A. Whitney Brown and The Big Picture

Saturday Night Live Weekend UpdateEvery year or so I search online to see what cartoonist Bill Watterson might have decided to do since putting Calvin and Hobbes to bed in 1995. I showed less diligence with another favorite social satirist whom I’m thrilled to discover has returned to the spotlight. He appeared reclusive, it turns out he’s been mouthing off to great effect on Daily Kos! I can’t describe my giddy thrill to see A. Whitney Brown and his insightful Big Picture again.

In the 1980s, A. Whitney Brown was the brilliant SNL Weekend Update contributor, the archetype for David Spade, waspish and unapproachably sharp. But Brown’s deadpan sarcasm and contrarian wit elevated the public discourse above the comedy, akin to Lenny Bruce or George Carlin, and spoke to the TV audience as if the truth mattered behind the current event.

Brown published a book based on his SNL segment, THE BIG PICTURE, which remains one of my favorite recommendations. As a used-bookstore owner, I know it sold well because there are a lot of copies still floating around. But like Jack Handy’s Deep Thoughts, or Allen Smith’s Life in a Putty Knife Factory, or Fran Lebowitz’s Metropolitan Life for that matter, the popularity of comedy books does not usually survive into succeeding decades. Whenever I see that a copy might have reached our 50¢ table, I snag it to take home. Today I’m going to revisit that stash and make sure to redistribute it with the good news.

You can catch Brown on YouTube, explaining why he still supports the troops. He’s been involved with Air America Radio, the Daily Show -of course, and his own projects at myeverything.com and more.

THE BIG PICTURE still has to my mind the most lucid explanation of the economic crime that is the National Deficit. Unless Brown can get his title back in print, I hope he releases it to the Gutenberg Project, to reach everyone again. Here’s a start:

We live in a nation of 25 million illiterates. I read that in USA Today. That’s a scary thought, one out of ten adult Americans can’t even read USA Today. What are they all going to do in life? They can’t all write for it. Maybe they can dictate the editorials.

—-A. Whitney Brown, The Big Picture

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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1 Response to A. Whitney Brown and The Big Picture

  1. Avatar The 13th says:

    hehe! Great video and great “recovery” of a fantastic comedian, Eric. Brown’s works indeed helped bring Saturday Nite Live out of the vaudeville ranks and into The Big Picture. If the Dan Ackroyd – Jane Curtain debate team was to return perhaps the editorial debate process MIGHT actually rise above the usual (but amusing)quagmire of persuasive tackytics.

    – The 13th Ignorant Slut

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