As I’m sure many of you will have heard today, Leslie Nielsen has died at age 84. For those who don’t know, Leslie Nielsen was a Canadian comedian and actor best known for the films Airplane! and The Naked Gun trilogy. If you don’t know what either of those are, well, where the hell have you been? Go buy them already!
Nielsen’s death is of course very sad, but for me it also signifies a true end to an era of comedy films that disappeared years ago. Films like Scary Movie and it’s darkspawn are the modern imagination of the type of film I’m talking about, but there not nearly as good. Airplane!, Airplane! 2, The Naked Gun trilogy, Spy Hard, Hot Shots & Hot Shots part deux… these slap-stick, ever so slightly OTT yet serious parodies of established genres were in a class of their own, and are I would argue America’s answer to Monty Python. It’s films like these that fuelled my own love of comedy, as I’ve always been more interested in parodies and clever-yet-funny twits than in simply ‘being’ funny.
Have you ever heard the line “Don’t call me Shirley?” You should have… it’s got to be one of the most quoted lines from a comedy film ever – that was Leslie Nielsen in Airplane! Here:
And some more:
Ok, that one’s maybe not as funny out of context. Before this film, Nielsen was actually trying to make it as a serious actor, but his ultra-serious deadpan delivery in Airplane! propelled his career into comedy, after which he did his other ‘best known for’ work, The Naked Gun trilogy.
I don’t really have much to say today, other than that Nielsen will be missed and that I salute him. Go read the BBC article or his wiki entry for a more detailed look at what he’s done, and if you haven’t seen it already, go buy Airplane! It’ll be the single best purchase of your life:
Until next time.