Friday, April 12, 2013

like lightning

American comedian Jonathan Winters died Thursday in California at the age of 87.

He was probably the greatest comedian of the 20th century ... or anyway, he'd get my vote. You could always feel his insanity lurking at the edges of his routines, but it was impossible to stop watching: He was the sky in which other comedians might claim to be stars. His stuff was never contrived or subservient or cheap or memorized or self-important ... it came pure and new out of his enormous edgeless cosmos... non sequiturs that left you doubled up with laughter because they seemed so perfectly in tune with his subject matter... non sequiturs that made perfect sense and yet could not be called anything other than non sequiturs.

Like lightning and with empty hands, he delivered.

To say he was "like" is too mealy-mouthed by half.

I once saw him in tandem with Robin Williams, another comedian who could leave ordinary comedians in the dust and whose demons likewise lurked. To hear the two of them go at it was like being privy to the best of the best and yet beyond the best ... nanosecond-fast, bright as a supernova, and the likes of which were impossible to find elsewhere ... ever.

"Genius" is such a limp-wristed and inadequate word.

If I had to guess why he died, I think I'd imagine that Winters could not abide the notion that Margaret Thatcher (the former British PM who died Monday at 87) might hog the limelight in the afterlife. What a trove of material she might represent to him.

No comments:

Post a Comment