Friday, December 5, 2014

Where There's Laugh There's Hope

Adam Gopnik, who writes extremely well about an infinite variety of topics and whose work can usually be found gracing the pages of The New Yorker magazine, has written an article about one of my earliest comedic heroes (forties and fifties), Bob Hope. Though Gopnik is not quite the fan of Hope that I would have hoped, he has written such an immensely readable article that I can forgive him for not always getting the same happy vibes that I did from the ski-nosed, smart-alecky, Saturday matinee idol of my early Bronxhood days. While normal kids were reading Archie and Jughead, I opted for Bugs Bunny and Bob Hope comic books. (Not entirely barbaric, for heavier reading I often adventured over to Captain Marvel and Blackhawk).

As anyone who knows me soon becomes aware, Bugs Bunny has long been one of my favorite people in the entire galaxy. I have been a fan of the "Wascally Wabbit" since my terrible 2's when I was first getting myself acclimated, and gently indoctrinated into Looneyland. How fortuitous then, that I should pick up the November 17 number of the fabled magazine this morning and run-onto the following paragraph:

"The real parallel to Hope--the great American comedian whose career most resembles his--is, of course, Bugs Bunny. Like Hope, he arrived in Hollywood in the late thirties and became a huge star with the war. Like Hope, he was usually paired with a more inward character who loves to sing (Daffy Duck is Bugs's Bing, though blustery rather than cool), and, like Hope, his appeal rises entirely from the limitless brashness and self-confidence with which he approaches even the most threatening circumstances. Together, they are the highest expression of the smart-aleck sensibility in American laughter. Their fame in wartime may have something to do with the way that, as A.J. Liebling documents, the American Army itself was essentially an urban creature dispatched to deserts and jungles: Bugs, with his Bronx-Brooklyn accent has somehow been sent out there in the countryside, among the hunters, as Hope ends up in the sands of Morocco with no weapon but street-corner sass."

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