Barry Smith – Hailing the Kannards’ genius | AspenTimes.com

Barry Smith – Hailing the Kannards’ genius

Barry Smith

I have to admit that, although impressed, I’m also a little bit jealous.

I mean, here I am, doing my best to entertain you in print, and along comes this, for lack of a better term – Mystery Writer – who just blows my offerings away.

You know who I mean. The comedy genius who invented the characters “Sheila and Roger Kannard” and wrote a letter to the editor from “them” complaining about how the bicycle and jogger traffic on the Rio Grande trail is out of hand, and that City Council should pass an ordinance preventing people from using the trail if their destination is work.

Absolutely brilliant! Man, do I ever have premise envy.

Comedy is something that usually doesn’t dissect well, but judging by the responding letters in the papers I feel that many people are not getting the Kannard joke, so let me try to walk you through it.

First, think about this: What is the one thing that you, personally, think would be a good, good thing – so good that there is no way that anyone anywhere could ever not agree with you about its universal goodness?

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A cute little kitten? Vibrant health? Peace on Earth?

Now think about someone who could possibly, and legitimately, think otherwise.

Cute little kitten? Not if you’re deathly allergic.

Vibrant health? Not if all your stock is in pharmaceuticals.

Peace on Earth? Lotta ex-generals unable to feed their families.

And so on. My friend Curtis has a game he calls “Tear It Down,” where one person comes up with the most Utopian situation, and the other has to find fault with it. For instance, I propose an automobile that runs purely on air and whose only byproduct is, rather than carbon monoxide, fresh-squeezed lemonade. Curtis then rails against the glut in the lemonade market, which would rob many a child of the character-building experience of running a lemonade stand. People could just pull over and put their cups under their tailpipes.

So, in my world, the idea of a small community where people bike to work along a scenic river in such numbers as to cause an actual “rush hour” (nice touch) of bike traffic twice a day … well, that means fewer cars, less pollution, more community interaction – nothing but good, right?

But in the world of the fictitious Kannards (GREAT name choice, Mystery Writer!), this is bad, bad, bad, because now they can no longer hear the river over the “squeaky bicycles” and “chatty runners.”

Get it? C’mon, that’s good comedy.

In response to outcries of those who missed the joke, “Sheila and James” wrote a follow-up letter saying flat out that – get this – unless you’ve invested millions into Aspen real estate (as the “Kannards” have), you should keep your opinions to yourself!

But wait. The punch line is such a brilliant piece of comic literature that I have to quote it verbatim:

“And for those of you dinging your bells and honking your horns as you ride by our property, be warned. We expect the sheriff will be enforcing the local noise ordinance.”

Absolute freakin’ genius!

Can’t you just picture the fabricated “Kannards” in their multimillion dollar home in the most beautiful spot on the planet with nothing better to do than nitpick about the lunchbox-toting riff raff? It’s like having a perfect complexion, except for that one tiny pimple which you proceed to pick and pick until it’s a festering zit taking up half your face.

And then, as if it couldn’t get any better, the papers are filled with letters telling “them” how dare “they” tell “us” how dare “we” and on and on. Hmmm … just how many people are in on this prank? Part slapstick, part profound sociological satire. Very nice.

Finally, I love the concept that a “dinging bell” would be in violation of noise ordinances, and that Sheriff Braudis himself will be staked out on the Rio Grande trail, just waiting for someone to willfully and maliciously ding their bell.

You’re killing me, Mystery Writer, you really are.

Please, I hope we haven’t read the last entry from these – heh heh – “Kannards!”