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Monday, January 07, 2008

Where Democracy, History, Love and the Nuts Come From


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I grew up in Europe, where the history comes from.
-Eddie Izzard*

I grew up in the United States, where democracy and human rights comes from.
-This Post, Peter, The Peter Files Blog of Comedy, Satire, Jokes and Commentary

I'm Charley's Aunt from Brazil - where the nuts come from.
- Charley's Aunt, Brandon Thomas, 1856-1914

Oh, when the world was once a simpler time. If you've never seen the stage play or movie Charley's Aunt, do so as soon as you can. 

The best place to see it of course is in a theater, where the play was meant to be seen. In a really good production, the laughs just build and build and build until the health of some members of the audience is physically endangered and others are seen weeping with laughter on the floor or in the aisles. Seeing the show is also a good place to find out where some of the oldest bits in comedy came from, except the ones that Thomas stole from others, er., were in in the tradition of the stage already.

That kind of laughter, which builds and builds on the most effervescent and ephemeral of heights until you are laughing so hard that you can hardly stand it is almost impossible to achieve in a film or to maintain, because of course the actors can't hear the audience and change their timing in the oh so slight ways needed to help the laughs roll and billow and build with each individual audience. For of course the greatest comedy requires listening to the audience and responding to it, even it you never seem to acknowledge it.

I played Charley once in an amazing production of Charley's Aunt, our Fancourt Baberly, the guy dragged into impersonating Charley' Aunt was possibly the funniest guy since Jack Benny to play the role. Truly gut wrenchingly funny. Ah, if I only had a tape. The pitfalls of doing community theater and not TV or Film. At any rate, he and our Jack, Charley's roommate and the others in the cast soon formed a small but deranged group of actors that would do anything to get a laugh and somehow seemed to fall into the methods of the time in which reactions are so important, Benny's forte, the slow turn and stare, "Well!", was made for this play and you will hardly see him in anything, anything better. The material is just that good.

Speaking of Jack Benny's version of Charley's Aunt, it just was re-released in DVD after having its image and sound fixed up by Fox to picture perfect or thereabouts quality, I hear. If anyone was born to the part, other than my friend Marty, it has to have been Jack Benny and I can't wait to get my hands on this version which also stars Kay Francis, James Ellison, Anne Baxter, and Edmund Gwenn. 

Just right-click on the ad below to see a review and details of the show if you are at all curious about this wonderful love story.

For all of those suspicious of any commentary with an ad in it, I don't blame you. I just saw the Eddy Izzard quote, was inspired to do my own, and realized that Eddy was really borrowing off of Brandon Thomas, author of Charley's Aunt, whether he realized it or not. He almost had to know what he was doing though, as had most of his audience. 

Even today, it must be hard to get through school in England without seeing Charley's Aunt at least once. It's them like not seeing The Importance of Being Earnest or U.S. kids of the 70's and 80's not seeing the film versions of The Lottery or An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (the latter of which I saw endlessly though grammar school, high school and even in college!)

At any rate, I've added the ad because I can! I hope you will get the film here or somewhere else. Or rent it as soon as it becomes available.

Here's to those who once admired, "the roses, the primroses, the cabbages and things," wherever you are!

*Source: Brainy Quote.com Quote of the Day

Everybody laughs at kumquats! Why is that?

Peter, Chief Editor and Spelling Wrecker
The Peter Files Blog of Comedy, Satire and Commentary

Faith, Hope and Love, and the Greatest of these is Love.
-Guess Who?

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