Tag Archives: Mel Brooks

TV Show: Your Show of Shows

Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca headlined Your Show of Shows, a live variety-comedy show that ran from 1950-1954 and set the stage for such future programs as the Dick Van Dyke Show and the Carol Burnett Show. Uploaded by upi.com.

Things were very different in the early years of television. Most programs were broadcast live, which requires a level of performance discipline that’s unnecessary when tape is available. One of the first blockbuster shows that brought Americans together around their new black and white televisions was a great sketch comedy show that’s become legendary.

Uploaded by kfcplainfield.com.

Your Show of Shows starred Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca along with a great supporting cast that included Carl Reiner and Howard Morris (whom you probably remember better as Ernest T. Bass on The Andy Griffith Show). That’s a terrific cast, and it was supported by some equally amazing writers, including Neil Simon and Mel Brooks. The program was created by one of the greatest creative forces in TV history, Sylvester L. “Pat” Weaver – Sigourney’s dad. With that kind of accumulated talent, it’s no wonder that the show is so fondly remembered as a major stepping stone in the new medium’s development.

Your Show of Shows lasted just four seasons, the pressure of doing so many live broadcasts took its toll. Carl Reiner acknowledges that his experiences as one of the show’s writers/performers were the basis of another Great American Thing – The Dick Van Dyke Show. Also in the early years of the industry, Your Show of Shows won Emmy Awards in 1952 and 1953 as Best Variety Show.

Film: Young Frankenstein

Peter Boyle as the monster and Gene Wilder as Dr. Frankenstein perform "Putting on the Ritz." Uploaded by grouchoreviews.com.

When Mel Brooks was good (Young Frankenstein) he was very, very good. When he was bad (Spaceballs), it was uncomfortable to watch. In 1974, though, Brooks reached the zenith of his career, releasing both Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles. Now, that was a year.

Uploaded to Flickr by Matthew and Tracie.

Uploaded to Flickr by Matthew and Tracie.

One of the reasons YF was so good was who was in the cast, and who wasn’t. Gene Wilder was magnificent as the good doctor, and he also co-wrote the movie. Marty Feldman was the perfect Igor, Teri Garr was fetching as the lovely Inga, and Cloris Leachman stole the show as the spooky Frau Blucher. So whose omission from the cast made the movie better? Mel Brooks. He had a tendency to think he could act, which was a serious miscalculation.

It helps if you’ve seen the classics: Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and Son of Frankenstein. Brooks actually did a great job of recreating the settings, music, and cinematography of those movies for comic effect. And if you like fast wordplay and visual puns, Young Frankenstein has them in spades. (Dr. Frankenstein and Inga are standing in front of huge castle doors. Dr. Frankenstein: “What knockers!” Inga: “Why thank you, Doctor.”)

Young Frankenstein was number 13 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Funniest American Movies, and also was on Bravo’s list of 100 Funniest Movies. Here’s my favorite scene from the movie: