So Tom Hanks was just here and Cleveland basked in the glow of his attention, charm, and the loyalty he maintains to his professional roots here at the Great Lakes Theater Festival. We are proud he got his start here back in the ‘70s and that pride is renewed whenever he gives generous praise for his time in our city during public appearances – which is often.
But wait, what happened when he appeared on David Letterman the night after he left here? It was a silly bit about “the Tom Button” that, when pressed, summoned him from wherever he was to appear and respond to the button-pusher’s needs. So Tom rushes in and plops himself next to the late night host and asks what he wants. When it is apparent that nothing is wanted and Dave pushed the button for fun, Tom responds mock-angrily, “Well I was just in Cleveland [uproarious audience laughter] doing a fundraiser …”
Why the laughter? Still.
I’ve heard that George Burns once said that words beginning with “K” sounds were just naturally funny. So is it our curse, no matter what we do, how far we come from the days of bankruptcy and river conflagration, that our city’s name will always elicit laughter?
Why isn’t PITTSburg funny? A burg that’s the pits. Maybe it is and the folks there wince at jibes and jokes at their expense just as much as we do.
I hate always being on the defensive; a constant apologist for my beloved city – don’t you? Maybe it will take a couple of generations of folks coming from elsewhere to get past the knee-jerk guffaws at the mention of our name. Or maybe we should change it? Ohio City* sounds pretty good to me right now.
* see my blog of February 25 this year for an interesting idea.