Today there's Bill Maher; before there was... Chevy Chase?

A BLAST FROM THE CYNICAL PAST:



Chevy Chase, in a recent CNN interview, the cynical man proudly proclaimed himself as being (allegedly) a funny man who hoped to humiliate Ford out of the White House with his take-offs of the president. I think that insincerity has "paid off" in droves: Chase is the butt of more jokes about a formerly (possibly never) funny man than Jim Belushi (except some argue Jim B. was never funny -- a bit harsh, but only a bit).

Considering that, I guess Chase admitting that he was always a cynic, especially while flopping about as Gerald Ford on Saturday Night Live, cannot hurt him.

It is disappointing to know someone I (and millions) once found pleasantly humorous proves he was incapable of being funny without doing it for deliriously ill-willed reasons. Chevy Chase needed to retire somewhere between Spies Like Us and his appearance on the annual Amnesty Int'l fund-raising event, "Secret Policeman's Ball" in 2007 or 2008 (whichever he was on, he sucked). Probably far closer to the wrap-up of Spies Like Us.

Today Chase is closer to a cynical goof-ball the likes of a Simpson's TV clown than he is to his SNL pal, the short-lived John Belushi, and such time-proven talents he worked with back then, as Gilda Radner, Dan Ackroyd and Steve Martin. (I am, of course, ignoring that Martin did that remake of The Pink Panther. It was a Razzies nominee. One more move like that and he's dead to me, simply dead. Pink Panther 2 is coming.)

Chase: I just went after him. And ... obviously my leanings were Democratic and I wanted [Jimmy] Carter in and I wanted [Ford] out, and I figured look, we're reaching millions of people every weekend, why not do it."

Over the years, "Saturday Night Live's" political satires have become a mainstay of the show, sometimes to startling effect.

CNN: You mean to tell me in the back of your mind you were thinking, 'hey I want Carter ' ...

Chase: Oh, yeah.

CNN: And, 'I'm going to make him look bad.'

Chase: Oh yeah. What do you think they're doing now, you think they're just doing this because Sarah's funny? No, I think that the show is very much more Democratic and liberal-oriented, that they are obviously more for Barack Obama. [That was the '70s], out of the Nixon era, and it was not unlikely that I might go that direction.

CNN: I talked to one political pundit who said, 'I think Chevy Chase cost Ford the presidency.'

Chase: When you have that kind of a venue and power where you can reach so many millions of people and you've become a show that people watch, you know, you can affect a lot of people, and humor does it beautifully, because humor is perspective and has a way of making judgment calls.

Chase also comments in that interview that Ford and he later became friends. Fascinating. Especially seeing these comments. I suspect there is a difference here in the two men that Chevy never understood. I can only suggest it, as I have no proof: Gerald Ford was a respectful man. Chevy Chase isn't and he wasn't back then, either. He is not only no longer funny, he is cynical. Just like Larry King's favorite comic, Bill Maher.

Aside from that vitriol, have a read of this. Chase was actually given space in the NY Times a while after Ford's death to reflect on the man he panned so mischievously. "If it hadn’t been for the courage of Mr. Ford’s wife, Betty, for admitting to an alcohol problem, I would never have received the help I needed in the early 1980s at the Betty Ford clinic," Chase wrote. Read the whole commentary at the NY Times site.

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