Thursday, February 20, 2014

What's so funny?

Of course, in that house, there were a lot of laughs, and not necessarily from just us. Dad had a select number of comedy albums in the collection, and I heard some of them whenever company was over...and sometimes even when it was just him and myself.
I heard this one many a time there. Oddly enough, I heard this album a few years before I ever saw the movie. I had to use my imagination a bit to figure out what was going on during the dialogue segments on the album, though the little picture-scenes on the back cover were a great help. My favorite bit was the "Lard-Ass" exchange with Sergeant Stedanko. In the coming years, we would watch these guys' movies whenever they came on cable, and they were always a great laugh.
Dad played this one, by this guy who seemed to be working his middle finger up his nose. I was amazed that there was one guy on stage getting laughs by cracking knuckles, making farting noises and swallowing water onstage, and the audience roaring. But I was really amazed at the last cut on the second side, where he was talking about "dirty words", rather than just saying them and getting cheap laughs. Of curse, in the coming years, I would be a George Carlin disciple, and stayed with him and his works all the way up to the end, and it all had a profound influence on me and the way I think, which still continues on to this day.
This one had just come out; I had never heard of this guy, who was "up here, sweatin', and telling dirty Polish jokes", but that's where I first heard Rodney Dangerfield. Caddyshack would make him an instant comedy legend, but that wouldn't be for another year until I saw it. I didn't understand all the jokes, but I liked the picture of the dog peeing on him while he's waiting for the bus.
Of course, then, this was the funniest thing I had heard. What little I was able to hear of it, that is, over the loud laughter from everybody in the room, and then before being shooed away because this one was a little too blue to be hearing. But I caught the part where he's doing a bit about a guy getting drunk at the bar and gets slapped and kicked around the place; it was uproarious because it sounded so real. I liked the album cover, and even tried to find the front-cover shot on the back luck!
And then there was Gene Tracy...I had heard a couple of his tapes back at the White house, but this would occasionally get played here. This was pure raunch and filth, but everyone else in the room was having a great time listening to his jokes and stories.
Lastly, on cable TV, we would catch the occasional comedy special on Showtime or HBO. I walked in on one show by a guy with a hat and mustache, who was busy smashing apples, cans of beer and then a watermelon into the audience. Gallagher was his name, and this was another guy we followed well into the next decade. His observations and jokes on life were another eye-opener, and a humorous way of looking at things.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Kinks

Dad pulled this one out and put it on the turntable one night. The opening cut was "You Really Got Me", and this loud, rowdy guitar riff came hurtling out of the speakers. Whoa! I asked him what this was, he said "The Kinks", and for some reason I thought he said "The Cakes"! I heard most of that record that evening, and I was very impressed by it.
Around the same time, I heard "Sunny Afternoon" on the Best Of Britain album, and really liked what I was hearing. It wasn't the usual riff-rocker from them, but very melodic, with a memorable opening bass line.
There were some videos by them a couple-few years later that we used to see on MTV. "Predictable" cracked us up, especially with Ray Davies as a long-haired hippie, exactly the kind of guy we knew quite well!
By 1989, I hadn't heard them for a long time, so I pulled out the Greatest Hits album that I knew so well, played it loudly, and it sounded as great as ever. But I really got back into them when The Pace were doing a few sons from the You Really Got Me album; oddly enough, we never touched that song! But we did do some semi-obscure cuts that we picked from a few albums and tapes of theirs that I began buying, and a few of them stayed in out repertoire. "Come On Now" was a lot of fun to rock out on, "I Need You" was undoubtedly a great song to play, and "Beautiful Delilah" was always a great stomper.