This is not a rant. It's too small for that. You could call it a "runt."
That's because our highhanded and harrumphing "runt" for today involves catching up to a recent Huffington Post item that we came across some days back. Comic Riffs is excavating this item days later not because we are outraged, aghast or steaming in a fit of pique (though sh-sh-shivering in this latest snow of snows, we'll take any heat source we can get). No, rather we are simply, purely surprised.
Surprised, because the HuffPost can be a genuinely hilarious place to enter, lounge around and rest your funny bones. Why, when a talent such as Larry David or Albert Brooks is contributing, say, it's world-class funny. (Even if one's politics lean differently from Albert's or L.D.'s, their timing and voice and word-choice are gifts so alluring, one would have to be an intellectual eunuch not to laugh at least a little.) And toward the political middle, there's even "Friend of Comic Riffs" Will Durst, who contributed to HuffPost just last month.)
Which brings us to what we hope is merely freakish aberration -- a calcified deposit of seriously unfunny on the humorous "humerus" that is the HuffPost's funny bone. We all occasionally miss when handicapping what's funny. (Even us? Yeh, there have been oh-so-rare days that even we should be called "Comic Whiffs.") But still: We are compelled to nail this What-the-Hades-Were-They-Thinking? (Or Smoking?) thesis to the HuffPost's front stoop:
In a recent Huffington Post, er, post, the editors gallingly declare that the spoof Scott Meets Family Circus is recommended reading as an example of Big-Time Funny -- a place to get yer ha-ha's out. To which we say...
Here's the rub, as all you true comics fans know: The ancestral line of "Family Circus" satire is as long as one of Bil Keane's dotted black lines traipsing through a map-happy Sunday.
See, Scott, if you're going to send up "Family Circus," there are at least two sets of gigantic footsteps you must measure yourself against. One, of course (and I'm sure you're way ahead of me, comics fans) is the sublime "The Dysfunctional Family Circus," Its satire was so inspired, its fame lives on. And Comic Riffs's other fave spoofing of "FC" occurs whenever "Pearls Before Swine" decides that Billy should come over and play. (I should note: I've sat with both "PBS's" Stephan Pastis and "FC" co-cartoonist Jeff Keane at the same table and they appear to get along swimmingly. If they did not, I'm quite sure Pastis wouldn't have dared go into Iraq with Keane, where any Bodily Mishaps of Retribution could have readily been chalked up as USO "collateral damage.")
But back to the question of the day: Does Scott Gairdner's attempt to walk in those giant clown shoes of "Family Circus" spoofage succeed? Well, I suppose your opinion largely depends on whether you've ever before stumbled upon "FC" parodies such as "Dysfunctional." If you have, then Scott's efforts -- though not unskilled -- likely read, in terms of creative originality, like a copy of a photostat of a Xerox of a mimeograph. Only blurrier.
Funny? This "parody"? Ummm, yeah. (Although 'Riffs will admit that Grandma does look strikingly like Howard Cosell in profile. Nice call, that.)
So, to make amends to your readers, HuffPost (and we do hope you note your readers' many on-the-money Comments), we only wish that you might hand Albert Brooks or Larry David a Sharpie and encourage either of them to give it a crack. By the time Larry David depicted himself playing a game of "telephone" with PJ, Dolly and Jeffy, we'd be rolling in the aisles. And not just the political ones.
As "Grandma Cosell" herself might say: We're just telling it like it is.