The best joke the Columbia cartoon The Way of All Pests (1941) is an inside one. Like a lot of Columbia shorts, it’s just not funny. A bunch of goofy bugs—one of whom sounds like Al Pearce’s Elmer Blurt character—take revenge on a homeowner whose crime is he doesn’t like goofy bugs in his house. All of them are voiced by Mel Blanc, who proves that it is possible to get sick of hearing Mel Blanc in a cartoon. Dopey voices and witless lines don’t necessarily equal funny.
The studio put some effort into the scenes where the bugs march toward the home. There’s perspective animation, there are overlays and there’s even a scene where bugs march behind a broken bottle and the characters are fuzzy, like you’re actually looking through glass. You can’t gauge the effect too well in these screen grabs.
The best joke is the fact that the homeowner is a caricature of the film’s director, Art Davis. Nobody in the theatre watching this would have known (cartoon studio employees excepted).
Davis ran away from the house at the end of the cartoon. By the end of 1941, he had been run out of Columbia and after a brief stop working at Fleischers in Miami (working in the Waldman unit on Raggedy Ann, found a new home animating at Warner Bros.