|Remembering Don Lane|
|Written by Koop Kooper|
Recently in Australia we lost an iconic performer by the name of Don Lane.
The American-born Lane began his career as a nightclub singer before emigrating to Australia in the early 1960s. He quickly rose to fame as the host of several television variety programs for the Nine Network.
Lane was best known for his work on The Don Lane Show (1975–83), a Nine Network original. Lane, who was once the highest paid man on Australian television, won an astounding 15 Logie Awards during his long career. None of these accomplishments are surprises if you ever saw the man in action. In fact, the whole country got to see his talent all over again as the major TV networks ran clip after clip in tribute to the man known as the lanky yank.
Seeing this got me thinking about the state of television these days and made one thing clear: today’s TV is boring and is simply not funny. Of course I am referring to the late night talk shows. There is simply no joy, fun or even humour associated with these shows. All they represent is the lowest common denominator of human intelligence.
Let’s face it, you and your workmates can quite easily crack a dirty joke based on innuendo. It's very easy—so why should I watch some other clown doing it? Sarcasm and laughing at others’ misfortunes in the most mean spirited fashion are starting to replace real jokes, real comedic situations and observations.
TV has become the bully from the school that waits for you to get out the front gate and then gives you a wedgie in front of your schoolmates. Once upon a time, legends like Don Lane dominated the box across the world. Now we’re left with people like Letterman, Leno, O'brien and worst of all Chelsea Handler (who I’m amazed managed to get a gig on the box, because I can’t see what the executives thought she would offer viewers). Her statement to the Australian newspaper during her visit earlier this year sums up the proliferation of sarcasm and meanness as the new humour of the twenty first century: "You don't make fun of celebrities who don't deserve it; you only make fun of the people who really do," she says. Really, Ms Handler? Please, tell me who appointed you the judge and executor of celebrities. I've seen her show and not once did I crack even a wry grin. The woman is not funny at all—in fact, it was like watching a train wreck.
Alas entertainment ain't what it used to be, and I doubt comedy will ever be clever or witty again. Instead we will have to put up with the hacks that exist today, the type of people who, back in the fifties and sixties, would never have been able to reach the dizzying heights that they have today. I guess if I want to be entertained, to have a laugh and enjoy real TV, I’ll have to stick with the DVDs that I have from the Jack Benny Show, Milton Berle and the Colegate Comedy Hour with Martin and Lewis because that's the only way anything funny will ever manage to get on my box.
Koop Kooper is the host of The Cocktail Nation, a lounge and exotica podcast out of the Sydney Penthouse. Each week Kooper talks to the movers and shakers of the lounge and tiki scenes and plays the very best in swingin' tunes, and we are lucky enough to have him bestow his wit & wisdom upon us at Retrospectmag.com