It’s probably a game you have played in some form or fashion before. I give you a topic. You tell me who your Mount Rushmore would be for that topic. If you do not know what Mount Rushmore is, then get off this site and go learn something important.
Mount Rushmore is in South Dakota. There are four faces carved into it. They are the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. That’s all the history I am prepared to give you.
The best part of the game is the simplicity. I will give you the topic. Any parameters you wish to set are totally up to you. I just want four items. That’s it. Your reasons are your reasons. As usual, however, I want you to give your reasons if you have the time.
Now, here is the first ever topic for EMH’s Mount Rushmore:
FUNNIEST TELEVISION CHARACTERS OF ALL TIME!
Okay, I will begin by eliminating certain contenders.
NO ANIMATED CHARACTERS. Remember, this is just for MY list. If you want four animated characters on your Mount Rushmore, that is your business. In my opinion, there are too many things animated characters can do or say that live action characters cannot say. Certain lines can be crossed by Peter Griffin that could not be approached by Tim “The Toolman” Taylor. I think it’s unfair, so no animated characters on my list.
NO SNL OR VARIETY SHOW CHARACTERS. Sorry, but for me, longevity counts. The funniest SNL characters of all time will have nowhere near the screen time of a Sam Malone, who was hilarious on Cheers for 11 years and about 275 episodes.
Now, that being said, here’s my list in the order in which these characters debuted on their television shows.
Lucy Ricardo - For nearly 200 episodes, Lucille Ball was hilarious as Lucy Ricardo, the housewife who wanted to be a star. She had impeccable timing and delivered dialogue with a sharpness that always hit its target. However, she was also a tremendously gifted physical comedienne. Her facial expressions, her exaggerated movements, and her dancing/falling never failed to generate big laughs. Our tastes for television comedy are different today, but I hope you can all appreciate the sheer comedic perfection that is the "Vitametavegamin" commercial she shoots in "Lucy Does a TV Commercial," season 1, episode 30.
Heathcliff Huxtable - The Cosby Show is remembered for being a Thursday night staple in the 1980s. People remember it as being groundbreaking for having an affluent African-American family at the center of a family sitcom for the first time ever. People remember little Rudy stealing scenes. They remember the funeral for Lamont, the goldfish. They remember how the show started to lose it when the kids grew up. Let's face it, Olivia and Cousin Pam were no replacement for Rudy and Theo in his high school years. What they don't often remember is, the show was absolutely hilarious. For the first four seasons, there were almost ZERO weak episodes, and Cliff led the way the whole time. What makes his character so impressive in his humor, is that there were no punch lines. He didn't have people set him up and he deliver a quick-witted remark. He told stories, and he is the best comedic storyteller we have ever seen. If you have forgotten this show, go back and watch Cliff explain economics to Theo in the first episode, with monopoly money, or when he was the baliff in the courtroom when Theo was put on trial. Watch him explain "The Blues" to Theo when he blows it with Justine. Watch him take his physical when he goes to see the doctor. Watch him during the episodes when the family performs for Cliff's parents. Watch him explain how to cook to Elvin. Heathcliff "Combustible" Huxtable is an all-time funny character.
George Costanza - I imagine either Kramer or George will be on most people's lists if you are a fan of the show at all. Kramer is the best physically comedic character ever, but if you know me, it's dialogue I crave. George is also a great storyteller. He just tells different kinds of stories from Cliff Huxtable. His mannerisms. His philosophies. His self-loathing. It's all brilliant. He could do physical too, but he specialized in his detailed reactions to Jerry's life experiences and his quest for complete laziness.
Chandler Bing - I know this entry will draw the most ire from readers. Look, say what you will, on a show that ran for 238 episodes, Chandler Bing was the funniest Friend for 10 seasons. During the 90s, audiences transitioned from story-centered plots to one-liner-centered plots. I am making these terms up, but you know what I mean. A comedy in the 70s and 80s showed you funny things happening and stories that had laughs along the way. The 90s taught us that a laugh had to come every few seconds. Anything less would get you canceled. What gets the quickest laughs? Quick-witted, smart-mouthed insults. While Carla Tortelli (Cheers) and Dan Fielding (Night Court) delivered them with mean-spiritedness, Chandler Bing did it with love. He had horrible self-esteem, and used his humor as a defense mechanism nonstop for the show's entire run. I think what makes me appreciate him so much is that he stands out to me in an ensemble cast of six funny characters. That is a quite a challenge. The show has been off the air for 5 years now, but I still quote many of Chandler's greatest zingers.
Well, there you have it. That is my first Mount Rushmore list. PLEASE GIVE ME YOURS. Maybe they won't be as well-thought out or as detailed (that's my job), but perhaps you can get me to doubt myself.
Oh, yeah. I think it's fair to look ahead. Lucy, I am sorry, but Michael Scott has only a season or two more before he takes your spot.