Happy Days

Last night I went to BAM and saw Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days , starring Fiona Shaw. When I was a kid, I loved Happy Days, but I had no idea it was set in the 1950s. Being only nine or ten, living in a Southern California hippie/surfer community, and having only limited access to TV, I thought Fonzie, Richie, Potsie, and the gang were just a typical high-spirited group of  teenagers. In my relative isolation from the rest of pop culture, I imagined “normal” surburban American teenagers wore cuffed jeans, rode old motorcycles, and hung out in diners run by middle-aged avuncular proprietors. It totally went over my head that the show “took place” during my parents’ adolescence.

Also, much as I liked the Fonz, it bothered me that he was clearly not age-appropriate. I could buy Ron Howard, Anson Williams, and Erin Moran as teenagers, but Henry Winkler’s lupine mug clearly belonged to that of a grown man. How come no one ever noticed that???

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About Josh Neufeld
Brooklyn-based cartoonist specializing in nonfiction comics about topics like Hurricane Katrina, the media, travel, and finance.

4 Responses to Happy Days

  1. bikerbar says:

    Samuel Beckett’s “Happy Days” is a far cry from the show of course ..:) what did you think of the play?
    too bad theres not some lost episode of Happy Days where they do Beckett’s Happy Days .. that I’d like to see

    • 4_eyez says:

      It was really amazing… tho’ Fiona Shaw’s portrayal of Mrs. C. was… different… from any I’d seen before. And she kept calling herself “Winnie” instead of “Marion.”
      Also, Mr. C. was in bad shape. Could barely utter a word.

  2. dlasky says:

    You were kind of a dopey kid, huh?
    Some day I’d like to see Beckett’s take on the classic sitcom.
    The Fonz was not in high school. He was the town greaser (probably in his early 20′s when the show began) who liked to sleep with high school girls.

  3. lordrexfear says:

    What dlasky said.
    Fonzie wasn’t a teenager. He just well, hung around the highschool cause he didn’t want to grow up. Lasky is wrong about him sleeping with high school girls though. In that factor he clearly slept with older women. Laverne and Shirley were both his gfs at one time and there was Pinky. He also ended up dating a single mom near the end and she was about 30 with Fonz not much younger. He also became a teacher, while the rest of the gang were just about to graduate.
    So yeah… Arthur Fonzarelli… not a teenager. Just a lost soul.

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