I often wonder if there was a comedy void in the 1970s and 1980s. I don’t know much about that time (I have a bit of an excuse- I wasn’t alive for a bunch of it). But I do know that, as a child, comedies seemed like they really got very good sometime in the early 80s. We had a VCR and VHS tapes were rented and bought with all sorts of funny stories to watch. Aside from old Disney cartoons, we didn’t have a frame of “children’s entertainment” in the house, either.
I remember how much I loved Ghostbusters, in particular. I often had tea parties and silly adventures with my Slimer and Stay Puft toys. Ghostbusters was not very scary and a bit sci-fi and it was really funny. It was perfect. For me, anyway
I saw Ghostbusters again really recently- I remember seeing it pop up on a hotel room TV somewhere. I was exhausted- too tired to even find the remote. So I just left it on. I thought I’d fall asleep, anyway. But I watched it all the way through. And I still loved every frame of it.
I had seen it relatively recently on the big screen as well. The awesome program TIFF ran in Toronto all throughout last summer- TOGA! The Reinvention of American Comedy– featured talks with folks like Ivan Reitman and John Landis. TIFF threw out the welcome mat to everyone, to enjoy the simple beauty and silly slapstickery of these films on the big screen. For me, I was having a lousy summer, and holding those precious admissions in my hand kept me looking forward to the next week, the next talk and screening. It made me feel a little more normal, a little more connected, than I had felt in a while.
There was Animal House and Stripes, Caddyshack and Meatballs. And my beloved Ghostbusters, which didn’t really seem to age all that much, or all that badly. I admit, maybe my big kid heart was still hanging on to it too tightly. But Ghostbusters, and all the other movies on that list, still seem tinged with timelessness to me.
And I admit, because I have to say it out loud, that my first thought when I read the headline about the sudden passing of Harold Ramis early yesterday was “That’s the end of Ghostbusters 3”. Harold Ramis, who I loved as Egon and grew to appreciate as a funny and fearlessly sharp writer and director, was just gone. No long goodbye. No Ghostbusters 3. I’m selfish and horrible for even thinking it, I know, especially because I got so much benefit from this very one-sided relationship already.
Harold Ramis made us laugh. He made me laugh, which was never an easy task. And, as selfish as I am, I don’t just miss him. I miss all the movies I wish he’d made…
Sorry, Venkman. I’m terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought.
PS: This was the illustration for last year’s TIFF TOGA! program done by my friend and brilliant artist Deena Pagliarello. Check out her Tumblr for more sketches and concepts from it as well.