The genius of Looney Tunes and how to make a story grow an audience

We could all use a little Acme some days…

Did you ever watch Looney Tunes? You know, the TV comic strip with Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird, and the Road Runner? Elmer Fudd?

Yeah, well I’m thinking right about now that what I need is one of those Acme houses. The kind where if I were Wile E. Coyote, I would just add a drop of water and the house would build itself, just the way I want it. No assembly required, no maintenance, no muss, no fuss. Just add water, and house beautiful is mine. Because I’m a writer, not a carpenter (queue the sad violin music here).

And now that I’m through venting my frustrations with home repairs that I probably should have completed four or five years ago, I’ll shut up about it. Unless, that is, you know where I can get me one of those…

Nevermind. Besides, there were always consequences with those Acme products. Ugly consequences.

I do realize I’m dating myself and I couldn’t care less. I lived for Saturday morning cartoons as a kid, and Looney Tunes was the best of them all. They were hilariously funny, but even more importantly they were creative. So much so that my father loved watching Looney Tunes as much as I did. He wasn’t much for The Herculoids, Jonny Quest, or Space Ghost, but if Bugs Bunny was on, and he wasn’t tied up with something else, it wasn’t unusual for him to plop right down next to me on the sofa and we would laugh out loud together through the entire show. And dad didn’t laugh out loud about much. In fact dad didn’t ever say much. At all. He made the stereotypical strong silent type seem like Chatty Kathy.

But here’s what I was getting at, which is that what made the Looney Tunes shows so good was that they were so well-written and so brilliantly conceived. The characters were well-defined and distinct, and the dialogue was so cleverly written that anyone from 6 to 60 could enjoy the episodes because there was material tucked away in there for all ages. To this day you might still hear someone say “What’s up, doc?”, and they might not even be aware it was a wabbit (not rabbit) who made that phrase so familiar and catchy. And yes, for all you English majors, I referred to a wabbit as a ‘who’, and no I didn’t misspell wabbit. Do your research.

Looney Tunes was genius created by visual artists and writers who respected their craft and respected their audience. Looney Tunes didn’t talk down to kids, Looney Tunes assumed kids were sophisticated enough to be in on a joke that could also be funny to their parents. And if you think that’s an easy thing to do, go ahead try it. I’ll be waiting right here.

On second thought, you keep trying. I got places to be and  you’re gonna be tied up for awhile.

This is being cross-posted to Detroit Ink Publishing

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About the author
Writer and musician.



2015-04-03 00:03:56 Reply

Looney Tunes had a deep impact on my sense of humor. We always knew what was going to happen, just not exactly how. The coyote would “die” many times over, but would it be an anvil or a train? It’s fun to laugh at other’s making the same silly kinds of mistakes we all make, but on a hugely exaggerated scale. Besides, the coyote never dies, he just keeps failing, and falling, and flattened like a pancake, but he gets right back up and tries again. In a new, equally stupid (creative as heck) way. How many times have you wanted to paint a tunnel or hole on something? I think this type of humor is universal to all ages. Red Skelton and Laurel and Hardy come to mind right away as being masters at it.

I’ve watched quite a bit of kid’s TV over the years to keep up with their trends and such. I’ve seen a lot of crap. I’d suggest that Jim Henson’s Muppet Show, and Paul Reuben’s Pee-Wee’s Playhouse were both very successful at talking to all ages.

In my experience, kids have a lot more discernment and sophistication than many people give them credit for. Adults tend to lose the sponge-like curiosity they had as kids, and forget what it was like.


    2015-04-03 16:35:24 Reply

    My feelings exactly. There always seems to be a tendency to write ‘down’ to kids, as if adults are so sure they need to have everything spelled out to them. The truth, as you say, is that they’re onto a whole lot more than we realize. And if more of us adult remembered what it was like being kids, we might do a better job on that. Thanks for stopping by, and I appreciate your comments.

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