You didn’t think he’d make it this far. You might’ve even thought he died years ago. By Gog, you were wrong. At least until last Tuesday. It’s hard to believe that, just two summers ago, this husk of a man flew from L.A. to Washington D.C. for some over-blown honorarium, and, after all the goosing and drinking was done, boy, were his lawyers tired! He traveled freight class on transport befitting a man his age and has-been status: cargo hold, FOB Destination, tucked within a pink silk and mink-lined coffin shaped like MAMIE VAN DOREN’S BREASTS. Access portals in the coffin’s nipples allowed a tubing delivery system for the essential martini drips necessary to keep the legendary funnyman razor happy and humorlessly caustic. And, if it happened that his landing gear dropped well before the plane’s did, then at least he was in begrudgingly responsive hands. Nested in the cloud of super absorbent, odor-resistant padding as he was, he’d ring the bell, he’d push the buzzer and he’d scream bloody, pruney horror. However, he wouldn’t have to sit in his comedy long; his attendants were used to hopping when he started ringing, buzzing and screaming. He relied on these abused retainers for everything- to eat, to hold his cue cards, to assist him with his ‘gentlemen’s toilette,’ to run back and forth for this or that all day long. It had gotten so bad that his staff had to molest each other, for, despite the Tanqueray, he no longer had the strength.
At age 90, despite his deteriorating condition, he had his pick of lower to mid-tier jobs in Hollywood: the basset hound in the new BEEFY CHUNX commercial or the leading role in WHAT ABOUT JERRY? a made for television movie about a comic with altzheimers. This one promised to be a ride on the comedy train! Alas, it failed. One of his last features showcased the George Burns wannabe at his absolute best! Our elder showman played a spergy version of HUGH HEFNER in a JIM CARREY vehicle of forgotten stature.
But, as his assistants prepped him for the event of this SAGgy lifetime achievement award, the elder statesman of crustaceous vaudeville could barely focus on staying upright. He had the cue cards. Thank Gog for the cue cards. He’d been using them for 58 years and, like any well-worn crutch, he couldn’t live without them. Sputtering along on the ultra-low milage of his antique joke grimoire, you’d think he would’ve been able to remember his knee-sloppers after six decades and the gazillionth time.
Make no mistake! That old codger still had tricks and treats galore up his slack, overarching sleeves- he was a real tool and a national treasure.
The crowd loves and forgives, no matter what, it’s always been the same. World without end. Amen.
He was wheeled to and around the sets of his next 2 pictures shouting insults and issuing terminations along the way. He none-too-stylishly groped and grumped through the rigorous promotion and interview schedule, alienating and delighting old and young alike. His wheels rolled sure- as sure as his fancy footwork ever had. As it was, his performances invoked a stench of moth balls and other, less savory, rest-home aromas. Sadly, his final filmic endeavors underperformed at the box office. But, ever the smug rebel, our comedian (DON’T CALL ME A COMIC YOU SONOFABITCH!) told any reporter who’d listen- including that lamentable FINAL INTERVIEW with the pinch-faced Diane Sawyer- that he “didn’t give a rat’s-ass if they bombed in the States, because American audiences DON’T appreciate art.” Then, without a hint of irony, he always added, “They love me in France.”
He was 93 until last Tuesday.
His funeral was covered by the news. All the old white Hollywood Pricks and their Dames put on a show of tacky designer couture, tight skin, fake-crying and real sniping. The comedian would’ve appreciated the schmaltz and treachery.
His legacy was a bunch of making faces. His legacy was shredding people up with words. His legacy was being the out-loud-asshole we all love to hate; he was the asshole we wish we could be in our deepest and worst angry hearts. We love these assholes, really we do! But, he REALLY WAS that hideous, narcissistic asshole, through and through. He left nothing to his children. Why? Because, as he’d quipped to any reporter whenever asked about his kids, ‘they’re assholes.’ Diane Sawyer thought that was very funny.
What shall we do with the body? What did his majesty want? Memorialized in a mausoleum of course. He died of natural curses because he was an angel with an angle. He was Mister Americhahahaha, he performed on our troops. He raised money for orphanages that he would go on to plunder later on for a hoot- forever a miser and a stereotype-joke geyser. He held the chips for himself. He got where he was because he did what never needed to be done which always pays off in this life and the next. Heck, his coffin alone cost more than you’re total lifetime net worth.
Even in death, he’ll be the first to remind you that he’s an icon. He may appear to you as you drift off to sleep, as some crumbling clown in a nightmare. Or he may haunt you in syndication with 60 plus years of IQ dropping media. Which only proves that this icon’s wheels are greased and, like the culture his brand of comedy helped forge, still spinning out of control.