Thursday, March 1, 2007

How Funny Can a Guy Named Victor Be?

I'm not a big fan of comedians. Particularly modern comedians. Y'know, the kind who think that all jokes revolve around a mix of sex and racism. The kind who start every joke with "Wanna know something about _______ people?" The kind who make you laugh only to brush off your discomfort and possibly offense at their "joke."

That seems to be the style nowadays, so I tend to shy away from watching stand-up routines, as well as videos on YouTube and the like.

However, I've just found a comedian that I really, really enjoy.

Here's the thing, though: he's dead, so he ain't going to be doing any fresh material anytime soon. However, what I've seen of him has made me laugh out loud many times.

His name is Victor Borge, and he basically breaks all the stereotypes that have been set down in modern comedy. He's not young and "hip" - he's an elderly classical pianist, for chrissake! His routines don't focus around sex and racism and shocking people into state where they don't know whether to laugh or be offended. Rather, he uses razor-sharp wit, well-rehearsed and wholesome skits, and some damn fine piano playing. He's one of the few players of classical music I've seen who doesn't take himself seriously. Top that all off with a infectious old-man smile, and you have what I consider to be an all-around perfect entertainer.

I had a busy day, but not really one worth talking about, so I figured I'd make up for a lack of substance by sharing several videos to give you an idea of what "the Clown Prince of Denmark" is like (because I'm sure that not many people of my generation know much about him).

This first one appears to be from his (relatively) younger years, but it still has the same pizazz. It shows him playing the piano with some other player. The skill that they use to play the piece is remarkable, and funny to boot.

Next is a skit called "Inflationary Language" which, as an actor, I can tell has to take incredible mental discipline. Just trying to remember to say something to the effect of "Tea five three, anytwo?" makes my head hurt.

This one takes a little bit of explanation. I didn't get it at first. It's called "Phonetic Punctuation." Essentially, what he does is read a story, but he is also pronouncing all the punctuation with onomatopoeia. That means that there is a different sound (and gesture) for the period, dash, comma, exclamation point, question mark, quotation marks, etc. Once you know that much, the rest is fairly straightforward.

The next two are actually one video which was just cut in half by YouTube's restrictions. If every classical recital had an act beforehand, I would probably be going to Zellerbach Hall a lot more often.

So, that's a good sampling. If you're interested, there's definitely more n YouTube, and it's all worth watching. I usually don't get that excited about comedians, but Borge just struck such a note with me (bad pun intended), that I'm giddy. Goodnight, everybody!


Aw, what the heck, one more!

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