Sid Caesar: An Appreciation
91 is a long time to live. So,Sid Caesar did well as far as longevity goes.
His prime as an comedian was from 1950 to 1957. He starred in Your Show of Shows for four years followed by Caesar’s Hour.
The writers who worked on those shows went on to large fame after their time with Sid.
Larry Gelbart who worked on the second show wrote M*A*S*H* the tv series, Tootsie, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, just to name a few.
Neil Simon wrote several plays: The Odd Couple, Barefoot In The Park, Brighton Beach Memoirs and many more.
Mel Brooks…..well, everyone knows what Mel has done.
Aaron Ruben produced The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., and Sanford and Son.
I should also mention Lucille Kallen. She was a pioneer. Writers rooms were and to some extent still are male-dominated. Lucille held her own in that fast company for the whole 139 episode run of Your Show Of Shows. If you watch My Favorite Year, the character played brilliantly by Anne DeSalvo, is based on Lucille Kallen.
Here are a couple of clips from a special where the writers reunite with Sid for a two-hour special.
The first one sums up Sid’s responsibilities as the star of the show. What I would like you to notice is how much laughter there is in the two small clips.
Sid had great writers. He also had an outstanding cast: Imogene Coca, Howard Morris, and Carl Reiner.
With that nucleus, they made television history.
Your Show Of Shows was performed live. Every episode was 90 minutes long and they did 39 shows each year.
As a contrast, Saturday Night Live does 22 shows a year.
AND, Sid’s shows never used cue cards.
Unfortunately, after those shows went off, Sid never found a comparable spot for his talents. He would show up in this or that show but nothing came close to what he had in those seven glorious years.
As we see the remembrances from people who worked in and had their own success on television, the overwhelming consensus is that Sid Caesar was the best comedian television has ever had.
You will get no argument here.