The Curse of Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7

It seems that there was no corner I could turn within Spout that I wasn't reminded of one very important fact: despite the massive amounts of films and videos I have seen in my lifetime, none of it meant anything unless I took in a viewing of Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7. A collection of three silent era short film masterpieces (they are coming from "comedy masters," after all) starring the likes of the great Harry Langdon (of Tramp, Tramp, Tramp fame), Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7 exists only on VHS and is long out of print, and yet, this seemingly innocuous tape seems to be the cornerstone upon which all of film history is set. At least, according to Spout. Until very recently, nothing could be looked up on Spout without Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7 boxing me about the ears and telling me how woefully uneducated I was as regards this subject. Or any subject, really...

The chief problem, though, was finding a copy of
Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7, but luckily that is exactly the purpose for which sites like eBay expressly exist. Apparently, there is no dearth of copies of Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7 to be had. A cursory search of Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7 found a smattering of unfortunate owners, around 4,632 of them to be somewhat exact, and each of them practically begging to not only send a copy of Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7 my way, but amazingly, a special program had been written for just Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7 alone, where a misguided seeker of Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7 could solicit bids from the various owners, and not only procure Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7 for his own personal collection, but actually get paid for taking Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7 off their hands. As a result, following the close of the bidding period (truncated to three hours for easier dispersal of Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7 from the owner's possession), I not only received a copy of Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7 by same-day Federal Express shipping (paid for by the tape owner), but I made $42.77 as well.

But, why was
Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7 so ever-present on Spout? Reviewing the tape, I was astonished to discover that whilst playing it, my VCR was shaking ever so slightly, and a swirling, almost hypnotic whirlpool pattern formed on my TV screen. I had yet to actually switch over to AV, and the cable was still running, and it was as I tried to flip away from the effect that I discovered Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7 is a cursed tape, operating almost like a wormhole, sending any item that comes close to get captured for a ride through time to face existence inside an alternate dimension. Flipping stations as fast as I could in an attempt to stop the mayhem, I saw numerous celebrities from each station, and even ordinary people on news channels, being sucked into and down the frenzied, flushing maw of the whirlpool! Finding no way to cease the carnage, I hit the AV button to see if this had any effect directly on the tape itself.

Balding, slow-burn artiste Edgar Kennedy starred in 1931's Help Wanted, Female as a burglar named Gunner who busts into a doctor's office with the aide of a none-too-brainy accomplice. I expected Kennedy to be in the film, but what took me by surprise was the fact that the accomplice was now played by a looming Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who not only slammed "The People's Elbow" through Kennedy's chest cartilage, but then preceded to use "The People's Eyebrow" to woo a surprised but happy Mrs. Hemingway, now played by Chaka Khan, sucked into the story from a VH1 Classics revival of the video for I Feel For You, which she then tests out on The Rock by feeling for him everywhere. Kennedy manages to revive himself in time to view the disgusting outcome, and slowly slaps his burly hand over and down his astonished face in frustration.

Harry Langdon's exemplary sound short from 1933, Knight Duty, finds the wide-eyed and hapless Langdon as a security guard encountering wax figures running amok in a museum. Where once the figures were played by common extras of the day, thanks to the curse plaguing
Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7, they are now played by the likes of Martin Sheen, Mamie van Doren, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Carol Wayne, Mort Sahl, Casey Kasem, Casey Stengel, K.C. from the Sunshine Band but not with the band, and that guy with the cheesy mustache that sells ass-blasting colonic-flushing products on late-night paid programming. If you though Langdon could run before...

The extent of the power of the curse of Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7 doesn't become fully apparent until one views in 1932's The Toreador, feature Elmer Fudd-progenitor Joe Penner in the title role. The stands of the bullfighting ring are crammed full with every celebrity possible from nearly every era of entertainment history: Louise Brooks rubs elbows with Joe Franklin, who drops names like crazy into the ears of H.L. Mencken and a coked-up Amy Winehouse; Shirley Temple, resplendent in miniature flamenco dress and castanets, sits cheerily upon the shoulders of The Toxic Avenger as he mops the floors of the stands with his trademark grimace; and tortillas are sold to the crowd by a sombrero-bedecked Ethan Hawke, who mumbles passages from his latest unread novel while everyone ignores him. While Burt Bacharach leads the band in a mariachi version of I Say A Little Prayer manages to puff out his trademark cry of "You nasty man!" before passing out. Rove then cruelly gores , the bull enters the ring, now portrayed not by a bull, but by Karl Rove. Some would say, it's still a lot of bull, and you wouldn't be far off the mark. Penner attempts to subdue the bull with his dated clowning, but Rove sends functionaries out to capture the script and rewrites it to create the misleading impression that Penner is a terrorist threat, and as the bullring is not to be found within the borders of the U.S., Rove and his cronies eagerly submit Penner to a torturous water-boarding. Gasping between quickly captured breaths, the now-drowning PennerPenner with his fake bullhorns to cover up his heinous act.

My theory regarding
Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7 is that, whatever curse was laid upon the tape, it was done just before the duping process, and hence, every copy of Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7 sucked in and captured onto the films within completely different characters and figures. Once these tapes were sent out and reviewed by various movie sites, each one reported different stars, and logged these names accordingly. This would include AllMovie.com, which gathered their information from numerous sources, and stands as the prime source for Spout's information. So, don't blame Spout if each and every one of their searches, until recently (I assume they have now corrected the problem), pulled up Comedy Masters of Yesteryear, Vol. 7 for even the most obscure references. Blame the curse.

Of course,
you could say, "It's still a lot of bull," and you wouldn't be far off the mark...

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