The Old Man On The Mountain

A View From the Backwoods of NH

The Den-I

When it comes to humor – all types of humor – I’m a huge fan. Humor can lighten an otherwise dark time in your life, relieve tension, amuse the masses and add to longevity. In my day, the two best stand-ups by far were George Carlin and Richard Pryor. There have been pretenders since, but to date no one, in my estimation, has been able to carry the torch as long or as high as those two (well, OK, yes, Robin Williams was awesome!).

But the guys I reference here in the title are both a snark and a wise-ass. Of course I’m referring to Dennis Miller (the snark) and Denis Leary (the wise-ass), or as I call them, The (plural) Den-I. Besides having a name in common, they both excel at one simple trait – pointing out the obvious – but in such a way that ANYONE can understand it.

Now The Snark, well, he just comes right at you with a hammer. I’d liken it to the Jack Nicholson performance in The Shining, as he’s walking up the stairs, holding a bat, telling his wife “I don’t want to hurt you Wendy (step, step, step) – I don’t want to hurt you (step, step, step) – I just want to bash your fuckin’ brains in.” After laying all the interesting ground work to a specific subject, Dennis just hammers his point home – calmly, politely, deadly. And follows it up with what appears to be an apologetic “That’s just my opinion, I could be wrong” tag line. But it’s not an apology. It’s just counter-sinking the nail so the head doesn’t show.

On the other hand, The Wise-Ass just lets fly with every piece of information on a specific subject that he has in his arsenal. And, like Robin Williams (but not quite as fast) he slaps reality across your face until you succumb. Like Moe from The Three Stooges, as he first
pokes Curly in the stomach, then when he covers his stomach pokes him in the eyes, Denis just goes back and forth, increasing speed until you give up. And the observations he uses are spot-on.

These guys have been some of my favorite reads (Dennis Miller – The Rants, Denis Leary – Why We Suck) which is why I bring them up today. I’m re-reading “Why We Suck”, written in 2008, and as I read it again, it’s like nothing has changed. Eight years later and the world hasn’t moved forward an inch. Denis could give up TV tomorrow, go back out on the road with all his old material, and everyone would “oooh and ahhh” like he just came up with it. But he won’t.

You don’t see guys like Dennis Miller or Denis Leary on the circuit anymore (or Lewis Black for that matter). No, these guys always reminded us of all the things we’ve let go to hell in America. All the things that we should have been working at to make better, but were too busy “chasing pokemon” to spend the time. And besides, today’s America only wants to think “happy thoughts” anyway.

Reality TV – The Real Housewives of (pick a place) never shows the blue-collar “Roseanne” world that we all live in, because who wants to see reality when you can live in a fantasy. Until some fruitcake with a gun or a bomb invades your personal space. The suddenly it’s “reality, what a concept” (thanks Robin) for a few weeks before heading back to the Kardashians.

I wish the Den-I would resurface sometime soon, bringing with them the snark and wise-ass observations that I believe are needed to wake up a lazy self-absorbed country, who acts more like the world’s bully than it’s leader with every passing year. That’s spent more time developing pills to help change our view of reality than it has on a cure for cancer (I mean hey, why cure it when it’s more profitable to treat it?).

Of course, that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong…