By Sean Tuohy
Sid Caesar passed away last Wednesday night.
Caesar had one of the first hour-long comedy shows on American television, he jump-started the careers of a dozen comedy heroes, and he had been acting in television and movies for nearly sixty years! Still don't know him?
Wait, there's more! He was the coach in "Grease." He was the one who helps John Travolta get into shape.
That guy! That guy was the man who help shaped television comedy. Without Ceaser's wacky off-the-wall comedy and his showmanship there would be no "Saturday Night Live," "Family Guy," or any other television comedy program.
Caesar was brought to Americans from coast to coast with his show "Your Show of Shows." This program combined goofy humor, vaudeville, and Broadway musicals.
Sid knew how to capture an audience and how to keep them laughing. "Your Show of Shows" featured over the top skits like the famed "The Clock" skit and "The German General" skit which left viewers slapping their knees.
There had never been anyone like Caesar before because, well, there had never been television before. Caesar had what every comic wants: perfect timing, facial features that could make a British solider laugh, and the ability to work a crowd.
Caesar also had an eye for talent. When putting together the writing staff for "Your Show Of Shows" Caesar went out and hired several unknown writers: Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Carl Reiner, and Neil Simon. He approached comedy writing like an art form. He spent long hours working on a single joke until he knew it was perfect. His staff spent hours locked away in a room coming up with skits. Caesar was known for a short temper which kept his young staff in check. He once held a young Mel Brooks out a window in downtown New York City because Brooks didn't find one of Caesar's jokes funny.
"Your Show of Shows" only lasted for one year, but its impact on comedy writing and the culture is everlasting. I would discover Sid Caesar at the age of 19 and from that point forward dream about working in a comedy writing room like "Your Show of Shows." With Sid's passing I feel that part of comedy has died. I cannot allow myself to get to sad because Sid would have not wanted that. He would want me to crack a joke and make someone laugh, even if it was at his expense.
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