Ernie Kovaks once said, “Television: A Medium. So called because it’s neither rare nor well done.”
This comedy genius was a man before his time, using camera tricks and silly stunts to give a surreal aspect to television. His influence can be seen in such diverse programs as SNL, Sesame Street, Laugh-in and David Letterman.
With his trademark thick mustache and thicker cigar, this comedy mavin introduced a maniac sensibility to the morning format. When it was raining outside, he would simulate a storm inside the studio. Once he ran through a restaurant in a gorilla suit.
On more than one instance, he would violate the “fourth wall” and take the audience into the control room. He used the camera as a trick generator, doing stunts such as smoking underwater. Once, his group performed an all-gorilla rendition of Swan Lake.
To make all of us here at Comedy Guys jealous, he wrote for the original Mad Magazine. The closest I’ve ever come to that is finally getting the fold-in back cover right after only two or three tries.