April 28, 2009

Heroes: Jack Handey

I think it is safe to say that Jack Handey is one of comedic heroes. Yes. THAT Jack Handey - SNL Deep Thoughts from the 80's. Did you know he is a real guy? Well, he is. And I have a good chuckle anytime I read anything of his. This particular column is from the New Yorker and was sent to me by my dear friend, LC, a few years ago. It should come as no surprise that LC loves Jack Handey too. We had a great email exchange over this article discussing our favorite parts. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do...

Ideas for Paintings
by Jack Handey
The New Yorker - March 20, 2006

Because I love art, I am offering the following ideas for paintings to all struggling artists out there. Some of those artists may be thinking, Hey, I’ve got good ideas of my own. Really? Then why are you struggling?

These ideas are free of charge. All I ask is that when you have completed a painting, as a courtesy to me you sign it “Jack Handey and [your name or initials].” And, if the painting is sold, I get approximately all the money.

Good luck! Let’s get painting!

Stampede of Nudes
The trouble with most paintings of nudes is that there isn’t enough nudity. It’s usually just one woman lying there, and you’re looking around going, “Aren’t there any more nudes?” This idea solves that.

What has frightened these nudes? Is it the lightning in the background? Or did one of the nudes just spook? You don’t know, and this creates tension.

Made You LookThis idea is difficult to execute, but could turn out to be a masterpiece. It depicts a grandly dressed lady looking straight at you. At first, her look seems to say, “Quick, look behind you!” So you turn around, and when you look at her again her expression now seems to be one of smug satisfaction.

The Bleak HotelA man is staring out the window of a bleak hotel room. He looks depressed. From the side, flying through the air, is a football. And you realize, If he’s depressed now, just wait until he gets hit in the head by that football.

The Repentant Cameron DiazCameron Diaz, her tear-streaked face lit by a candle, gazes wistfully at a photograph of me.

The Weary Peasants
Some tired-looking peasants are walking down a road at sunset, carrying sheaves of wheat. A nobleman in a fancy coach is coming up from behind. This creates drama, because you’re thinking, Why don’t those peasants get out of the way?

Self-Portrait with Startled Expression
The key here is to be able to constantly startle yourself as you’re painting. One option is to hire a professional startler, but that can get expensive. (The best ones are from Ireland.) Be sure to use opening the bill from your startler as a free startle.

The Death of Hercules
An old Hercules is being lifted into the air by angels. On the one hand, it makes you sad, but on the other you think, He’s still in pretty good shape.

Abstract White No. 1
This is a solid-white painting. You might be asking, “Is it O.K. to put in a fleck of color here and there?” I give up. Do whatever you want.

The BoxersTwo boxers are whaling away at each other in a boxing ring. But then you notice that the people in the audience are also fighting one another. And it makes you ask: Who are the truly barbaric ones here, the boxers or the spectators? Then you can turn the painting over and read the answer: “the boxers.”

The French LoversA French dandy is embracing his beautiful buxom lover in a lush, overgrown garden. This painting should be in the shape of binoculars.

Still-Life with RabbitA wooden table is chockablock with fruit, cheese, and a glass of wine. To one side is a dead rabbit, a dead pheasant, and a dead eel. And you’re thinking, Thanks for the fruit, but, man, take better care of your pets.

Still-Life with Beets, Cauliflower, Liver, and Large Glass of Beer
Just kidding. Only the beer.

The Expulsion of Adam and Eve
Biblical themes sell well. In this one, God hovers over Adam and Eve, kicking them out of the Garden of Eden. As they leave, in an aside to Eve, Adam imitates the expression on God’s face.

The Jolly Dancer

The scene is a flatboat on the Ohio River. A frontiersman who looks like me is doing his funny cowboy dance. Everyone seems to be enjoying the dance except for an insane simpleton who looks like my so-called friend Don. Crawling up behind Don is a big snapping turtle.

This can pretty much be anything. Just remember to make it good, and to put my name on it. ♦



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