P.S.-Pooh Says...

"What day is it? - 'It's today' - squeaked Piglet. 'My favourite day' - said Pooh."- A.A. Milne

17 February 2014

Hail Caesar! The Genius of Funny-In Appreciation Sid Caesar

 "Comedy has to be based on truth. 
You take the truth and you put a little curlicue on the end"

Truly the words Genius and Legend have lost their impact as we toss them out like xeroxed labels.  But if you go to define legend or genius their meaning can rarely be fulfilled. Sid Caesar was large enough to do both.  His work stands the ultimate test-time.  Watch him in any of his performances from the dawn of television variety and you will not only laugh but probably hurt something doing so.  True classics are timeless-so is Sid Caesar.  Genius influences all those that come after and try to emulate-one only has to look at those who worked for him and what they have given us to see that as well as every physical comedian and every comedy program since his Show of Shows.

 “The guy who invented the wheel, he was an idiot.
 The guy who invented the other three? He was a genius.” 

 Your Show of Shows left the air long before I was born.  Sid Caesar and his legendary writer's room of Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Danny Simon, Woody Allen , Larry Gelbart, Mel  Tolkin, and his co-stars Carl Reiner, Howard Morris and the brilliant Imogene Coca, created the standard by which every comedy program, sit-com, and perhaps every comedian, that followed would and should be judged.  If you don't know him or his work--go to YouTube now!  Caesar was the genius who invented the other wheels, the wheels that television comedy runs on.

Caesar was there at the dawn of classic television, a pioneer producing 90 minutes of LIVE comedy every Saturday night, 39 weeks a year for 4 years followed by Caesar's Hour for another 4 years.  It was a grueling pace that would take its toll on this giant of a man who would literally disappear into one of the countless characters he created.  He started as a musician and comedian in the Catskills like so many comics of his generation, but Sid Ceasar would go on to define American Comedy and change the way we laugh forever.  There would never be a Saturday Night Live, MASH, Dick Van Dye Show, In Living Color, Seinfeld, The Carol Burnett Show...  without him -he created sketch comedy. 

 He had a well known impossible reputation amongst his writers and staff during the run of his shows- mood swings, depression, addiction, bouts of rage and anger, his staff would fear and love him--Mel Brooks would say of Sid that "on the plus side he was a brilliant comedy mind.  On the other side he might dangle you above Michigan Avenue."  He taught them all and left an indelible mark that each of them carried forward in their own  remarkable careers.

 The Dick Van Dyke Show from Carl Reiner was based on his own life in the writer's room and the film My Favorite Year captures their world and Caesar's extraordinary mark on television.  He used his whole face, his whole body, in his comedy, pantomime was his tool but language was his weapon.  He was like a legendary athlete only his sport was comedy and he never threw a bad pitch.

He [Sid Caesar] was inarguably the greatest pantomimist, monologist and single sketch comedian who ever worked in television.”  Carl Reiner

"There's a now, a was, and a gonna be. Now is now, and after now is a was. And what comes after the was is a gonna be. It hasn't happened yet.
 It's gonna happen as soon as the now is over. But if you have a good now, you're bound to have a good was and a good gonna be."

Sid Caesar died Wednesday at age 91 -Hail Caesar!