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A comic genius who’s had America laughing since the 1950s, Sid Caesar was the star and guiding force behind the Emmy® Award-winning Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour.
Now, 19 of Sid's legendary sketches have been unearthed from the vault, and can be s
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The DVD releases of SCTV, Kids in the Hall, and In Living Color, made 2004 a banner year for sketch-comedy aficionados. But this three-disc collection of vintage sketches from Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour is essential for those with an appreciation for the grand masters. We come to praise Caesar, not to bury him. This was the golden age of live television, and these were the shows to which comedy writers aspired. Caesar's dream team included (though not at the same time) Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Selma Diamond, Larry Gelbart, Carl Reiner, and Neil and Danny Simon. The Sid Caesar Collection is a treasure trove of sketches, representative of the "knowledge, technique, and taste" of the show's creators: domestic sketches ("Nan Hires a Maid," "The White Rug"), spoofs ("Bullet Over Broadway," "German U Boat 749"), and pantomime ("Grieg Piano Concerto," "Pantomime Cocktail Party").
One reason why these sketches, some more than 50 years old, hold up so well, is Caesar's credo that "People are more interesting than things." The best sketches are universal, human comedy. In "Nan Hires a Maid," the writers meticulously establish wife Nanette Fabray's frustration with husband Sid's sloppiness, so when Sid comes home from work, we anxiously await to see him carelessly discard his clothes around the room, and for dutiful Nanette to explode, which she does "just so." Anything could happen on live television. Check out the "Bus Station" sketch, in which commuter Sid can be glimpsed wearing sandals he did not have time to change from a previous gladiator sketch. Other memorable sketches include "Toy Band" (which echoes the intricate teamwork of the Your Show of Shows classic, "The Clock") and "Bullets Over Broadway," which may have inspired the Boss Hijack sketches in the Caesar homage, My Favorite Year. In between the sketches, cast members and writers affectionately recall working with each other, and creating this classic comedy. Each DVD includes bonus sketches. Caesar also provides illuminating commentary on selected sketches. --Donald Liebenson
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