Dave's Modest Proposal
© David Volk

“The Lone Ranger would always say, ‘Tonto…I want you to go to town” and every time he’d go to town the bandits would beat the snot out of him.”
--From “The Lone Ranger” by Bill Cosby

Last month’s death of Ed McMahon reminded me of borscht belt comedian Red Buttons “Never Got a Dinner” routine. Whenever he spoke at a Dean Martin celebrity roast he would talk about all the people in history who should have been honored, but weren’t.

“Sophia Loren’s new baby who said to Sophia, “Is that all for me?”…Never got a dinner.”

In a similar vein, I think there are many great American institutions that have never gotten the respect they deserve or even the courtesy of something as simple as a modest museum. Sure, there’s a sex museum in New York City, a vacuum cleaner museum in Portland, Oregon and a spy museum in…I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.

But nowhere is there a museum dedicated to the sidekick.

You know what I mean. The buddy. The pal. The wingman. The partner in crime. The faithful manservant and all-around good guy. The Sancho Panzas, the Dick Graysons (Robin), the Katos and the Barney Fifes of this world.

Oh, sure, there are Batman comics, but no Batman and Robin comics. People talk about The Adventures of Superman, but not the Adventures of Superman and Jimmy Olsen. And when was the last time you saw an episode of Lassie and Timmy?

The lack of a Sidekicks Museum is a terrible wrong that must be righted. After all, people forget what a valuable role these people play in our everyday lives. Here’s just a short list of the things they do to make the world a better place:

  1. They keep things moving along.

    If not for Ed McMahon saying “And now, here’s Johnny, hiyo…” The Tonight Show never would have started. Other sidekicks like Dr. Watson provide the narration and admiration necessary to forward their partner’s story. So, score one for the sidekick.
  2. They’re great enablers….

    And I’m not talking about just making sure their partners get a little bit of help from their friends. No, I’m referring to their unique ability to buy into their partners’ neurosis, psychosis or particular brand of craziness and make it somehow seem acceptable. George Costanza’s plots made Jerry Seinfeld’s harebrained schemes seem normal. Ethel Mertz always questioned Lucy’s latest caper, but she always managed to be roped in to being an accomplice. And Vice President Dan Quayle’s gaffes made George Bush seem downright eloquent. Heck, to be perfectly honest, given his numerous neuroses, I’m surprised that Woody Allen has gotten as far as he has without a sidekick.
  3. When all else fails, they always need saving

Let’s face it, folks, sidekicks just aren’t as smart as their partners, no matter how stupid their top bananas are. That’s why they’re sidekicks with the possible exception of Ginger Rogers (who had to do everything Fred Astaire did backward and in high heels). If they really had their acts together, they wouldn’t be wingmen in the first place. Dr. Zachary Smith was always finding new ways to piss off the aliens in “Lost in Space” and Bill West spent almost every episode of “The Wild, Wild West” backtracking to save Artemus Gordon.

I’m sure they perform other important functions, but I can’t think of them right now. Can I have my sidekick get back to you on that?


One final note: Should there be interest in actually opening such a museum, I know a number of cities that would be ideal for it. Kansas City, Kansas, East St. Louis, Illinois and East Gary, Indiana come to mind. Then again, so do St. Paul and Tacoma.

Given their proximity to other, better known cities, you could say that they’re the perfect sidekick cities.

From a Man Whose People Will Get Back to Your People (Once he has people),

David G(etting back to the business of writing rants) Volk