Brian Anderson praises Rick Moranis’ comedic genius and top notch parenting choices.
Almost every semester I assign my college freshman English class to watch Strange Brew. We talk about Hamlet, we talk about parody, we analyze a little and we laugh a lot. It’s all the fun of Shakespeare, plus a lot of actual fun on top. My freshmen are kids who are used to watching big budget crap-storms like Transformers and Avengers
It’s funny how most comedy doesn’t age well. That doesn’t mean all comedy, of course. I laugh out loud when I read Mark Twain but a lot of the classic old SNL’s from the 70s and 80s seem pretty meh. Moranis’ best work on the other hand (Spaceballs, Strange Brew, Ghostbusters, some stuff from SCTV) holds up really well.
After watching Strange Brew, one student wanted to know more about Moranis. And since teaching students to appreciate good comedy is pretty much my favorite part of the job (I use a lot of clips from 30 Rock, The Simpsons, MST3K, Rifftrax, etc.), I used class time to name some titles she might look into, but I couldn’t think of anything newer than Little Giants (1994). IMDB wasn’t much help either.
She wondered if he had died.
So I looked him up. I found a 2013 interview he had done with Jesse Thorn. It turns out that in the nineties, at arguably the peak of his career, his wife passed away so he retired to become a stay-at-home-dad.
How awesome is that.
Not the obviously sad part, but the awesome part where he decides to take care of his kids. That sounds like the plot of a movie he would star in. And he’s not bitter or dramatic about it. He explains in the interview that “Stuff happens to people every day, and they make adjustments to their lives for all kinds of reasons. There was nothing unusual about what happened or what I did.”
And when he is asked about walking away from the excitement of working in such a creative field he says, “I didn’t walk away from that. I applied all of my creativity to my home life, to my kids, to my family. I was the same person. I didn’t change. I just shifted my focus.”
Talk about having your priorities in order. I love Tina Fey. I have Kristin’s permission to marry her if I ever get the chance, but when I read her memoir, Bossy Pants, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her kids. But not Rick Moranis’s kids. That interview made me wonder where I am applying my creativity. Where is my focus? I hope I can always say that I am using my best energy in my home.
So this weekend I’m going to watch Strange Brew to celebrate one of the most awesome dads and one of the most awesome comedians ever! Also, if I get the chance this weekend, maybe I’ll marry him instead of Tina Fey.
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