From: Donna Banta
Subject: Remembering Leslie Nielsen
Looking back, it is no wonder my slow departure from Mormonism progressed alongside The Naked Gun series. When the first installment opened in 1988, I was an active Mormon. My hands were covered in eczema and I was having recurring nightmares about being trapped in a box. Add to that, I regularly attended the temple where I was instructed to "avoid all lightmindedness, loud laughter, and evil speaking of the Lord's anointed." I didn't laugh much. But when I did, it was a freakish, hysterical laughter that climaxed in an endorphin fueled high that for a few fleeting moments made me feel alive.
In those days, laughter was serious business.
Face it Abbottsville Fourth Ward. Loud laughter's not only a good thing. It's downright healthy.
Rumack: You'd better tell the Captain we've got to land as soon as we can. This woman has to be gotten to the hospital.
Elaine Dickinson: A hospital? What is it?
Rumack: It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now.
Mayor: Now Drebin, I don't want any trouble like you had on the South Side last year, that's my policy.
Drebin: Well, when I see five weirdos, dressed in togas, stabbing a man in the middle of the park in full view of a hundred people, I shoot the bastards, that's *my* policy!
Mayor: That was a Shakespeare In The Park production of Julius Caesar, you moron! You killed five actors! Good ones!
Mrs. Nordberg: Oh, my poor Nordberg! He was such a good man, Frank. He never wanted to hurt anyone. Who would do such a thing?
Drebin: It's hard to tell. A gang of thugs, a blackmailer, an angry husband, a gay lover . . .
President George Bush: Frank, please consider filling a post I'm creating. It may mean long hours and dangerous nights surrounded by some of the scummiest elements in our society.
Drebin: You want me to be in your cabinet?
Drebin: I can't hear you! Don't fire the gun while you're talking!
Commissioner Anabell Brumford: (on telephone) Hello? He did what? How many animals escaped? Oh my god. (hangs up phone.)
Drebin: Good evening, commissioner. You're looking lovely tonight.
Commissioner Anabell Brumford: Do you realize that because of you this city is being overrun by baboons?
Drebin: Well, isn't that the fault of the voters?
I pity the priesthood holder who is assigned to do Leslie Nielsen's temple work, as it would be impossible not to envision Frank Drebin doing the same. Here's my take on that fantasy:
|Nothing to see here!|
Comedies don't win many awards. It's usually the tragedies that attract the critics' attention. While I admire performers who accurately reflect real people's suffering, I sometimes wish we gave more credit to those who help to alleviate that suffering. To those who make us laugh. Leslie Nielson certainly made me laugh, and at a time in my life when I dearly needed to. He also taught me how to respond when a member of the Abbottsville Fourth Ward asks:
Well meaning ward member: Donna, surely you want to go to General Conference. What is it really?
Me: It's a mind-numbingly boring meeting run by a bunch of misogynistic homophobes, but that's not important right now. And don't call me Shirley.
|May he rest in peace.|