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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Everybody But Me

This weekend, I'm heading to balmy Minneapolis to catch up with a group of lovely friends I met last year during Prince's blitzkrieg 'comeback' tour of the states, and with whom I have enjoyed keeping in touch ever since. Veggie Indian chow and the Star Wars Holiday Special will be involved, as will The Decemberists and First Avenue.

Because I'll be away this weekend, I had to make up a writing class I'll be missing by sitting in on another class this week. This resulted in my sitting in a big circle of folks chatting about the comic genius of the television show Everybody Loves Raymond.

I have to tell you people, I don't love Raymond so much. In fact, I don't understand Raymond. Conceptually speaking, Raymond is a vast wasteland in my world. For all intents and purposes, Raymond is dead to me.

I've seen the show maybe twice, both times during visits to my mother's house, during which I was not give the option to avoid giving Raymond some love. As we watched, I grilled my mom. I told her I've seen bad sitcoms before, but at least I could understand what they were going for with the humor. I explained that I didn't understand what this guy does that was supposed to make me laugh. Watching Ray Romano is like watching sports (I'm a confirmed lifelong sports bigot) - I have no idea what those people are talking about in their windbreakers and their polo shirts. They could be talking Russian, for all I know. I'm sure those sports people on television are very good at what they do, but it doesn't keep me from feeling like that cartoon of the dog listening to a human and hearing "blah blah blah blah blah FOOD blah blah blah blah". I just. Do NOT. Get it.

Mother responded to my rant by saying, "well, he's know...funny."

An answer which helped me tremendously.

During this week's make-up class Raymond lovefest, I just kept my damn mouth shut. I pretended like I was around a bunch of my friend's kids talking about Japanimation or that I was around my co-workers talking about babies and reality television or that I was around whatever other group with whom I wanted to curry a modicum of favor without actually attempting to discuss something I knew nothing about, and more importantly, topics of which I am quietly proud to be ignorant.

So I just sat and listened, and when I was asked to share the things that make me laugh, my list elicited polite nods and disingenuously pinched faces cooing "...yeah...neat..."

I felt a nice little unspoken pact between myself and the fill-in class. "You don't belong here, and you are not of our tribe. Nod and smile a lot, and at the end of our three hours together, get the hell out." Okee-doke!

(I must state for the record that my regular writing class is far different. Everyone in the room, from the teacher to the other writers to the writing newbies, are completely and utterly brilliant, charming, fascinating and off-beat. I'm sure the people in this fill-in class are enormously virtuous on so many levels it could make my head spin, but I was just too blinded by the whole Raymond round-table thing to focus on the sterling energy that surely surrounded me at the time. This has been a message from my conscience, in connection with my karma. Thank you.)

Though really, I didn't mention my Raymondic dysphoria because, quite simply, I didn't want any heavy shit to go down. After all, this was a comedy writing class. What would have happened if I openly expressed my distaste for Mr. Romano's legacy?

I'm sure that after class, my instructor would be on the red phone to the Komedy Kremlin (and yes, I believe Yakov Smirnov has played there) to inform the Chuckle Chamber that there is indeed at least ONE person on this big blue marble who does not, in fact, love Raymond.

"But everybody loves Raymond!" they will say, baffled and outraged.

"Not this guy," my teacher would respond, defeated and dismayed.

"We must reprogram him!"

And I would be kidnapped in the middle of the night and sent to a safehouse, where I would sit in a small white room with a thin woman with owl glasses and a tweed skirt, and she would very calmly and dispassionately explain to me, point by point, the intended universal appeal of Ray Romano's complex web of humor technique. She will take notes as I respond negatively, and share her findings with a research committee tasked to the speediest recovery process possible.

Doris Roberts would be flown in via Air Force One to have a conversation with me. Having a modicum of respect for Ms. Roberts' career (I loved her work with Donna Pescow on Angie), I would beg my captors to at least apply a fresh coat of gel to my electrodes so as not to appear to slovenly in the presence of La Doris. Ultimately, this tactic would also prove unsuccessful.

After several more attempts to convert me to the "Everybody" camp, the worldwide scientific community would finally give up, throw me in a burlap sack and toss me in the back of a van, then throw me out on the side of a highway somewhere in Ohio. But their worst case scenario would come true: THEY WOULD HAVE TO RETITLE THE SHOW.

I mean, sure, it's not on the air anymore, but it is syndicated in reruns, and there is certainly a thriving DVD box set racket going on, if everybody (except for me, that is) indeed loves this person. Suggestions would include:

  • Most Love Raymond
  • We Found One Person Who Doesn't Love Raymond: Ignore Him
  • We Love Raymond, And That's Good Enough
  • If You Don't Love Raymond, Don't Watch - It's That Simple
  • Loving Raymond, It Has Its Perks
  • Raymond Loves Everybody (Except For One Person, And He Knows Who He Is)

This re-titling fiasco would lead to wide-spread global panic, causing earthquakes and falling skies to rend havoc in some regions, and giant lizards would appear and eat entire towns in other areas. Nostradamus would rise from the grave simply to appear on Oprah and say "I told you so", and all evildoers would win everything from bloody wars to games of Hungry Hungry Hippos, much to the chagrin of the U.S. government's current administration.

So, yeah.

One picks one's battles wisely when one has the presence of mind to do so.

As such, I just kept my big trap shut about the whole Raymond thing.


Blogger dragon knitter said...

um, i don't love raymond either. as a rule, i don't watch sitcoms based on "home life" mainly because it's like no one's home that i know. i don't watch 8 simple rules, or the george lopez show. i watched cosby in the 80's, andi think that's the last one i watched. they ARE NOT FUNNY. there i said it. looks like i'll be joining you under the electrodes, eh?

7:53 PM, October 20, 2005  
Blogger Franklin said...

It's good to know I am not the only person on earth who still remembers the brief, shining moment that Donna Pescow was illuminating the small screen as "Angie."

10:49 AM, October 21, 2005  
Blogger Leslie said...

Ah, Angie and Brad - the doctor and the news stand dealer - what a great show. And yes, Doris was perfect. Remember Hotel Baltimore with Conchata Farrell? And Moose (the first ptsd victim we ever met) and his mom? Who played Mrs. Bellotti anyhow - she was very very good. Another proof that TV used to be better.

No reality show has ever sullied my viewing habits and I sincerely doubt it will ever happen. I'd rather watch reruns of BritSitComs for the 20th time than most of what passes for "entertainment". Just color me snob.

I watched it twice, actually, and can tell you that I DO NOT love Raymond. And I could never understand why the hell Kramer was never thrown out for not knocking on Seinfeld's door? Or why he never locked the damn door - hello?? It's New York City!!!
(thanks. I feel better now)

6:13 AM, October 22, 2005  

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