Sunday, November 23, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Hail Caesar, a comedy genius

stevenson column sig 2

By
From page A11 | February 14, 2014 |

Forgive the nostalgia, but the news triggered a wave of memories going back almost 60 years.

Sure, he lived to the ripe old age of 91, but Sid Caesar’s death left a void in the panoply of a generation of comedians. Not only was his television show mandatory viewing in my home, but, in later years, he was a genius in the movies. My favorite was his role in “Silent Movie,” in which Caesar was on the phone – with subtitles only – and after saying, “No one does slapstick anymore,” he goes sliding helplessly across the floor and crashes into the opposite wall.

The obituary in the Daily Republic quoted Woody Allen as saying, “He was one of the truly great comedians of my time and one of the finest privileges I’ve had in my entire career was that I was able to work for him.” Carl Reiner, father of Rob Reiner, said, “He had an ability to connect with the audience and make them roar with laughter.”

Caesar was one of a group of Jewish comedians who became famous in the 1950s and 1960s, most of them getting their start in vaudeville or in the Catskills. Others with a similar pedigree included Jackie Mason, Don Rickles, Buddy Hackett, Milton Berle and Jack Benny. There were dozens of hotels in the Catskill Mountains, a location about 90 miles from New York City. I had the opportunity to work there in the summer after my ill-fated two years at Cornell. I lasted one day, or rather night, as a bar waiter because instead of attending to the customers, I couldn’t take my eyes off the strippers.

Caesar’s career was not without problems, one of which was his alcoholism. He overcame his passion for drink and went on to a career in comedy, most memorably the movies. But his first television show, “Your Show of Shows,” was his ticket to comic stardom.

I don’t think my parents missed an episode of that series, which also starred Imogene Coca. If you’re old enough, you may remember that early TV shows were in black and white, and what was worse was that we watched them on a Dumont television with a 12-inch screen. If that wasn’t bad enough, there were no remote controls, so someone – me – had to go up to the TV to change the channel, raise or lower the volume and bring the program into focus.

We didn’t have to scroll through a lot of channels, however – the choice was CBS, NBC, ABC, and later, public broadcasting. When we watched television in the evening, I was on a short leash with an early bedtime. There was no such thing as a VCR, so if you missed a show that you had wanted to see, you were out of luck.

It’s quite amazing that Caesar’s career lasted more than 40 years, and there was no sign as he grew older that he had lost his comic touch. I can’t help but wonder which of today’s comedians – male or female – will hold the interest of an audience for so many years. I know that it comes with getting older that you think, “They don’t make them like (fill in the blank) anymore.” If I’m not mistaken, there are no comedians who have one-hour shows, except for the late-night hosts. But Jay Leno, David Letterman and Conan the Comedian don’t fill their time with the kind of humor we had in the early years of television.

That’s not to say that all the comedy was clever and amusing. I used to think that Red Skelton overdid it with his slapstick and Milton Berle was notorious for using second-hand jokes.

I have to admit that I’m turned off by some of the current crop of comedians – both male and female. I’ve wondered for years why many of them think that to be funny, they have to be vulgar. Of course, the cable channels are not covered by the Federal Communications Commission the way the networks are, so the only thing that prevents them from abusing their airwave privilege is their judgment.

My affinity for Sid Caesar was enhanced when I learned that his parents were from Russia and Poland, as were my grandparents. That doesn’t mean that I could stand up in front of an audience of a thousand people and make them laugh. Hmm, maybe a second career?

Bud Stevenson, a retired stockbroker, lives in Fairfield. Reach him at Bsteven254@aol.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Fairfield-Suisun sits between bay, valley

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Teens at Boys & Girls Clubs get their own place

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1 | Gallery

Salvation Army gets ready for Thanksgiving

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
New mobile office adds reach to The Salvation Army

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1

Time to start a local hall of fame

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

 
Conservancy plans Quail Ridge Walk in December

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Film festival brings people together for good causes

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Suicide prevention day event comes to Solano

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Advance preparation mitigates frost damage

By Kathy Low | From Page: C4

 
Sudden Infant Death awareness and prevention

By Susan Whalen | From Page: C4

Weather for Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B6

 
Market prime for correction? Maybe yes, maybe no

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: B7

 
Two injured in Fairfield shooting

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A12

.

US / World

Storms raise hope in California drought

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Gambling nuke commander linked to fake poker chips

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Winners and losers under Obama’s immigration plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
WWII mementos found in suitcase at thrift store

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Kohler introduces odor-eating toilet seat

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Civic group: No Ferguson grand jury decision yet

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Police: Pregnant woman, 3 others fatally shot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Hawaii airline tells pilots to return $4,000 bonus

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Dogfighting thrives in years since Vick case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Man sets house on fire, kills responding deputy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Report: Washington toddler shot playing with gun

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Official: SD man kills 4, including self, wounds 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Pope meets with autistic children

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Biden announces new aid for Syrian refugees

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
AP sources: Obama broadens mission in Afghanistan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Somalia’s al-Shabab kills 28 non-Muslims in Kenya

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Kerry says gaps remain in talks about Iran’s nukes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Japan earthquake collapses homes, causes injuries

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Iraqi forces, Islamic State group battle in Ramadi

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Opinion

Are we sheltered by broadcast news?

By Rod Keck | From Page: A8

 
State Capitol braces for budget battle

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

 
Editorial Cartoon: Nov. 23, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Act of kindness at Raiders game

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

.

Living

Today in History: Nov. 23, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Nov. 23, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Give the gift of gratitude this holiday season

By Dalia Adams | From Page: C3

 
Buddhist community builds shrine in Pineville yard

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

Caught up in the spirt of the music

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Horoscopes for Nov. 23, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

Hackers can get into everything, including your camera lens

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

 
Library project puts 50 years of yearbooks online

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

Metrosexuals be gone: Europe is agog for beards

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

 
Graphic novel teaching history at Mississippi schools

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Lamott offers healing words in ‘Small Victories’

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Eddie Izzard has book deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Whoopi Goldberg writing book about marriage

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Bryan Cranston reads profane hit nursery rhyme

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

49ers host Redskins looking for third straight win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Cousins lifts sluggish Kings over Wolves, 113-101

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Stanford routs rival Cal 38-17 in 117th Big Game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Sacramento State downs UC Davis 41-30

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Giants World Series exhibit goes on display Monday

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Vermette nets winner for Coyotes vs. Sharks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Green says he’s ready to return to lineup for Broncos

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Bills practice in Detroit prepping for Jets game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
No. 4 Duke tops Stanford to win Coaches vs Cancer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Vacaville Christian’s Kenyon voted Sierra Delta League MVP

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Suzy Whaley becomes 1st female officer at PGA

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Harvard beats Yale 31-24 in The Game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Oklahoma’s Perine runs for record 427 yards

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Rivalry 150 goes to Lafayette, 27-7 over Lehigh

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Bowling results for Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

Bocce results for Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

 
Bicycle racing for Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

Granada clings to 1-shot lead at LPGA finale

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Swiss lead France 2-1 in Davis Cup final

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4 | Gallery

 
This date in sports history for Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Business

Businesses cash in as women chase bigger butts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Tips on getting deals during Black Friday blitz

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Most US unemployed don’t get benefits: Here’s why

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

At a Glance: Pros, cons of mobile-payment systems

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

 
Review: No cash, cards, just mobile pay for a week

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

Recalls this week: strollers, candles, chargers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

 
.

Obituaries

Arthur Irving Weiner

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Leslie “Esi” Gros

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Norah Dean

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Florentina R. Dulay Florendo

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Albert M. Ranzani

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics