Wednesday, August 16, 2006

"I Know In My Heart I'm Funny"

I was sorry to see this morning that Bruno Kirby had died. He was a guy that delivered a guaranteed laugh almost every time he appeared in a film.

My favorite, somewhat obscure, scene with him appears in "Good Morning, Vietnam." Kirby plays Lieutenant Steven Hauk, Adrian Cronauer's (Robin Williams) disdainful, frustrated, humor-impaired supervisor at the Armed Forces Radio Network.

After engineering Cronauer's suspension from his radio gig because of "irreverent" humor and too-modern music, Hauk, who fancies himself a comedian ("Reader's Digest is considering publishing two of my jokes!"), puts himself on the air in Cronour's place.

The show's staff pleads with him not to go on. ("This stuff you's not funny, sir. It's sad. I'm begging you, don't try to do comedy. It's not in your blood.") He ignores them and goes on anyway, adopting the character of "Lieutenant Steve" and cracking open the microphone.

After about a minute of truly horrible, I mean mind-numbingly awful on-air material (including a conversation with his French-accented sock puppet "Frenchy"), while the show's staff trade looks of horror, Lt. Steve fires up a polka record, closes the microphone, and backs his chair away from the table. It's been a chilling spectacle. Is he going to cry in embarrassment? Suddenly, his expression changes.

"Well," says Lieutenant Steve to the staff, with a smug, self-satisfied look on his face. "I think some apologies are in order."

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