Thursday, December 21, 2006

Chasing Chevy

FINALLY, we did a blog that was non Husker related and got some response. We had to delete some comments (because I'm sure they had to be written by either Michael Richards, Mel Gibson or Andy Dick). But generally people have a genuine interest in at the very least, seeing the current version of SNL fixed.

OK, so about poor Chevy Chase. Here's what I think of Chevy: He's absolutely the major star of that first season currently out on that impressive DVD package (and explains why he immediately bolted for what he thought would be bigger and better things that would await him). It's obvious that the remainder of the cast resented Chevy for this, or were jealous that Chevy became the first breakout star. It's also obvious that Chevy became pissed off at how big a star his replacement, Bill Murray became, and this would be a sticking point with Chase for the rest of his life as Murray would go on to have the brilliant movie career that Chevy would only get a small taste of. But Chevy will forever be in the Comedy Hall of Fame for his brilliant comedic turns in Caddyshack and Vacation (the FIRST Vacation flick, none of the embarrassing sequels). There's also a big cult following surrounding Chevy for Fletch. In my mind, he gets the get out of jail free card for playing Ty Webb and Clark Griswold (again, in the FIRST of each of those movies). HBO has been showing Chase's first career move after SNL, Foul Play, which is a cheesy, dated romantic comedy with the over the top Barry Manilow song "Ready to Take a Chance." But somehow, Chevy and especially the gorgeous Goldie Hawn make that one still watchable. Oh sure, it also has Dudley Moore and Billy Barty (OK, I admit it, I watched it just to see little old Bill Barty). It's a cute little movie that Chase is at least remotely funny in, but it certainly wasn't the big first movie that Chevy was looking for. That same year, John Belushi came out with Animal House. I'm sure all of this got under Chevy's skin.

So after the first Vacation, something very odd happened to Chevy. It's no coincidence that Chevy did Vacation around the time that Belushi died, and for whatever reason, Belushi's death seemed to also kill Chevy's ability to be funny. Chevy Chase literally lost it. He made some incredibly God awful movies (take a look at Chevy's IMDB page if you don't believe me). Even after Caddyshack, Vacation, even Fletch and that first season of SNL, Chevy Chase has become a big joke. Legend has it he's turned into a major duchebag. Will Ferrell goes out of his way to tell stories about what a dick Chevy was when he came back to host the show once. In James A. Miller and Tom Shales great book, Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, as Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests, there's a great story about how Chevy came back to host the show and couldn't been more of a dick to anyone and everyone, including a skit where he wanted one of the gay cast members to die of AIDS. Then there was maybe the biggest embarassment's in television history known as "The Chevy Chase Show" . This was FOX's way of throwing their hat in the late night ring, airing the same year that Letterman was making the jump to CBS. The show started a half hour before Letterman and Leno went on, and within the first five minutes of any of Chevy's shows, you just sat there squirming at how embarrassing it was. People would literally tune in for those first five minutes just to see what a train wreck the whole thing was. I have no idea how many weeks Fox gave Chevy to make something click, but if my memory's correct, I don't think he made it past Halloween. I'm thinking that all available footage of these shows has been burned by Chase himself.

And this literally KILLED Chevy Chase. There was absolutely no coming back from this. Chevy's reputation as being, how should we say this, "difficult", coupled with the idea that he wasn't even remotely funny anymore, left him for dead. He hasn't done even one decent movie since, not even a small cameo role in anything. The only good thing he did was a self-mocking appearance on the brilliant "The Larry Sanders Show" (now again is my time to plug or at least ask for the remainder of that series to come out on DVD immediately). It was Chevy's way of trying to admit that he made a horrible decision with that talk show. There was a scene where Larry and Chevy were waiting outside of a psychiatrists office, where Chevy was seeing a professional to still talk about what went wrong with his talk show.

But nothing worked for Chevy. There was that Comedy Central Presents: The N.Y. Friars Club Roast of Chevy Chase where Chevy literally sat there the entire time, unamused at the shots that friends were taking at him. It was a ROAST Chevy! Didn't you know that some of your friends, some of whom obviously didn't even want to be there, were going to say some relatively mean spirited things at you? As with all roasts, the show ended with the star getting a chance to say a few things about the evening. Chevy literally just stood up, looked into the camera and said, in all seriousness, "That hurt." You'd think that he went backstage and cried for hours and hours because Beverly D'Angelo made some cracks about him.

And that was literally the end of Chevy Chase. In interviews, he STILL goes on about Bill Murray's career, saying that it's a crying shame that he doesn't have a similar film career. Frankly, I don't think Chevy ever has, or ever will, get over Bill Murray. I don't even think he could get Quentin Tarantino to resurrect his career. Or get a Paul Thomas Anderson to do a Burt Reynolds for him. It's just over. And in a way, it's sad. But we'll always have Ty Webb. We'll always have that sketch with Chevy and Richard Pryor from that first SNL season. Maybe for Chevy, that's going to have to be enough to hang his hat on.


BSmokedTurkey said...

I've read the behind-the-scenes SNL book and agree that Chase came off looking like a total asshole.

The Comedy Central roast was more painful to watch than his talk show. I think he seemed less hurt/humiliated by the comments than by the fact that it was obvious they had to get a bunch of nobodies to roast him. I think he even made a comment to that effect.

I'll defend Christmas Vacation and The Three Amigos as funny movies.

BSmokedTurkey said...

By the way, congrats to you boys on your early bowl picks lead.