I’ve never been a fan of actor Chevy Chase. I’d have to go back over forty years to find anything he did that I find the least bit funny. His entire schtick seemed to consist of the springing of irony and breaking the fourth wall on an unsophisticated TV public who’d never seen Ernis Kovacs, Dick Cavett or the Smothers Brothers do it a decade earlier. It was buoyed up by the fact that he was a rich, young, handsome WASP: he was Chevy Chase, and we weren’t.
He also had an ugly assholish side that leaked out when he had to ad lib. His crack about Cary Grant is a typical example.
I do love “Caddyshack”, but for me, that movie was 95% Rodney Dangerfield and Ted Knight. You could replace Chase’s scenes with test patterns, and I’d enjoy it just as much. The same goes for his performances in the “Vacation” franchise (although I admit to having first encountered the stories as written (by John Hughes) in the National Lampoon, where they were told in the much funnier, first-person perspective of Clark Griswold’s more precocious adolescent son. So I didn’t care for the picture adaptations much at all, not just Chase’s performances).
This Washington Post article (which is behind a paywall) talks about Chase’s current predicament: he’s conquered some recurring substance abuse problems, and would like to work, but no one wants to hire him.
People quoted in the article invariably talk about assholish things he’s done, which certainly dovetailed with my opinion of him.
But the article goes on to report that Chase had a painful childhood. His parents divorced when he was young, and he was raised by an abusive mother, the kind who controlled by tearing into a kid’s self-esteem. The result of this is supposedly an insecurity that drives his snotty aloofness. It may also be why he can’t distinguish between cutting-edge irreverance and cruelty (as with the Cary Grant comment).
I’d long known that he was heir to a large fortune (the Crane plumbing fixtures corporation), so I admit that I never expected that he had that kind of hardship in his early life. And I understand that material wealth doesn’t magically erase those issues.
I still don’t think the guy is funny (although I admittedly tuned him out long ago). But maybe I’ll cut him a little slack now.