I once worked with a music teacher who conducted a symphonic orchestra. One weekend, a concert was given at a local performance arts center. My best friend Debbie and I decided to go. We didn’t know anything about classical music, but we figured we could use a little culture. We previewed the program and recognized one or two composers. Of course, the titles of the selected pieces meant nothing to us.
The concert began. Part of the first musical piece sounded familiar to our ears. A fluke, surely. However, the next one also contained recognizable phrases. We complimented each other on how we were not as culturally ignorant as originally believed. We patted ourselves on the back.
This continued. About a quarter of the way through the concert, it dawned on me how we knew this music. I leaned over to Debbie and whispered, “Looney Tunes.” She had to cover her mouth with both hands to stop from laughing out loud. Our knowledge of classical music came from Bugs Bunny.
When I saw my colleague at work the following week, I complimented him on the performance. I also mentioned how almost all the pieces played had been used in Looney Tunes cartoons. He just stared at me. I guess not everyone appreciates Bugs Bunny.
It’s the kid in me. I own all six volumes of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection. When I need a good laugh, I’ll watch some classic cartoons. I occasionally quote the characters. It’s a good barometer for kindred spirits. One morning at work, I said “Another day, another carrot.” A colleague nearby laughed. A kindred spirit. This was a science teacher, not the previously mentioned music teacher. He was most definitely not a kindred spirit.
Of course, it has to be Looney Tunes. Not just any cartoon series has this effect. In college, my friends and I were on our way to dinner. During the conversation, I remarked, “I keep my feathers numbered for just such an emergency.” Two broke out laughing, the other one exclaimed, “What does that mean?!” Coincidentally I was wearing a denim jacket with all the Looney Tunes characters on the back. So, I could point out Foghorn Leghorn, the rooster I had just quoted. My non-laughing friend had no idea about any of these cartoons. I was in shock. How was it possible to have never seen a Looney Tunes cartoon? She answered she preferred others like Jem and Tom and Jerry. Jem? Really? At least with the mention of Tom and Jerry she held on to her street cred. We also agreed upon Josie and the Pussycats and Scooby-Doo. The latter is the only other cartoon series I know that gets quoted regularly.
I won’t discuss today’s cartoons, since I fail to see the humor in them. I think they lack a certain quality, a certain cleverness or perspective, whatever it was that makes the original Looney Tunes timeless. How many sayings are part of our vernacular that come from these cartoons? A couple of examples are: “Of course you realize this means war” and “He don’t know me very well, do he?” Notice I didn’t give the most obvious one, “What’s up, doc?”, because everyone knows that one, whether or not they have ever watched Bugs Bunny. I have my doubts, though, if everyone is aware of the other two. I will end with a familiar one so everybody will be in on the joke. “That’s all, folks!”