Please, keep us laughing
On April 1, 1995, Billy Madison passed the sixth grade.
Watching “Billy Madison” on VHS as a first-grader, I remember my baby sitter at the time gasping as Bridgette Wilson began to take off her shirt while Adam Sandler frantically tried to answer what year the Spanish Armada sailed against England.
For a movie panned by critics, and I mean panned, it’s done a remarkable job of battling for relevance in pop culture, due in large part to its VHS and DVD sales thanks to word-of-mouth. Sandler would then go on to “Happy Gilmore,” and the rest, as they say, is history.
There would be a changing of the guard somewhere between “Spanglish” and “The Longest Yard,” as Sandler opted for more serious roles such as the former.
Will Ferrell would then step into the ring, and we continued to laugh.
But again, Ferrell yearned for something more, and “Stranger Than Fiction” gave him that opportunity in 2006. Audiences recoiled, Ferrell stumbled, and the crown that once belonged to the chairman of “The Frat Pack” came to a rest at the feet of the next comedy king: Judd Apatow.
Different from the aforementioned jesters in that he spends his time behind the camera instead of in front of it, Apatow has undoubtedly become the John Hughes of the last decade.
Sandler and Ferrell averaged about eight years on their respective thrones, and since Apatow’s reign began at least five years ago, it’s safe to say he’s on the way out as well.
So what’s next? After a failed variety show on VH1 in 2002, it seemed that Zach Galifianakis would remain an underground talent in tomfoolery. But after the success of “The Hangover” with a sequel well on its way, it’s safe to say the man who goes to his barber and asks the old man to “just give me the Amber Alert” is squatting comfortably in the on-deck circle.
The Three Stooges slap-stick shtick lost its hilarity when we learned they were human, Richard Pryor forfeited his stranglehold on stand-up when his addictions surfaced, and the fat jokes stopped only after Chris Farley stopped breathing. After the serious turns in film from the stars above, they too slowly but surely fell out of favor with the public.
It seems that when the comedian starts feeling, we all stop laughing.