Isaac Sidney "Sid" Caesar
(September 8, 1922 – February 12, 2014)
(Richard Drew/Associated Press)
Sid Caesar, a comedic force of nature who became one of television's first stars in the early 1950s and influenced generations of comedians and comedy writers, died on Wednesday. He was 91.
Mr. Caesar largely faded from the public eye in his middle years as he struggled with crippling self-doubt and addiction to alcohol and pills. But from 1950 to 1954, he and his co-stars on the live 90-minute comedy-variety extravaganza 'Your Show of Shows' dominated the Saturday night viewing habits of millions of Americans. In New York, a group of Broadway theater owners tried to persuade NBC to switch the show to the middle of the week because, they said, it was ruining their Saturday business.
Albert Einstein was a Caesar fan. Alfred Hitchcock called Mr. Caesar the funniest performer since Charlie Chaplin.
Television comedy in its early days was dominated by boisterous veterans of vaudeville and radio who specialized in broad slapstick and snappy one-liners. Mr. Caesar introduced a different kind of humor to the small screen, at once more intimate and more absurd, based less on jokes or pratfalls than on characters and situations. It left an indelible mark on American comedy.
'If you want to find the urtexts of 'The Producers' and 'Blazing Saddles,' of 'Sleeper' and 'Annie Hall,' of 'All in the Family' and 'M*A*S*H' and 'Saturday Night Live,' ” Frank Rich wrote in The New York Times when he was its chief theater critic, 'check out the old kinescopes of Sid Caesar.'
A list of Mr. Caesar's writers over the years reads like a comedy all-star team. Woody Allen and Mel Brooks did some of their earliest writing for him. So did the most successful playwright in the history of the American stage, Neil Simon. Carl Reiner created one landmark sitcom, 'The Dick Van Dyke Show;' Larry Gelbart was the principal creative force behind another, 'M*A*S*H.' Mel Tolkin wrote numerous scripts for 'All in the Family.' The authors of the two longest-running Broadway musicals of the 1960s, Joseph Stein ('Fiddler on the Roof') and Michael Stewart ('Hello, Dolly!'), were Caesar alumni as well. (Click here for the full New York Times obituary.)
Comedy has to be based on truth. You take the truth and you put a little curlicue at the end.
If I don't believe it, I don't care.
In between goals is a thing called life, that has to be lived and enjoyed.
New Year's Eve we got five dollars for the evening- but that was from eight to unconscious.
The best thing about humor is that it shows people they're not alone.
The guy who invented the first wheel was an idiot. The guy who invented the other three, he was a genius.
The remote control changed our lives... The remote control took over the timing of the world. That's why you have road rage. You have people who have no patience, because you got immediate gratification. You got click, click, click, click. If it doesn't explode within three seconds, click click, click.
The trouble with telling a good story is that it invariably reminds the other fellow of a dull one.
When I did comedy I made fun of myself.If there was a buffoon, I played the buffoon. And people looked at me and said, 'Gee, that's like Uncle David', or 'That's like a friend of mine'. And they related through that. I didn't make fun of them. I made fun of me.
You gotta come down to go up.
You have to be prepared for luck. You have to work with luck.
YouTube video: Mel Brooks on working for Sid Caesar
YouTube video: Sid Caesar reminisces with Barry Mitchell.
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YouTube video: Sid Caesar Interview Part 1 of 6
YouTube video: Sid Caesar Interview Part 2 of 6
YouTube video: Sid Caesar Interview Part 3 of 6
YouTube video: Sid Caesar Interview Part 4 of 6
YouTube video: Sid Caesar Interview Part 5 of 6
YouTube video: Sid Caesar Interview Part 6 of 6