Television legend Sid Caesar, the actor and writer behind the iconic ’50s comedy series “Your Show of Shows” and “Caesar’s Hour,” passed away earlier today at the age 91. The hugely influential Caesar pioneered the small screen sketch form, and brought together the likes of Mel Brooks, Imogene Coca, Lucille Kallen, Howard Morris, Carl Reiner, Neil Simon, Michael Stewart and Mel Tolkin as performers and writers. Caesar and “Your Show of Shows” were also the inspiration for “My Favorite Year” and “Laughter on the 23rd Floor.”
In honor of his achievements, Indiewire has complied a video list of some of his best sketches. Check them out below:
1. This is Your Story
clip from “Your Show of Shows,” Caesar mocks the well-known NBC series “This Your Life,”
which was hosted by Ralph Edwards and featured him bringing in guests and together going through their lives with appearances being made by their family and friends. In the sketch, Caesar plays a guest who doesn’t want to be a part of the
show until he is surprised by his Uncle Goopy (Howard Morris).
2. Health Food Restaurant
In this clip, Caesar and his wife (Imogene Coca) go to a healthy restaurant. Caesar’s character, who is a proud carnivore, is baffled by the vegetarian options. Even though vegetarianism was uncommon back in the day, this clip is still pretty funny.
3. The Hollywood Palace
In this sketch from the 1960s ABC variety show, Caesar plays a man who attends a Broadway performance with wife (co-star Coca, again). However, their theater experience is interrupted by the orchestra’s drummer — played by actual drum legend Buddy Rich.
4. The German General
Using doubletalk, a comedy tool that was mastered by the likes of legendary comedians Jackie Gleason and Al Kelly, Sid and fellow comedy actor Howie Morris play a German World War II general and his valet. This sketch is from “Caesar’s Hour,” Caesar’s follow-up to “Your Show of Shows.”
5. Argument to Beethoven’s 5th
This clip from “Caesar’s Hour” proves why Caesar deserves the title of mastermind of the live comedy sketch. He plays a married man having an argument with his wife (played by actress Nanette Fabray). The catch? The whole scene is played out in an exaggerated mime, with classical music as dialogue.
Bonus: Coach Calhoun in “Grease”
Although famous for his TV sketch and variety work, Sid is also remembered for his film roles, particularly as the memorable Coach Calhoun in “Grease.” We couldn’t not include this.