Steve Hansen: Packing classic comedy, as backup

By Steve Hansen

Former QCS Managing Editor

By the time this column runs, I hope to be challenging the Colorado Rockies on skis.

I am meeting my four brothers, all of whom are skiers of varying ability, and it will be interesting to see how well we have stacked up against time and joint wear.

We’re packing lots of old movies — comedies,  westerns, action adventure and science fiction.  You know, typical guy stuff.  Just in case we end up having a lot of down-time.

Predominantly, however, it will be comedies, old comedies that we still laugh at, but that our kids, who will be represented, may only smile at to humor the old folks.

We’ll be watching stuff like “Airplane!,” “Blazing Saddles,”  and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

These movies were considered outrageous when they made prat-falls onto the screen in the 1970s.

They challenged good taste, or ignored it, and every other standard of convention and decency, or so we thought.

“Airplane!” managed to layer a laugh onto every possible opportunity over a straight story line.  “Blazing Saddles” memorably exploited beans on the campfire and turned westerns inside-out.  Monty Python skewered King Arthur with satire and complete nonsense.

We thought those movies challenged every convention you could name, but Hollywood has kept digging deeper, even into primordial slime, to show our generation had not even begun to challenge decency and convention.

Now, many comedies leave me embarrassed not only for the characters but the actors who portray them.

Will Farrell and Sasha Baron Cohen, for example, are brilliant, but the predominance of bodily function and body-part humor in their comedy makes me want to wash my hands before I leave the theater, even if I’m laughing while I scrub.

This is what happens over time, though. W.C. Fields the philanderer, Mae West the proud libertine, and the Marx Brothers, comic revolutionaries, were outrageous for the 1930s and 1940s, too.

I laughed at them with my parents, who, good sports that they were, laughed at “Airplane!” and the others, but they shuddered a little at the end, like I do over today’s gross-out comedies.

Comedy, like popular music, is always moving. Whether it is ascending or declining, however, is in the eye of the beholder.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:

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