In Tune with June

My least favorite day of the year is April Fool’s Day. Although it’s not a national holiday, many celebrate it as a day to play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other. April 1 can be good for one’s health simply because it encourages jokes and pranks that bring out all the benefits of stress-reducing laughter that is good for the heart. I look at it as the one day in the year that celebrates foolishness. Remember a few famous phrases – Shakespeare once said, “What fools we mortals be!” Abraham Lincoln once said “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” And the famous Chinese proverb: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice and shame on me.” But, given my love of music, I turn to the likes of Frank Sinatra and even Elvis Presley who sang Johnny Mercer’s song “Fools Rush In.” Well, I’m glad that April 1 passes and life can continue on its normal way.
Perhaps I’m a party-pooper! But I do enjoy truly talented comedians. If I described a lanky, bald 67-year-old man with glasses and if I added that man was a petty, abrasive, socially-challenged figure, most of you or perhaps all of you would recognize that I am referring to Larry David. The comedian, writer, actor, director, and TV producer was born in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn where I spent much of my early years. David paid his dues before redefining the tone of TV sitcoms working as a stand-up comedian in order to pay his bills. He was a store clerk (must have antagonized more than a few customers), a limo driver, and a TV repairman. His fabled sitcom, “Seinfeld,” may have ended some 17 years ago but I’m still using quotes from it today. Remember “Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” “Yadda, yadda, yadda,” “Festivus for the rest of us,” “Spongeworthy,” “low talker,” and “The Show About Nothing.” Memorable and useful! A signature catch phrase of Larry David’s is “Pret-ty, pret-ty, pret-ty good” – a repeated modifier with a protracted first syllable.
After years creating some of the funniest TV I’ve ever seen, he has branched out and written a play, and is also performing in it on Broadway. “A Fish In the Dark” allows David to get even more mileage out of playing himself. To quote him, “Anyone can be confident with a full head of hair. But a confident bald man — there’s your diamond in the rough.” Ha! The multi-talented man has so many fans who are interested in seeing him in person that his shows sell out. I’m sticking to the “Seinfeld” re-runs. They hold up beautifully.
And here’s another show we saw. Our seats were front row center, so close to the orchestra pit that I could easily reach over and tame the few stray hairs on the orchestra leader’s head. We were at the first revival of the 1978 madcap comedy “On the Twentieth Century.” Sitting so close unfortunately made us see the perspiration on the faces of several characters but not the female lead, Kristin Chenoweth. At four-foot-eleven the petite 46-year-old was trim and super-talented in both comedic acting and singing – not an ounce of fat on the character she was so ably playing. The leading role of Lily Garland required multiple skills: singing in an operatic style and taking over the stage. “On the Twentieth Century” takes place on a massive train. It was amazing to see the set change so easily from one action to another. All of that said, did you ever see a show where you felt the cast was giving too much – too much singing, too much comedy, too much dancing, and too much acrobatics? Well that’s a rhetorical question. This gifted cast was ready and able to entertain. I think I was alone in feeling that it was more than needed. Most of the audience appeared to be very pleased with the show.
What else have I seen that I was really pleased with? One was a surprise. A few years ago, I went to see a movie not expecting to truly enjoy it. So, why did I go? Its premise was that some financially stressed Britons spend their sunset years at a rundown residential hotel in, of all places, Jaipur, India. Much of the attraction for me was the cast of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” especially the irresistible two, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith. So I went and thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Then I learned of a sequel: “The Second Best Marigold Hotel,” and this time I didn’t hesitate. I felt it would be fun to revisit all those wonderful cheeky characters from the first film. It’s seriously overpopulated and at times hard to follow the multiple story lines including improbably romantic adventures. Actor Dev Patel plays the still indefatigable, hyper-kinetic young manager of the hotel. Once again I found him most annoying and most obtuse. In spite of that and the fact that the sequel is unapologetically sentimental, I found myself rooting for all the characters, even Patel. After all, “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” has a good lesson to be learned: It’s never too late to start a new chapter in life. And, oh yes, somewhere along the way the sequel includes a gorgeously choreographed, toe-tapping Bollywood dance number. In all, it’s a fanciful tale – no violence, very little profanity, and only a suggestion of sex. If you are fortunate enough to have grandparents, tell them to go see this light, colorful, life-affirming confection. There aren’t many movies like this one being shown. There’s something in it to appeal to all ages.

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Editor’s Note: This month begins the 31st year of the “In Tune With June!” column.

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