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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Al Franken gets caught with his skits down

Al Franken revived a boob routine and it fell flat

Those of us ancient enough to remember Minsky's recognized burlesque routine in the photo of Al Franken about to make an adjustment with Leeann Tweeden's knobs.  Hooters,  boobs, knockers, the human female mammaries referred to in some way were the focus of many comedy routines in the old burlesque houses of which Minsky's was a chain..  The lines that would be said with the routine recreated by Franken could be any such as,
  • "Stand by.  I'm about to turn it on."
  • "I'll keep tuning; I think I'm getting Hong Kong."
  • "Let's see if we can get the news."
  • "How much do you have to turn 'em to get the eyes open?"
  • And on and on.
Burlesque houses featured strip-tease acts, but also vaudeville and comedy routines.  Many famous comedians honed their comic skills in burlesque theaters.  The kinds of shows that were featured in burlesque houses found a lucrative home in  Las Vegas in later years.  

Burlesque is a form of parody that often descends into crudeness.    It strips away the pretenses of humankind and puts on display the things that motivate it.  Satire is a mode of exposing the phony and the oppressive, and it often leads to a higher sensibility.  An example is illustrated through the career of Richard Pryor.  One of his best known and best selling routines was recorded in an album called  "That Nigger's Crazy."  Black comedians used the N-word as a parodic way of reflecting the minds of white bigots.  But as Pryor realized how much blacks were hurt by use of the word,  he vowed to stop using it in his later years.

I don't know about the kissing part of the accusations against Al Franken, but I recognize an old routine whose time is gone.  A woman's body is not a stage prop and the time when anyone can get by using it that way is gone.  We are dealing with the process of extending equal rights and respect.  In his apology to Ms. Tweeden, Franken acknowledged that.  But maybe too late.  There seems to be more interest in banishing Franken than in the working on a just society.

The Rialto in Chicago, long gone, was a Minsky burlesque theater.  While it featured striptease, it also featured elaborate costumes and dances and classic comedy routines.  

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States