Pleonasm, Gilbert And The Roast

Robert Roe

I have the sneaking suspicion that I suffer from Pleonasm. Not to be confused with Neoplasm, which is an abnormal growth on the body. Oh, no. Pleonasm is, according to my exhaustive research, “the use of more words or parts of words than are necessary or sufficient for clear expression.”

In other words, I may be verbose. Don’t laugh, Gentle Reader. I’m being serious! The example used was the phrase “see with one’s eyes.” Have you ever heard me use such an obvious phrase? Of course not. Case closed. Moving on to the topic of the week…

Kelly, Linda, my Bride and I went to see comedian Gilbert Gottfried over the holiday. Short version: Gilbert is a comic genius. Long version: I listen to Gilbert’s podcast (Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal podcast). He and co-host Frank Santopadre talk with the people in front of and behind the camera. If you have any love of the cinema, this podcast is for you.

One of his recent shows featured legendary screen writer Bruce Vilanch. Among his credits are the Star Wars Holiday Special and the Paul Lynde Halloween Special. The behind the scenes stories are priceless. As a result, I sprinted to YouTube to watch the Paul Lynde special. I’ve always had a weakness for 1970’s camp. The show led me to watch, as often happens, a Dean Martin Comedy Roast of Dean Martin.

Don Rickles was Roastmaster, with a Who’s Who of guests including John Wayne, Howard Cosell, Muhammad Ali, Rowan and Martin, Senator Barry Goldwater and more. Rickles played the audience like a Stradivarius, conducting barbs and insults like a symphony of sarcasm.

Which brings me back to Gilbert. Waiting for the show to start, Kelly related a story from work where, after making a caustic comment, his staff explained that he had not “dogged” them (1980s speak), he had “roasted” them (2018).

As children of the 80s, Kelly and I, along with our friends William, John and Russell, made an Olympic sport out of insults. There were no topics too large or small that could not be savaged.

When one of us tripped over a non-existent crack in the sidewalk, he was Roasted. When another mistook a trash can for a baby brown bear in the Smokey Mountains, he (me) was roasted.

It was a great decade. Not according to Nat Geo, however. They have been trashing the 80s in a new TV series, saying those were ten years that should never have happened. Let’s look at our recent past, shall we, and see which decade ruled. Before the 80s can you name another time span that the United States was not been involved in some war or military action? The 1960s were littered with the smell of pot, body odor and the exhaust belched from VW microbuses. The 1970s was Watergate and oil crises. Next was the Decade of Peace, followed by the 1990s, mainly known for boy bands.

It doesn’t matter, really. Everyone has a chunk of history they call their favorite. And as far as pleonasm is concerned, I never consider it an over-explanation of events. I see it more as a loving re-telling of the life experiences that have made us who we are.

Robert Roe