I now present my "Top 20 Dumb Guys (and Gals) Ever On Television" list...which also includes women - because we all know women can also be pretty brain dead. But, it's not just a list of stupid guys - or funny guys - it had to be people who "seriously" were dumb...who convinced you they didn't have anything going on "upstairs" - and did it well each time. Not just one line once in a while every 5th episode. And I don't mean "mentally challenged" - I mean those well-meaning dolts who just plain "got in the wrong line when God was handing out brains" kinda people aka airheads extraordinaire.
This was a list, as I predicted, which took some time in the undertaking. I don't do anything - um, half...way...so, I took my time in doing this. I wanted to produce a quality list, and as such, enlisted a few people I hold in high regard to "double-check" and help out in compiling this.
The rules were quite "simple": Only people who have been in a recurring role on a television series...and only then, a television series which occurred more than a short-lived time. You had to be memorable in your character - and if you had "staying power" - all the better. Some people were tossed from the original list - for one reason or another. It was difficult. I also included "pairs or triplets" as "one person" - as if they were synonymous with being "grouped" - that's the way I remembered them. People who were in a "variety" show were not considered altho they contributed greatly to the "dim-witted" comedy arena. So, our hats go off to the likes of Harvey Korman, Tim Conway and Dennis Day. And feel free to let me know who I/we forgot -- we're only human, and as such, am sure are remiss in "immortalizing" everyone. A massive "thank you" to the others who were involved comparing notes, giving me names, helping to formulate where they should go and which should come off the list. It made a much more rounded list and one I do feel proud to present. We did a lot of homework and had a few days of conversations regarding all this. So, I'd like to thank Mark, my other friend, Mark, David, my kids, Ron, and mostly Phil who had to listen to me on the phone non-stop about this for the past few days.
Unfortunately, some great cartoon dumb guys couldn't, for the obvious reason, make the list...but that doesn't stop me from recognizing them:
Beavis and Butthead - Mike Judge in the cartoon of the same name: Cartoons, yes...but I went to school with these people...well, not THEM...but they nailed "dumb high school guy" antics...right on the head. But, they aren't "real people" so I took them "off the list"...altho I did indeed love these guys.
Phillip J. Fry - Billy West of "Futurama": Again "just a cartoon". How this show never attained the notoriety of "The Simpsons" I'll never know...but Fry has got to be THE most lovable dumb guy I was ever drawn to. Get it? "Drawn" to? Oh...forget it.
Here are some runners-up:
The Three Stooges: Another guy thing...and many guys don't like them, by the way...but since I am a stickler for "falling into the category" - they didn't, per se, have a bona fide television series, so they were not able to be on this list - so don't complain. Sgt Schultz - John Banner from "Hogan's Heroes", Christina Applegate as Kelly Bundy on "Married With Children" , Randy Hickey - Ethan Suplee on "My Name is Earl", Maxwell Smart's Don Adams on "Get Smart", and Major Healey - Bill Daily from "I Dream of Jeannie" are some of the people who came awfully close to insertion into the list. And, as a side note, I must admit Anthony "Tony" Nelson -Larry Hagman - from "I Dream of Jeannie" was pretty darned daft when it came to telling a sexy buxom blonde genie to "Just get back in the bottle, Jeannie" when she'd ask, "What do you want me to do for you, Master?" And the two Darrin Stevens (Dick York and Dick Sargent) , from "Bewitched", forbade his hot witchy wife to use magic...ever...anywhere. Both of these guys had issues and were just plain numskulls...so that doesn't exactly qualify here.
So, here we go...and putting them in order was obviously a hard task...but they are listed from 20th to 1st, Letterman "Top Ten" style - with my comments, justifications and rationales:
20. Edith Bunker - Jean Stapleton from "All In The Family": The loveable dingbat wife and Mom with a heart of gold. Who else woulda put up with Archie all those years? Altho, it is debatable whether she was really "dumb"...as she was quite smart a lot of the times...she just didn't let on to Archie the majority of those times.
19. Georgette and Ted Baxter - Georgia Engel and Ted Knight on "Mary Tyler Moore" - Blissfully "dumb as a stump" couple.
18. Latka Gravis - Andy Kaufman in "Taxi": Sure he [somewhat] knew two languages...but he was clueless in both of them.
17. Larry Finkelstein - Alan Rachins - Dharma and Greg: As the radical hippie father of Dharma, Larry Finkelstein is still crazed after all these years...who woulda thought (in real life) he is a member of Mensa.
16. Rose Nylund - Betty White in "The Golden Girls": Pitted against an outspoken woman and her live-in mother (who grew up in the old country), and a southern belle whose libido has been steadily rising since the burning of Atlanta in "Gone With the Wind"...Betty White struggles to maintain her own battle of wits and isn't usually winning in this ageless sitcom.
15. Woody Boyd - Woody Harrelson in "Cheers": Replacing a beloved character on a hit series isn't easy...Harrelson managed to do just that without making the show skip a beat. He instantly fit right in...unfortunately they didn't have the same such luck with Kirstie Alley.
14. Larry and Darryl and Darryl - William Sanderson, Tony Papenfuss and John Voldstad on "Newhart": What's funnier than two dumb guys? Three dumb guys with two names.
13. Lenny and Squiggy - Leonard "Lenny" Kosnowski and Andrew "Squiggy" Squiggmann - Michael McKean and David L. Lander on "Laverne and Shirley": A classic dumb guy team...they are only as dumb as the sum of their selves...and even they could never count that high. Ironically, they played two guys just wanting to "get it"...who just never got it.
12. Ernie "Coach" Pantusso in "Cheers": The bar where "everybody knows your name" also knew the ingredients for a great show...one of which was casting Nicholas Colasanto as a devoted loveable ex-minor league baseball coach who made bumbling and forgetful a home run each and every time.
11. Vinnie Barbarino - John Travolta in "Welcome Back, Kotter": "What? Where?" Sure the other Sweathogs were stupid, too...but Travolta stood out from the rest of the class...which he proved later on in his career...if you don't count "Battlefield Earth" that is. Hey, c'mon...you do the math...Vinnie never could.
10. Chrissy Snow - Suzanne Somers in "Three's Company": Chrissy's character was the typical dumb blonde. And while she didn't necessarily pull it off like Marilyn Monroe or the great portrayal of "Billie Dawn" by Judy Holliday in "Born Yesterday"...Sommers did manage to hold her own on the smaller stage - and is still emulated.
9. Jethro Bodine - Max Baer, Jr. in "The Beverly Hillbillies": Gave a whole new meaning to "simple country boy".
8. Joey Tribbiani - Matt LaBlanc from "Friends": Someone has to be the "doesn't get it" friend, right? A combination of good looks and a total lack of brains never stopped Joey from trying to convince everyone else he did indeed get it. Case in point...this exceedingly witty "moot point" example...rationalized as only Joey could: "Yeah, it's like a cow's opinion. It just doesn't matter. It's moo."
7. Les Nessman - Richard Sanders in "WKRP in Cincinatti": As a clueless newscaster at a faltering radio station..."Les Nessman" was definitely the antithesis of the likes of Walter Cronkite...or the consummate professionalism exhibited by Herbert Morrison, his quavering voice uttering the memorable words "Oh the humanity" during the tragic Hindenberg disaster...but Sanders' same words about turkeys plummeting to their deaths during a store promotion...well...it's still a classic.
6. Danny Dallas - Ted Wass from "Soap": Let's see...how dumb was Danny? Well, on one such occasion he WAS dumb enough to fall in love and marry the Mob guy's daughter after they took a hit out on Burt, Danny's father. Oh, yes...did we mention who "the Mob" wanted to kill Burt? Why, of course, Danny himself. Yes, boys and girls, this was years before "The Soapranos" Oh wait...that's "Sopranos".
5. Harry Solomon - French Stewart in "3rd Rock From the Sun": I don't know about you - but if Earth ever gets invaded by aliens...I want them all to be as hilariously devoid of brain-matter as French Stewart's "Harry" was. His character's "less than intelligent" life-form portrayal is needed more than ever in today's day and age of obviously "superiorly less than intelligent" reality television programming.
4. Ed Norton - Art Carney on "The Honeymooners": The original dumb guy friend who definitely set the bar for all future dumb guys to walk right into.
3. Jessica Tate - Katherine Helmond from "Soap": With a stellar cast and some of the best writing EVER in a series, poor rich Jessica seemed to be right with us...not having a clue what was going to happen from episode to episode.
2. Reverend Jim Ignatowski - Christopher Lloyd from "Taxi": Would have made #1 - but in all fairness, his stupidity was drug-induced...uuuh...okie doke?
1. Lowell Mather - Thomas Haden Church from "Wings": Funny without realizing it? Check. Loveable? Check. Deadpan delivery of lines that would make anyone crack up? Check. And the consensus is unanimous on this one...no one did a better job of playing dumb on television. I liken him to the Jimmy Stewart of dumb guys...Church made it all seem so easy and effortless...it looked so natural...it was not over the top or contrived. Thomas Haden Church's acting remains grounded as he soars above the others to nab #1 Dumb Guy.
A Bit About Me
- Mariann Simms
- Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".