The Total Consciousness Of Harold Ramis

[ Posted Tuesday, February 25th, 2014 – 18:08 UTC ]

President Obama just released a statement from the White House to mourn the passing of comedy genius Harold Ramis. It reads:

Michelle and I were saddened to hear of the passing of Harold Ramis, one of America's greatest satirists, and like so many other comedic geniuses, a proud product of Chicago's Second City. When we watched his movies -- from Animal House and Caddyshack to Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day -- we didn't just laugh until it hurt. We questioned authority. We identified with the outsider. We rooted for the underdog. And through it all, we never lost our faith in happy endings. Our thoughts and prayers are with Harold's wife, Erica, his children and grandchildren, and all those who loved him, who quote his work with abandon, and who hope that he received total consciousness.

That bit at the end refers to a line from Caddyshack (which can be seen here).

I, too, have to take a break from the political world today to note the passing of Ramis. The list of films he was involved in (either by writing, directing, or acting) is an impressive one indeed. Not only the four the president listed, but also Meatballs, Stripes, Analyze This (and That), Knocked Up, and National Lampoon's Vacation. Like so many of the famous actors who appeared in his movies, he was instrumental at Second City Television, which was a breeding ground for some of the funniest comedians of their time (many of whom would later move to Saturday Night Live before arriving in Hollywood).

The films of Harold Ramis were comedy icons of their day. They influenced pop culture to an astonishing degree, and President Obama is right to point out the multitudes who "quote his work with abandon." From toga parties to the term "Groundhog Day" getting its modern definition (of an endless event-loop of déjà vu), Ramis will be memorialized in the future even by people who may never learn his name. From the "double-secret probation" (or, perhaps, "food fight!") of Animal House to the musical "Who you gonna call?" of Ghostbusters to the triumphant (and explosive) ending of Caddyshack (complete with a dancing gopher), his work didn't just make us laugh, it wormed its way into the how the rest of us make our own jokes. "Influential" doesn't even begin to cover it.

Everyone's got their favorite from his body of work, of course. Arguing about which is best is a purely subjective thing. I can't even come up with my own favorite, because Animal House and Caddyshack would have to tie for that honor. These are two of the funniest movies ever made, to put it bluntly. They gave us too many immortal lines to even count:

"Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."

"Over? Did you say 'over'? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!"

"The Zen philosopher Basha once wrote, 'A flute with no holes, is not a flute. A donut with no hole, is a Danish.'"

"I'm going to give you a little advice. There's a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball. Just be the ball... be the ball... be the ball. You're not being the ball, Danny."

Harold Ramis made us laugh. Over and over and over again. And Obama's right -- we all laughed until it hurt. His greatest movies have all stood the test of time -- they are just as funny today as they were the first time we all saw them. That is a mark of comedic genius, and it's a mark that few in life hit so successfully or so consistently as Ramis. Even the President of the United States of America couldn't resist the urge to quote Ramis in a joking way, in his statement. And I have to agree with the sentiment. I, too, hope that Harold Ramis achieved total consciousness at the end. If anyone deserved it in life, it was Ramis.

Requiescat in pace. In a gopher-proof casket.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


7 Comments on “The Total Consciousness Of Harold Ramis”

  1. [1] 
    Michale wrote:

    "I collect spores, molds and fungus"


    I am not sure if I have relayed this particular anecdote before.

    A couple years back I was working at my shop when my appendix burst. Within hours I was being prepped for surgery. My wife and my daughter were there when the anesthesiologist came in and started asking all the routine questions required.

    "Are you allergic to any medications" etc etc..

    When he got down to the one, "Is there a history of mental illness in your family?" I said...

    "My uncle thought he was St Jerome"

    My wife's eyes got real big and my daughter had to clap her hand over her mouth to stop from bursting out laughing..

    The doctor, without missing a beat, said, "I'de call that a big yes."

    It was a hilarious episode that really alleviated a lot of tension..

    It probably won't surprise any of you to learn that, at our family get togethers, the movie quotes fly fast and furious..

    I can honestly say that a goodly percentage of those quotes come from the likes of Ghostbusters, Caddyshack, Groundhog Day and many others...

    Such is the genius of Harold Ramis.

    To say that he will be missed is not doing justice to the sentiment..


  2. [2] 
    Paula wrote:

    "I collect spores, molds and fungus"

    One of my favorite lines as well.

    From Animal House, the cheery: "you fucked up - you trusted us!" and, I paraphrase: "what this needs is a stupid and useless gesture -- and we are just the ones to do it!"

  3. [3] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    "We'd like to buy 10,000 marbles, please."

    "See if you can guess what I am now. I'm a zit... get it?"


  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    "We had part of a slinky.. I straightened it"


  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    I tried to find a YouTube of one of my favorite Harold Ramis clips, but no luck.

    So, I just decided to make it..



  6. [6] 
    TheStig wrote:


    ""Groundhog" will never be designated a national film treasure by the Library of Congress." Desson Howe, Washington Post


    Ground Hog Day was added to the United States National Film Registry (i.e. designated a national film treasure by the Library of Congress)

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    "Ray. If someone asks if you are a god, you say YES!!!"
    -Winston, GHOSTBUSTERS



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