There have been some really terrible comedy teams.
Olsen and Johnson, for instance.
At one time, in 1938, they had the longest running show ever on Broadway at that time.
I was too young to ever see it.
But it was supposedly a laff riot.
They made a movie out of it.
It was Godawful.
And I think it gave me a measure of what Olsen and Johnson were.
They were totally corny, laughed at their own jokes, and Abbott and Costello left them in the dust, skill-wise.
Ed Sullivan foisted Wayne and Shuster upon us way too often.
And gave them extended amounts of time when he booked them.
Like about 25 minutes a pop.
I think this might have been the result of Ed losing an election bet.
Wayne and Shuster, "From Canader", were never ever funny.
There's nothing prejudicial from me about Canadians.
All of the SCTV talent were from Canada.
I love them.
But Wayne and Shuster were relentlessly dreary.
Those aside, there were also some wonderful comedy teams.
Another pair fostered by Ed Sullivan were Stiller and Meara.
They were essentially actors who found a good hook for doing sketches together in a standup format.
They were funny individually and together.
I don't know if an act like theirs would fly today.
It seemed to be very much of it's time.
Transcending them on all levels were Mike Nichols and Elaine May.
They did the most intelligent, intellectual, and gut-busting funny material of all time.
They were brilliant performers.
If they had never existed and just now showed up, show business would certainly make way for them in a big way.
It's no surprise that they both went on to become substantial film and stage directors.
You got to catch glimpses of Burns and Allen's vaudeville routines on their sitcom.
And you can understand why it was so successful.
Burns tried to replicate the formula after Gracie retired, with Carol Channing and Connie Stevens.
And the formula worked.
Burns and Schreiber worked in the Stiller and Meara/ Nichols and May tradition, and were very funny.
Avery Schreiber died way too young.
Don't know what would have become of them.
Bob and Ray came out of radio, and virtually all of their routines were in the form of radio or TV interviews among their fictional characters.
I was fortunate enough to see them live on Broadway, and experienced a most unusual audience reaction.
The laughs didn't come on punch-lines, but rather in waves based on the overall premise of the routine.
I found it astounding.
Probably the funniest comedy duo of all time were Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks doing "The 2000 year old man.
Primarily because it found a framework to unleash Mel Brooks upon the public at large.
That still works any time that they choose to do it.
The only ones that I'm aware of that actively still pursue the form are the Smothers Brothers, who are still great, and we will probably never see their likes again.
For whatever reasons, comedy duos have gone the way of shock-jocks like Opie and Anthony and their like.
This can't be good for anyone involved.
I've mopped up this subject matter.
Next time, something else.
My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne and Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays" and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are not
e-books. But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one. If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link: www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/mark-rothman
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- mark rothman
- Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at email@example.com. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."