The P1 is duly outraged by that almost unbelievably crappy "Fake Jerry" imitation that the imitator -- I can't even remember his name and the sooner I forget the whole episode the better -- stole from Gordon. The impression is awful, every gag not directly plagiarized from Gordon is lame. Even calling him "Fake Jerry" is a steal.
But I must observe that:
Artists, including some very great artists, steal. Picasso famously is said to have remarked that "good artists copy, great artists steal." Picasso should know. But no one would claim that Picasso was not a great artist.
Comedians, in particular, steal. Some, like the late Milton Berle, make a schtick out of their thievery.
Although this site may not be good evidence of it, I've written a fair amount of comedy in my time for performance and in writing, and I've certainly swiped a gag or three.
And Gordon Keith has . . . borrowed.
I thought I'd written a whole piece on this because I was so stunned when I saw it, but in Googling myself I see I only mentioned it in a comment last July 9 during the never-ending Gordon Keith Week on MTC.
I don't remember if it was Gordon's old TV show or in a sketch he produced for someone else's show, but he appeared in a bit where the premise was that he was going to appear on a TV show, I believe alongside some female co-host. The bit was that he strutted into the TV station/studio, overly familiar with the staff, breezy, talkative, confident, acting like being on the upcoming show was going to be the most natural thing in the world, like he was an old hand at the TV game. Then, when the cameras roll, he completely freezes, staring in stark terror.
While no dialogue got lifted, this is an obvious appropriation, in concept, of the legendary "Chef of the Future" episode of Jackie Gleason's "The Honeymooners."
The punch line -- the stare -- is a direct steal.
Ralph Kramden bought a bunch of multi-use kitchen gadgets that he and Ed Norton (Art Carney) were going to hawk on a live commercial. All goes well until cameras are about to roll, the director is counting down, and then -- the petrified stare. If you try to find it on You Tube, you have to find one that begins during the rehearsal, where Ralph is still confident, to get the comedic effect. I know a lot of these old shows don't travel well through the ages, but the first time I saw this episode when I was in plains graduate school I was on the floor -- literally -- in convulsive laughter.
So let's face it, creativity is hard, good stuff is rare. It's why the great ones are so treasured. Gordon is one, in my judgment. (Come to think of it, Jackie Gleason was known as "The Great One." Interestingly, Gleason is frequently celebrated on The Ticket as the embodiment of Sheriff Buford T. Justice in "Smokey and the Bandit.") And jeez, when you crank out the volume that he does, you're going to, uh, remember some things.
And at least Gordon has the good sense to reprise something that's 60 years old that much of his audience will never have seen. And he ripped off one of the funniest things I've ever seen on the old Admiral.
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