The Dissing Of Judy Carne: Wait, Aren’t Newspapers Supposed To Make Us BETTER Informed?

CarneWitness this bit of “information,” courtesy of Washington Post writer Justin Wm. Moyer on the occasion of the death of Judy Carne, Rowen and Martin’s Laugh-In’s “Sock it to me” girl:

“The joke now seems as cruel — and as difficult to explain to millennials — as it seemed hilarious in the 1960s: A young, lithe woman, often in a miniskirt or less, stands onstage. She announces that it’s “sock-it-to-me time.” Then, she is hit with a bucket of water, or dropped through the floor, or otherwise clobbered in some form or fashion.

Is the Post now recruiting its feature writers from Jupiter? Are editors extinct? Has the paper decided that political correctness, hyper-sensitivity, gender-obsession dementia is both mandatory and universal?

What happened to Judy Carne is called slapstick. It is funny. It has always been funny. What happened to Judy Carne is no more cruel—that is, not cruel at all—than what repeatedly happened to Lucy,  Laverne, Wile. E. Coyoteand Raven, Tina Fay…Katy Perry….

Anyone writing about history and culture in a national publication—about anything, really—has has an obligation to actually know what he or she is writing about, and not make stuff up. There was definitely a lot of stuff that was on Laugh-in that will look weird today to anyone under the age of 50 or so; after all, the show is a half-century old, and the Sixties were weird even in the Sixties. Goldie Hahn dancing in a bikini with words written all over her body, for example. People laughing at every mention of the word “bippy.”  Nehru jackets. NOT women and men having staged catastrophes befalling them for laughs.

The constant abuse of Judy Carne was also a running joke, yet another staple of comedy that is both old and thriving. You know how Kenny gets killed in every episode of South Park? That’s a running joke, just like Judy Carne falling through the floor. Of course millennials aren’t “bewildered” by it. Of course they get it. Has Moyer ever watched any of the horrible kids and tweens sitcoms Disney inflicts on  young minds daily? Clearly not: they are filled with running jokes, slapstick, and running jokes involving slapstick. That’s because they are comedies. These are all apparently alien terms to the Post writer.

The only people who think slapstick is “cruel” are the sad, brainwashed, indoctrinated souls who need trigger warnings, think a finger gun is terrifying, and write angry letters  to TV stations about Bugs Bunny cartoons. Apparently the writer is one of these, or, as I said, from Jupiter. Either he thinks every millennial is like him, or thinks they should be like him, so he’s spreading anti-comedy propaganda.

Is it too much to ask that a writer assigned to write a feature about the death of a comic actress best known for running jokes and slapstick appreciate  comedy, running jokes and slapstick? How about requiring him to state his opinions as his opinions, and not falsely attribute them to a whole generation? How about not demeaning the primary claim to fame of a performer on the occasion of  her death, when that claim to fame was being a key part of a TV show, Laugh-in, that was a ground-breaking, influential, creative, courageous and often brilliantly performed show far more daring and funny than anything currently on TV? (That’s my opinion.)

Have some damn respect, in other words, for Carne, for Laugh-in, and for your readers.

Editors would be a nice addition at the Post…

Or standards.


Spark: Althouse

Source: Washington Post


24 thoughts on “The Dissing Of Judy Carne: Wait, Aren’t Newspapers Supposed To Make Us BETTER Informed?

  1. The whole obiturary felt like it was being phoned in. The obit section is the one part of the newspaper where you get to do something actually interesting, and be a little creative.. allow you to feel someone wonder or tragedy. This was just a collection of stuff. It fails on that level alone.

    Or, if it was the goal of the writer to stand up for her, she could have actually taken time to dig out why she said laugh in was a big bore. Reading the bio,, I’m left with the impression her problem was either with the money she was making, or that she wanted to do something more vaudeville- which strikes me as saying ‘slapstcik’s fine, I just want it to be funny’, which means the writer fails in that regard too.

    Again, really: It’s an obit, let the person’s life speak, don’t go putting your own two cents in.

  2. And what fascinates me is that today’s comedy prominently features the “MF” words, the “F” bomb, racial epithets, if the comic is black and a general attitude that normal human beings doing normal things is HILARIOUS! Apparently, I missed something along the way, like losing a lot of our culture.

  3. Jack,
    I think the writer was commenting on (what he sees as) the inherent sexism of the gag since she was scantily-clad and the line “sock it to me” could be interpreted as a sexual innuendo. I’m not saying I agree or that it makes your observations any less valid, only that his tone didn’t suggest it was the slap-stick he was offended by.

    Also, millennials DON’T understand “sock it to me” any more than they understand Rowan & Martin more generally. “Don’t you get it? The mailbox was Haldeman!”

    • My son is a millenial: he didn’t have to have the joke explained to him.

      I got the sexism angle, but that was really stupid. Men were beat up on the show all the time. What’s the idea? That women are too special to be involved in slapstick? Lucy? Hello? If that’s it, his argument was itself sexist. Would it have been fairer to Judy for that job to go to a man?

      As for “Sock it to me”, there’s nothing to understand. It wasn’t a thing before Laugh-in—it was the show’s invention. This isn’t rocket science. They don’t understand it because they haven’t seen it. I didn’t understand it in 1967, until I saw it. Really, that’s like saying that millennials can’t understand Henny Youngman jokes.

      • I was completely unfamiliar with the name Henny Youngman. A brief google search later, and I see several jokes I had seen before, which I have no troulbe understanding.

        I was this close to posting one of his jokes and pretending not to get it, but I thought your poor cranium could use some healing time after the last explosion.

  4. “The joke now seems as cruel — and as difficult to explain to millennials — as it seemed hilarious in the 1960.”

    Because we know us millennials are a kindly, soft-hearted bunch. That’s why the internet is such a friendly and civil place.

  5. I… I don’t understand. I’m deeply confused. Not by the comedy – I love good slapstick – but by the ivory tower arrogance of the writer. How is it possible for a person of any age to be so twisted inside they don’t see how this is funny?

  6. I guess I’m a millennial and I find Laugh-In funny. My mother and I constantly ask each other, “Want a Walnetto?” (Which are delicious, by the way.) I marathon Abbott and Costello movies (’40s and ’50s) about every year and I think the funniest movie ever made is either “The General” (1926) or “Young Frankenstein” (1974). This is admittedly a pat thing to say, but good comedy is timeless. It’s OK if the author doesn’t get it, but he should speak for himself. He can’t possibly know the individual opinions of an entire generation of people. And “the joke now seems… cruel” is just that, an opinion.

  7. Is it too much to ask that a writer assigned to write a feature about the candidacy of a politician best known for unethical behaviour appreciate unethical behaviour? Well, I believe it depends on the sense of the word “appreciate”; as the late British politician Jo Grimond is reputed to have remarked of the other M.P.s in his party, “they wouldn’t appreciate that, and even if they did they wouldn’t like it”. But the most straightforward reading of what you wrote implies a validity to that other question when read in the same way, with “appreciate” meaning “like”, unless and until we see more specific criteria that would distinguish the two questions, criteria which may well be embedded in your unstated assumptions. That is, it is not enough for a rebuttal to point out that the cases are different; it should show how they are.

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