Monday, February 24, 2014

RIP Harold Ramis

Actor, writer, and director, Harold Ramis passed away today, much too young, at the age of 69. The name might not ring a bell at first for some folks, but for others, the man defined comedy for a generation.

I first became aware of Harold Ramis from "SCTV." In my youth, the show aired a 1 AM, right after the original "Saturday Night Live," and was known by me and my friends as 'the secret SNL.' We called it that because most folks turned off the TV when SNL was over, they didn't know about this treasure. "SCTV" was a skit show set under the premise of a fictional Canadian TV network, and featured performers from Chicago's improv troupe, Second City, from which coincidentally half of the original SNL cast was from as well.

Harold Ramis was the head writer of the show, as well as working for Playboy and National Lampoon. From this starting point, he began form his comedy technique, and began writing film. Animal House, Stripes, Meatballs, and Caddyshack (which he also directed) all came before Ghostbusters.  

Ghostbusters was huge when it came out, I don't know if anyone remembers how big it was. At the time it had a pop cultural impact similar to Star Wars, everyone knew the lines, and everybody had the t-shirts, and everybody was humming the song that would eventually make Huey Lewis richer.

Later he would come into his own as a director and producer as well, with such films as Vacation, Analyze This, a favorite of mine, Someone to Eat Cheese With, and The Ice Harvest. He would also do his final film with Bill Murray, probably their best film, Groundhog Day, a piece of brilliance that the two men disagreed on how it should be done. To this day, it's probably what has kept Ghostbusters 3 from happening.

We've lost one of the greats, both behind and in front of the camera, who made us laugh and made us think. Harold Ramis will be missed.

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