Monday, January 17, 2011

George S. Kaufman, Metrosexual

GEORGE: Say, we had the loveliest new dessert tonight!
BOB: Oh! What was it? It’s awfully hard to find a new dessert.
Marc: (With emphasis) Is it?
GEORGE: Well, it was sort of a prune whip. You make it out of just nothing at all. And then, if company comes when you don’t expect them –
BOB: I want the recipe.
MARC: How many eggs?
(John up at the rear of the table. Turns on this speech.)
JOHN: Does it take much butter?
GEORGE: Oh, no – very little. I’ll bring you the recipe Tuesday afternoon.
(MARC feels a rough place on his chin. Rubs it, then takes a good-sized mirror out of his pocket and stands it on the table. Examines his chin. Then takes out a safety razor and starts to shave. After that he takes out two military brushes and combs his hair. The other pay no attention to this. JOHN is at the rear of the table, with his back to the audience; BOB is seated, fooling with the cards; GEORGE is seated, calmly smoking. After MARC has put everything away, BOB breaks the silence.)
BOB: Are we ready?
JOHN: No! Wait just a minute! (He brings down the fancy table cover, which he spreads on the table.) There we are!
MARC: (Feeling it) That’s nice, John. Where’d you get it?

Ah, the satire of the early twentieth century. Back then, it was enough to swap the sexes in order to turn a situation in its head and lend people laughter.

Today, maybe, we’ve got something similar, what with the metrosexual movement – if it can be called such. And today, George S. Kaufman’s playlet “If Men Played Cards As Women Do” would get such treatment, sometimes with the metro included, sometimes not. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Here’s the “playlet,” as performed in 1941’s “Star-Spangled Rhythm” and as introduced by noneother than Bob Hope and starring Fred MacMurray, Franchot Tone and Ray Milland:

But then I think a moment: Is such satire done these days any more? Maybe. I haven’t watched a regularly-broadcast TV show since I stopped watching “The Simpsons” in the mid-1990s, so it’s always possible.* The only “modern” parallel I can think of would be skits in the “Carol Burnett Show,” and that’s even going way back to the 1970s. So, those current with pop culture, please enlighten me.

*Not that I’m a TV snob or anything. We just don’t have cable or satellite at home; never bothered to sign up for it, and don’t really have time for TV anyway.

Nice, Uh, Hiatus . . .

While the vacation was nice, it’s obviously time to get back to work.

And since my wife was kind enough to fix my copy of “The Treasury of Laughter” in her home made book press, I can actually open up and use and read the book without fear that it would fall apart in my hands. It’s still a bit delicate, but it’s a lot more robust now after her careful repairs. (Anyone interested in seeing our home made press in action, let me know in the comment section here.)