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Monday, November 29, 2010

Don't call me Shirley

Yesterday's news included the passing of actor Leslie Nielsen, who achieved fame as a dramatic actor before redefining his career in comedy with roles in Airplane! and the Police Squad series.

Of all genres of movies, I like comedy the most. I can't endorse Woody Allen's behavior with respect to Soon-Yi Previn, but I am nearly finished with my Netflix project to watch every movie he has made. Even in other genre, comedic scenes are often the most memorable -- the breakfast discussion about pigs in Pulp Fiction, for example.

Several years ago I watched a lengthy interview of Michael Douglas, who observed that we all value our friends and acquaintances who can make us laugh. He bemoaned that comedy gets little respect from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences at Oscar time, although comedic writing and acting is very challenging.

Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, and Sarah Silverman must be taken in measured doses because they are so intense. They aren't role models or philosophers or gurus, but inter alia they crack me up.

Would life without comedy be worth living? I pray that I'll never be faced with that question in a non-rhetorical way. I will say that life without comedy is unimaginable. Perhaps it's too anthropomorphic to say that God has a sense of humor, but clearly the human race is wired for comedy.

The engineer in me always wants to analyze; but when it comes to comedy, I'll let the anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, and biologists figure out why comedy is so important to us. While they work, I'll watch another comedy. Robert Altman's The Player (1992) is near the top of my Netflix queue.