Saturday, October 11, 2014
Pushing the Anthodites
Don't watch this youtube clip. This is another thing that's just for McNeil. It's Jerry Lewis guest-hosting THE TONIGHT SHOW with Bob Hope as his guest. It will just confirm all your worst feelings if that is your inclination. Shame on you! Bob makes a bunch of awful ethnic jokes about the Italians and Irish then he makes an off-color remark about Ed Sullivan and then Bob and Jerry have some reactionary banter about "the young people today." It's 1970! Bob is wearing a striped jacket and what I think might be a powder-blue silk shirt. The commercials are included! One is for "wild blueberry" flavored cigars! An antiperspirant commercial shows us a new direction - understated, semi-documentary, almost like Godard shot it, it reminded me of MASCULIN-FEMININ. Edit out a few seconds here and there and it could be an indictment of pop consumerism. Repressive desublimation? No! But it used "revolutionary" techniques to sell antiperspirant. It really does stick out in the clutter. Don Draper probably thought of it. And of course you can see right there the world passing Bob and Jerry by. Then there's a charming local ad for Skyline Caverns, just a photo of two nice women standing in some caverns, I guess. (Not the photo presented here, obviously, but something similar.) And the announcer plays up the "anthodites" they have in the caverns. And when I looked at the present-day homepage for Skyline Caverns, well, they are still pushing those anthodites pretty hard! When we get back to the show, there's a lot of underlying hostility between Bob and Jerry, I think, some muttering about an incident in their past I couldn't quite make out. They're muttering at and over each other on television! Or maybe my hearing is going. Something about Bing Crosby. (A late addendum! Here ["click"] is some info about when Bing Crosby got scared that Jerry Lewis was going to pull off his hairpiece. Also - ironically, given how the times seem to have rushed past Bob and Jerry - a brash, pitiless, hilarious and supremely energetic young Jerry is giving Bing [by implication] a bunch of stuff about being old and passe.) Then when Bob leaves THE TONIGHT SHOW set, a big bunch of pencils gets knocked off the desk. Freudian! And Ed McMahon subserviently bends over and picks up all Johnny's pencils (another telling gesture!) and praises Bob Hope in a way that makes Jerry jokingly - but also not jokingly - prickly and defensive. Maybe all this helps confirm a bunch of scintillating analysis McNeil and I recently did of Bob and Jerry. My attention wandered so I may have missed a few things. Jerry asks Bob how much time Bob would give him on Bob's new special and Bob says "Thirty seconds" and Jerry says something and Bob says, "You bow for thirty seconds." Zing! It sounded like an ad-lib. A hostile ad-lib! But I don't know. And once Bob has gone, Jerry says a bunch of passive-aggressive stuff about how he admires the way Bob puts himself out there as a product. Anyway, why are you still here?