Ithaca Blog

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Peter Falk, For Laughter

Yesterday, I wrote a piece here on the funniness of pets. You might, especially if you write, appreciate the oddness that it started with thinking about something else: in this case, Peter Falk.

It didn't have anything to do with p-e-t, pet, and p-e-t-er, peter. That is coincidental. It's just that I came home from work and went online to fool around and relax, and thought about finding something funny, so thought about Peter Falk.

I ended up thinking about, and writing about, the source of humor for most people, animals, their pets. But I kept on thinking about Peter Falk, daffy and unstylish as that may seem.

People know him as Columbo, from TV. I never saw an episode of that show. I know him from movie roles, like "Robin And The Seven Hoods," "Pocketful Of Miracles," and "The In-Laws."

All these movies are a little dated. But, if you listen, also timeless. (Humor is really timeless, you know. People, too, if they stay funny.)

In my life, I met Pete Seeger, by appointment, and Miles Davis, by chance, when they were old; they were also beautiful, and younger-seeming, and livelier than 99% of people. They were, in person, funny; though not, necessarily, in persona. So, I think, and wonder, what would Peter Falk have been like, live? Funny as he was in his work?

Did you ever play that parlor game, of whom you would have at a dinner party, if you could? I have, multiple times, and I stay away from obvious choices like Jesus Christ. I would want Miles Davis again, a wildly funny guy; and Christopher Walken; and Peter Falk. When Peter Falk died, I thought, oh, no, I'll never get to meet him. I'll never get to ask him about that line in "The In-Laws," that my whole family shushes to hear, when he says to Alan Arkin (his co-star, another comic genius): "It was smart of you to get the split pea soup, Shel. It looks delicious." I can do a perfect imitation of those lines.

I bet he would have loved how hard that scene makes a whole family laugh. I write this on no occasion, like an anniversary of death or something. Just that I like and admire this guy. Don't you value someone who makes you laugh? Isn't that a great gift?

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