Three Word Wednesday - Theatre Funny Remember - 4/9/08

Today's Three Word Wednesday prompts are theatre, funny, and remember. The first thing that comes to my fragmented mind is:

I was born about the time that Network Television broadcasts reached the wilds of Northern Idaho. Like most of you, except those of you who are Bushmen of the Kalahari, I have always had television in my life. As an only child, TV was my companion, and through the years has enriched my life like nothing else. Though sometimes we had one set with sound and another with picture and some winters there was more snow on the screen than on the ground, my family loved TV.

I remember my dad climbing up on the roof to move the antenna around while he and my mom yelled back and forth like some kind of long-range eye test “Is that better?” “What about now?”

I have had aluminum foil enriched rabbit ears. Now, I get upset when I can’t find the remote control.

When I was a kid, the most hilarious man on television was Red Skeleton. He was the Robin Williams of that era. His mind worked at a breakneck speed. His show was pure theatre. It was live. Though later it was taped, there were no retakes. All the mistakes were broadcast. He would laugh at his own jokes, crack up his guest stars, talk to the audience in the middle of a sketch, and sometimes say things that were not acceptable for 1950’s television. He was a clown by trade and though I despise and fear clowns, he was endearing. He transformed himself into many wonderful characters including: a Hobo Freddie the Freeloader, Junior the Mean Widdle Kid, country bumpkin Clem Kadiddlehopper, Sheriff Deadeye, boxer Cauliflower McPugg, drunkard Willy Lump-Lump, and con man San Fernando Red. Johnny Carson got his start as a writer for the show. The Rolling Stones made their first American appearance on the Red Skeleton show in 1965. Red was so funny that his audience was recorded and turned into the laugh tracks that are still heard on sitcoms.

One of Red’s many talents was pantomime. He was a master. Sometimes Marcel Marceau, the world’s most famous mime would appear with him. Though I despise and fear mimes, the two of them together was magic.

Like so many talented people, there was nothing funny about Red’s private life. He suffered from alcoholism, several marriages, the death of his son, fights with networks/writers, and political turmoil. Through it all, he was America’s number 1 clown until his death in 1997.

He always ended each broadcast in much the same way. I will end this blog by letting Red speak for both of us:


“I personally believe that we were put here to build and not to destroy. So if by chance some day you’re not feeling well and you should remember some silly little thing I’ve said or done and it brings back a smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart – then my purpose has been fulfilled. Goodnight and may God bless.” Red Skelton