Sunday, December 06, 2015
This would have been his 100th birthday, which is a good excuse to stage tributes to him. CBS has one tonight – a biggie featuring a lot of rock stars. This to me is quite ironic since Sinatra loathed rock n’ roll. He didn’t understand it, he lashed out at it, made fun of it, and worse – tried to do it himself. ( Maybe if Ava Gardner had sung with Jefferson Airplane he would have gotten it. We’ll never know.)
Appropriately, there are no comedians honoring him on this show for a very good reason – Frank Sinatra was painfully unfunny. Sorry. There it is. Were he alive I’m sure some no neck thugs would be visiting me, but let’s get real. Listen to any Rat Pack concert recording. The jokes are all cringeworthy, racist, hostile, inside, and embarrassing.
Now you could say Sinatra just needed better writers, but that wouldn’t have helped. He had zero comic timing. Dino had comic timing. Sammy (poor Sammy) had comic timing. But Frank (and remember I love him) was to comedy what Sam Kinison was to the Great American Songbook.
His movie comedies were not much better. When I hosted the Neil Simon festival on TCM I screened COME BLOW YOUR HORN (Neil’s first play adapted into a film). It’s the story of two Jewish brothers in New York. Frank gave it that ring-a-ding-ding edge you rarely see in Jewish families.
And worse than not being funny– he thought he WAS funny. There’s nothing more excruciating than that. My heart goes out to the toadies and hangers-on who hung out with him and had to laugh at his horrible jokes 24/7. Especially Sammy who was the butt of those jokes. Frank’s idea of delivering a line was to break into “Amos & Andy.” Yes, it was from a different time but Jesus!
But when it comes to comedy, Nancy is funnier.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM