Nine Lessons I Learned From Chevy Chase in the ’80s

Chevy Chase’s magical run through the 1980’s was an integral piece in the way that my love of comedy films developed. But it wasn’t just laughs that Chevy gave us. He also imparted wisdom. If you were paying attention, you learned some lessons. Such as:

1. Don’t waste opportunities
If you’re four short hours away from the second largest ball of twine on the face of the earth while on a cross-country family vacation, take advantage of it. Carpe diem, I say. Seize that twiney bull by the horns and never let go.

2. Be the ball
To quote Ty Webb from Caddyshack, “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”. Every day that I get stressed, I remind myself to get in touch with Ty Webb’s corny golf-themed eastern philosophy. Because that’s what “be the ball” is really about. It’s right in line with Taoism and Buddhism and the like. Ty didn’t create the philosophy. He just put it into terms we could all understand. Don’t stress. Let things happen. Be the ball. Na-na-na-na-na-na…

3. Learn what words really mean or else you’ll wind up fighting the El Guapos of the world
As Dusty Bottoms in ¡Three Amigos!, Chevy and his dos other amigos wound up taking on a rather formidable bully named El Guapo. They could have avoided the whole situation had they only known what “infamous” meant.

4. Have fun at all costs, even if people die and an asshole moose gets in your way
So your wife’s aunt dies on your family’s biggest trip in years. And so what if a talking moose won’t let you in on his little party? Who cares? You should insist on having so much fucking fun you’ll need plastic surgeory to remove your godamn smile. You’ll be whistling Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah out of your asshole.

5. Be adaptable
Sometimes, you have to work longer hours. Other times, you may need to offer a helping hand to friends and family when you’d rather be watching Fletch. And still other times, you have to pose as a surgeon, airline mechanic, or Los Angeles Lakers star with seven inches of afro. Adaptability is key.

6. You can’t re-live the glory days
Holy shit, did you see Caddyshack 2?

7. Sometimes, it’s acceptable to be a pig
There are times in life that simply call for you to be a glutton. Reach out with both hands and grab everything that you want, no matter how ridiculous you may look. And it’s possible that you’ll look very, very, very ridiculous.

8. Even if you’ve got a meaningless mission, follow through with it. You never know where it might take you.
Emmett Fitz-Hume was given a completely bogus mission in Spies Like Us. By following through, he got to visit multiple countries, impersonate an alien, and mate with the best looking woman in the movie. Atta boy, Chevy. 

9. Pay extra special attention to what words mean when it involves something going into your mouth
As if not knowing what “infamous” means wasn’t bad enough, even worse is not knowing what words mean when they define something you’re about to put in your mouth. Andy Farmer scarfed down 30 “lamb fries”- a new record- in Funny Farm with nary a clue that they’re actually lamb testicles. I’ll be damned if I’m going to eat something without knowing what it is.


Filed under Humor, Movies

21 responses to “Nine Lessons I Learned From Chevy Chase in the ’80s

  1. rtm

    Awesome post as always John. I don’t really have anything to add except to say thanks for the chuckle. Do you watch him in Community? He’s a hoot in that one, too, and he’s just so effortless.

    • I haven’t but several people have mentioned that I should probably be watching it. I might just have to give it a shot at some point.

      • I’ve only watched a couple of episodes and he’s still the funniest bunch in there. I find Joel McHale rather annoying.

        • I’ve got a huge black hole in my brain about Joel McHale. I found out recently that he’s the guy from Talk Soup… but I never watched Talk Soup, so who knows how I’d feel about him.

          • rtm

            I didn’t know he’s from Talk Soup either as I don’t have cable. But he ain’t no Greg Kinnear, if you catch my drift.

  2. Interesting stuff. I haven’t kept up with Chevy Chase as much as I should’ve, but I’ve seen Caddyshack and Fletch multiple times. It seems the 80s were basically a winning streak for Chase, but after that it was all downhill as he slowly aged and his career was reduced to cameos in pisspoor comedies like Hot Tub Time Machine. It’s nice to remember he did some really good stuff.

    • The part I left out was when I went to see “Snow Day” sometime in the 90’s with my 7 year old niece. She loved it. I felt bad for Chevy. And that’s not even to bring up all of the Disney movies he did. I’m so glad he’s rebounded, though, with stuff like “Community”.

      I highly recommend a very early one featuring him (if briefly)- The Groove Tube.

  3. I’m the guy that up until recently/kinda still went/goes by the alias Fletch…kind of a fan of Chase.

    I must say this about Caddyshack 2…as terrible as that flick is, and it’s really terrible, I completely and totally believe that Chase’s work in it (all three minutes) is fucking gold. Watch it again sometime just for him. Or rather, try to find clips online…

    I’ll always love Chevy, even if Cops and Robbersons was fucking terrible. Welcome to the LAMB! (By the way, you got quite the shout out on the most recent LAMBcast…)

    • I may just do a re-watch of Caddyshack 2. If nothing else, I want to see if it’s as bad as I remember.

      Thanks for the welcome! And also thanks for the heads up on that LAMBcast!

    • I love when he looks at his wrist, doesn’t have a watch and makes an excuse to leave. I’ve used that one a few times!

      • He had such a great niche as being extremely quick on his feet and quick with the one-liners. Granted, these are points for the screenplay and not Chevy per se… but he delivered it in really great, memorable ways. Sort of lovably smug or something.

  4. Another one would be: Never never never assume you’re getting your Christmas bonus, especially if your boss is a giant douche-bag who only wants to sign you up for the Jam of the Month club.

    • I soooo wanted to include at least one Christmas Vacation reference but figured I’d gotten my quota with the two Vacation references and one to European. To be honest, I could do ten based on those three movies alone.

      • That should be a supplemental list to the Chevy Chase 9 Rule. However, those four Vacation movies are a very large part of Chase’s career and so it would be understandable that you had referenced at least 3 of those films.

  5. I have always felt Caddyshack to be quite overrated. I really didn’t find it all that funny. Maybe I was in the wrong mood but that put me off Chevy Chase right away.

    • I find that opinion a lot about a lot of comedies from that era. “Animal House” is another one that gets a lot of negative reactions. “Stripes” as well. I know it definitely helped that I grew up with those movies. I’m not particularly big on 80’s films but the SNL-cast comedies do it for me.

      • Stripes! I remember watching that at age SEVEN! But I agree with you, though. If I’d just watched it for the first time a few days ago, I would probably give it a lower rating than had I seen it at 7.

      • The guy who met Kevin Meany

        People who don’t like Animal House, Stripes, or Caddyshack just don’t like comedies. Castor, why don’t you throw The Jerk on your bonfire of bad comedies for good measure?

  6. Do you know how many years I thought that Chevy Chase was Paul Simon because of that damn You Can Call Me Al video???

    Anyway, great read.


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