The hunt for the perfect Christmas movie!

Recently I was asked to discuss my favourite Christmas-themed comedy shows, movies, etc… okay, so I wasn’t really asked, but doesn’t it make this article sound a lot more important when you think it’s been requested!? Anyway, here goes:

Bad Santa – Billy Bob Thornton

This is a new millennium Christmas classic that blends a dash of the holiday spirit with a decent helping of dark comedy. Billy Bob Thornton does what he does best: play an alcoholic, deadbeat asshole (ala Bad News Bears, his musical career, etc.). It’s scary to think that parents would actually take their kids to a mall Santa that looks like Thornton does in this movie. The outfit can only cover up so much of the filth. Seriously, though, you’ll be laughing consistently throughout this movie… trust me!

National Lampoon’s: Christmas Vacation – Chevy Chase

Up until the TV show Community, the Vacation movies were the only role I could stand Chevy Chase in. The real gem of this movie, though, is a pre-crazy Randy Quaid, playing Cousin Eddie. Of course, the sequel, made 15 years later and featuring Cousin Eddie wasn’t very good. The plot of Christmas Vacation sees Clark Griswold try to survive yet another family holiday, this time, in what should be, the comfort of his own home. Things are already off to a rough start when the entire family arrives and all hell breaks loose in one of the greatest curse-laden rants of all time.

Elf – Will Ferrell

There are so many funny moments in this movie, thanks to the hilarious Will Ferrell. At the same time, and unlike many of Ferrell’s other flicks, this one can be enjoyed by the entire family. Buddy the elf is on a mission to reconnect with his biological father and that takes him to New York City, a far distance away from the North Pole. It takes a while, but in the end, Buddy is able to win over his father, his father’s new family and a good portion of New Yorkers. A definite highlight comes when Buddy mistakes liquor for his favourite food group of syrup and indulges a little too much while on the job at his dad’s office.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Jim Carrey

When I first heard of this movie, I wasn’t sure they’d be able to squeeze out an entire movie based off of the classic Dr. Suess book and the 1960’s animated TV special. They did, though, going into the Grinch’s back story and explaining how he became a Christmas hater – a far worse distinction than being a playa hater. The atmosphere of the movie is really spectacular and the team who dreamed, designed and built the town of Whoville should be commended for their work. It still stands up years later, even with rapid advancements in visual effects.

Home Alone & Home Alone 2: Lost in New York – Macaulay Culkin

The movies that made Macaulay Culkin a star to millions of youngsters and a object of affection for Michael Jackson. The best part of each of these movies is, of course, when The Wet Bandits are forced to go through young Kevin McCallister’s torturous booby traps, but there’s more meat in both films than just the finales. There are a lot of great Christmas moments that are very touching and the music selections are top notch. I’ve never seen the third movie or the made-for-TV fourth edition, but perhaps they’re worth a look… any suggestions?

The Santa Clause – Tim Allen

This is a good pick for the young ones. It’s the story of a divorcee who accidentally causes Santa Claus’ death (maybe not a child friendly action, but hear me out) and now must assume the role. Of course, because he’s lost his wife, who’s now seeing someone else, and his relationship with his son is becoming strained, as well, everyone thinks he’s also lost his mind when he starts filling out like Santa Claus and growing a fluffy white beard (hmmm, this is definitely more adult-oriented than I originally thought). In the end, he proves to them all, that he is, in fact, Santa Claus and then makes two sequels for the heck of it.

Scrooged – Bill Murray

In a modern twist (well, as modern as 1988 seems now) on the classic A Christmas Carol tale, TV executive Frank Cross goes through the night before Christmas and the three ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future in order to redeem himself and right the wrongs he has committed over the years. I wonder what it would be like if they filmed a reality show where Bill Murray, himself, had to go through this ordeal. Perhaps he could reverse his 1971 drug arrest and somehow get me back the two hours I wasted watching Kingpin…

The Muppet Christmas Carol – The Muppets Gang

Of all the versions of A Christmas Carol – and there sure re a lot of them – this ranks up there as one of my favourites. You have Gonzo and Rizzo providing commentary on the events of the movie through narration, Kermit and Miss Piggy as Bob and Emily Cratchit, Waldorf and Statler as the Marley brothers, Fozzie Bear as Fozziwig and the rest of the troupe along for the fun. And really, that’s the fun of any re-telling of Christmas classics: seeing which character portrays each role in the tale. While you’re at it, you should also check out the Muppets new movie in theatres now. I said RIGHT NOW… go this very minute, even if it’s not showing.

Gremlins – Zach Galligan (wouldn’t it be awesome if it was Zach Galifinakis… I smell a remake with Galifinakis as Gizmo!)

This is not your typical Christmas movie, but it does take place at Christmas – like Die Hard and Die Hard 2: Die Harder, as well as many other non-denominational classics. This was our first introduction to the absolutely adorable Gizmo and his unfortunate spawn, the Gremlins. A little trivia: Did you know that Gizmo was voiced by Howie Mandel? How about one more trivia note: In the movie, the main character (well other than Gizmo and the Gremlins – that’s actually a good name for a band) Billy has a drawing mentor and it’s none other than Looney Tunes artist Chuck Jones.

Love Actually – Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Keira Knightley

Even my dislike of Hugh Grant can’t stop me from recommending this gem. The movie takes place in England – hence the use of the usual British suspects Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, etc. – in the weeks leading up to Christmas. It focuses on a number of characters as they intertwine through various stages of love, each searching for their own happy ending (no, not that type of happy ending… well maybe for one or two of the characters). A particular highlight of the movie is the former 80’s rocker who’s now turning his one-hit-wonder into a Christmas-themed song, hoping to revitalize his stalled career.

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas – John Cho & Kal Penn

I haven’t seen this movie yet, but if it’s as good as when they guys went to White Castle and an improvement from when they escaped from Guantanamo Bay, then it should be worth checking out. Neil Patrick Harris returns as himself, despite being shot and presumably killed in the last Harold and Kumar movie, to add to the fun. Plus, the movie is in 3D, which always means lots of zany gags with the technology… and sometimes it doesn’t. This will definitely be on my must watch list for next Christmas, when it will surely be released on DVD, to once again take advantage of the Christmas season.

Very Merry Mentions:

A Christmas Story – Peter Billingsley

Ernest Saves Christmas – Jim Varney

Four Christmases – Vince Vaughn & Reese Witherspoon

It’s a Wonderful Life – Jimmy Stewart

Jingle All the Way – Arnold Schwarzenegger

Bah, Humduck!: A Looney Tunes Christmas – The Looney Tunes Gang

The Nightmare Before Christmas – Tim Burton

Trading Places – Eddie Murphy & Dan Aykroyd

Trapped in Paradise – Nicholas Cage, Jon Lovitz & Dana Carvey

Fred Claus – Vince Vaughn

Eight Crazy Nights – Adam Sandler

Mickey’s Christmas Carol – The Disney Gang

Occupy Comedy (Part 2)

As Occupy the World spreads across, well, the world, we take a look at some of our favourite from the 99% (previous post) and even some of our heroes (and enemies) from the 1%, who are now winning the war against the occupiers, with many sites being shutdown. It’s about damn time!

1% (aka The Billionaire’s Club)

Scrooge McDuck – DuckTales

How many of us have dreamed about taking a dip into our vast fortune, using coins and bills as if they were water in a pool? I know that I’ve dreamt of this scenario. Of course, with great fortune, comes great responsibility. McDuck always has to deal with people trying to steal his billions, from the Beagle Boys and Ma Beagle to Magica De Spell and even his arch nemesis Flintheart Glomgold. Scrooge even topped Forbes list of richest ficitional characters: http://www.forbes.com/2007/12/11/richest-fictional-characters-oped-books-fict1507-cx_mn_de_1211fictional15_land.html. And to think, McDuck’s entire fortune began with one lucky dime.

Mr. Burns – The Simpsons

Monty Burns is the wealthiest figure in Springfield, thanks to his ruthless business tactics and horrid safety and environmental records. He may not be as loved as fellow billionaire Arthur Fortune (oh, Arthur Fortune…), but his guile and moxie have led to him living a successful life to the ripe old age of 104 (although some jokes suggest he could be even older). Ironically, Burns and his assistant Waylon Smithers are both voiced by Harry Shearer, who can perform scenes of dialogue between the two in one take.

Carter Pewterschmidt – Family Guy

The patriarch of the Pewterschmidt family, Carter made his money as a shipping mogul and has since turned his wealth into being an industrialist with numerous companies in his name. His friends include other powerful leaders of industry, such as Bill Gates and Michael Eisner and he is a member of The Skull and Bones secret society. Carter is not a nice man, though. He hates his son-in-law Peter Griffin and takes every opportunity possible to attack Peter, despite his daughter Lois’ love for him.

The Bluth Family – Arrested Development

The Bluth’s were so corrupt with their money and lifestyle that it led to a Securities and Exchange Commision investigation into the family company. Most of the family live excessive lifestyles, spending investor’s money freely, calling it their personal expenses. Only Michael Bluth tries to keep the family business legit and operational, while his siblings and parents only care as long as their pockets are lined with cash. In the best news heard in years, it was recently announced that there would be a fourth season of nine or ten episodes (with the original cast) each focusing on an update of each character, leading into a theatrical release.

Richie Rich – Richie Rich

Richie Rich (Macaulay Culkin) had his own McDonald’s inside his massive mansion. That’s not only the coolest thing I’ve ever dreamed of, but it takes a lot of money to achieve it. I wonder if it was staffed by the same teenage delinquents I see working in the restaurants I frequent. Richie may be a little spoiled, but he still has a heart, despite growing up in a world where work and success are valued before fun and friendship. As with most billionaires, there’s always someone out to get your money, but Richie leads his group of poor, inner-city friends into battle to save his family’s wealth… and we all learn the value of having friends with riches.

Longfellow Deeds – Mr. Deeds

After receiving a very large fortune, as the apparent heir to a powerful media mogul, Deeds finds himself in a very different world than the one he’s used to – as a pizzeria operator in a small New Hampshire town. Deeds goes to the big city (New York), where he is set to sell his shares in his uncle’s company, allowing him some time to enjoy his new found wealth. When it’s realized he isn’t actually the closest heir, he still walks away with one billion dollars and buys Corvettes for everyone in his town. He also achieves his dream of selling one of his greeting card messages to Hallmark and everybody is happy.

Charlie Harper & Walden Schmidt – Two and a Half Men

Based on the sale of one commercial jingle, Charlie Harper (Charlie Sheen) became a winner. He was able to buy a luxurious beachfront property, big enough to house himself, numerous escorts and even his brother and nephew. Kind of sounds like Sheen’s real life, minus the brother and nephew. After Sheen’s firing from the show, he was replaced by Ashton Kutcher, playing rich, but childlike internet entrepreneur Walden Schmidt. Since the change, the show’s ratings are not only up, they’re the highest they’ve ever been and the show is enjoying its highest rank in its history.

Mom – Futurama

Mom, head of MomCorp, is like many of the other moguls to make this list – power hungry, intimidating and cruel – but she is the only female to make it. While she portrays an image of being a sweet, loveable, grandmotherly character in the media, in reality, she’s the complete opposite of that. She is harsh to everyone around her, including her three idiot sons: Walt, Larry and Igner, as well as former lover Professor Farnsworth. There’s really no stopping mom or her corporation… might as well learn to live with it.

Jed Clampett – The Beverly Hillbillies

Jed Clampett went from living a simple, country life to striking it rich on a massive oil claim. After that, his kinfolk said, “Jed, move away from there.” So, he gathered all his belongings, including his daughter Ellie May, son of his cousin Jethro and of course, ol’ granny and he moved to Beverly… Hills that is. The show lasted nine season (1962-1971) and 274 episodes and later spawned a TV movie in 1981 and theatrical release in 1993. In the 1993 movie, Jed was played by Jim Varney, better known as Ernest P. Worrell from numerous TV commercials, a TV series and movies.

Thurston Howell III – Gilligan’s Island

How much would it suck if you had a vast fortune and numerous toys, but were stuck on a deserted island… without your fortune and toys, of course? Add to that, the fact that your fellow island inhabitants are a bumbling loser, a skipper who took you out into an epic storm, a worthless professor, your geriatric wife and two hot chicks who you can’t even make a move on because your wealth means nothing here. At least you could sit around and enjoy mai tai’s and other tropical beverages… what, they didn’t even have bevies? You’d think the first order of business for the prof would be to fashion up some kind of liquor.

Montana Max – Tiny Toon Adventures

In the Tiny Toon Adventures theme song, all we learn about Montana Max is that he has money. And really, isn’t that all that matters in this world? Nah, Max is your typical spoiled brat, who gets everything he wants and is quick to lose his temper. As a result of this, he has to receive some sort of comeuppance from the Tiny Toon gang, usually Babs and Buster Bunny, no relation. As the story goes, Max used to be a normal kid and friends with Buster, until his parents won the lottery and he became a young millionaire tycoon. Wouldn’t that be nice!

Mr. Toad – Wind in the Willows

Mr. Toad has a penchant for throwing his money around on expensive toys and then using them excessively and dangerously. His favourite risky behaviour is racing automobiles and usually crashing them in the end. What do you expect, though? He’s a toad for Christ sakes! In absolutely no way does he belong behind the wheel of any vehicle. Despite his faults, though, we allow our good friend J. Thaddeus Toad, Esq. into our hearts because he’s relatively kind to his friends Moley, Ratty and Badger-y (?) and he has a thirst for fighting weasels.

The Banks Family – The Fresh Prince of Belair

When ‘Little Willy from Philly’ (Will Smith) was sent to his aunt and uncle’s home in Belair, California, he never realized he’d be stepping into a world of luxury. He went from a have-not to a must-have. It takes a while for Will to get used to his new lifestyle as a privileged teen and later adult, but he eventually adjusts, while also keeping some of his street flair alive. Ironically, Smith was approached to do Fresh Prince when he was close to bankruptcy thanks to underpaying on his income taxes during his successful late 80’s rap career. Now Smith practically owns a portion of Hollywood.

Arthur Bach – Arthur

Arthur starts off as a spoiled, alcoholic, playboy but one who still has a soul, buried beneath years of being ignored by his mother and being raised by his butler/nanny (depending on which version of the movie – Russell Brand or Dudley Moore – you watch). Through being offered up in an arranged marriage and finding his real true love almost simultaneously, Arthur is finally given the inspiration to correct his childish ways and grow up and take charge of his own life. In the end, money buys everything, including happiness.

Mentions:

Artie Ziff – The Simpsons

Flintheart Glomgold – DuckTales

Gomez Addams – Addams Family

Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase – World Wrestling Entertainment

Bruce Wayne – Batman

Tony Stark – Iron Man

Willy Wonka – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Cosmo Spacely – The Jetsons

Buck Strickland – King of the Hill

Louis Winthrope III – Trading Places

Occupy Comedy (Part 1)

As Occupy the World spreads across, well, the world, we take a look at some of our favourite from the 99% and even some of our heroes (and enemies) from the 1% (next post).

The 99% (aka The Walking Dead…)

The Bundy Family – Married with Children

Al Bundy and his family’s struggles to reach the poverty line are epic. Perhaps things would have been easier if his wife Peggy worked and didn’t spend her days shopping in stores and through TV programming. Add to that his freeloading children Kelly and Bud and poor Al’s below minimum wage job as a women’s shoe store clerk and you have a recipe for disaster… and comedy. At least Al could take comfort in his favourites: Psycho Dad on TV, Big’uns magazine, the nudie bar and his NO MA’AM organization (of which I am a full-fledged, card carrying member).

Freddie the Freeloader – Red Skelton Show

For a homeless person, Freddie is actually a pretty sweet guy. That’s not to say that all homeless people are incapable of being sweet, but my daily walks to and from work in downtown Vancouver have largely proved otherwise. Freddie, though, is more likely to look after other people’s needs over his own, despite his situation. Of course, a character like this just wouldn’t work nowadays. A homeless clown, complete with face paint and pantomime actions is more suited for the horror genre today, but it worked really well in the past.

Chester J. Lampwick – The Simpsons

Chester is one the few among this group that actually moved from the 99% group into the 1% group when it was revealed that he created the cartoon characters of Itchy and Scratchy. With his $800 billion lawsuit winnings, he purchases a solid gold house and a rocket car and that’s all he really needs. He has trouble leaving his old life, though, asking his fellow well-off neighbours if they want their shoes shined. Once a hobo, always a hobo, I suppose.

Trailer Park Boys

The Trailer Park Boys are brash, obnoxious and usually scheming, but they are a pseudo-family that looks after each other and that makes you love them. Ricky, Julian and Bubbles are known for their misadventures, often centering on growing marijuana or other misdeeds. Joining them are associates like J-Roc, Tyrone, Cory and Trevor and nemesis’ Mr. Lahey, Randy and Philadelphia “Phil” Collins. The boys even got two movies made, on top of the TV show, which lasted seven seasons. Those are some fine Canadians!

Kenny McCormick and family – South Park

As the story goes, Kenny and Kyle’s dad were friends when growing up and worked at a pizza joint together as teens, but while Kyle’s dad Gerald went off to higher education and became a lawyer, Kenny’s dad Stuart lagged behind and now relies on welfare and meth production to feed his family. A favourite line of mine from the show happened when the boys were at Kenny’s for dinner one night and upon viewing the spread of food that was being offered to them, Cartman turned to Kenny’s mom and said, “Am I to understand that there will be no side dishes?”

Evans Family – Good Times

Welcome to the ghetto portion of today’s list, as we visit a Chicago housing project and the Evans family. The family’s struggles are all in the lyrics of the shows awesome theme song (below). Include characters named Ned the Wino and Marion “Sweet Daddy” Williams and you know you’re on the wrong side of the tracks. Still, the Evans family tried to be upstanding citizens and not fall into the traps of their setting. Michael went on to higher education, instead of joining a gang and J.J. became an accomplished artist, instead of becoming welfare reliant. Ah, good times, indeed.

Carl Spackler – Caddyshack

Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) is so down on his luck that he lives in a shack on the golf course. A shack he’s been meaning to tidy up, but where does one find the time when they’re engaged in a full scale war with a gopher. Spackler even asks wealthy golfer Ty Webb (Chevy Chase) if he has a pool on his lush property, hoping to score an invite and a bathing opportunity. Murray really steals the show as Spackler and what’s amazing is that his scene with Chase wasn’t even in the script and much of Murray’s lines throughout were improvised.

Cletus Spuckler – The Simpsons

He may not have much, but at least he has his own theme song! Yes, this slack-jawed yokel is of the finest hillbilly stock that exists. He’s married to a relative, has countless children, is afraid of new technologies – although after playing around with my new cell phone this week, I can’t really blame him – is not averse to forcing a shotgun wedding, uses all parts from an animal and names his kids after professional wrestling events. Cletus has grown in popularity over the years, going from background character to being featured in some Simpsons’ storylines.

Tyrone Biggums – Chappelle’s Show

Tyrone is a man of the streets. Thanks to vices like cocaine and gambling, Tyrone isn’t easy on the eyes, but he’s a relatively good-natured crack addict. He’s a modern day facsimile of the previously mentioned Freddie the Freeloader: a well-meaning, but hopelessly lost and damaged soul. Biggums can be credited with inventing the peanut butter and crack sandwich (patent pending), which will surely be a hot seller once it hits the open market.

Oscar the Grouch – Sesame Street

Although he technically had a home – the dude lived in a garbage can – Oscar can be seen as a monster struggling to earn a living in this economy. This has made him a grouchy customer to deal with. Oscar has lived in his garbage can since 1969 and has been there so long, he’s turned green (seriously, he used to be orange!) and has amassed a large collection of useless items inside his already rundown home. There should be an episode of Hoarders focusing on Oscar and his battles with the likes of Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, and that little twerp Elmo, as they try to clean out his “home”.

Billy Ray Valentine/Louis Winthrope III – Trading Places (not the renovation reality show)

The main characters from Trading Places are a perfect example of contrast for this list. On one hand, you have crafty street hustler Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) and on the other, you have the educated and successful Louis Winthrope III (Dan Aykroyd). Then, the two are forced to trade places and while Valentine finds himself living a life of luxury, Winthrope is down and out, deserted by those he thought were his friends. In the end, the two pair up to gain revenge on the ones who orchestrated their switched roles and everyone is happy!

Matt Foley

You know you’ve really hit rock bottom when you’re “35 years old, thrice divorced, and living in a van down by the river!” Motivational speaker Matt Foley (Chris Farley) has seen his fair share of hard times. He’s also fallen through a number of hard objects, including tables, a Christmas tree and other furniture. As a result of his dire situation, Foley is a perfect motivational speaker… people don’t want to end up like him. Unfortunately, plans for a movie based on the character (co-starring who else, David Spade) were derailed by Farley’s passing.

Mentions:

The Super, etc. – The PJs

Thomas Jane – Arrested Development

Joe Dirt – Joe Dirt

Homeless – South Park

Parry – The Fisher King

Tramp – Lady and the Tramp

Walter Hemphill – Mad TV

Lloyd Christmas & Harry Dunne – Dumb & Dumber

Disneyland: The Funniest Place on Earth

It’s often called “The Happiest Place on Earth” and everyone knows, you can’t fully appreciate happiness without laughter. After my recent trip to Disneyland, here are the most comedic attractions, scenery and activities in the park – past, present and future.

The Mad Hatter

Nothing beats a Disney park cast member who really gets into their character. On one trip, my family went to a character breakfast (always a good source of entertainment and interaction with the characters, especially for kids) and the guy playing The Mad Hatter was really into performing his character: using a manic voice and mannerisms. He had my dad in stitches, cracking joke after joke. That’s how it’s supposed to be done!

Billy Hill and the Hillbillies

These guys are amazingly talented musically and with their comedy. It’s one of those hidden treasures in the park that I don’t think enough guests take advantage of. The quartet play a number of blue grass songs, all while exchanging instruments and adding funny bits to their show. A highlight is when Billy Hill somehow gets his bow stuck up his nose and when he uses fake teeth to fully get into character.

Ride photos

No ride is ever the same, especially if you end it different each time. Trying a host of poses and actions as you come to the finale of rides like Splash Mountain, Space Mountain and California Screamin’ can add a whole new element to your vacation. Some favourites of my family: everyone pretends they’re asleep; doing the YMCA; each person chokes the person in front of them and a personal fave of mine was when my brother would slip his finger up his nose without letting anybody know this is what he was going to do. It usually stopped other guests in their tracks at the viewing screens.

Jungle Cruise tour guides

This one is hit or miss. Sometimes you end up with a really good guide who has a lot of energy and tries some material you don’t hear every ride and other times, you end up with someone who’s going through the motions and following their script to the letter. Guests can sometimes play a role in the guides comedy, as on my most recent trip a number of Japanese tourists starting standing in the boat and we believe they thought the animals were real, causing the guide to ad-lib some very funny lines.

Captain EO Tribute

I know this show wasn’t originally intended to be funny, but over time, Michael Jackson became such a parody of himself, that you can’t help laughing throughout the entire presentation. A crowning moment is when Hooter, the crew member who messes up every mission sneezes at the end and Jackson goes “Oh, Hooter” or something to that effect and let’s out his famous girly giggle.

Character breakfasts

As I mentioned earlier, character breakfasts are a great attraction to get a nice filling meal (usually buffet style) and also get a chance to interact with some of the characters. Some fun characters I’ve seen before were Chip and Dale, Stitch, Tigger and Winnie the Pooh, among others. A highlight from vacations past for me, was when me and my cousin were kind of grinding Pooh Bear’s gears and asking him how a bear omelette would taste!

Muppet Vision 3-D

My fondness for the Muppets has been stated on a number of occasions, so I won’t go into details again. Suffice to say, this show is pretty good. The 3-D gags are fun, if not a little lame, but that’s kind of what you come to expect from the Muppets. It’s your usual fare with Fozzy telling jokes that get ridiculed by Waldorf and Statler, Beaker getting beat up by one of Bunsen Honeydew’s inventions and The Swedish Chef destroying the entire theatre with a cannon. You know: same old, same old.

Turtle Talk with Crush

Kids and adults alike will love this show. Crush, the wave riding surfer dude turtle from Finding Nemo is your host, as he introduces you to his environment and answers a select number of audience inquiries. Once, a friend asked Crush about the BP oil spill and how he felt about it and without missing a beat, Crush answered the question as kids in audience looked to their parents to explain what was going on and those parents looked at our group with not-so-pleased faces.

Audio animatronics

This phrase was coined by Walt Disney himself, to describe the animated electronic characters that are featured throughout so many of the park’s attractions. Some very popular ones are Capt. Jack Sparrow and many of the other swashbucklers on Pirates of the Caribbean; Captain RX-24, C3PO and R2-D2 on Star Tours; Brer Rabbit, Bear and Fox on Splash Mountain; and Indiana Jones on The Indiana Jones Adventure.

Making fun of other guests

Sometimes you just have to take a couple shots at some of the guests you see in the park. From the ones who are hideously dressed to the losers who feel the need to bring their Bluetooth headsets into the park with them, there are many targets for a verbal assault. How else should you pass time in the line-ups?

Make your own comedy

There are a number of ways to do this: Ask characters funny or bizarre questions and see how they react. Wear goofy costumes, such as Mickey Mouse ears or other funny hats. Take pictures of random cast members who made your experience fun – there was one guy we found over a couple vacations and took updated photos of. Finally, get drunk enough to get chased around by park security, sneak into the park and black out for two hours… oh wait, that was something only done once and should not be repeated again.

Oldies, but goodies

We’re supposed to honour and respect our elders, but the funniest ones are incoherent, maniacal, and out of touch with today’s world. That’s just the way we like them, though. From animation to live action to even puppets, here are the best octogenarians in the world of media.

Grandpa Simpson – The Simpsons

Grandpa Simpson is just simply an awesome character. He’s senile, sometimes irritable, but always lovable. His best moments come when he’s relating a story from the Simpsons’ past. In these flashbacks, we often find out that Grandpa was just as out of touch with the world then, as he is in the current day. And I just have to honour someone – fictional or otherwise – who only has one kidney, like myself. This happened to Grandpa in the episode “Homer Simpson in: Kidney Trouble” after he downed a few too many sarsaparillas before a long car ride home. We’ve all been there!

Waldorf & Statler – The Muppet Show

These two rascals (side note: how funny would it be to see Waldorf and Statler in a bit riding the rascal scooters and causing mayhem to the tune of “Born to be Wild”!) are so curmudgeonly that they spend all their time attending shows they intend to pan. When they attack, they rip into their victims with such veteran venom that it’s a modern science miracle that said victim can walk away after the lashing he or she has received. An antidote has yet to be formulated, but using the DNA of one Fozzy Bear, we hope to have a vaccine ready for distribution by 2015.

Frank Costanza/Arthur Spooner – Seinfeld/King of Queens

Jerry Stiller has proven over the years that his old man act is pure comedy gold. From the cantankerous Frank Costanza, to the petulant ever-scheming Arthur Spooner, Stiller has thrived as an old age performer. Perhaps his greatest moments came in the episode of Seinfeld “The Strike”, where Frank Costanza brought back the holiday of Festivus, including the feats of strength, airing of grievances and let’s not forget those Festivus miracles!

Frank Barone – Everybody Loves Raymond

In a similar vein to Jerry Stiller, Peter Boyle played the snarky, out of touch Frank Barone to perfection on Everybody Loves Raymond. Constantly at odds with his wife Marie and causing issues for his sons and daughter-in-law, Frank was still loveable like you’d love you own insane relatives. With this character, Boyle was nominated seven times for a Best Supporting Actor Emmy, but never won the award, often losing to his good-for-nothing son Robert (Brad Garrett). Sadly, Boyle passed away a year and a half after the series wrapped.

Golden Girls

Thank you for being a friend. The Golden Girls – Dorothy, Estelle, Blanche and Rose – are the only women to make this list and they earned it, they’re hilarious. Their banter back and forth, with one of the gals often handing out a parting shot, was always witty and funny. Betty White, who played Rose, has since gone on to have a thriving career in recent years, playing that sweet old lady that has a bit of a nasty bite to her. This has led to a successful Facebook campaign for her to host Saturday Night Live and numerous roles in TV, movies and even commercials.

Pierce Hawthorne & Leonard Briggs – Community

My brother always said that one day I’d like Chevy Chase… and finally, 44 years into his acting career, I do. As Pierce Hawthorne, Chase plays a sexist, racist, homophobic psychopath – all the ingredients for a wonderful character… and he plays it well.  Leonard Briggs is a reoccurring character on the show, who heads up a crew of other oldies but baddies called The Hipsters (because each member has had hip replacement surgery). Briggs also ran for student body president, changing his last name to Rodriguez to capitalize on the Latino voters.

Professor Farnsworth – Futurama

Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth is as dementia-ridden as they come. The owner and operator of Planet Express, he sends his crew off on missions that are doomed to fail, while inventing the most insane and useless items known to future-kind. And you can’t really blame him for losing all his marbles. At the age of 28, I feel like I’m slowly starting to lose mine and Farnsworth is somewhere between 150 and 170 years old.

John Gustafson & Max Goldman – Grumpy/Grumpier Old Men

Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau have appeared in numerous movies together, but nothing compares to their two entries as Grumpy Old Men. As they compete with one another and often prank each other, the laughs pile up. Along with Burgess Meredith (playing Grandpa Gustafson), the amount of old man comedy in these flicks is high and hilarious. The gag reel for these movies, shown at the end of the films are hilarious, particularly when Meredith tries a number of different lines to relay various sexual euphemisms.

Ken Titus – Titus

Ken Titus is as nasty as they come, with his penchant for alcohol, tobacco, women, gambling and mean-spirited fun. He’s the furthest from having a heart of gold – in fact he’s had numerous heart attacks and other health issues, thus making his core as black as his soul – but that doesn’t make him any less funny. In reality, Papa Titus was just trying to raise his kids right and hoping they didn’t turn out to be ‘wussies’, as he often called them when they weren’t living up to his expectations.

William Shatner – Everything he does nowadays

Like fine wine, Shatner’s skills and career seem to get better with age. Every time you think you’ve seen the last of him, a new project with him attached to it comes onto the horizon. Most recently, he played the dad in “$#*! My Dad Says” a perfect role for the aging icon, but the series only lasted one season. Prior to that, he enjoyed a long run as lawyer Denny Crane, first on The Practice and then in the spinoff Boston Legal. Shatner and Crane share many similar traits, which is saying something since Crane was likely suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Mayor Adam West – Family Guy

In yet another example of a 1960’s icon reviving his career as a senile, delusional old man, Adam West voicing Mayor Adam West on Family Guy is guaranteed laughs. Mayor West is the perfect candidate to lead Quahog. He erected a statue of cereal mascot Dig Em’, sent the town’s police force across the world to search for a fictional character and legalized then quickly illegalized marijuana, as his many works in office. Sounds like your typical politician to me. And hey, how come Batman doesn’t dance anymore?

Honourable Mentions:

Grandpa Marsh – South Park

Lieutenant Columbo – Columbo

Ben Matlock – Matlock

George Steinbrenner – Seinfeld

Mr. Magoo – What’s New Mr. Magoo

Cotton Hill – King of the Hill

Harry Caray (Will Farrell) – Saturday Night Live

Thurston Howell III – Gilligan’s Island

Grandpa Munster – The Munsters

Herbert – Family Guy

Creed Bratton – The Office

Puff, puff, pass

Their first movie was great… the sequel, eh, not as much, but it had its moments. Regardless, Harold and Kumar are getting a third crack at it with their Christmas movie, due out Friday. With that in mind, I thought we could take a stroll down memory lane and take a look at the most prolific stoners in media history.

Cheech & Chong – Numerous movies and albums

These two famous overachieving potheads took their stand-up comedy routine and turned it into numerous movies and albums, working together off and on for over 30 years. They are responsible for a number of famous catchphrases, most notably “Dave’s not here, man.” Not only are these two fictional stoners, but one of them also plays the role in real life. Tommy Chong was sent to prison in Ocotber 2003 for selling bongs and other paraphernalia over the internet. This incarceration occurred while he was a cast member of That 70’s Show, playing, you guessed it: a hippie burnout named Leo Chingwake. More on the That 70’s Show gang to follow.

Dale Denton & Saul Silver – Pineapple Express

First off, let me say that the pants James Franco wears for the duration of this film are, quite possibly, the greatest wardrobe choice in the history of film. If someone were to ever bequeath these to me, I would honour them with the regular wearing of said garment. Dale (Seth Rogen) and Saul (Franco) get stuck in a hilarious set of circumstances thanks to their enjoyment of Pineapple Express, an extremely potent brand of marijuana. Their dealer, Red, (Danny McBride) also joins in on the fun and the three have to triumph over a suppressive drug kingpin.

Jeff Spicoli – Fast Times at Ridgemont High

It’s so hard to believe that this character was played by Sean Penn, given all the serious roles he’s gone on to play. Spicoli, a laid back pot smoking surfer dude, became so popular that he’s feature on the cover of the movie, despite being a tertiary character. One of the subplots of the movie is teacher Mr. Hand trying to get the best he can out of Spicoli. When he thinks he’s achieved this he releases Spicoli, but he concludes that everyone at the school is “on dope”. Spicoli meanwhile goes on to save a drowning Brooke Shields, but wastes the reward money hiring Van Halen to perform at his birthday party… sounds about right.

Harold & Kumar – Go to White Castle, Escape from Guantanamo Bay and A Very 3D Christmas

While not the biggest stoners per se, these two gentlemen enjoy their weed. Their zany adventures to White Castle and from Guantanamo Bay were often fuelled by the drug in some way. A highlight of both movies is the performance of Neil Patrick Harris (playing himself), which practically revived his career. In the films, NPH is an even bigger drug user than Rolly and Kumar and there have been rumours of a spinoff movie for the character. The boy’s Christmas film will surely include more inebriated hijinks to help you get into the holiday spirit.

The Gang – That 70’s Show

One of the most enjoyable running gags on That 70’s Show was ‘The Circle’, where any number of the group’s members – Eric, Hyde, Kelso, Fez, Donna, Jackie and any number of their friends – would wax philosophically after enjoying some marijuana, as the camera would rotate around the table. Some of the shows funniest lines came out of these scenes. One memorable segment included the kids’ parents sitting in the circle, high from “special” brownies and mimicking their children’s actions.

Thurgood Jenkins et al – Half Baked

While Dave Chappelle himself, was disappointed with how the movie turned out – he wrote the script and starred, but said the movie was dumbed down from being adult-oriented to more of a kids movie – there are still a number of funny moments in this film. Some favourites are when Thurgood describes the different types of pot users, particularly the Scavenger Smoker (Snoop Dogg), who comes into the scene at the first sniff of marijuana and proceeds to smoke the guy’s entire joint before moving on. The scene where Scarface quits his job at the fast food restaurant is also a highlight.

Jay & Silent Bob – Almost every movie by Kevin Smith

It’s hard not to notice that these stoners often come in pairs or trios. I guess nobody likes to drink alone and similarly, no one really likes to smoke alone. Jay and Silent Bob seem to always pop up in Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse and why not… Silent Bob is played by Smith. The duo’s notorious appearances in movies they weren’t the star in, led to their own title adventure where they’re on a mission to shutdown a movie based on their personas. The pair offer a great example that if you have one loud mouth who never shuts up, then his buddy better be silent to help restore the balance.

Shaggy – Scooby-Doo

Although they never come out and say it, let’s look at the evidence: 1) He’s constantly searching for munchies 2) his attention span is minimal at best 3) his nerves are always shot and he appears strung out 4) he has conversations and hangs out with a dog… conclusion: Shaggy is your typical drug addict. Still, Shaggy is one of the most beloved characters in the history of media, especially when paired with his pal Scooby. The two have teamed together for countless adventures, highlighted by my personal favourite, Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers.

Kenny – South Park

I had to include this one, even though I wouldn’t say that Kenny is your classic kind of stoner. In one episode, however, Kenny dealt with the pains of addiction, as the boys discovered they could get high off the ammonia in cat spray. This act was called cheesing and Kenny, by far, was the poster boy for it. His hallucinations brought him to a world very similar to that of the classic 70’s cartoon Heavy Metal and in search of seeing naked women, Kenny continued to cheese until he’d lost everything.

Dishonourable Mentions:

Jim Ignitowski – Taxi

Bill and Ted – Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures

Doug and Andy – Weeds

The Dude – The Big Lebowski

Raoul Duke & Dr. Gonzo – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Towelie – South Park

Smokey – Friday

Carl Spackler – Caddyshack

Raw is Muppets!

It’s time to play the music. It’s time to light the lights. It’s time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet Show tonight. Finally, two of my favourite childhood entities are coming together for one night of fun. The whole Muppet Show gang will be on hand Halloween night for World Wrestling Entertainment’s Monday Night Raw. As special guest hosts, The Muppets will be promoting their upcoming movie, while also bringing the same mayhem that follows them everywhere to the WWE Universe, a place already guaranteeing chaos on a weekly basis. What should happen on the show? Well, here’s a couple ideas that I hope the writers take into consideration before penning the final draft of Monday’s Raw:
Kermit becomes GM for the day
As we all know, Kermit is the consensus leader of the Muppets gang and what better way to show his leadership skills than to run Raw for the evening. He can make the matches, settle issues between wrestlers and bring a whole new level of respect to the general manager position. Come to think of it, this wouldn’t be a bad premise for its own primetime series: Muppet Wrestling Federation. Of course in that version, Kermit would be the unlikely underdog World Champion, with Miss Piggy as his smoking hot valet!

Kermit performs some backstage GM duties

Fozzy Bear trades jokes with Santino Marella
While Fozzy Bear is gag master of the Muppets, Santino Marella is comic relief to wrestling on a weekly basis – when he actually appears on camera, that is. So, it would make sense to pair these two jokesters up and let them exchange barbs. Of course, the segment would end with both getting ripped by Waldorf and Statler (more on them later), as Fozzy was always tormented by the two old men. Together, maybe Fozzy and Marella could finally stand up to the old coots.

Fozzy searches for laughs

Miss Piggy puts together a team to feud with Vickie Guerrero and her associates/challenges for the Diva’s Championship
Over the past few years, Vickie Guerrero has become a human version of Miss Piggy: vain, self-involved, mean, etc. So, perhaps it’s finally time for the two to meet face-to-face and battle it out to be on top. Miss Piggy could put together a team of Mason Ryan and Zack Ryder or Tag Champs Air Boom to challenge Vickie’s charges Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger. Another option would be to have Piggy challenge for the Divas Championship, facing Beth Phoenix, who’s out on a mission to rid the WWE of Barbie doll Divas. If that doesn’t perfectly define Miss Piggy, than I don’t know what does.

Piggy and Vickie - the image on the right is grainy, but you get the gist of it

Sam the Eagle teaches Jack Swagger about real American pride
Jack Swagger has dubbed himself the All-American American, but his actions and behaviour have offended everyone from proud countryman and WWE legend Sgt. Slaughter to Hall of Famer ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. It’s about time someone gives Swagger a few lessons about how to conduct himself, and who better to do that than American patriot Sam the Eagle. If he can’t get through to Swagger – a very likely conclusion – then Sam could always resort to giving him an epic verbal lashing, the likes of which will never be seen again.

Sam the Eagle - defender of the US of A

Waldorf and Statler join the commentary team
Their balcony commentary – or more aptly titled critiquing – is harsh, ruthless and hilarious. So, what if the duo of Waldorf and Statler took their act to the commentary booth and started taking shots at WWE Superstars? I think this would be the funniest segment of the evening, especially if one of the wrestlers took exception to being stripped down by a couple of old timers and tried to take actions into their own hands. Would anyone bail out the geriatric insult hurlers?

Waldorf and Statler join Michael Cole for some commentary booth hijinks

Gonzo performs some sort of stunt and gets his beak broken
Gonzo the Great is Gonzo’s stuntman alias and I’m thinking his stunt could be as simple as challenging a WWE Superstar to a fight, perhaps in a jealous rage, as he feels his love, Camilla the Chicken, is being hit on by one of the wrestling brutes. As with many of Gonzo’s actions, this fight ends with his beak getting all bent out of shape. A possible opponents for Gonzo could be Hornswoggle the Leprechaun and the scene could end with onlookers questioning what both Gonzo and Hornswoggle actually are, a long running gag with the Muppets, as nobody really knows what Gonzo is.

Gonzo the Great, ready for action

The Electric Mayhem perform entrance music for various Superstars
One of the most beloved aspects of wrestling is the theme music. Well, match that with one of the most adored bands of all time, The Electric Mayhem – Dr. Teeth, Janice, Sgt. Floyd Pepper, Zoot and Animal – and you have a perfect opportunity for some memorable moments. The group has covered Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ before, so covering some WWE entrances shouldn’t be too difficult. At the very least, The Electric Mayhem should get to play a song as the opening to the broadcast.
Animal shows the WWE Universe how things are really done
Animal is the Muppet who most closely resembles a wrestling persona, so if he’s not too busy with his theme song performing duties, he should take a crack at a Superstar or two. Can you imagine Animal bashing one of the WWE’s dastardly bad guys over the head with his drum sticks or even a drum cymbal for that matter? Animal is my personal favourite Muppet and if he doesn’t get a fair share of screen time on this episode of Raw, I will truly be crushed. It will make or break the show for me.

Animal equipped with his favourite weapons

Sheamus saves Professor Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker from an attack
You know anytime these two guys are around, that Beaker is going to end up getting hurt. Beaker was once compared to WWE Superstar Sheamus, both having very pale skin and red spiky hair. If Sheamus were still a bad guy, I’m sure he would destroy Beaker, but now the Great White (perhaps the most racist nickname in WWE history, despite the company trying to follow a strict PG rating and gearing their product to kids) is a fan favourite. I’m sure Sheamus will come to the aid of Beaker, who will likely be getting pushed around by Sheamus’ recent rival Christian.

Separated at birth?

Crazy Harry blows something up… anything
Finally, the show should end with a bang… literally. That’s how the Muppet 3-D show at the Disney parks end, so why not have Raw go off the air with a massive display of pyro, perhaps even have the ring and stage set-up implode. They could tease it all night, showing Harry trying to blow stuff up to make an impact, but always being thwarted. Then finally, at the end of the night, he’s successful and boom goes the dynamite!

Your friendly neighbourhood explosives expert