A comedic legend and television pioneer, Sid Caesar passed away on Wednesday at the age of 91. In the 1950s, Caesar and Your Show of Shows, his television show with Imogene Coca, were household names. By modern day viewing standards, you need to have a little extra patience for some of the Your Show of Shows clips, which clock in around seven to 12 minutes each. But, they more than payoff as a chance to see classic, clever sketch comedy in its earliest days of television. Here’s a few of the best.
“The Clock” is one of the most famous sketches from Your Show of Shows. It’s a simple premise that relies on the adept physical humor of Caesar, Coca, Carl Reiner, and Howard Morris.
“Health Food Restaurant”
“Health Food Restaurant” is a perfect combination of physical humor, visual gags, and hilarious one-liners. While the side of glucose rings false to modern listeners, the set-up of a husband begrudgingly going to a trendy health food restaurant is pretty classic, and Caesar kills it with his delivery and facial expressions.
“At the Movies”
“At the Movies” is a perfect example of a good slow-build. It takes a minute or two for the sketch to boil and set the scene, but then it hits all of its beats with a perfect ending. As a credit to Caesar’s great physical comedy and expressive skills, the sketch goes over three minutes without a word spoken and it’s still hysterical.
“Professor on Archaeology”
When Caesar had a heavy dialogue sketch, there was a good chance he was doing one of his fantastic accents. With Reiner playing the straight man, Caesar plays a wise-cracking and loopy archaeology professor.
Unfortunately, most people under the age of 50 have never seen Your Show of Shows. But, Sid Ceasar should be recognizable to any fans of Grease as Rydell High’s Couch Calhoun’s. The movie doesn’t exactly put Caesar’s comedic skills to full use, but he still pulls off some laughs.