Erica Scott: Life, Love and Spanking

Ruminations, opinionated observations, darkly humorous blathering and the occasional rant from an outspoken spanko and unapologetic attention wh–, um, hog.

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. πŸ™‚ Because fuck-all knows we need to laugh right about now. (Be sure you go to Full Screen to see it best.)

 

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16 thoughts on “OT: Because we really need to laugh

  1. Bob in Wisconsin on said:

    That was great! Despite my age (older than you are, Erica) and my fascination with the early days of television, that’s one I had never seen before. In fact, I wasn’t familiar with Your Show of Shows. The self-discipline of the characters in the sketch, the way that they kept those straight faces throughout (even Sid Caesar stoically taking repeated blasts of water in the face), and the elaborate choreography were most impressive. I assume the skits in the show were performed before a studio audience, as the laughter wasn’t part of a programmed laugh track, but the laughter of real people. Thanks for the laugh to begin my day! As you say, we need something to cheer us these dreadful days.

    Like

    • Bob — thank you! I was beginning to despair that no one was going to watch this. Isn’t it brilliant? Glad I was able to introduce you to something fun. Your Show of Shows ran for four years — I think 1950-1954. Did they even have laugh tracks back then?

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      • Bob in Wisconsin on said:

        It is brilliant! I loved it. Perhaps they didn’t have laugh tracks back then. I’m not sufficiently acquainted with the technology that existed in the 1950-54 time frame to know that. What I do remember is when my family got our first TV, a wee black-and-white box. At my tender age, I was so fascinated with idea of TV that I actually sat and watched the damn test pattern when there weren’t any programs on the air! Then, at that age, one of my favorite shows was the Howdy Doody Show, the first nationally televised American children’s TV program, hosted by Buffalo Bob Smith.

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  2. Anonymous on said:

    I loved that skit. Thanks for posting it.

    Carl Reiner was a great comic talent, whether writing, directing, or performing.

    I loved the old Dick Van Dyke Show, and the 2000 Year Old Man.

    But maybe his biggest accomplishment was raising his son. Besides being so amazingly talented, Rob Reiner seems to be a genuine nice person!

    Like

  3. Vince on said:

    One of the MOST CLASSIC comedy skits of ALL TIME! Great taste, Erica. I’m not old enough to remember it when it aired as I was born in the 50’s BUT it’s very well known. Thanks!

    Like

  4. Thank you, Erica, I had never seen that piece!! What brilliant performers they all were!

    The Hospital Scene in Mel Brooks’ “Silent Movie” still cracks me up, too, with Mr, Caesar, Mel, Dom Deluise, Marty Feldman!

    Like

    • Dave — I figured you’d appreciate this! I’ve never seen “Silent Movie.” Probably because I never liked the real silent movies. But maybe I should give it a look. I am really having a field with clips on YouTube this week!

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      • Kyrel on said:

        Silent Movie by Mel Brooks is quite entertaining IMO. I’d recommend it Erica.

        And thanks for the video πŸ™‚ I might not have laughed out loud watching it, but it certainly brought a smile to my face.

        Stay safe and stay smiling.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This is amazing, Erica. My father loved Sid Caesar. I saw a program a few years ago where they reunited the living members of his writers room – In addition to Sid and Carl Reiner, they had Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Mel Tolkin, Joseph Stein, Larry Gelbart, and Woody Allen. Little wonder it was so funny.

    But Sid himself was clearly a master of gesture and expression. He could make a sideways glance hilarious. And he had a guttural noise that expressed frustration or disgust better than words could.

    Now I want to dig up some more of these clips!

    Thanks!
    Bonnie

    Like

    • Bonnie — for whatever reason, this comment of yours ended up in spam! I have no idea why, as it’s never happened before. So I’m just seeing it now.
      If you still want to dig up clips, look up “The German General” and “Five-Dollar Date.” Two of my new favorites!
      Yes, Caesar had amazing writers, some of the very best.

      Like

  6. I loved the Dick Van Dyke show. On one glorious day in my teens, I watched a rerun in the morning and a current episode at night. In between, I went to the movies with a friend and say Dick in Fitzwilly.

    Hugs,
    Hermione

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  7. Oh my – we need more o this right now!

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