Sunday, November 12, 2006
Make 'em Laugh, Make 'em Laugh
They say that laughter is the best medicine, right? It reduces blood pressure, stress hormones and releases endorphins. Music can have the same impact for people.
I've always admired people with a natural sense of humor. My brother-in-law (who looks like a younger Tom Bergeron) is very funny, which helped him a lot in his career in sales. There is manic funny like Robin Williams, comfortable funny like Bill Cosby in his heyday and dry humor like the VP of Human Resources at my previous company. The people who can be funny naturally even though that isn't the main part of their entertainment focus are the ones I am drawn to. Donald O'Connor could act and dance and sing, yet he found a way to do it with great humor. It set him apart from the leading man types that he always worked with. What he did was a lot harder, in my opinion.
They say acting in comedies is a lot harder than acting in dramas. “Funny” is a personal thing, so what is one person's knee slapper is another person's “I don't get it.” I think you need a Y chromosome to appreciate The Three Stooges. I'm most impressed with good improv. We saw a touring company of Second City around here this year and 80% of the show was scripted and then they played off audience suggestions for the rest. To me that took great comedy writing, incredible concentration and really good instincts. My husband commented that everyone should get 90 minutes of pure laughter like that once a day. I often get that for 90 seconds each morning when he holds up what he thinks is a color coordinated outfit for my approval.
I'd forgotten how funny Michael J. Fox is until I saw him a year or so ago on Inside the Actor's Studio. He's got this baby face which surprises some people when they hear a rather bawdy sense of humor. Political humor is perhaps my favorite topic and he has managed to take a very serious issue and find the humor in it as well, especially after some people couldn't resist shooting from the hip as an automatic reflex. I guess that happens when your brain is disconnected from your mouth. Oh wait, this isn't a political blog...sorry!
For me, Clay's humor combines a lot of these elements. He has incredible instincts and in concert plays off any funny moments that might crop up. In his Jukebox Tour concerts in 2005, he did a bit just during a Motown Medley where he found a guy who had been dragged there by his wife or girlfriend and went out in the audience and bantered. Each night was different and each night was funny. Here's some highlights:
Clay's humor is very snarky and so some people don't quite get it at first. What amazes me about him on talk shows is that he is quick to pick up something the host says and run with it. He can completely take over his time with Leno or Kimmel as witnessed here in the numerous times they have invited him for “couch time”, which is rather unusual for the musical guest. It's fun to watch older clips and see his maturity in both age and in his comedic timing,which was always quite good but now is as good as many seasoned entertainers. He's a storyteller.
These two clips are broken into the years 2003/2004 and 2005/2006.
In concert, he plays off whatever is happening at the time. Many say he reminds them of a young Johnny Carson.
People ask me why I go to so many concerts. They get that he's a great singer. But I tell them that the humor in the concerts is so much a part of it as well that no two shows are a like. I hope that never changes. Music and laughter-yeah, by the end of the night I've got endorphins spilling out of my ears.
To catch Clay in concert, he will be singing with symphonies in the Northeast and midwest in December.
Posted by CB at 10:22 AM