“Doc”, I said, “Something’s wrong with me. I never laugh at comedies any more. I just sit there.”
“Tell me your symptoms, son”, he said. “Well, for instance I saw this movie called Meet the Fockers or Meet the Parents or something like that. People all around me were laughing but it made me hurt so bad inside I had to leave the theater. The characters were so cruel to each other.”
“Hmmm,” says he, “anything else?
“Well, fart jokes don’t make me laugh. Like in Shrek, which was supposed to be so funny. Seemed like the high point was when the ogres farted. I just sat there and waited for it to be over. What’s wrong with me?”.
The doctor ran some tests and fiddled with his electrometer for a while. Finally, he said, “Well, you might try Charlie Chaplin.”
“???????,” I thought, like they do in comic strips.
I said, “You mean the great silent film monolith that every film lover bows to but nobody watches? You mean those silly Keystone cops movies all scratchy and speeded up? That sounds like a duty, not a pleasure.”
“Hey, I’m the doctor,” he said, “And one more thing. That will be $280.00 please.”
Since his advice cost so much, I figured I’d at least try it, so I went down to my local library and checked out The Gold Rush, Chaplin’s 1925 hit starring a bunch of people I’d never heard of, like Mack Swain and Georgia Hale. Actually, I had to special order it from the big library downtown.
But, I have to tell you, within one minute, as soon as the bear fell into line behind the Little Fellow as he danced along the precipice path, I started laughing uncontrollably. And I really didn’t stop for the next 95 minutes. I fell off the couch. I hurt my bottom. Even my cat was laughing. People started peering in through the front window to see what was going on. Then they started laughing too so I had to let them in. I mean it was snowing outside. Patrushka had to get up and make popcorn. And we all watched it over and over all night, screeching with joy.
The Gold Rush is so funny, and so sweet, and so endearing, and the DVD is so clear and crisp. I couldn’t bear to leave. I had to stay and watch it over even though I was in my own living room and everybody finally went home.
Next day I called my doctor, “Doc, I’m cured! It turns out there’s nothing wrong with my sense of humor at all. It’s just that the movies they’re making now are so stupid!”
So I started holding my own private Charlie Chaplin Film Festival/Block Party. We watched Modern Times which I immediately had to watch again and it was even better the second time as I got into the rhythm of it, and I have The Great Dictator ready to go for our next movie night. All from the the Spokane Public Library, which I hereby thank for providing my medicine free of charge.
Hooray for Charlie Chaplin! Finally, I’m laughing again at something besides my own thoughts.