Monday, November 03, 2014

Rickles Hunches

You know, sometimes I watch a TV show at night and the next morning I go to a "news" or "entertainment" "web" site and read a (by necessity) hastily written summary of the very same show I just watched myself, and that summary is called a "recap." Why do I read such things? It seems an unflattering thing to do to myself, psychologically. And I nearly always think, "Donald Barthelme invented this form!" And then I think, "Who cares?" And I also think, "Someone else has made this point, certainly." And then I think, "Is it really a point?" But the Donald Barthelme piece ("And Now Let's Hear it for The Ed Sullivan Show!") is hilarious. "Ed stands there. He looks great. Not unlike an older, heavier Paul Newman. Sways a little from side to side. Gary Lewis and the Playboys have just got off. Very strong act. Ed clasps hands together. He's introducing somebody in the audience. Who is it? Ed points with his left arm. 'Broken every house record at the Copa,' Ed says of the man he's introducing. Who is it? It's... Don Rickles! Rickles stands up. Eyes glint. Applause. 'I'm gonna make a big man out of you,' Ed says. Rickles hunches a shoulder combatively. Eyes glint. Applause." And then it goes on for about six pages, just a summary of the Ed Sullivan show ("Carlin is wearing a white turtleneck, dark sideburns"), including commercials, sometimes reflecting (like a "recap") the narrator's personal opinions ("Ed brings on Doodletown Pipers, singing group. Great-looking girls in tiny skirts. Great-looking legs on girls. They sing something about 'I hear the laughter' and 'the sound of the future.' Phrasing is excellent, attack excellent"), and ending (with an almost alarming, almost brutal detachment), "The Ed Sullivan Show is over. It has stopped." Can you believe I tried to teach this in a "humor class" once? I am sure the kids were like, "What is this?" They were like, "What's Ed Sullivan?" They were like, "So what?" They believed, "This is normal." And I was like, "Whatever." And I still am.