The setting: a lively freshman dorm. At the end of the hall, in a small, loungey area, sits a TV with a VCR (remember those?). Enter me, with a videotape, accompanied by another resident.
“What movie are you gonna watch?” asks the resident.
“The Producers,” I say. “Wanna join me?”
“Oh, no. That’s old humor.”
Exit resident, like tears … in the rain.
To this day, I repeat that phrase to myself: old humor. What does that mean? How old does humor have to be in order to be old? Does it get Social Security? And how do we know when new humor becomes old? It’s like that Groucho Marx routine in Duck Soup, where the funnyman cancels out any discussion of “new business” seconds after it’s mentioned: “Too late, that’s old business already.”
Here’s my theory: There’s no such thing as old humor. Just good and bad. Many of the attitudes in The Producers are dated, but it’s still funny. And I’d rather see that any day over The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (which, in its original short-story incarnation, ones-up The Producers in the age department, anyway).
Yes, of course, there’s taste, and it differs greatly when humor is involved. You may not like Mel Brooks’ comedies or Zero Mostel’s mugging. Yet to call something old humor seems to me just absurd. If something’s good, it stays that way. The years don’t make it worse.
For the record, I want to note that I’m not just about older comedies. One example: I liked Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. Though, wait … is that old humor because it’s a sequel to an older film? Does it still count as new?
Ahhh … whatever.