Even if you thought about it, you'd assume that some people would just be around forever. But often you don't. The works of some artists loom so large in our consciousness that they become a part of us, and the thought that the creators of these works (especially the funny ones) are actually mortals like us just doesn't cross our minds.
Harold Ramis wrote, directed, and performed in some of the most beloved comedies of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. Everyone who came of age during these decades can probably recall choice lines of dialogue from Animal House, Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, or, later, Groundhog Day. Many performers of my acquaintance have been recalling these movies fondly this morning - actor/comedian Mikl Em, for example, stated that "there's a big chunk of my dna that has that guy's fingerprints on it."
On this end, the loss of someone like Ramis feels like an erosion of the past. The era in which comedies were crafted by those who honed their chops at Second City; where special effects-laden blockbusters could be anchored by four guys pushing 40 (and contrary to today's Hollywood wisdom, plenty of teenagers went to see these movies); when airy, quotable comedies could pose questions about our lives and the way we inhabit them.
So let's look for those willing to continue these inquiries, and maybe challenge ourselves to make and engage the work the way Ramis would have wanted. As he told the Believer, (and this whole interview is well worth reading): "I can’t tell you how many people have told me, 'When I go to the movies, I don’t want to think.'...It offends me as a human being. Why wouldn’t you want to think?
What does that mean? Why not just shoot yourself in the fucking head? Or
people’ll say that they don’t want to see any negative emotions. They
don’t want to see unpleasantness. I did a comedy with Al Franken about
his character Stuart Smalley, which was really about alcoholism and
addiction and codependency. It had some painful stuff in it. When we
showed it to focus groups, some of them actually said, 'If I want to see
a dysfunctional family, I’ll stay home.'"
But we can start that tomorrow.
G'night, Harold. And thank you.