The Morning Line: "Judge Parker," Laff Riot
Ladies and gentledudes of the court: Let the record show that today, Tuesday, July 29, for the first time this year, we -- ahem -- laughed at "Judge Parker." Aloud.
Not even at him, which is quite common among comic fans, but with him. We think. (Sam the would-be duffer can be one tough customer to read.)
Before you think less of us than you perhaps already do, let us explain:
Most persons of sound mind can agree that "Judge Parker" rarely really goes for "the funny." At least intentionally. Oh, occasionally there's a line as a dry as the driest James Bond martini, but this is no gagfest. In the jargon of the golfers populating the strip for several millennia now, "JP" prefers to "lay up" with starch-stiff dialogue.
Because of that, when we typically laugh (silently) at "JP," we are being ironic. "Judge Parker" is amusing in spite of itself. Today, however, with his eyebrows arched just so, half-smiling at us, Sam the Reluctant Golfer seems disarmingly in on the joke. The flight attendant -- retro-attired like something straight outta AMC's "Mad Men" -- has just said she was a "top-ranked amateur in college," in golf. But Sam the R.G. seems to wink that we all are "amateurs" in college -- amateur thinkers, amateur philosophers, even know-it-all amateur commentators on life.
Perhaps we are giving Sam and "Judge Parker," too much credit. Perhaps we are over-intellectualizing to compensate for the blank slate that can be "Parker" dialogue. Or perhaps we have simply been driven to the brink of exasperation by the glacial pace of the storyline. (If this strip were truly, surreally brilliant, by the way, this painfully slow trodding of the golf story would be intended as a metaphor for actually playing golf. Except for the times we covered Tiger Woods for the sports pages, we have always personally experienced golf as a slow torture of misplayed moments and ill-advised decisions -- not unlike, say, this very "Judge Parker" storyline.)
Is Sam as wry as we give him credit for? We've hit the 19th hole, so we invite your best shots.
SIDENOTES: Can today's "Beetle Bailey" be any more out-of-touch with the U.S. headlines coming out of at least two nations? Sure, the comic page is often a bastion from the harshest realities of life, but this "B.B." calls to mind a third "B" word: Bizarre.
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