Don Rickles’ Comedy Teaches Lessons We Need to Learn Today
Comedy is near and dear to my heart. My pops brought me up on Jack Benny, Laurel & Hardy, and the Three Stooges. As I got older, that grew to include the movies and bits of comedic gods like Mel Brooks, Chris Farley, and Don Rickles. While Brooks and Benny covered the spectrum of Jewish humor, and Laurel and Hardy, the Three Stooges, and Chris Farley took care of my slapstick funny bone, it was Don Rickles who showed me the gloriousness that was insult comedy.
Nobody slung a barb quite like the Merchant of Venom, Don Rickles. A little Jewish boy from Long Island, Rickles had a knack for finding and delivering the most outrageous and inappropriate insults you could imagine. And he did it all right into the faces of his victims. Go and listen and watch his roast performances, they are, without a doubt, the most inappropriate and hilarious five-minute bits you will ever see.
The key to his humor and ability to fire off volley after volley of hard-hitting, poisoned-tipped arrows was how much he loved the people he was insulting. After enduring anywhere from two-to-five minutes of straight venom, Don Rickles would always end his shpiel with a heartfelt message.
Listen to those sets again. Feel, and hear the love behind all the insults. There is no better set to understand how far we have devolved as a society than watching Don Rickles’ roast of Sammy Davis Jr (and remember, Sammy Davis Jr. went out of his way to have Rickles there. *Also note, the guy next to Sammy Davis is Freddie Prinze… yes, the father of this guy)
Did you laugh the first time you watched the clips? Or did you get offended? If you laughed, good, you understand comedy. But if you got offended, why? Was it too racist? Antisemitic? Misogynistic? What was the reason you got offended when Rickles’ friends did not? Do you understand how insane it is to be offended on behalf of someone else when they were not offended by the joke?
And it is insane. It is insane and indicative of our current social climate that we are engaging in revisionist humor. We are revising everything because we are too stupid and ignorant to know any better. In short, we are children, and places like HBO Max are treating us as such because they see the writing on the wall.
How Don Rickles Comedy Spotlights Society’s Descent into Childhood
We live in a day and age where Gone with the Wind is getting taken off HBO Max in order for them to add context to it. Context. To Gone with the Wind. What context do you need to understand the movie better? Are you too much of an ignorant child to understand their romanticizing of slavery is wrong and therefore can’t enjoy the film? Or are you an adult who knows the history of slavery in the United States, but also realizes the movie was made in 1939. If you are one of the people (children) who denigrate the film, you might want to brush up on some of the good the movie produced.
Movies, songs, and jokes are made and delivered in the time they were made. It is literally impossible to exist otherwise. But we are getting treated like children who cannot watch or listen to movies and jokes, precisely because we act like children when we get offended by those movies and jokes. We stomp, we scream, we call for people to get canceled all because we cannot handle Elmer Fudd holding a gun (how the hell is a scythe better)? This world we are creating for ourselves is a terrible world that takes itself too seriously and sucks the fun out of life. Instead of canceling more and more people and things, we need to do the opposite, and Don Rickles and our cold weather friends have the salve for our current wounds.
America is in a Serious Skid; We Need to Turn to Don Rickles and His Lessons of Love
We are in a serious skid right now as Americans, and we need to take a lesson from the geographically coldest places in the country to fix our ailments. If you grew up in a land that receives plenty of snow and winter weather, you know the best way to course correct when you are in trouble of going out of control is to go against your instincts. We need to do the same as Americans, and we need to do it right now. Instead of steering against the skid and sending us completely out of control, we need to swerve into the skid.
Our skid is Cancel Culture and a society where it is almost impossible to have a dialogue with somebody who has a competing viewpoint. We behave like children and throw hissy fits whenever our viewpoints are challenged. So what is the antidote? More dialogue, more openness, and less taking ourselves so seriously. Stop yelling at one another and thinking the worst of them at all times. Talk to them, learn who they are as individuals, and really connect with them.
One of the best ways to do that is through humor. The best friendships are the ones when you are never afraid to say anything because you know that person loves you. Some of the best friendships in the world have insults flying back-and-forth at warp speed. True friendship is listening to somebody talk, no matter what comes out of their mouth, and the best kinds of friendships are those when you can laugh with and at one another. So let’s take a lesson from Don Rickles; let’s open up, start talking, and commence with the insults. In short, stop acting like children and start showing how much we love one another… you putzes.