Monday, February 24, 2014

'Ghostbuster' writer, actor Harold Ramis dies at 69

'Ghostbuster' writer, actor Harold Ramis dies at 69

Harold Ramis had a huge and profound impact on people my age who are into comedy.  Or just people who like to laugh.  He co-wrote National Lampoon's Animal House, Meatballs and Stripes, and both co-wrote and directed Caddyshack, and directed National Lampoon's Vacation.  A few obituaries I've read list Groundhog Day, which he also co-wrote as well as directed, as his best film, but as fun as that one is, I'll stick with CaddyshackMultiplicity is overdue for a critical re-appraisal, by the way.

Animal House, Meatballs, Caddyshack and Stripes (and Vacation to a lesser extent) shaped not just my own comedic sensibilities, but those of my friends.  We didn't just watch them.  We lived them whenever possible.  I also adored SCTV.  The funny thing is, while back in those days I idolized and desperately wanted to be John Belushi or Bill Murray, or one of Ramis' more chameleonic castmates on SCTV, over the past few years I've come to align more with Ramis.  Even in the comedic misadventures of our real life, I was going to be more of the sidekick, doing my best work not in front of people, but just out of view.

If I had pursued a career in comedy-- and at one point, that was a definite possibility (until I realized I lack talent)-- I think following Ramis' career path would have been the most comfortable.  He had a way of filling in the sides, of adding a calm presence, an intelligence and a slyness while letting the leads do their front-man thing, but then you realize how much his behind-the-camera work and way with a script made all of it possible in the first place. 

He made the worlds those guys inhabited.  How could anyone do it better?

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