Not All Lovable Fat Funny Guys Die Young
By John Saleeby
July 16, 2003
Right after Buddy Hackett died, a friend of his said "[He] was always the funniest guy in the room" and I don't doubt that he was. If someone was to say that Jim Carrey was the funniest guy in the world or Ben Stiller was the funniest guy in the movies or Jeneane Garofalo was the funniest troll in the Communist Party you might not agree, but "funniest guy in the world", "funniest guy in the movies", and "funniest troll to ever make a total ass of herself" are so vague that you wouldn't make any big fuss over it. But "funniest guy in the room" is such a specific thing that the only way it couldn't apply to Buddy Hackett was if Robin Williams or Eddie Murphy locked him out before he could come in and get all the attention. I don't care what great comedy genius might happen to be around, if Buddy Hacket was there he would definately be the one you could count on for a laugh. Just imagining "Hey, look - It's Buddy Hackett!" "Well, Hello there!" is enough to make me grin.
Old comedians are a pain the ass (Will this world ever be free from Bob Hope? Geez, the damn Berlin Wall went down, when the hell is he gonna go away?), but Buddy Hackett was more than some wrinkled old nut who had a big TV show back in the fifties. Buddy Hackett was as funny in 2003 as he was in 1953 - None of this Sid Caesar nonsense where he just sits there like The Queen Mother while everybody talks about how great he was in The Old Days, Buddy was always so funny that everybody was too busy laughing to think about anything he had done in the fifties. Buddy was so funny that he never seemed old. When I see Chevy Chase in that insurance commercial with the duck screaming about Jennifer Lopez's boyfriend I think "Damn! He is OLD!!" but I never thought Buddy was anything but funny. Now I don't think he's anything but dead but he's still funnier than Chevy Chase.
It seems so long ago that I forgot all about it until I heard that he'd died, but I was a major Buddy Hackett fan when I was a kid. I went to see "The Love Bug" and just about all I remember of the experience is laughing my face off and I really doubt if all that whooping it up was over Dean Jones or a Volkswagon Beetle that had somehow come to life. Hey, if the stupid Volkswagon could come to life why couldn't they find a way to get a little life into Dean Jones' stiff ass? Boy, was he lame. He didn't have Parkinson's, did he? Cause apparently when a really bland comic actor has Parkinson's we are obliged to keep quiet about what an asshole he is, if-you-know-what-I-mean. I also went to see Buddy in "It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World" (Or, as those of us in The Buddy Hackett Appreciation Society call it, "It's A Bad Bad Bad Bad Movie") and was bitterly disapointed to see that My Boyhood Idol had to share the movie with a bunch of nobodies like Mickey Rooney, Jonathon Winters, Terry-Thomas, and that god damn Sid Caesar.
Yep, I loved the guy. But you know how kids are - The years went by and innocence gave way to the fashions of the day and my favorite comedians were groovy, far out seventies guys like George Carlin, Cheech And Chong, and John Belushi. I couldn't help it, Buddy! Those dirty no good Commie Baby Boomers brainwashed me with hidden subliminal satanic messages in "Archie" comic books and Saturday morning episodes of "H.R. Puffenstuff"! I never dumped Elvis and Jesus, but something had to go and I'm afraid it was poor ol' Buddy - Sorry!
Buddy Hackett was so great that he was a Lovable Fat Funny Guy for SEVENTY EIGHT YEARS! John Belushi, John Candy, Chris Farley - None of those guys even made it to fortyfive! Buddy's endurance can be attributed to his origins - No Second City improv punk he! Young Buddy was a TUMMLER! A "What"ler? In Early Days way up in the Catskill mountains they used to have all these resort hotels where Jewish folks used to go for summer vacation. The Tummler was a comedian who kept the guests entertained not in a show but all day long all over the place. In the morning while everybody was eating breakfast he'd spill coffee down his pants and poke himself in the eye with a fork. While everybody was out by the pool he'd rub cream cheese all over himself instead of sun tan lotion and dive headfirst into the shallow end and break his neck. At lunch he'd pour a bottle of salad dressing down his pants and set fire to his hair. While on a nature hike he'd fall out of a tree and head butt a moose. At dinner he'd pour a pot of chicken soup down his pants and snort a can of sliced peaches up his nose. Buddy Hackett, Jerry Lewis, Mel Brooks, Danny Kaye, that stupid god damn Sid Caesar - All paid their Tummler dues, but how many potential comedy masters got killed doing this stuff? Yes, The Catskills were to an entire generation of Jewish comedians what Vietnam would be to an entire generation of whining crybabies who should really get over it and find something new to talk about (No, not The Beatles!). These kids today with their "Open Mike Nights" and "Improv Comedy Workshops" - Why, if any of them ever had to be a Tummler for a week or two they'd give up on comedy altogether and be a rapper or a Baldwin. Maybe there could be a new Tummler-Front Desk Clerk position for guys who want to be talk show hosts where they could just sit there and keep a running commentary on everything going on in the lobby. How many hours of that do you think Jon Stewart could handle before he cracked up and started accusing all of the guests from the South or the Mid West of being Nazis? I'd give him two, two and a half hours tops. "And where are you in town from, Mister Clark? South Carolina? What, you're in town to burn down a coupla black churches? Gun down a Rabbi and laugh at him while he bleeds to death on the sidewalk!?! What? Your key? Take your key - The key to the goddam Gates Of Hell, you stormtrooper son of a bitch!!!"
Buddy was one of the first of this group to make it in big time show biz, largely because he was the embodiment of the Lovable Fat Funny Guy archetype which was such a vital foundation of American Popular Culture in the Twentieth Century. It is no exageration to say that without Lovable Fat Funny Guys like Jackie Gleason and Lou Costello we would still be forced to whip Black Folks and steal land from the Noble Red Man to amuse ourselves. And today, because of the wonderful contributions of these great men to our nation, there are hundreds of Black Lovable Fat Funny Guys performing in dozens of Indian casinos all over the United States! There! Who said a guy had to go to college to understand history?
TRIVIA ALERT - A Stoogey Origin
Buddy's Big Break came when Moe Howard from The Three Stooges asked him to replace Curlie, who had just suffered a stroke. Buddy turned him down - Not even Sammy Hagar would be crazy enough to take that gig - so Moe had to go with his brother Shemp. Yeah, Shemp was Moe's brother! I bet you didn't even know that Curlie was Moe's brother. I bet you're so dumb that you haven't even put it together yet that Shemp and Curlie were brothers. Sheesh! Larry wasn't related to anybody because his family committed mass suicide over what he did for a living. But just imagine Curlie having a stroke - That must have been some funny funny funny shit! Curlie having a stroke was certainly funnier than anything that stupid Shemp ever came up with.
A lot of you young whippersnappers reading this - With your Dweezil Zappa and your D.L. Hughley - may think that an old fart like Buddy Hackett was not "Edgy", "Spike", or "Word To Your Mother" enough to divert attention from your crazy psychedelic Rap Rock Jennifer Love Hewitt records. Well, "groove" on this "trip", "baby" - Buddy Hackett was Lenny Bruce's best friend when they were both young struggling comics! Now, Lenny Bruce doesn't really do it for me - He was never even a Tummler!! - but I know you "slackas" think he was the "bee's knees". Like all best friends they inevitably came to hate each other, just like you and me twenty years ago when you got into Michael Jackson and I stopped returning your calls. Which is pretty much what happened to Buddy and Lenny when Lenny got engaged to his stripper junkie girlfriend Hot Honey Harlowe. Buddy tried to talk him out of it, exclaiming "She's a whore! She's a whore!" which is almost as unforgivable a thing to hear from a friend as "Michael Jackson's as great as Elvis and The Beatles!". And yes, Buddy was right - Hot Honey Harlowe was truly a whore. Although, if I had been there I would have been exclaiming "Her legs are too short for her torso! Her legs are too short for her torso!" You gotta be Britney Spears to get away with that! But it was cool, years later Buddy and Lenny were reunited in Los Angeles and fell weeping into each other's arms - Old School Jew Comics were emotional! Buddy was in the movies by then and he was so glad to see Lenny he fixed him up with a script writing job at one of the studios. One of Lenny's scripts was turned into an actual movie, "The Rocket Man". Not even die hard Lenny Bruce fanatics care for "The Rocket Man" and if anyone with the patience to sit through something like "Lenny Bruce At Carnegie Hall" doesn't like something it must be really bad.
Interestingly enough, not long after Lenny died Buddy was in Las Vegas doing a "Dirty" act with no front page headline arrests, no big Supreme Court cases, no hanging himself up on The Cross as a Free Speech Martyr - It is amazing the stuff you can get away with when you're a Lovable Fat Funny Guy instead of a Self Righteous Hipster Scumbag With A Monkey On Your Back. Hell, Lovable Fat Funny Guys are so beloved by the American People they can get away with ANYTHING!! Well, almost anything - Ask Fatty Arbuckle what I mean by that. With Bob Hope making it all the way to the age of one hundred those of us who understand our nation's primal need for a Lovable Fat Funny Guy to help us laugh and smile through our times of pain were hoping that Buddy Hackett would be around for at least another decade or two. But now Budy is gone and American Comedy faces it's worst crisis since Steve Martin has turned to be kind of a fairy. Horatio Sanz was showing serious Lovable Fat Funny Guy potential until he made that stupid movie with Cuba Gooding Junior. God, even Dean Jones makes fun of Cuba Gooding Junior. Maybe Horatio will be alright but all we've got going for us Lovable Fat Funny Guy wise right now is Jack Black. Everybody loves Jack, but he's one of those "Rock And Roll" characters so he'll probably be dead by the time this gets online and I'm not gonna write an article about him, these obituaries are too depressing (Before this I wrote one about Barry White for Black-Guys-We-Pretend-To-Like.Com). At the rate I've been putting on weight the past few years maybe I'll be America's Next Lovable Fat Funny Guy. Yeah, I'll put on another eighty pounds and go back to doing stand up! Yes! I, John Saleeby, shall be America's Lovable Fat Funny Guy Of The Twenty First Century!! It is my DESTINY!!! America needs me!!
Eh, who am I kiddin'? Go back to stand up? I'll blow the entire writing staff of "Sex And The City" and die of AIDS before I go back to stand up.
Hey! Let's suck the fat out of Peter Jennings' head and squirt it into Conan O'Brien's ass! Yay!
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John Saleeby wrote for The National Lampoon while he was in high school, was a stand up comic in New York, and has contributed to the net humor zines Schmuck.com, Campaign Central, and the legendary American Jerk. He's on medication now so he's probably a little nicer now than he was when you met him earlier.
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