Monday, January 31, 2011

He was the president

I still think it was probably Rich Little himself who said, in the mid-1970s, that no one by that time actually did a Richard Nixon impression anymore. Everyone -- from professional stand-up comic to high school class clown -- either did Rich Little doing Richard Nixon or David Frye doing Richard Nixon.

My copy of Frye's "I Am the President" LP was played so much that you could see daylight through it. (The selection of Frye-doing-Nixon clips available on YouTube is pretty thin, unfortunately. Buy the CD.)

Frye died last week at age 76. The Washington Post obituary contained this puzzling comment:

But his most memorable character by far was Nixon, whom Mr. Frye portrayed as a tortured soul with darting eyes, flaring brows, scowling lips and deep-seated insecurities.

Hard believe this has to be explained to the Post, of all newspapers, but that's like saying someone "portrayed" a cow as a domesticated four-legged mammalian ungulate. Surely at this point we can all admit that Nixon really was all those unwholesome things. Frye didn't make those traits up; his gift was being able to make that lamentable state of affairs funny.

And from the p3 archives:

Here's a post on Frye following the 2008 death of conservative icon William F. Buckley, another of Frye's well-roasted targets.

And here's a 2007 post comparing George Bush's "I'm the decider" announcement with Nixon's "Let me make one thing perfectly clear," a verbal tick that Frye turned into a nationwide catchphrase.

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