Discussing Danny Kaye

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"How tall is King Kong ?"
So, here in Europe, I've watched my first Danny Kaye movie, Wonder Man. Okay, technically not my first, as a kid I had also seen Walter Mitty, bud dubbed in french, and I don't remember much about it.

But apparently, Danny Kaye was a thing for my parents' generation ? They still quote The Court Jester. And my generation had not heard of him at all. This made me curious. I checked a bit of his show on youtube (a sketch with some young promising guest actor named Peter Falk, apparently in full columbo mode since birth), and also the chalice/vessel scene. And then that film.

And hm. Okay, I get it I think. I might have adored him if I had discovered him as a kid ? He's funny in a make the children laugh way ? The movie made me laugh once (one joke in all the classic talking-to-invisible-man-behind-you routines did land) and amused me at another point (the epic ending where a fake opera tenor on stage tries to discretely convey specific info to the police, in a singing, italian-sounding way). The rest is mostly squeaks and facial expressions, over-reactions, etc, which felt much less natural than, say, a Louis de Funès'. It reminded me of Abbott and Costello, another, earlier reference that is also unknown to my generation. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was presented to me, by an aunt, as the funniest thing ever, and it didn't really convince me (it's mostly scoobydoo yikes and zoinks with funny faces), although it might had if I had been as young as she was when she discovered it.

Finally I found it endearing but terribly aged. Not only the naively exoticizing musical numbers (which make sense for a time where foreign cultures seemed funnier and weirder than they were, but looks embarrassingly dated in the global village era), but the acting and the clownesque reliance on funny faces. Other style of humor, such as the Marx Brothers, still work better today. But I was also struck by the filiation with more modern artists. For instance, I'm now convinced that Terence Hill was a big Danny Kaye fan, and was emulating him a lot with his acting and emoting.

Now, is my global impression subjective, is it personal, is it cultural ? In the english-speaking world, is Danny Kaye still better known ? Does he have a cult stats, is he forgotten ? Is he perceived with condescension, with contempt, with respect, with admiration ? Does he represent fond memories or awkwardness ? He doesn't seem often referred to, so is he culturally ignored ?

My question is : what is Danny Kaye to you ?



I think Danny Kaye was an incredibly talented entertainer, bordering on legendary. If TCM is on and Danny Kaye is on the screen, I will stop what I'm doing and give it my undivided attention.
Also, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein is one of my favorite movies.



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So, here in Europe, I've watched my first Danny Kaye movie, Wonder Man. Okay, technically not my first, as a kid I had also seen Walter Mitty, bud dubbed in french, and I don't remember much about it.

But apparently, Danny Kaye was a thing for my parents' generation ? They still quote The Court Jester. And my generation had not heard of him at all. This made me curious. I checked a bit of his show on youtube (a sketch with some young promising guest actor named Peter Falk, apparently in full columbo mode since birth), and also the chalice/vessel scene. And then that film.

And hm. Okay, I get it I think. I might have adored him if I had discovered him as a kid ? He's funny in a make the children laugh way ? The movie made me laugh once (one joke in all the classic talking-to-invisible-man-behind-you routines did land) and amused me at another point (the epic ending where a fake opera tenor on stage tries to discretely convey specific info to the police, in a singing, italian-sounding way). The rest is mostly squeaks and facial expressions, over-reactions, etc, which felt much less natural than, say, a Louis de Funès'. It reminded me of Abbott and Costello, another, earlier reference that is also unknown to my generation. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein was presented to me, by an aunt, as the funniest thing ever, and it didn't really convince me (it's mostly scoobydoo yikes and zoinks with funny faces), although it might had if I had been as young as she was when she discovered it.

Finally I found it endearing but terribly aged. Not only the naively exoticizing musical numbers (which make sense for a time where foreign cultures seemed funnier and weirder than they were, but looks embarrassingly dated in the global village era), but the acting and the clownesque reliance on funny faces. Other style of humor, such as the Marx Brothers, still work better today. But I was also struck by the filiation with more modern artists. For instance, I'm now convinced that Terence Hill was a big Danny Kaye fan, and was emulating him a lot with his acting and emoting.

Now, is my global impression subjective, is it personal, is it cultural ? In the english-speaking world, is Danny Kaye still better known ? Does he have a cult stats, is he forgotten ? Is he perceived with condescension, with contempt, with respect, with admiration ? Does he represent fond memories or awkwardness ? He doesn't seem often referred to, so is he culturally ignored ?

My question is : what is Danny Kaye to you ?

1. Internet Answer: Danny? Mmm... Kaye...?



2. Flavor Flav Answer: Danny was hero to most, but he never meant s**t to me. Straight up buffoon, he was simple and a goofus. Motherf***k him and Jerry Lewis.



3. Historical Answer: His comedy was thing of it's time. Our generation will have to explain "dildo butt monkey" story-time reading at the library and fail at that too.



4. Nostalgia Answer: He's kind of a Mr. Rogers-type character. He is beatified by those who love him. You would punch anyone who said a word against Robin Williams (even though he was a joke thief), because he is "that guy." He is a comedy saint. More angel than comedian. Ditto for Danny.



First film I seen with Danny Kaye was The Court Jester and I hated it, too damn silly for me. But then I watched White Christmas and loved it and seen what a talent Kaye was when he wasn't doing his Jerry Lewis imitation. So if you want to see a more talented side of Danny Kaye watch White Christmas.



Danny was a master Scatman!
I loved the way he could sing & talk through intricately worded foolishness at inhuman speeds and could turn complete gibberish into an opera of absurdity.



Have sat through a good handful of his movies. Court Jester, Walter Mitty, White Christmas, Wonder Man and the one have probably sat through most of all, Inspector General. Remember seeing that at my gran's when I was a kid and every now and then its popped up on tv or wherever and sat through it at various stages of life. So have probably sat through IG a good 4-5 times at least, compared to just the 1 for each of the others (although have walked in and out of the room when White Christmas has been on during holidays). So, that would be my sample size. No doubt others are more extensive.

Overall, it does take me back to being that kid again, a bit like how Terence Hill & Bud Spncer movies do, in Kaye's case mesmerized by his ability to work through those devilish tongue twisters, and being a bit of a song and dance man who was a bit goofy and physcal comedian. Would never be cast in a serious dramatic role but for the roles he was cast in/created for him, it's hard to think of anyone else who could've done those as well as, or indeed other than, Kaye.



Kaye was a highly intelligent, talented entertainer of the flamboyant comedic slapstick type. He was technically very gifted with his voice, both in sound effects and straight singing.

TBH I was not a fan growing up, preferring Donald O'Connor, but he had some wonderful roles in White Christmas (1954), and one I liked as a kid, The Five Pennies (1959)-- a biopic of Red Nichols, the early jazz and dixieland pioneer.



That's a name from way back - Danny Kaye, AKA David Daniel Kaminsky. He was a parental favorite when I was a kid, so I got exposed to him when I was real young. His raucous Borscht Belt style seemed like it should be funnier than I found it to be. Nevertheless, he was a brilliantly multitalented sort of a guy as well as a very decent man who did a lot of non-profit things in his life.

Some comedy styles have a time cycle, become dated and then make a comeback. That sort of rapid-fire comedy was also done by other BB guys like Milton Berle, Morey Amsterdam, Don Rickles, Jackie Mason, etc, had its day and seems to be waiting for the worm to turn so it can make its comeback. If we see a Three Stooges comeback, then we can expect Danny Kaye sometime soon after that. There's no doubting his verbal virtuosity.