Friday, February 14, 2014

Good Bye, Sid Caesar

I was saddened to hear earlier this week of the death at age 91 of legendary comedian Sid Caesar. With his long-time partner Imogene Coca and many other partners, Sid Caesar performed some of the funniest comic routines I've ever seen, and he did it all without the profanity and gutter humor that many of today's so-called comedians employ to wring uncomfortable laughter from their audiences, rather than genuine merriment. He was a master of the double-talk routine, carrying on in made-up languages as in this classic routine, titled "The German General" ...

Another wonderful skit was this piece featuring Sid Caesar and Nanette Fabray as a married couple having a wordless argument to the tune of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony ...

Most of you who are younger than I may not know much about Sid Caesar and his work, and that's a shame.

One of my favorite Sid Caesar skits was also one of his shortest, and yet employed the most complex build-up to a silly punch line. The scene was a huge, glittering ballroom crowded with men and women in evening dress and an orchestra playing stately waltzes in the background. A long flight of baroque stairs led down to the ballroom, and at the top of the stairs was a large double door, manned by a uniformed attendant armed with a long, ornate staff. From time to time the doors would open, and a couple would enter. The gentleman would present a card to the attendant, who would read the name, then pound his staff on the floor three times before booming out the names of the new arrivals ... "LORD AND LADY RAMSWELL-HIGGENBOTHAM," or whatever, whereupon the new arrivals would grandly sweep down the stairs to the party below.

Okay ... that's the setup ...

The door opens and in peeks Sid Caesar, woefully out of place in a garish plaid jacket and striped pants. He looks around, confused, then spies the attendant. He sidles up to the attendant and whispers in his ear. The attendant pounds his staff three times on the floor and booms out ... "MR AND MRS MENS' ROOM, PLEASE!"

Well, I thought it was funny. Maybe you just had to see it ... unfortunately, I couldn't find it on YouTube.

Sid Caesar exemplified the type of humor that I think is the funniest, and the sort of delivery and timing that I try to emulate in my own comic attempts. So long, Sid. They're not making them like you any more.

And it's sad.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



eViL pOp TaRt said...

So sad to read that one of the luminaries of early television has passed away.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

A sad passing on an old-time great.

Chuck Bear said...

Goodnight Sid Caesar.