Thursday, July 7, 2016

Meet the "Flintstones" routine

In high school, I was also in the international Jewish youth group B'nai B'rith Youth Organization. Just like I now compile stray thoughts as possible fodder for books I write, I then compiled random ideas as possible fodder for the skits my friends and I would do at the biannual BBYO conventions—two highly-anticipated nights in a hotel with no parents.

I reminisced about one of those skits after Michael Jackson died.

Another came about almost subconsciously, inspired by a cartoon I didn't even like
The Flintstones. (The main thing it had going against it: it was not Scooby-Doo.)

I had a cassette of classic TV show theme songs, and one, of course, was
The Flintstones. (Though I found the show meh, how can you not like that theme?

One day when it came on, I found myself doing a (for lack of a better word) "routine" along with it. It wasn't a dance—that's above my pay grade. Almost nothing more than my hands were involved. When the music spiked up, so did my right hand. When it spiked down, so did my left hand. It all felt natural, like a universal script everyone would immediately understand. I unlocked a more "complex" routine for the closing theme and did them back-to-back—for no one.

That is, until I showed my friends. Through a turn of events lost to memory, my "Flintstones" bit became our next BBYO skit (the night of 11/19/88). It was relatively easy to learn. I thought that the more people who did it in sync, the funnier it was. Our skit had nine, all boys. We wore Ruach shorts ("Ruach," Hebrew for "spirit," was the name of our Connecticut chapter)—and nothing else. I'll spare you those photos.

So simple, so silly…and so well-received. In its favor: it was unexpected and it revolved around a catchy song everyone had known most of their lives.

On 4/28/90, during the talent show at our final convention, my friends and I redid every skit we'd put on during our time in BBYO. We called it "Ruach's Greatest Skits." (That selfishly ate up about 30 minutes of an event that was probably supposed to last only an hour.) For "Flintstones," we wore the same shorts…but also a sweatshirt from the respective colleges we'd be attending in the fall. (It was an act of mercy for the audience.)

One of those friends, Seth, went to the same college as I did (Brandeis University). Seth and I joined the college comedy troupe. As a duet, in sensible pants, almost two years to the day we first did "Flintstones," we delivered its final performance.

That is, until I showed my kids almost 25 years later.

And this time, it was filmed.

(I bring this up now partly just because and partly because this week, DC Comics launched a reimagined Flintstones series—which has gotten some scathing reviews but also some decent ones. I haven't read it but presume it's sorely lacking in hand jive.)

My bit has also gone through a bit of a reimagining. Well, I changed one gesture (and did not shout out "yabba dabba doo" with Fred): what was originally a slap is now the more sensitive snapping of a stick. (And I'm back to shorts.)  

Return with me now to the silly days of yesteryear...


hobbyfan said...


When you consider that the Flintstones and Scooby-Doo were on opposite ends of the 60's (Fred and pals were introduced in 1960), they're really two different and diverse forms of comedy.

Bear in mind, too, that Sting (the former frontman of the Police) recorded a cover of the Flintstones theme long before the B-52's did (The B-52's appeared in the 2nd Flintstones live-action movie), so it's been in the pop culture consciousness for six decades.

Still, most folks would probably know more words to the Scooby theme......

Comicbookrehab said...

Nowadays, "Scooby-Doo", "Tom & Jerry" and "The Flintstones" are what people think of when they recall Hanna-Barbera cartoons..then when they search their memory, they'll recall "The Jetsons", "Yogi Bear", "the Smurfs", "Magilla Gorilla" and "Johnny Quest". Older people will recall "Huckleberry Hound" and "Top Cat".