Friday, October 23, 2009

Sail On Soupy

Sad day.  I just heard about the death of Soupy Sales.  Not sad for long.  It's impossible to talk or even think about Soupy without laughing.  
Even the CBS Evening News had a piece about Soupy tonight.  For any Baby Boomer, the Soupy Sales Show was like no other.  Here's the thing: lots of slapstick, really bad jokes, two dogs for pets represented by huge white or black arms with claws.  (White Fang and Black Tooth)  Two puppets for friends (Pookie the lion and Hippie, a hippo.)  And lots of knocking on his door which usually ended in a shaving cream pie in the face.
Soupy Sales made everybody laugh.  He was the perfect sucker, the perfect dupe, the grown up who acted like a kid.  His world was ridiculous.  That's why it worked.  If you came home in 1965 with Middle School angst, one episode of Soupy Sales would be all it took to release all those wonderful brain chemicals that come with laughter.  
Case in point: Right in the middle of something his phone would ring.  "Excuse me," he'd say to the big white paw known as White Fang.  He's answer the phone.  "Yes?  You don't say.  You don't say.   Hmmm...You don't say.  You DON"T Say.  You don't say.  OK bye."White Fang would reply, "WA Raa Raa EuAA AH AH?"   
"Oh who was that?"  Soupy would say.  "He didn't say."
Bam! A pie in the face.  No matter how many times, it was funny.
Like all institutions, a good deal of folklore about Soupy existed.  It was true that once his crew sent a topless stripper (who never got on camera) to the door when he was on the air.  
One Halloween, from the 9th grade years of my life, I came to school dressed as Soupy.  For months my friends had been telling me that thee was quite a resemblance, so I decided to milk it for all I could get.  My mom helped me make a checkered bow tie on elastic so everyone could pull/snap it just like they did to Soupy.  I got a plastic replica of a crushed top hat, wore a pullover sweater, and damned if I didn't look like the man himself.  I think I even won honorable mention in some sort of competition at the dance that afternoon.  (Vampires always win these things)  For a few shining hours, I was Soupy Sales and I didn't even get hit with a pie!
Of course, the Soupy Sales Show was full of double entendre.  It existed on many levels, but all of them were funny.  Simply funny.  He didn't need to put anybody or anything down.  He was just funny.
Sail on Soupy.   

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