The days are warm, the water clear and skies blue. It’s once again time for that classic rite of summer: Women’s Pond Boxing.
Quite possibly the most gut-wrenchingest, funniest SNL skit of all time. If anyone has a copy of this video–which I’ve been unable to find–send me a link, drop me a line, let me know and I’ll be eternally grateful.
Jimmy Stewart…..Dana Carvey
[FADE IN on the “Sprockets” opening, with the nuclear bomb and city scenes.]
Announcer: Shprockets. Shprockets. Vest German television presents, “Shprockets.” Vith your host: Dieter.
[SUPERIMPOSE “LIVE SHOW” and then FADE to Dieter.]
Dieter: Velcome to “Shprockets,” I am your host, Dieter. Tonight our guest is vone of America’s foremost poets of anarchy and rebellion. An obsessed outcast, whose dark visions drag us to the edge. His book, “Jimmy Shtewart and His Poems”… [holds up book] …is filled with biting images that assault the senses, unmasking both reader and poet alike in a macabre dance of despair. He has also appeared in films. Please velcome Jimmy Shtewart!
[Audience cheers as Dieter stands up, claps stiffly, and then sits again. Jimmy Stewart finally dodders onstage in a dark gray suit and dark-rimmed glasses. He takes a seat next to Dieter.]
Dieter: Mr. Shtewart. Critic Graus Greck, in the latest issue of “Verdkunst,” described your book as an asylum, vhere man meets his Creator and screams.
Jimmy Stewart: Well, uh, thank you, Dieter. That’s, uh… Y’know–y’know, Gloria and I are big fans of YOURS.
Dieter: In your poem, “Old Rocking Chair,” you write: “You sit in the corner/Old rocking chair/It makes me feel good/To know you are there.”
Jimmy Stewart: Yeah…
Dieter: I feel emotionally obliterated.
Jimmy Stewart: I’m glad–glad–glad to HEAR that, y’see, good poetry is about DESTRUCTION.
Dieter: Under vhat conditions does a man experience such raw truth?
Jimmy Stewart: Well, Dieter, it’s no picnic, I can tell you that right now. I was holed up in a Mexico City slum. I hadn’t eaten in weeks, and what few pesos I had, I’d spent on alcohol. Some cheap crap called chocho. I was down and out. That’s when I wrote “Good Old Rockin’ Chair.” You see, you’ve gotta go through the PAIN.
Dieter: And vhat of your poem, “Funny Little Pooch”?
Jimmy Stewart: Yeah. There’s a rather interesting story about that “Funny Little Pooch” thing… There was a period of intense creativity for me, Dii-eter.
Jimmy Stewart: Dooter.
Jimmy Stewart: Yeah. yeah. You know, I’d been hitchhiking through Paraguay when I finally settled in Bella Cristo with a 15-year-old WHORE. For a week straight, I was either having sex or hallucinating. Yeah… And then I woke up one morning and she was GONE… she’s just–just GONE. And she’d taken all my stuff, and I–I just got crazy paranoid for a minute–well–you–know–how it can be. And I just curled up on that floor like a little baby, and just bawled my eyes out. And–and then a very interesting thing happened. I realized that I was just a speck of crud in a godless VOID. And twenty minutes later, I’d written “Funny Little Pooch.”
Dieter: Jimmy Shtewart: you are a running sore. Running from yourself, yet your scab heals us all.
Jimmy Stewart: Yeah. Yeah. Well, y’know, I just do what I do.
Dieter: May I read a passage from “My Kitten, My Pal”?
Jimmy Stewart: Well, I’d be HONORED, Dau-Daughter.
Jimmy Stewart: Dooter.
Jimmy Stewart: Yeah.
Dieter: [reading] “My kitten, my pal/You sit on my lap–”
Jimmy Stewart: Well, well, now–now–wait a minute. Now, now, you gotta read it–you gotta SCREAM it, like it’s a matter of life and death, you, can-can I show you… how, here… [takes book from him]
Dieter: Go right ahead.
Jimmy Stewart: All right… [reading] “My kitten, my pal/You sit on my lap/You’re a friendly sort of chap.” [muttering] I’m a little… thirsty here…
[Jimmy picks up a bottle of tequila and swigs from it.]
Jimmy Stewart: Now… GOOD.
[sets bottle down between him and Dieter]
Jimmy Stewart: [reading] “A little bit of gray and a little bit of white/I’ll tell you, little kitten/You’re doing all right.” Yeah.
Dieter: That poem pulls down my pants and taunts me.
Jimmy Stewart: Well, that’s exactly what it’s supposed to do. Yeah, it’s not rare when something happens like–I wrote that one on a piece of toilet paper, after waking up in a puddle of my own SICK.
Jimmy Stewart: Now, it wasn’t pretty, wasn’t pretty.
Dieter: Is it true that you vonce killed a man?
Jimmy Stewart: N-now, now, wait a minute there, Daughter. No–
Jimmy Stewart: That’s right, Dieter. No man ever really dies by the hand of another, you see, every man’s responsible for his own DEATH. And by the way, you haven’t asked me if I want to touch your MONKEY.
Dieter: I thought it beneath you.
Jimmy Stewart: Well, Dieter, if that monkey knew where I’d been, he wouldn’t LET me touch him.
Dieter: Then touch him. Touch him! Touch my monkey! [babbles in German] Touch him, LOVE HIM!
Jimmy Stewart: [walks over to monkey] All right, you little pal, let’s go–
[Dieter’s monkey squeals and jumps off his pedestal after Jimmy touches him.]
Jimmy Stewart: [yanks back hand] Oh! Oh, son of a bitch BIT me!
[Jimmy leaps back to the table and breaks off the top of the tequila bottle.]
Jimmy Stewart: [brandishing broken bottleneck] C’mon, monkey, let’s see what’s in that belly of yours!
Dieter: [standing up] Now is the time on “Shprockets” when we dance!
[The theme song starts up as the other dancers join Dieter and dance stiffly. After a moment, Jimmy squats down and starts doing the Charleston.]
Dieter: That’s all the time we have on “Shprockets.” Our guest has been Jimmy Shtewart. My name is Dieter. Auf wiedersehen.
[Dieter trots up close to the camera and dances in front of it.]
Jimmy Stewart: Hi, Gloria! [waves] I’ll see ya in six weeks! I’m making a pit stop in Turkey!
[FADE to black over applause.]
I did find this (the real deal)–Jimmy Stewart doing Jimmy Stewart is almost as good as Dana Carvey:
I took a free online course on Coursera recently–read some good old books. For each selection, students were required to write a brief, 350-word essay that was then distributed to five random classmates for peer review. The following dreck was my first offering, which was modestly reviewed–two of my five peers, one English and another American, complained that I used “too many big words.” Another American was appalled that I abandoned the accepted 5-paragraph essay form by editing out both conclusive (reiterative, it seems to me) paragraph and let the little essay dangled there from the edge of it’s own cliff. The content, of course, was mostly stream of consciousness bullshit–I was going for sound as well as substance, but it was still an interesting exercise both in making a succinct and intelligible response and in observing that unlike most of our mass art today, the Grimm folk tales are almost anti-moralistic. I haven’t taken another Coursera class, but the experience was certainly worthwhile.
Ubiquitous in western culture, the tales collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm are most familiar to modern readers as homogenized “Disney-fied” fantasies of plucky, rosy-cheeked protagonists set upon by, and ultimately prevailing over, evil—often psychotically so—villains. In a modern reality defined by the expectations of Hollywood accountants, the innocent victims—preferably princesses—prevail despite the devilry and magic summoned against them by armies of jealous Queens, cackling witches, and sociopathic stepmothers. Justice is delivered and all is set right in the world.
Interestingly, the Grimm stories as translated by Lucy Crane present a much different and arbitrary chain of action between villain (where there is one), victim, and resolution. One might presume that social and cultural changes, specifically the conditions of a largely agrarian, pre-industrial society and the greater exposure to and familiarity with the often capricious forces of nature, result in a more nuanced, grittier and often less formulaic depiction of good, evil, and justice.
In the very first selection, The Rabbit’s Bride, it is difficult to even discern which character is villain and which is the victim: the lonely Rabbit, raiding the cabbage patch and seducing the maiden, or the maiden who allows herself to be seduced and betrothed before betraying her suitor and breaking his heart? We see this unconventional approach again and again, from the bloodbath that is The Death of The Hen to The Straw, The Coal, and The Bean and on. There is no justice in these sad tales, and the only possible moral is that tragedy and terror are only a few heartbeats away.
Even a seemingly traditional tale like Rumplestiltskin delivers questionable justice. However unfavorable the heroine’s condition, she strikes a deal with the odd little man and spends her time seeking a way to renege her contract. The story seems almost unfair, but justice in the Grimms’ stories often has less to do with right and wrong, or good and bad, than it does with elevating wit over stupidity. Time and time again, the wily character prevails and the idiot suffers—whether that idiot is a dolt like Hans In Luck or Prudent Hans, or an inept villain like the Red Riding Hood wolf or the Hansel and Grethel witch.