It’s Been Real

Sure, the event coincides with the availability of a new 6-disc DVD called The Ernie Kovacs Collection which hits the shelves on April 19. But paying tribute to one of television’s true pioneers is always a good thing, so I have no problem spreading the word.

On April 12th, Keith Olbermann will moderate a panel discussion that will focus on the impact Ernie Kovacs has had on television and on specific creators, long after his death in a car accident in 1962. The program will incorporate a wide range of Kovacs’ work in its original form and some repackaged to address specific themes. 

Most of these shows, which have never been screened since their original airings, have been newly transferred from original 16mm kinescopes and curated by noted film/television historian Ben Model. Much of Kovacs’ works have been archived at the Paley Center since his widow Edie Adams delivered original kinescopes and tapes dating back to the 1970s.

Model will participate on the panel at The Paley Center along with comedian and Kovacs fan Joel Hodgson,(Mystery Science Theater 3000), humorist-comedian-writer Robert Smigel, Laugh In creator George Schlatter, and Jolene Brand, a Kovacs cast member on his ABC specials.

Video: The Aesop Broadcasting Company (Weekend Update, prostrate thyself and pay homage!)

Ernie Kovacs transformed television’s early era with offbeat humor, sight gags and lunacy that had not been seen before. Scholars have remarked that Kovacs understood the impact and possibilities of television before many of his contemporaries. In fact, Kovacs is credited with shaping the medium’s visual possibilities rather than simply putting a picture to a popular radio show. Pretty much any television host or program with a taste for the absurd can be traced back to Kovacs, from Monty Python, SNL and Pee Wee’s Playhouse to late night hosts like Carson, Letterman and Ferguson.

As Kovacs said. “nothing in moderation“.

Click here for more information about the event.

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2 Comments

Filed under Comedy, Film/TV

2 responses to “It’s Been Real

  1. Paul Sikorski

    Huge Ernie fan (I admired the gorilla band best of all), but I have to hit three quick tennis volleys back:

    * The Pythons revered (and irregularly worked with/for various members of) “Beyond the Fringe,” the Goons, and TWTWTW–especially David Frost, who Eric Idle mercilessly lampooned on the Python programs. Other than Terry Gilliam, I doubt the others had much awareness of Ernie. OTOH, the unjustly maligned Benny Hill clearly watched a *lot* of Kovacs!

    * The comedian that Carson revered (full disclosure–so do I) was Fred Allen, whose radio comedy troupe was even called the “Allen Mighty Art Players”–sound familiar? Dick Cavett once played part of Carson’s college thesis–which was about Allen’s timing and verbal delivery style, and done as an audio project with Carson narrating and showing why the delivery was funny–on the tonight show as a guest. At a time when most radio comedians were doing Jolson-style borscht belt stuff, Allen’s monolgues were *very* sophisticated. I bought a double album of his radio transcripts when I was in high school. They’re still funny today.

    *Either you harbor such an intense dislike for Seth Meyer that you’re ready to stick a finger up his butt, or you meant that he should *prostRate” himself.

    Anyway, thanks for writing a comedy column about people I actually know something about!

  2. drbristol

    In fairness, Seth *can* be a bit anal, but I wasn’t being cheeky – just a typo.

    There are a couple of DVDs floating around of Beyond The Fringe that I picked up, and a lot of the Goon Show recordings are available as well. Didn’t mean to infer that Kovacs was their major influence but I’m sure Gilliam edjumicated the rest of the troupe.

    And on a side note, my appreciation of Benny Hill as an adult is for completely different reasons than my fondness for the program in the 70s. I also didn’t realize until recently that Jane Leeves (Frasier, Hot In Cleveland, Seinfeld, Murphy Brown) was one of Hill’s Angels!

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