Dilution of Artistic Genius?
Thank God for YouTube.
Just this morning, a random event cause an old Jerry Lewis bit to pop into my head. From the movie Errand Boy, Lewis does a pantomime to Count Basie’s fabulous Blues In Hoss Flat. The bit, called Chairman of the Board, is an elegant example of comedic genius, without a single spoken word. I remember when I first saw it – I was sick with a flu, home from school, in the mid 1960’s (the movie released in 1961).
I located the clip on Youtube this morning and within minutes of posting it, one of my old high school classmates posted a comment with a link to yet another old bit – this one even more elaborate and utterly astonishing in its perfection. Sid Caesar and Nanette Fabray performed a pantomime of a marital spat to Beethoven’s 5th, LIVE on Sid and Imogene Coca’s spectacular comedy program, Your Show of Shows (the program was the debut for a fellow named Carl Reiner, who moved on to create the Dick Van Dyke Show). How often can a wordless skit grip your attention for six minutes?
These comic artists – and dozens more from well before – e.g., Charlie Chaplin,W.C. Fields, Groucho Marx, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, hell, even the Howard brothers – displayed an art that combined physical movement, timing, language (watch Sid Caesar’s work with foreign “languages”), and above all, intellect. They tower over the current comic stars of the day, I say.
Perhaps there is something in the old way that appeals to the senses in a way that current style does not. There is more physical movement, subtlety, understatement, maybe?
Are there similarities in the evolution of the fiction you read? How do your favorite contemporary writes compare to the predecessors of their genre?
As well, in music? Art?
Has it all really been done before? Or are there still real, genuine pioneers in their artistic fields? Who are they?
I know one thing – I’m going back to watch some Youtube clips, and none of them are newer than 1990.
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