the underduck

15 Nov

I have very fond memories of the Looney Toons.  Ben and I used to watch the two hour chunk on Sunday mornings, comparing the quality of the Toons’ jokes to those of the other shows for kids, touting the writing in the 1940’s like a couple of bitter seventy year olds.

Our favorites were Wile E. Coyote (Predatorius-Craftilus) and the Road Runner (Delicius-Delicius).  We would talk about the genius of using umbrella corporation ACME as commentary on consumerism, then burst into noisy laughter (commentary forgotten) as poor Wile E.’s rocket scooter stopped just short of the other end of the cliff and he plummets into the canyon.  “How about ending this cartoon before I hit?” he asks sadly, via a sign with writing on it.  The cartoon-makers oblige, and the screen begins to fade to black.

I could say a lot about Looney Toons, and I probably will at some point.  The way it treats life and death as absolutes to be casually accepted, the way that the conflicts stem from basic instincts (the desire to eat, to hunt, to survive), the way that women are only present as nagging wives, tired or overindulgent mothers, or sexual objects, but you know what?  I just watched like three cartoons starring Daffy Duck, and I really just want to talk about how totally awesome Daffy Duck is.

Daffy was originally created as a screwball protagonist, screwball meaning completely uninhibited and nonsensical.  This is the era where he coined his typical, “WOO-HOO!  WOO-HOO!  WOO-HOO!” while jumping madly around a confused foe.  As time went on, though, the creators blessed Daffy with a little more savvy.  His zaniness was replaced with a quick-talking irritability and sense of entitlement, and eventually he hit on his famous catchphrase, “Yoooou’re despicable!”

Now, the thing about Daffy is that he is never quite good enough.  He is always one step behind his self-imposed rival, Bugs, and can never really seem to come out on top.  He constantly senses that he is being somehow jilted, and it’s true, but this never stops him from trying.  Daffy is always trying to get ahead, and in his fervor to be important, he often steps on the straight man.

I don’t know about you, but I can never help but love the underdog.  Or, uh, underduck, as it were.  Daffy just wants to win, just once, and he never seems to, so he loses his temper and gets frustrated and vitriolic and spouts the fowl language he’s famous for.

See what I did there?

A character who always wins is far less interesting than a character who never does, and I feel I have far more in common with poor Daffy than slick Bugs.

What do you think?  Do you have a favorite Looney Toon?  And if you say Tweetie Bird so help me god I will find where you live and slap you in the mouth.  I have had enough cutesy imitations of ‘I tawt I taw a puddy tat!’ to last me several lifetimes.


Posted by on November 15, 2009 in Uncategorized


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9 responses to “the underduck

  1. Jacob Peterson

    November 15, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    I liked Speedy Gonzales…….until I learned what a Mexican was 😉 I thought about saying Tweetie Bird just to get you over to Boston to slap me. I honestly REALLY REALLY love MARVIN the MARTIAN and ELMER FUDD!!!!! They kick ass!!!!

  2. amanda

    November 15, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Tweetie Bird is a punk. He’s the cartoon equivalent of that girl in high school that was popular just because she was a mondo slut.

    I always felt so, so bad for Wile. E. Coyote. Just the way you champion Daffy, I used to root for Wile E. Just once, I wanted him to catch that smug bastard Roadrunner.
    My favourite character, however, was probably Gossamer. I never saw him as menacing, just the perfect straight man to Bugs’s psychotic antics.

    • Jessica

      November 15, 2009 at 5:18 pm

      Ah! I love Gossamer! I love the one where Bugs Bunny does the classic hairstylist schtick on him.

      “Such an iiiiinteresting monster should have an iiiiiiinteresting hairdo! Ah, this will never stay. We’ll have to go with a permanamanamant.”

      Cue the dynamite. 🙂

  3. James

    November 16, 2009 at 11:18 am

    You’re so right, characters that win all the time fail to win any sympathy from me whatsoever. Classic example, even though it’s Hanna-Barbera: Tom and Jerry. I hate that little mouse much, much more than I hate any living, real person. Over multiple viewings of the same basic plot outline, those cartoons create a deep, driving need to see the loser finally come out on top, but they never do. That’s why I gave up on Looney Toons and all imitators a long time ago. That’s also why that one cut-away in Family Guy where Elmer Fudd straight up slaughters Bugs is so uproarious, I think.

    • James

      November 16, 2009 at 11:21 am

      Also, this webcomic never fails to illicit a chuckle for similar reasons.

  4. Kitty

    November 18, 2009 at 5:39 am

    I love Wile E. Coyote. I used to watch that cartoon with my dad for hours! We both love it.

  5. Brittney

    November 18, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    I was always a big fan of Speedy Gonzales, and also Foghorn Leghorn. There’s just something about his loud-mouth obnoxiousess, witty guile and the fact that he normally screws himself over more than he meant to that… makes me think of myself.


    • Brittney

      November 18, 2009 at 9:01 pm

      Though I maintain that the BEST LOONEY TUNE EVER is “What’s Opera, Doc?”.


  6. knowoneyouknow

    July 8, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Daffy is my all time-favorite – but mostly the Original, *zany* Daffy.

    Who *doesn’t* want to jump around all day and go, “whoo-hoo, whoo-hoo!”? My favorite is the one in which he sings the silly song – “Oh people think I’m daffy, they think I’m quite insane….please pass the ketchup, I think it’s going to rain…” (I’d have to look up the rest of the lyrics on the googles).

    Here’s a Far Side Comic of Daffy that I’ve kept for years:


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