Tuesday, February 25, 2014

In Memoriam of Twinkies and Groundhogs

Writing comedy is not an easy task by any means. While I find that I easily amuse myself through a variety of stupid actions and statements, making someone else laugh can be a much more arduous task. I enjoy evoking a laugh out of others; then again, I'm not sure many people do not enjoy such a feat. There have been many times I've fallen flat in attempts to produce a guffaw out of friends, but like that one good shot I can muster in a round of golf, I keep coming back for more if I can elicit a single chuckle.

That's why I admire a great comedian we lost yesterday in Harold Ramis. If Caddyshack, Animal House, Groundhog Day, National Lampoon's Vacation, and Stripes are a part of your classic film repertoire, then Harold Ramis had a comedic influence on you as either a director, writer, or actor. A venerable Renaissance Man of comedy, Ramis shaped much of the humor in the late 70s and 1980s in film. When you consider a specimen like Caddyshack, you recognize the silliness and over-the-top humor that the film boasts. But if you come across it on cable TV on some weekday night, you find yourself fixed on your couch, laughing as you quote the memorable lines. As someone who took up golf two years ago (and excels greatly at sucking at the game), the humor resonates even more for me now than it did as a kid.

But when we talk about Harold Ramis, people will inevitably rest on his most memorable project: Ghostbusters. Ramis both co-wrote and starred in the movie as Dr. Egon Spengler, who embodied the role as the nerdiest of the paranormal quartet and demonstrated to us psycho-kinetic energy with a Twinkie. Ghostbusters remains my favorite of the Ramis fare and one of my fondest film memories of childhood. So I suppose the passing of Ramis was an especially hard pill to swallow when we children of the 80s consider an element of our childhood moving on.

To quote fellow author and Spartanburg native Bryan Dull, "I feel so dumb and juvenile as I can’t shake the fact that for the first time ever… A Ghostbuster passed away today." Perhaps the most difficult part about growing older is watching your sacred cows, no matter how silly they may have been, drift away.

Ramis, in the form of Spengler, brought us Ghostbusters' most memorable line: "Don't cross the streams." It became an iconic statement in film lore and can be applied to almost any predicament in everyday life. I'm fond of it when debating people who like to wax hypocritical in political discussions. Needless to say, the line is iconic, and I therefore argue so goes Harold Ramis. An icon of comedy.

It would please me greatly to reach the level of comedic influence and prowess of Harold Ramis. But who am I kidding? You can't top Ghostbusters.

Don't cross the streams, friends.

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