The Gift Of Mirth

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006, 8:10 pm

The actor Peter Boyle died today. I never watched Everyone Loves Raymond, but Mr. Boyle is responsible for one of the 5 biggest laughing fits I’ve ever had.

I should say that when I start laughing, I pretty much totally lose control. I’ll laugh until I can’t breathe. I’ll laugh until I’m close to throwing up. I’ll laugh so hard my back muscles will seize and my ribs bruise.

So when I watched Young Frankenstein for the first time, and Boyle and Gene Wilder appear on stage oddly wearing top hats and tails, I didn’t quite see where the joke was coming from. Nor did I catch on as Wilder sang, “If you’re blue and you don’t know where to go to, why don’t you go where fashion sits…”

And then Boyle, playing the Monster, shrieks “POOOODDINAHHHNTHAAAREEEEEETZ!”

Utter collapse. I think my dad finally told me to either shut the hell up or leave the room.

I’m trying to think of the triggers to my other all-time laughing jags…

  • The scene in the one Pink Panther movie where Clouseau is swinging back and forth on the parallel bars, gaily reminiscing about his prowess back in the Academy, and then his dismounts off the side…and falls down a hole cut in the floor. He somersaults all the way down to the living room where the guests/suspects are gathered, and he staggers to his feet, tries to collect himself, and says, “That…feels…good!”
  • The scene in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life where Mr. Creosote goes to the French restaurant, informs the maitre’d that he’d better get a bucket because he’s gonna throw up, and, once seated, well, he throws up. My dad actually grabbed me and said, “You gotta see this,” after he’d rented it and made sure it was OK for us to see.
  • The Simpsons where Homer decides to catch up on some reading…and grabs a jar. “Honey roasted peanuts,” he declaims. “Ingredients–salt…honey roasting agents…pressed peanut sweepings…” Marge then enters and asks what Homer wants for dinner. “Steak?” Homer chirps. Marge says, “Money’s too tight for steak…” “Steak?” Homer interrupts with the same chirpy smile on his face, which shows that he isn’t hearing her.
  • The Saturday Night Live commercial where Will Ferrell tries the breakfast cereal with the special additive MDMA. Better known as Ecstasy. Ferrell then goes to a meeting wearing nothing but bright yellow briefs and a Cat-in-the-Hat hat. I laughed so hard I think my friend Kris was going to call an ambulance.
  • I’m sure there were scenes in the first Naked Gun movie where I laughed myself insensate, but I can’t remember one particular example. But in Top Secret, an earlier Zucker/Abrams/Zucker movie, there’s a scene where they sing the East German national anthem with subtitles. I’m not going to quote it all here, I don’t think it’ll transfer well, but when I saw it I laughed myself nauseous.

So rest in peace, Peter Boyle. His was an illustrious career, and he gifted the world with many giggles and guffaws. Heck, I didn’t even mention the scene in Young Frankenstein with him and Gene Hackman…

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2 Responses to “The Gift Of Mirth”

  1. BadBlood Says:

    That Pink Panther scene is way up there for me too. “Ahhh yes…it’s all coming back to me now.” Crash.

  2. Deal'em Says:

    One Naked Gun favorite here: Priscilla Presley standing on a step ladder, wearing a skirt…with Leslie Nielsen standing to the side and below. All you can see is bottom two thirds of Presley and dialogue goes like this:

    LN – “Nice beaver.”
    PP – “Thanks, I just had it stuffed.”

    At which point, she passes down an actual stuffed beaver to Nielsen.

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