Soupy's humor talked up to us, cracking us up along with the crew of 50-something union lifers, which made it hilarious.Soup, in constant mental hotfoot, Southern twang dripping like Carolina molasses, gave the joke, often was the joke and made the straight man an artform. An unselfish performer, he let Clyde Adler run amuck with his myriad characters, CA getting more out of one hand and forearm than a whole company of lesser improvisational geniuses.
. . . Chuck Jones might have first been aiming at adult theatre auds but never diluted their material - when TV appeared and the audience was clearly young, they stayed smart, unleashed their inner childs and brought us up to their level using tools they invented -- no babytalk, no simplification, no explanations...teaching us puns and how a joke worked without our knowing. Soup was a comedia del arte clown for the electronic age, sans makeup, as he needed none. (but he'd be getting a pie any second) By using a blackboard for sayings of the day and other groaners, he brought the familiar schoolroom tool into a new realm -- instead of lessons, we got jokes and we absorbed them twice as fast.
Soup knew when it was time to take a break -- no narcissicist he. He'd do his bit and bang! It was time for Pookie "Hey...Boob-bee-ing" at the window, giving a hand-puppet double-take that outdid Red Skelton.
Bang! It was the hard sell con man at the front door pointing, jabbing, and finally dumping a pail of something on Soup or setting up one of Soup's baaaadddd puns.Boom! It was White Fang, a white polar bearish dog arm with an arresting speech impediment "rah-uh-row"-ing with a demented jazz scat and slapping The Soup around like a rag doll.
And of course, his alter ego Black Tooth, a black feminized "dawgie" arm whose mission in life was to shower Soup with loud, puckerized smacks of canine love mwahs.
And he broke the fourth wall as an artform, possibly creating a fifth -- we were in that room with him. Fast, fun, warm, easy and altogether smart, Soup set the bar for the hosted kid show that was never crossed. His Fosbury Flop coasted up to heights rarely seen since, over that bar and into our collective memories. A true gift from a true talent. The world just became, contrary to current global warming dogma, a colder place with the passing of this true intuitive showman with magic in each one of those stage-manager-launched pies.
Rah-uh-row. We'll miss ya, Soupy.