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

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One response to “Occupy Comedy (Part 1)

  1. It’s funny that you included Trading Places because it was mentioned in my class today and now of course I have to see it again!

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