With the recent release of The Big Year in theatres – a comedy about the misadventures of three friends, each trying to win the North American Big Year annual bird watching competition – I thought it would be a good time to look back on all the little birdies out there that make us laugh. I personally hate birds of all types (with a few exceptions) and that will be reflected greatly in this post. If a bird is involved, I often route for his adversary, but I still have to give these winged creatures props for bringing an element of joy to our lives.
Note: I had to narrow down the criteria for this list because with all the duck and penguin et al options out there, this article could have gone on forever. Therefore, I am strictly sticking to birds and not all animals within the bird family. Perhaps I will touch on those that were excluded another time because there are some real gems among the group.
Tweety Bird is quite possibly the most famous bird in the world, but that doesn’t make me like him any better. I come from a cat family and as a result, always wanted to see Sylvester the Cat get his paws on this annoying pest. The battles between Tweety and Sylvester are legendary, often resulting in poor Sylvester getting roughed up by Granny, Tweety’s owner, or Hector, Granny’s pet bulldog. In later years, Tweety and Sylvester teamed up to solve mysteries, but their rivalry still remained strong.
While Sesame Street is more geared towards helping children learn their ABC’s and 123’s, there’s still an element of humour added by the writers and conveyed by the puppeteers and actors. Big Bird’s interaction with the youngsters featured on the show often results in some laughs, in a ‘kids say the darndest things’ way. Big Bird can also get some smiles through his dealings with fellow puppets, notably the monsters, like Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch, as well as the adults who call Sesame Street home.
And we’re back to annoying birds that use their moxie to counter otherwise insurmountable odds and enemies. The sheer number of rivals Woody has encountered over the years, is evidence of him being a pain-in-the-ass. There’s Wally Walrus, Buzz Buzzard, Andy Panda and many others that Woody has slighted with his trouble-making ways. Regardless of my feelings about Woody, you just can’t keep this bird down. He keeps coming back and wreaking havoc, earning laughs all along the way.
Oh, the joys of Gilbert Gottfried… seriously. I know most people find him deplorable and can’t stand listening to him, but I have a soft spot for the guy. His stand-up act is funny and his appearances on shows like Married with Children and as a roaster for Comedy Central’s Roasts are guaranteed to make you laugh. As Iago, in the Aladdin movies and TV series, Gottfried takes the character from evil-doer to good guy and never misses a beat with the quips.
Gogo the Dodo
Godo the Dodo was one crazy bird. I mean, the dude has an umbrella sticking out of the top of his head and he resides in Wackyland, a place that better resembles a Salvador Dali painting than anything else. Gogo makes the rest of the characters in the Tiny Toon Adventures world seem normal and controlled, by comparison. The wackier the toon, the more laughs they usually get.
One of the feature acts of the Anamaniacs cartoon series, the Goodfeathers were a parody of the Goodfellas – Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci – and copied their parts perfectly. Bobby, Squit and Pesto’s misadventures are often ??? by the Marlon Brando-esque Godpigeon, leaving Pesto to lose his temper and attack young Squit, while Bobby watches from afar and laughs at the beating. One such scenario involved the trio unsuccessfully trying to get a discarded donut in the middle of the road, only to watch in dismay, as the Godpigeon strolled across the street – traffic stopping for him, of course – and gobble up the treat.
Snoopy’s feathered protégé has provided a number of services to his canine friend, ranging from secretary to caddy. Through his relationship with the dog, Woodstock usually gets caught in Snoopy’s schemes and other activities and somehow the two remain close friends, despite the chaos that often results.
One of the comic relief characters in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Scuttle is Ariel’s go-to source for information on the human items she finds. Of course, Scuttle doesn’t know what the item is really called or what it’s actually used for, but that doesn’t stop the seagull from trying to teach Ariel about life on land. Voiced by comedian Buddy Hackett, Scuttle also plays an important role in Ariel and Prince Eric finally getting together.
Henery Hawk has a taste for chickens and the meal he really wants is Foghorn Leghorn. Of course, getting the advantage on Foghorn is a very difficult task, as the young hawk is quick to learn. Some of the funniest moments between Henery and Foghorn are when the latter convinces the little tough bird that he is in fact not a chicken and that what he actually desires is Barnyard Dawg. Then, after he is attacked, it’s usually time for Dawg to set Henery straight and send him back in Foghorn’s direction. Lather, rinse, repeat.
While I have yet to really get into this game, I know that it’s such a massive hit, spawning a ton of merchandise, that I couldn’t leave them off. The Angry Birds, are a group of flying menaces that are trying to destroy pigs and the structures around them. Each bird (except the red normal bird) has its own special ability, including blue birds being able to split into three birds, yellow birds being able to go faster through the air, black birds being able to explode and white birds being able to drop explosive eggs from above. All in the name of bird-on-pig violence and fun.
Wilbur and Orville (Rescuers)
Orvile (voiced by Jim Jordan in the original) and his brother Wilbur (voiced by John Candy in the sequel) are a pair of albatrosses that help the Rescuers get from point A to point B. They’re not the smoothest fliers, but are always there for their friends and actually make you like birds for a change.
Petey the Bird (Dumb and Dumber)
Okay, so Petey didn’t really do much work himself, but the comedy that ensued surrounding the bird’s decapitation and subsequent sale by Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) to a little blind boy provided pure comedic genius. The story even found its way onto the A Current Affair news program, to the horror of Mary Swanson (Lauren Holly), whom our favourite team of idiots were trying to woo.
Birds on The Flintstones
Finally on this list, is the menagerie of birds used on The Flintstones to perform acts such as being a record player needle or a can opener or to carry out some other function that makes the lives of the humans easier. After completing its task, the bird would look into the camera and state, “It’s a living,” much to my enjoyment and other fans of the series.