Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Saddest Comedy in the World

A couple weeks ago I'm at the gym wondering why the elliptical machine insists on lying about the elapsed time (you can say 3 minutes as long as you want, Mr. Running Robot, but I think we both know I had to have been on you at least 10) and glanced up at one of the closed captioned TVs the gym offers. "Everybody Loves Raymond" was starting and since I needed something to take my mind off my lying robot coach, I started watching, pretending I had just been struck deaf from some terrible accident.

It's in the beginning, before the credits. Ray and his family are in the kitchen, trading barbs and insulting each other. Without sound or a laughtrack, the show was a bleak, depressing rumination on a family that hates each other with a blinding passion and takes every opportunity to point out each others flaws, yet is somehow determined to stick together. It also helped that I was translating everything in overly dramatic 'actorly' voices with lots of pauses, so that it went sort of like:

"Raymond. (pause) You did not empty the dishwasher again."

"I know, honey. I (pause) just (pause) forgot, OK?"

Here's an actual script I found off the internet:

Ray: Take a look at your daughter.

Debra: Yeah, so? She looks happy.

Ray: She’s happy, that’s very happy.

Debra: What, shall we call a doctor, Ray?

Ray: I… look, I’m just saying, look how good it is to be five. Oh, you’re truly happy at five. You’re happiness peaks at five.

Debra: Oh, come on, I’m happy.

Ray: You’re not that happy. You can’t be. Look at her. Ally, what are you thinking of?

Ally: Candy.

Fill that full of pauses and serious voices and you can see what a depressing view the writers of "Everybody Loves Raymond" have on marriage, childhood, and the elusiveness of happiness.

I can't wait til tonight when I get to dramatize "Two and a Half Men" in this manner.