The Seven Most Important Relics in Comedy History
If some future comedy archeologist were to dig through the ruins of show business, what relics would best represent the laughs of the past? There are countless curiosities that might provide future historians insight into our comedy culture: the chocolate conveyor belt from I Love Lucy, Gallagher’s melon-mashing sledgehammer, the clacking coconuts from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. For our part at least, here are the seven comedy artifacts that we hope make their way into the museums of tomorrow…
Steve Martin’s Arrow Through the Head
At the height of his stand-up fame, the iconic image of Martin would have been the comic in a white suit with a fake arrow-through-the-noggin. It’s a corny joke, but that’s the point. “It’s not that the arrow through the head is funny,” Martin told Playboy. “It’s that someone thinks the arrow through the head is funny.”
Spinal Tap’s Amp That Goes to 11
Comedy would be the only way to explain the dials on these guitar amplifiers to future generations. Marty DiBergi is rightly puzzled when he asks, “Why don't you just make 10 louder and make 10 be the top number and make that a little louder?” Nigel Tufnel’s answer couldn’t make it any clearer: “These go to 11.”
Groucho’s glasses would be a worthy relic for a future comedy museum, but it’s Groucho Glasses — complete with bushy eyebrows, large nose and mustache — that have become the icon most synonymous with comedy. This novelty item has been on the market since the 1940s, sometimes called nose glasses, the beaglepuss or GM 20/20s. Groucho glasses even have their own emoji, for Pete’s sake.
Albert Brooks’ Dummy Danny
Honestly, there are other ventriloquist dummies that have made more of an impact — Charlie McCarthy, the ethnic atrocities of Jeff Dunham and Wayland Flowers’ bitchy pal Madame come to mind. But none make me laugh as much as Danny, so I hope it’s the one that survives the dig.
Happy Gilmore’s Hockey Putter
“It was a totally fabricated prop,” said Happy Gilmore’s co-production designer Perry Blake. “We started with the hockey stick, in terms of the size of it. The bottom part was, more or less, like a hockey stick, but we also wanted to make it flat and smooth. As far as I know, there wasn’t anything like this that existed — it’s not like you could go online and buy them.”
Howie Mandel’s Latex Glove
Before Mandel became a professional talent-show judge, he was a stand-up comedian best known for putting his entire face inside a hospital glove. Hey, we knew the guy was a germophobe but this was ridiculous.
McLovin’s Fake ID
The Superbad script didn’t go into a lot of detail when it came to McLovin’s fake ID, a comedy relic so iconic that it has an Etsy page devoted to tribute products. Production designer Chris L. Spellman had a thought: “Why don't we make his license from Hawaii (because) I had done a film there and I just thought about a state that’s not even in the mainland.” Seth Rogen thought the idea was hilarious, although that might have something to do with the fact that he was stoned out of his gourd at the time.