BRONX, NY – This past Monday we lost yet another bright light from our planet when the great Gene Wilder exited stage right. This was, of course, on the heels of losing our own funnyman, Al Sternberg. I think most will agree that 2016 has been absolutely brutal. But, for once, I’m not gonna dwell on the negative. Time to spit in the Grim Reaper’s eye and do a Gene Wilder sports tribute. Here goes…
Blazing Saddles. In an odd coincidence, this Mel Brooks classic will be playing tomorrow night in New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, with Mel himself giving a talk on his great comedy. Wilder, of course, played the Waco Kid. Now that the Summer Olympics are over, we won’t have the blazing saddles of women’s volleyball for another 4 years.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Wilder at his most psychedelic, playing the excellently eccentric candy man. While the Candy Man can, these days the Grandyman can’t. Curtis Granderson has been a gaping cavity in the Mets offense all season long. It’s also worth mentioning for the umpteenth time that the Reggie Bar was an affront to the history of candy bars.
Stir Crazy. This Wilder/Richard Pryor buddy comedy was three-quarters flawless but kinda petered out towards the end. Didn’t matter, though. Wilder killed it as the reluctant convict bull rider. The scenes where Barry Corbin’s warden tries to break him are hilarious and capped off by putting him and Pryor in a cell with mass murderer Grossberger. Great! In a couple of weeks football season starts. Over the past couple of years I’ve given up going stir crazy watching 9-plus hours of football in favor of enjoying some nice fall days with the family. It’s proven to be a solid choice.
Young Frankenstein. Conceived and co-written by Gene Wilder, Young Frankenstein is one of the best motion picture comedies ever. Over 40 years since its original release, it holds up incredibly well, with scenes and dialogue that have become ingrained in our popular culture. “Abby something…,” “Sed-A-give???,”He! Was! My! Boyfriend!” The list goes on and on. Gary Sanchez is the latest NY Yankees monster. We will see if he stands the test of time or ends up another bad Kevin Maas creation.
Silver Streak. Another great Wilder/Pryor comedy, this one takes place on a train. I love movies that take place on trains. If the Mets make the playoffs this year, our own silver fox, Short Matt, swears he will streak across Citi Field in celebration.
The Producers. Gene and Zero did their best to stage a surefire Broadway flop in this early Mel Brooks effort. Some extremely funny scenes in this one including Wilder’s Leo Bloom choking Mostel’s Max Bialystock while calling him a “Fat, fat, fat, fatty, fat, fat!” The Mets currently have two consistent producers in Yo and Bartolo, with the former providing the fireworks while the latter (a fat, fat, fatty himself) delivers solid pitching and much-needed comic relief every fifth day.
Finally, I’d just like to say a final few words about Al Sternberg. Like so many others here, I never got to meet him in person. It’s a hole in all of our human resumes, unfortunately. But I am so glad that I got to know him through his words as well as playing Words with Friends with him. Occasionally we would message each other, either about the site or the Mets or some other thing going on in the world, and he always managed to make me laugh. Not easy, I assure you. He will be missed but won’t be forgotten. I have never been big on curtain calls, but he deserves a 1986 Mets curtain call. Happy trails, my friend.
That’s it. Come back for a little slice of heaven with a man who lost three toes in a fight, Buddy Diaz. And please follow us on Twitter – @Angry_Ward & @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.