Saturday, November 05, 2011
There’s an art to being a curmudgeon. It’s not enough to just complain about things, you have to be entertaining while doing it. Otherwise you’re just a crank or running for office. A good curmudgeon can say the things we wish we could say if we weren’t worried about losing our jobs or friends.
Andy Rooney was the best. You could watch him every week for 30 years and rarely say to the screen, “Oh shut up!” I’m sure Andy would consider that the ultimate compliment.
He was also one of the last curmudgeons. Yes, we still have Lewis Black, Fran Lieborwitz (when she's not just freeloading in the Hamptons), and a few other notable malcontents, but it’s not like the old days. Back in the ‘40s to the ‘60s, when Andy Rooney was just middle aged, the airwaves and publications were filled with these golden arch voices. George S. Kaufman, Oscar Levant, Henry Morgan, Fred Allen, and Dorothy Parker were just a few. (The ones I missed would probably say, "Typical!") They would showcase their razor-sharp wits on game show panels, radio shows, talk shows, newspaper columns, and celebrity funerals. It was certainly their heyday. There were way more forums and way fewer anti-depressant drugs.
But through all the eras, all the changing times, there was Andy Rooney – a beacon of bitching. I will miss him. I hope that whenever there’s a moment of silence for him on TV we see the little stopwatch in the corner.
And I for one intend to keep the flame alive, for if nothing else, the blogosphere is merely our generation’s answer to the second seat on the WHAT’S MY LINE? panel.
By Ken Levine at 9:49 AM