via Comedy Hall of Fame: Premiering tonight on WNET Channel 13 in New York: SID CAESAR: ON THE LANGUAGE OF COMEDY, a new documentary featuring intimate, never-before-seen interviews with Caesar from the archives of the Comedy Hall of Fame. SID CAESAR: ON THE LANGUAGE OF COMEDY will also become available for viewing on demand on PBS Passport beginning Monday 7/22
New York, NY — For more than 50 years, public television has provided unsurpassed access to the performing arts, including the very best of theater, dance, opera, classical, jazz, popular music, and comedy. Now, New York metro-area public television station THIRTEEN presents the exclusive broadcast premiere of a new, innovative documentary designed to put viewers in direct conversation with Sid Caesar, one of the most influential comedic masters of the 20th century. SID CAESAR: ON THE LANGUAGE OF COMEDY premieres Friday, July 19 at 10:30 pm ET on WNET Thirteen in New York and THIRTEEN Explore. Special encore presentations air Monday, July 22 at 10:30 pm ET on THIRTEEN, WLIW21, NJTV, and PBS Passport.
SID CAESAR: ON THE LANGUAGE OF COMEDY features never-before-seen first-person interviews from the archives of the Comedy Hall of Fame, curators of the largest and most comprehensive history of comedy that celebrates and recognizes the masters, standard-bearers, and innovators of the art form. Without a narrator or host, the documentary offers a unique and deep perspective of Sid Caesar’s work and life in comedy, side-by-side with classic performance. This approach is created to personalize the experience and break the barrier between artist and audience.
Comedy, as an art form, has a spectacular lack of institutions. There are no academies of comedy, little in the way of academia and few books on its techniques. In fact, there are more books on the history of NASCAR than comedy. Comedy’s central mechanism for growth and development is influence: the vision, work, and innovations forged by the generation of greats who came before to blaze a path like Sid Caesar.
Sid Caesar is a founding father of modern American comedy. As a critical architect of 20th century comedic television, Sid’s groundbreaking series, Your Show of Shows, pioneered ensemble and sketch comedy. Previous comedic variety programming was wrapped around a superstar comedian, such as Milton Berle and Jack Benny, but Your Show of Shows featured a cast of comedians who traded in one liners for long-form sketch comedy. Sid was responsible for forging the writers’ room and his writers – Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Neil Simon, Larry Gelbart, and later, Woody Allen – would go on to define the field of comedy in the second half of the 20th century. Perhaps Sid’s most important contribution was to elevate comedy from a simple form of entertainment to social satire, a critical threshold for comedy’s development and relevance to the culture. A master social satirist, Caesar skewed, parodied and poked fun at power in all its forms: celebrities, politicians, corporate America, the sexes, and the media, all wrapped up in a live, hour-and-a-half sketch television program with music and an occasional guest host on Saturday night. Sound familiar? This is the format of “Saturday Night Live.”
SID CAESAR: ON THE LANGUAGE OF COMEDY gives viewers the artist behind the act as Caesar discusses his unique approach and understanding of comedy as well as the ideas and techniques that he forged into comedic history. Side-by-side with classic performances, this unforgettable program grants unparalleled access to the mind of one of the 20th century’s most influential comedians.
About Comedy Hall of Fame
Founded in 2006, the Comedy Hall of Fame is a conservancy created to elevate comedy to its proper place in America’s performance arts, to grant a greater understanding and appreciation of comedy’s artists, history and its impact on our culture. The Comedy Hall of Fame Archives are the cornerstone of Hall, and are the largest and most comprehensive oral history of comedy in existence. A massive digital film archive of primary source material, 150 individual biographies and growing, it offers an unprecedented understanding of comedy at the hands of the Hall of Famers who built its history. It builds bridges to America’s established institutions of preservation, education, culture and performance. We have forged an on-going relationship with the Museum of the Moving Image in New York City that brought comedy to the nation’s museum system for the first time, through symposiums and productions. It brought arts programming for comedy to public television with the multiple Emmy-nominated CHF documentary “Joan Rivers Exit Laughing, “and the series “On the Language of Comedy.” The Comedy Hall of Fame Foundation created and manages “Laugh it Out, ” an educational program that teaches communication skills through improv comedy in the New York City public schools and through the 92nd Street Y. Currently in its 10th year, “Laugh It Out” teaches public speaking, fosters team work and builds self-confidence – all through comedy.