OT: Because we really need to laugh
Last week, we lost TV icon Carl Reiner. He was 98 years old. A lot of younger people don’t remember who he was; hell, they don’t even remember who his son is (Rob Reiner, from All in the Family). But he had a brilliant career that spanned decades.
Back in television’s infancy, before many of us were born (yeah, even me), there was a comedy/variety show called Your Show of Shows, and it showcased the talents of four amazing comics: Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Howard Morris, and Carl Reiner. Carl was the only one of them remaining, until last week. Since then, many clips have been floating about, and last weekend, John and I happened upon a program on PBS that featured some of the best of YSOS. As with much early comedy, these sketches were highly physical.
A segue: I’ve been exposed up close and personal to comedy all my life. I’m kind of a humor snob; I know what I like, and what I don’t. And I have kind of a love-hate relationship with physical comedy. On the one hand, what makes up a lot of what’s called “slapstick” is not to my liking. For example, I may be the only person on the planet who feels like this, but I loathe and despise the whole trope of throwing pies or other messy food in someone’s face. Not only do I not find it funny, but the sight of it quite literally turns my stomach. It’s gross! And I’ve never found broad shtick where people get hurt to be amusing either. Some prat falls can make me giggle, but when people get their teeth knocked out, their heads bashed, their hands slammed under a piano lid or burned on a hot dish, etc., I don’t laugh, I cringe. (As you’ve probably figured out if you didn’t already know, I hate the Three Stooges with a passion.)
On the other hand, though, some physical comedy is amazing. It requires great dexterity and timing, agility, and the ability to amuse and convey ideas and situations with simple body movements. When we watched that PBS program last weekend, I saw one of the classic skits from YSOS for the first time, and I was howling through the entire thing. Not a word was spoken, just the incredible timing and physicality of these four players. I don’t think there is anything nowadays that comes anywhere near this.
So I found it on YouTube and thought I’d share it. Yeah, I know, it’s long — clocks in at over seven minutes. But it’s worth your attention. How they all kept straight faces, I don’t know. And they made it look so easy, but I’m sure it was anything but. The best performers make things look easy.
Sorry the film quality isn’t great. Oh, and in case you’re wondering — no, no one in my family was involved in this sketch, in front of or behind the camera. I just thought it was hilarious, and I hope you guys laugh as much as I did. 🙂 Because fuck-all knows we need to laugh right about now. (Be sure you go to Full Screen to see it best.)