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Sunday, January 17, 2010

The yo-yo man

Sunday evening I caught a PBS special on the evolution of comedy in the United States over the past decades. There was Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and others, such as the Smothers Brothers. This sent me to YouTube searching for a Smothers Brothers clip. I found one of the brothers doing their yo-yo man routine.

Did the yo-yo man visit your school when you were a kid? Yes? No? If no, that's too bad, a shame.

In the '50s the yo-yo man would wander school yards at recess, but only once or twice a year, performing those oh-so-impossible yo-yo tricks. He made it all seem so easy; Anyone could do them: Walk the dog, rock the baby, round the world. Ah, the memories . . . and the frustrations.

We all fell for the yo-yo man's spiel, year after year. He was just so cool with pockets bulging with yo-yo's. The girls always bought pink yo-yo's circled with rhinestones. The boys favoured the black yo-yo's or the dark blue ones. At first the yo-yo's seemed to work. We all could make them sleep; waking them up was another matter. We could all walk the dog, but only a few of us could make rover return.

Soon all our yo-yo's had tightly tangled strings. If you could get your yo-yo to drop to the end of the tangled mess, it would simply sit at the end of the extended string and slowly twirl. Its yo-yoing days were over. Some of us would buy replacement strings but they too would soon fail.

We all took responsibility for the destruction of our yo-yo's. We never blamed the yo-yo or, even more unthinkable, the yo-yo man.

Now, watch this YouTube video of the Smothers Brothers doing "Yo-Yo Man." (It takes a moment to get into the fun but be patient. Tommy is one heck of a yo-yo man. He could have performed in my school yard anytime.


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