind immediately went to Cirque du Soleil, especially Quidam. I encourage anyone who is feeling a bit down to get hold of one of their DVDs, because it is people doing things that are simply incredible in an effortless fashion. Simply beautiful.

As for talent in the entertainment business, it's still there but you have to plow through a large amount of dreck to find it. The music I listen to is stuff most of you have never heard of... but it's almost easy for me to find, given the internet. If I need reviews of movies, I can go to places where the reviewers are known quantities, and I can tell if I will like the movie or not based on what they say about it.

I can even find out cool things about animation that I otherwise would never have known. So while popular culture still has a ton of crud, I don't have to listen to what it says. I can ignore it and find the good stuff on my own.

Rodrigo said...

"skinny little emo cartoonists" -- hilareous. Stay away from deviantArt.com, John. You will vomit all over your keyboard.

So yeah, you make a really really interesting point. It seems to me, that back before we had the technology to transfer information so quickly, only really talented folks wound up being entertainers. It seems any old yahoo with a DV camera and copy of Flash can send a million copies to a million different media corporations, and make it big. I guess the volume of wanna be entertainers has been inconveniently increased due to convenient technology.

I agree with you 99.9%, but why do you gotta loath South Park so much? They know their animation sucks--they are self-aware. It's really about the writing in that show.

And good point about Jackie Chan. Once he started making them in the U.S., all his stunts turned into tricks. "Tuxedo" anyone? *gag*

C.S. McDonald said...

If only "super-humans" were entertainers, we'd have very few venues of entertainment.

william wray said...

You forget we used to go to the silent move house in LA to see Buster Keaton movies to study acting.

william wray said...

I do seem like at some point we accepted that crap was good enough. We are in this age of dumbed down talent, were mediocrity gives hope, so everyone can live their dream, Too much talent alienates people since they can't hope to ever do something that takes hard work; it ruins their imaginings, like thinking to much about the odds when you play lotto. I imagine it’s something like the feeling when I’ve been in the room with brilliant scientists, I couldn’t keep up with their highly evolved musings so I blanked out.

I watched a little of that show Americas Got Talent and was not surprised that my favorite guys talent was to snap his fingers fast while gyrating his hips wildly to sixties Rock. At least he was fast, to the beat and funny. The “singers” of today are just a joke. Karaoke machines have made the world retarded. Where do the people go how have great voices? Does air pollution ruin children’s vocal cords? Is it because toys do everything for kids now?

NARTHAX said...

Keaton ended up creating gags for the Marx Brothers at MGM in his post binge-drinking years. The 'blown hats' bit in "A Day at the Races" may have been Buster Keaton's. It belongs in a silent film and his style didn't totally mesh with that of the Marxes.

Anonymous said...

I guess I agree. I don't know about the rap music, though. I don't like it, but it is supossed to be a a certain style of music and there is probably people who's better or worse at that.

On the other hand, like some people already said, the skills could be different. If you are saying, like I think, that people who does things should be qualified to do them, I agree. But I don't think Jackie Chan is better actor/ or entertainer than Ricky Gervais or John Goodman, Steve Buscemi or Ewan McGregor. Although it would be harder to do what Jackie Chan does, I couldn't act like the last three either.

Even though I enjoy some SP episodes, I certainly thing average people with some computer knowledge and a bit of effort could "draw" it and a number of people could came up with the same kind of jokes if they were decided to do it. Some SP fan with almost zero drawing skills, a bit of sense of humour and a some time to spent on it could came up with something similar or equal. They could easily copy their style. Probably less people could come up with the original idea and look (no matter how crappy it is) and make it "work", though.

One thing that is true about the writting is that everybody feels as if they could do it. When I do comics people normally won't criticize my drawings, perhaps cause they can't draw anything, perhaps cause they don't care. But everybody thinks they could write better stories than you, even though they have never tried and you've done it several times. I am guilty of that too, when I have criticized here some things I didn't like about the writting of Ren and Stimpy APC, even though I have never wrote for a TV series.

I agree on a general level. I don't think it's so easy to write or create those shows as it seems, but it is certainly a zillion times easier than doing something like Bugs Bunny.

Incidentally I watched some Buster Keaton stuff in high school. I never was a great fan of pantomime. I enjoy certain gags that are very creative, but it's not a type of movie I'm always trying to rewatch. I did love Harold Lloyd's "Safety Last" and Keaton's Steambot Bill's Jr and Seven Chances were quite good as far as I remember. But I prefer later comedies, I'm all about Billy Wilder, Howard Hawks or Lubitsch.

Ian M said...

I think it should be noted that Sherlock Jr. is available for free legal download from the internet archive, and is now under a creative commons licence.
So there's no reason anyone shouldn't see this movie.

EIBass said...

You always point out the obvious for the unwashed masses. In a age when the best selling female vocalist must be over dubbed and tweaked 5 or 6 times to make her voice sound half decent. Writer less reality T.V rules the air waves. And you say ONLY super humans? Well Millions of people can't be wrong? Can they?

"Shit is King" ...A quote from my father on the subject.

Keep teaching these kids of cultural bias and you may better some of them.

I’m reminded of another quote from W.C Fields "Never smarten up a chump." Good thing you don't subscribe to this quote because a lot of chumps would be out of luck.

Shitbitch said...

"I agree with everything you said except rap music. Like most things on the radio these days its all crap, but there are some great rap/hip hop artist you just have to dig through all the sh@t to find it."

I concur.

"It's really about the writing in that show."

What writing? Using as much violence, profanity and toilet jokes in the most cheap, tasteless, amateurish way as possible, all while pretending to teach some blatantly political moral?

Allan L. said...

I highly disagree with your digs at supposed lack of talent in accordance with rappers...to a degree. The majority of what's touted in the mainstream variety of rappers and/or rap groups, well, they suck ass. Putting out less than memorable, filler-saturated albums is no way to get my entertainment dollar. And that goes for the "underground" indie emcees, too.
And I fully understand that rap music (and hip-hop culture as a whole) isn't everyone's cup of tea, either.
I hear you as far as Buster goes. I've been a fan ever since I saw The Railrodder when I was a kid. We could use more folks like him nowadays.
And for the record, I totally appreciate the notes you post here. You can never learn enough.

the clownninja said...

you can't dismiss a whole musical form that offhandedly, rapping isn't easy, I'm sure you could do it John, but i'm betting it'd be laughable. Mostly because you have no cultural relationship to it. I don't think many people understand that gangster rap isn't complete bullshit, it's indicitive of prison-culture, and an honest reaction to a very real system of repression that's older than you and was completely unchecked in the halcyon days you harken back to. The problem with pop culture isn't that there isn't any people with talent, it's that there is very few people with testicles. As sad as the self-concious and masterbatory trend of pop culture to reference itself is, at least it is reactive on some level. I have alot of respect for your work, and you've taught me alot about animation over the last year or so with this blog, but I can't help feeling that there is a disturbing vapidness about your cartoons of late. If you have nothing you need to say, (and I have to say that rap does it's work as far as illuminating societal injustice and imbalance) than you become a monument to ego. These are harsh words, so i'm going to quantify them by saying you changed the game, Ren and Stimpy picked up where the best left off, and every post that you write fights on the behalf of Clampet and Scribner, and a host of cartoonists that I would be way more ignorant of without you're influence. But at the same time, I'm frustrated with your statements about the dearth of originality and talent in today's world, when you're well insulated in a circle of artists that all support, venerate and imitate. Thats the same shit that created the wretched big-studio environment we claim to hate. the online artist communities are segmented into little enclaves of people that draw in common styles trash-talking the lack of originality. Who gives a fuck about style, who's got something worth saying? Gilding the past don't cut it, 1940 was an awesome time to be alive, if you were an anglo-white man, but who's gonna pick up where Crumb and Bakshi left off?

JohnK said...

>>you can't dismiss a whole musical form that offhandedly,<<

If there was any music in it I wouldn't.
Music requires a melody.

the clownninja said...

check this out John (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2a0xDeyjHY) really listen to it, listen to some nas, tupac, lil' wayne. Plenty of people find plenty to dance to in rap. Joan Baez's got lots of melody, but it's pretty boring, some people say the ramones don't have any, it's all relative. What about the other shit i said? Music needs melody, like art needs relevance. Sorry to be polluting you're blog, I've gotta get back t'work, I hope i didn't offend you, check out my stuff, I'd love to work with you despite my trash talk.

Anonymous said...

"scientists who believe in Intelligent Design"

So you're an atheist, huh John. A materialist? If that is true than what does any of this really matter nyway. Who cares if Seth MacFarlaane is skilled, who cares if Bob Clampett sucked, who cares if somebody rapes and murders children, who cares if somebody crashes a plane into the twin Towers. If there is no God, than everything is relative, there are no absolutes. How do you prove that sticking a crucifix in a jar of urine is better art than the Mona Lisa. Who cares about anything. When we die, than everything is gone, and nothing we did mattered, because we were just masses of protplasm that happened to be organized in a seemingly intelligent manner that produced thoughts. Who cares if nuclear bombs are dropped on New York, and who cares if thousands of people die in the Sudan?

Allan L. said...

"Music requires a melody."
I never saw eye-to-eye with that argument. I can't find melody in a Gene Krupa drum solo, but that's some of the finest music around, to me.

JohnK said...

>>I can't find melody in a Gene Krupa drum solo, <<

listen before and after the solo. You're supposed to play the whole song.

Kali Fontecchio said...

This is an amazing post about Buster being a superior creator- so all you bastards arguing about what is what close your mouths, open your eyes, and take in real beauty!

Jorge Garrido said...

>If there was any music in it I wouldn't. Music requires a melody.

I'd issue a rebuttal saying that most hip-hop has melody in the choruses, but to tell you the trut,h I hate it when hip-hop gets mixed with fake modern R&B and when rappers try to sing in the chorus. I love it when it's aggresive, raw and mean and has a sick beat. So, I'd issue this rebuttal:

Didn't people say the same thing about jazz (since it used "off melodies") and Rock & Roll? (THE BEAT THE BEAT THE BEAT)

I'd stand by my theoory that people born before a certain time (I'm too tired to try to figute out exactly when, but before Hip-Hop) are incapable of undestanding hip-hop's appeal. It's not that they're close-minded, it's just that they can't figure out why people love it since they have no cultural or musical relation to it. To them it's noise. That's how those people saw Rock & Roll in the early 50's.

>listen before and after the solo. You're supposed to play the whole song.

Can't the solo be appreciated in terms of rhythm, beat, etc, on it's own terms? Why does music require a melody? What about classically trained drum ensembles?

Allan L. said...

"listen before and after the solo. You're supposed to play the whole song."
And I have. The drum solo happens to be my favorite part.
I can actually hum the odd rap track, even if it's based on a borrowed/re-recorded/cobbled together melody.
Does your distaste for spoken vocals extend to CW McCall and Phil Harris, or just this genre? Not tryin' to bust your balls, just curious.

Shitbitch said...

"So you're an atheist, huh John. A materialist? If that is true than what does any of this really matter nyway. Who cares if Seth MacFarlaane is skilled, who cares if Bob Clampett sucked, who cares if somebody rapes and murders children, who cares if somebody crashes a plane into the twin Towers. If there is no God, than everything is relative, there are no absolutes. How do you prove that sticking a crucifix in a jar of urine is better art than the Mona Lisa. Who cares about anything. When we die, than everything is gone, and nothing we did mattered, because we were just masses of protplasm that happened to be organized in a seemingly intelligent manner that produced thoughts. Who cares if nuclear bombs are dropped on New York, and who cares if thousands of people die in the Sudan?"

Sheesh, talk about labeling somebody...

JohnK said...

>>Who cares if nuclear bombs are dropped on New York, and who cares if thousands of people die in the Sudan?"
<<

Certainly not God who lets it all or even cause it to happen.

JohnK said...

To compare Gene Krupa's superhuman skill, talent, charisma and taste to anyone in rap is beyond arrogance. It's really stupid too.

Krupa, like all instrumentalists of the time knew that they were part of a bigger thing called music. They took their turns soloing amid the beautifully and intelligently arranged and scored melodies and rhythms.

No comparison at all with anything today.

Anita O'Day was Gene's main vocalist btw and could actually carry a tune - unlike rappers.

Anonymous said...

"Certainly not God who lets it all or even cause it to happen. "

God allows evil to occur. He does not cause people to commit evil ddeeds, but created them with the capacity to. God created man in order for tem to truly love and obey him by their own free choice. Without free choice, it is not true obedience or love. But you are using circular reasoning anyhow.

Allan L. said...

I wasn't comparing Krupa to anyone, really...I just brought him up as an example. And not that I was trying to change your mind (now THAT would be stupid), but I'm sure we can agree to disagree. I'm inspired to listen to The Drum Battle.

JohnK said...

>>But you are using circular reasoning anyhow.<<

You mean like this?

"God allows evil to occur. He does not cause people to commit evil ddeeds, but created them with the capacity to. God created man in order for tem to truly love and obey him by their own free choice."

Anonymous said...

>>If there was any music in it I wouldn't.
Music requires a melody.<<

You speak eloquently and knowledgably about the subjects you love and are familiar with. Even for those of us that are only superficially acquainted with the craft of animation, the passion that you devote to it is enough to convince us of its vitality and importance.

There are huge numbers of people to whom hip-hop is very important and meaningful. From its origins in one NYC borough, it grew over thirty years to global impact and effect. It could not have done so if it were completely without substance.

Exposure to the culture would convince you of the passion that its participants feel for it...overtly popular manifestations of most things are seldom the most substantial.

Craig D said...

Wow! It is a testament to your laser-focused interest in cartoons for you to pass through the hallowed halls of cineforum and miss out on Keaton's genius "back in tha day, dog!"

Superhuman is an accurate description of Buster's skills! And if there exists a word beyond "superhuman" that would apply, as well.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with your assesement of Keaton's genius and how it relates to animation.

I prefer Keaton's short films (available on DVD and on VHS from Kino) to his feature since there is more physical and visual comedy and less story to get in the way.

The short films of Fatty Arbuckle (many with Keaton as second banana) Charlie Chaplin, Laurel & Hardy, Harry Langdon and Larry Semon are also valuable for animators learning how to develop strong characters and to pace gags.

There are also shorts of vaudeville performers such as The Banana Man and Willie, West and McGinty who were well known live performers but didn't make many films.

Fishing through the films of WC Fields, Clark & McCullough, Wheeler and Woolsey and (especially) the Three Stooges give an idea of what vaudeville audiences used to take for granted.

Has anyone ever seen the TV or film work of Spike Jones and the City Slickers. Not only were they top notch musicians and song parodyists but they were extremely gifted comedians and had a KILLER live show.

And, of course, there are circus clowns. We strive for the precise same physical and visual gag that cartoonists and animators do but we have to do it live, in person, in front of an audience of hundreds or thousands (twice a day and three times on Saturday).

For more on circus clowns you can check out my blog: www.clownalley.net

Thanks,
Pat Cashin

Mattieshoe said...

Back in the 90's Nickelodeon was saving money on production by Starting a series of Kid-oriented gameshows that centered around common themes.

One called "Legends of the hidden temple" had a soft spoken host that could barley make it through ten minutes without stuttering or chuckling involuntary. One episode, he was asking a young contestant if she had any pets. She told him she had a Pet goldfish named 'Stupid'. the host then exclaimed "WOAH! don't name ME that, OK?!" I sat there open-mouthed at the screen for about ten minutes. It was just beyond my Comprehension how any human being on this earth could say something so odd and Stupid. I had no sleep that night. I sat up in bed for hours trying to make sense of this abomination to common social skills.

Not only was this man entirely mediocre as a host in every respect, he could not even grasp the simplest bits of human logic that support pur concisenesses.
HE WAS THE HOST OF A TELEVISION PROGRAM