Wednesday, June 24, 2009



Although I never was a fan
of Johnny’s side-kick, Ed McMahon,
he’s died, so let me be the parson
who praises him. Though Johnny Carson
quite overshadowed him, side-kick
became the role they made him pick,
and happily he let himself
become a shadow on the shelf.
Comedian kept inside his pen,
he did not steal the limelight when
he said “Here’s Johnny!” which would cause,
on Johnny’s entry, great applause.

Always ready for abuse
by the man he’d introduce,
he often seemed to be competing,
but this was always self-defeating.
It’s true that he competed, but
he’d always end up as the butt
of jokes by Johnny who had sense
enough to make him look as dense
as side-kicks, when beside their hero,
should mostly seem to be a zero.

Asking questions they can’t answer,
They set up, like Sancho Panza,
their Don Quixote as the man
for whom we all should be a fan.
They serve because they sit and laugh,
prepared to be the lesser half
in teams where they become redundant
while jokes about them are abundant.
The more these side-kicks seem demented
the heroes’ auras are augmented.
And yet they ought to be accorded
respect, and reasonably rewarded.All insults made ad hominem
by heroes to those next to them
can be the means for the insulted
to be to stardom catapulted
as tail that tries to wag the head,
as was the case with Johnny’s Ed.

Of course some side-kicks break the rules,
as is the case with Shakespeare’s Fools,
transforming heroes they deride
to side-kicks. This way they provide
the audience with a clear insight
of heroes’ flaws. While they all bite
the hand that feeds them, they’re permitted
to diss the heroes. Not dim-witted,
some side-kicks often point this out
in real life too, when they’ve the clout,
but usually they fail, like Ed,
and act as foils not Fools, instead.

Now that Ed McMahon’s dead,
let’s praise him for the way he led
us all to think so well of Johnny,
because his jokes were far less funny.

Ed McMahon died in Bel Air on June 22, living in a house that had been foreclosed in the course of the economic meltdown, but supported util his death by a loyal supporter. Robert Lloyd writes an appreciation in the LA Times on June 24 (“Completing the Star”).

© 2009 Gershon Hepner 6/23/09

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