Friday, April 03, 2009

The Man Who Invented Television Comedy (5/14/07)

The 20th century saw artists who broke the rules of what had gone before. In art, there was Picasso; in music, it was Igor Stravinsky; and in television, Ernie Kovacs changed the medium forever. Kovacs began his all-too-short career in the early 1950s, and soon saw opportunities for the new technology that no one else did. His style was eclectic, mixing sophisticated references with quick sight gags. Kovacs would try anything, whether it was spending $50,000 for a 6-second sight gag, doing an entire show with no dialogue, or creating performance art with the Nairobi Trio. Even though he began appearing in movies, he never abandoned television, innovating and expanding what could be done. Kovacs was killed in a car crash in 1962, and his influence has been seen in the work of such personalities as Steve Allen, David Letterman, and the casts of "Saturday Night Live."

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