How lucky are 80s-babies to have grown up during Leslie Nielsen's heyday? There could be no better accompaniment to being 12 than a brand-new "Naked Gun" opening in theatres. And as we get older and watch them again, Nielsen's venerable spoofs only get funnier, his one-liners more genius. To think: Poor kids these days have to get by on Wayans schlock.
Our generation will never watch a woman ascend a ladder without saying "Nice beaver." "Don't call me Shirley" will be forever in our lexicon. Decades down the line, we will chuckle to ourselves, during random quiet moments, at the greatness of a full-body condom.
Nielsen died yesterday at age 84 near his home in Fort Lauderdale. I saw him in the wild earlier this year. I was hanging out with Lyrikill.com-- a ridiculous white rapper-- outside of a Fort Lauderdale Walgreen's, eating Taco Bell quesadillas, when Nielsen pulled up in an incredible mustard-colored vintage Bentley. An awestruck Lyrikill.com tried to offer him a quesadilla. A scrawny-looking Nielsen stared with silent contempt at the dude with the dreadlocks, pink sneakers, and orange hoodie, and continued walking into the pharmacy.
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I appreciated that encounter with Nielsen more than I would have a sit-down interview. If he taught me anything it's this: The more absurd, the better.
And now, Leslie Nielsen as umpire-- a glorious schtick that will be laser-etched onto some back portion of my brain until the day I die.