Everyone has a view of Gordon Keith. A few days ago, I posted birdie's account of his evolving view of the man. Very nice, balanced piece. He has the advantage of me, as he's been listening for many years longer than I have. You will see a lot in here that birdie's already reported; many of his views and mine are congruent.
Some Confessors just don't like the guy much at all, but with only few exceptions, they recognize his talent. Those talents are considerable and, in my judgment, borderline amazing.
First, there's just the comedy content, which, for many, focuses on his impressions. They are indeed very good, and in some cases uncanny. Are you aware that he has two Jerry Jones impersonations? There's the comic foghorn Jerry that we're all familiar with. And, every once in awhile, very rarely, he'll favor the P1 with his "real" impersonation where he backs off a little and that is absolutely dead on with the Jerry you hear -- well, you hear everywhere.
Garrett. Hicks. Norm. Nolan.
And there are the characters which, when listed, current and retired, soar into the dozens upon dozens, very few of them sounding like another .
And think about the sheer volume of material he has to come up with -- a lot of which he composes during the show.
I'm like most of you -- I hear some things from time to time that I'd have left on the shelf. I mentioned a week or so back that I heard something awhile back that I did think went over the line. I wrote a column on it, but shelved it myself. It was the Doug Free character (no evidence I know of that it was an actual impersonation). Since this column is basically a rave, I'll cut and paste it here:
Let me make one thing clear.
I laughed at Gordon's Doug Free bit during Kowboy Komedy Theater (I know, I didn't tune in, but they replayed it the next day). I laughed at it again during the 8:40 bit back a week or so ago. I guess maybe that's two things to make clear.
I will also make clear that I am aware that Doug Free, after receiving yet another one of Jerry Jones's incomprehensibly gaudy contract extensions, may have devolved into the worst offensive lineman in the Niffle. I don't recall having heard anything about him being injured or that there is any other explanation for his poor play other than just plain bad football playing.
So I cannot deny that, as a prominent local underperforming professional athlete, he is fair game for Gordon.
But is anyone else out there uncomfortable with his (again, concededly, hilarious) portrayal of Doug Free as a drooling, brain-damaged maroon? Most of Gordon's impersonations are pointed, but only rarely are they vicious.
So, alls I'm saying is -- I'm uncomfortable with it in the same way I'm uncomfortable with teasing of any unsatisfactory person that crosses the line from wit to cruelty.
True, I laughed out loud.
But I'm not happy about it.
I think this summarizes what a lot of us think about Gordon. Our jaws drop at his output and talent, but once in awhile we're mortified at the juvenalia -- which, at their heart, I think pieces like the Doug Free segments boil down to.
Having said this, I want to defend Gordon against charges of on-air bullying. Maybe I'm not thinking of the same instances that other listeners are, but I think those critics are referring to his selection of unsuspecting interview subjects during his wireless perambulations. It's true: Some of them are drunk old men; some of them are silly young girls; all of them can be made to look foolish and sad to the with-it masses tuned in to the program. I will concede that those are not my favorite Gordon segments, either. But I believe all of these subjects know they're either on the air or being recorded, and if they're uncomfortable with Gordon doing his insinuating thing , asking about their sex lives and whatnot (more juvenalia), they can turn away from the mic or beat feet.
I do sometimes hear some, uh, shall we say, pointed remarks to the behind-the-scenes guys. There's the "wanna shut that mike off, buddy?" drop, and there are other occasions where he's plainly unhappy with something going on behind the scenes. I sense he's not a JV favorite. We like to think of The Ticket as a bunch of guys who all get along, but the inside baseball there would probably astound us. I'm going to come back to this, but on this particular point I'll only say this: When your entire on-air time partakes of performance, and not just conversation, then things like timing and freedom from interruption are important. If the toys don't work, or a drop plops in at the wrong place, or a JV inserts some snark -- well, it can screw up the gag.
But I think we would also have to concede that there is very little of this. The great mass of his production is quality stuff and within the bounds of comedic taste. Yeah, there's the occasional miss, but, like Alan Swann (the Errol Flynn-like character from "My Favorite Year" played by Peter O'Toole) said while in extremis: "Dying is easy; comedy is hard." (The original quote to this effect, not nearly so pithy, is attributed to deathbed statements of Edmund Kean and/or Edmund Gwenn, the latter seeming to have the better claim.) Not every bit is going to kill, especially when the bitmeister is called upon to produce like Gordon is.
I'm also impressed by his writing. His DMNews columns are funny, but they can also be quite touching, and frequently very observant. (If all you had was the evidence of his column, you would call him a "humorist.") I wish I could think of the one a few months back that really moved me. I would think some clever person (Wilonsky?) would be making an effort to syndicate his column, although it might have to lose the occasional DFW flavoring.
I'm going to say one more nice thing about Gordon before I get to my Big Point: Gordon is always adjusting his game. I think he listens to the P1. birdie got to this point very nicely when he talked about Gordon's, and his own, journey down through The Ticket years. I'll only mention one example, and unfortunately it's going to sound self-aggrandizing but here it is anyway: I really didn't care for the way he used to bait George by attributing to him anti-gay/black/Mexican/etc. sentiments that he did not hold. I didn't mind the political teasing -- it's just that it would bring the show to a complete halt while we all waited for George to say "that's not my opinion," and there would be an awkward pause, and jeesh. He used it a lot. I wrote about it a couple times, here's one: MEMORANDUM TO: That Certain Commander. Well, there's still that political teasing, but you almost never hear the baiting anymore. Gordon is always fixing, tinkering, ridding out. He cares more about the laugh than the showing off.
And Gordon mentioned in the mini-interview in The Observer that he's thinking of heading in a new direction. I believe it. Of course, anything -- including pronouncements of new directions -- can be a bit with Gordon.
OK, I know, not much new here, long way to go for not much. Welcome to My Ticket Confession! Time for the Big Point.
But I, personally, am having such a good time here during Gordon Keith Week -- and I can really feel the warm feelings out there among the Confessors! -- that I'm going to keep GKW going for at least one more episode.