Sunday, April 19, 2015

DON'T FUTZ AROUND! (Laugh-In stars Ruth Buzzi and Arte Johnson)

DON'T FUTZ AROUND!

Are these words to live by?

Not really. What would you be doing right now that beats downloading an obscure, annoying novelty 45? Would you instead, get on a plane and go fight Procol Harum in Nigeria? You could get killed that way.

No, the hapless fact of life is that eventually it ends, and whether you futzed around or devoted yourself to "meaningful" activities, within a generation (if not sooner) your years on the planet will be completely forgotten. A few hundred people are famous a hundred years after they've died, and what good does it do them?

It's sobering to think of how many billions of people on the planet have no idea who Arte Johnson and Ruth Buzzi are. Did they futz around? No, they went into a studio to record "Don't Futz Around!" Not only that, they thought some disk jockeys would play their over-the-top opera-voiced novelty. The flip side was "Very Interesting," keyed to Arte's German soldier catch-phrase. Jackie Kannon also issued a single called "Very Interesting," appropriating Arte's pronunciation and spouting it between instrumental segments. Which is a digression, but could also be considered futzoid.

Ruth Buzzi is 78. Her career credits have shown that she didn't futz around. Or if she did, she was well paid. And almost 40 years after "Laugh-In," she re-united with Arte Johnson for cartoon voices on "Baggy Pants and the Nitwits." Whether you had the time to futz around watching that show or not, is not the question. Neither is whether it's worth watching now.

Not that you can't ask a question in the comments section. But what's the point? Don't futz around!

Arte Johnson is now 86. Actually, he's been 86 since last January. You might think he just futzed around after "Laugh-In," but you'd be forgetting his memorable turn as Renfield in George Hamilton's vampire comedy "Love at First Bite." He managed to out-live his "funny little guy" persona and turn up on daytime soap operas, and seriously record over 80 audio books.

It's somewhat interesting to note (that's what I'm doing at the moment, although it could be futzing around) that nobody in the cast of "Laugh-In" had any great success with 45's. This includes "Sock It To Me Time" from Judy Carne. Lily Tomlin's spoken word comedy albums (using "Laugh-In" characters) did well, but she knew better than to bring musicians into a studio and...futz around.

Is it scholarly to look into the origin of "futz around?" Or is that just futzing around? What's legitimate curiosity and just wasting time? As long as you're still here, let's go with the former. Except, nobody really seems to know the answer. They're just futzing around. Speculation, of course, is that the word is just a German-Jewish variation on "fuck." In act, fuck around with your putz, and you've got "futz."

The other possibility is that "futz" fits as a German-Jewish pronunciation of "farts." Farting around on time-wasting shit is like futzing around.

(Parenthetically, the "Laugh-In" crowd had to be influenced by Steve Allen, who notoriously took "schmuck" and offered a bird-like cry of "smock, smock" getting past the censors. Johnny Carson used to joke about the Fackawi Indians (which was the punchline to the dialect joke, "Where the Fackawi?") The show "F-Troop" resurrected the gag and tamely created the Hekawi Indians). But why go on? It's time to REALLY futz around with your download below. Or not.

DON'T FUTZ AROUND Ruth Buzzi and Arte Johnson

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