My sense of humor is an acquired taste; the kind that makes people double over with laughter or with groans of deeply-felt-suffering (sometimes both). My favorite jokes involve puns, wordplay, and linguistic misunderstandings. I’m also a great fan of slapstick and “mugging” (pulling faces); as a trained singer, silly voices are my forte (ba-dum-tssh). I owe this comedic inheritance largely to one man: Danny Kaye.
My first lesson in comedy (other than the singing orange on Sesame Street) was Kaye’s performance as the clown to Bing Crosby’s Mr. Cool in White Christmas. About five years later, shortly after my family had moved to Maryland, my dad brought home a copy of The Court Jester (1955). He promised that it was the perfect film to watch during the Thanksgiving Break, as there was plenty of “turkey” to go around; thus proving that my parents were not entirely blameless in the creation of my silly sensibilities. As summarized on its IMDd page: “A hapless carnival performer masquerades as the court jester as part of a plot against an evil ruler who has overthrown the rightful king.”