One of the TV variety shows that everyone watched when I was a kid was “Your Show Of Shows” starring Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. Sid was a high energy performer who used everything God gave him to make people laugh. His comedic timing and facial expressions combined with his tornado like physical energy was really something to see. Add to that his incredible parodies of different languages, it was an hour of nonstop laughter. Whatever this guy did, you laughed. You had no way of holding back. There were times when I remember rolling on the floor in pain watching Sid.
Many of the laughs were also due to the comedic brilliance of Imogene Coca. Her timing and facial expressions were priceless. When Sid would be going at 100 miles per hour with his energy, Imogene would just sit there with a dead pan expression as if nothing was happening. Then she would simply turn around and raise one eyebrow and give him a look from hell without ever saying a word, and the audience would explode with laughter. Week after week this show would entertain with a level of comedy and creativity that was second to none. Many years later I traveled with Milton Berle, Sid Caesar and Henny Youngman conducting a show called “Night Of A Thousand Laughs.” Please believe me, it really was funny. The audiences laughed and laughed through the entire show.
We worked in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Chicago, Palm Beach Florida, Toronto and many other places as well. While on the road with the show, Sid and I would have dinner a few times and discuss comedy and show business. I was really surprised to learn that Sid was a sax player before he became an entertainer. One night at dinner I asked Sid what his thoughts were about so many of the younger comics and their fowl language. He said “Artie if you are funny, you do not have to work dirty. Very few comics can get away with it, and those that do are real talents. The other ones resort to it because it is an easy but cheap laugh.”
I attended Sid’s 80th birthday party at the Friars Club in Los Angeles. What a night. Every top comedian entertained and paid respect to Sid. I sat right behind Sid and I saw his response as each of the greats saluted him. He was deeply touched. One of the younger comics said, “Whatever we do, Sid did it first.” I love and treasure these people that make us laugh. I’ve said many times that I wanted to be one of them.
This picture was taken in Atlantic City in Sid’s dressing room before a show.