Saturday, June 30, 2012

Newhart creating sanity surrounded by surrealism

Today has been a quintessential SUMMER DAY characterized by three classic "N" pursuits -- napping, national pastime and Newhart.
In between snoozing and listening to baseball on the radio, I've been enjoying bits from some of the BOB NEWHART records of the early 1960s.
Before his successful television shows, Newhart was an "accountant turned comic," writes Michael B. Kassel, "(whose) ability to create sanity while surrounded by surrealism and insanity" became his hallmark and "who became famous for his outlandish comedy routines based on telephone conversations with people like Abraham Lincoln and Sir Walter Raleigh."
Newhart's "Driving Instructor" skit is one such memorable moment of keeping sane amid surrealism, as he narrates one side of a conversation between the instructor and his willing but inept student:
"You're doing fine... You're not blocking anyone's lane... No, as long as you are here on the safety island, you are not blocking anyone's lane... Now let's practice some turns. Um, the important thing on turns is not to make them too sharp, just kind of make a gradual... Now that was fine... That was a wonderful turn... It's hard for me to believe you only had two lessons after you make a turn like... Are you sure you haven't had more now?... One little thing... This is a one way street... Well, no, no, actually it was partially my fault, you see, but, uh, you were in the left hand lane and you were signaling left, and I just more or less assumed you were going to turn left."


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