In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 6, 2009 / 10 Adar 5769

When Funny Was Really Funny

By Greg Crosby

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Funny. Remember funny? I do.

My earliest memory of funny was sitting on the couch with my mother and father and seeing them doubled over with laughter as they watched Sid Caesar on television in "Your Show of Shows." I wasn't laughing, being only about one or two years old at the time I didn't know how yet, but as the years went by and I continued to watch Sid Caesar I learned what funny was. Oh boy, did I learn.

It wasn't jokes that made Sid Caesar funny. It wasn't pratfalls or goofy props or slapstick knock-about routines. And it wasn't funny faces, although he certainly could do them when the occasion warranted. No, Caesar was funny because he was real. He was honest. I believed him in every one of the sketches he was in. I believed him because HE believed who he was in those sketches.

For me he was never a comic pretending to be a husband with insomnia - he WAS that husband with insomnia. He WAS a bullfighter. He WAS that crazy German professor. Sid Caesar became each character he was portraying. Believability is not only a crucial element of a great comedian; it is the sign of a truly great actor. Not many comics have it. Buster Keaton had it. Laurel and Hardy had it. W.C. Fields had it. Jack Benny had it. On TV, Jackie Gleason had believability, Lucile Ball had it in "I Love Lucy," Dick Van Dyke had it, and Sid Caesar has it in spades.

Of course honesty and believability alone aren't enough to make you funny. You need a few other qualities - like impeccable comic timing, spot-on delivery, an ear for dialect and the skill to burlesque it, an ability to ad-lib, and that indescribable feeling down deep in the kishkes (guts) that tells you that something is not just funny, but really works! Put those qualities all together, they spell Sid Caesar - the man who showed me what funny was over fifty years ago.

I should add that it certainly doesn't hurt to have co-stars such as Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, and Howard Morris performing with you. And the fact that some of the best young comedy writers in the business were writing on the show was also a major plus. But frankly, all the Neil Simons, Mel Brookses, and Larry Gelbarts in the world won't make you funny if you don't have the goods. I doubt that even the esteemed writer's room of "Your Show of Shows" could have turned Marlon Brando into a first rate sketch comedian.

As much as the writers helped make Caesar a star, it was working with Caesar that helped make the writers stars.

Along with Jack Benny and Buster Keaton, Sid Caesar was one of my idols. I eventually got into comedy writing myself. I have spent most of my working life at the Walt Disney Studio, a good deal of it in writing gags, comic stories, and drawing animation story boards. I never expected that I would ever have an opportunity to meet one of my idols in person. Then out of the blue about a week ago, I got a message to call a guy.

The guy happened to be character actor, Lee Delano. He was very nice on the phone and said how he had been reading my columns for awhile and enjoyed my work. Then he mentioned that he had been Sid Caesar's co-star for the past 30 years, basically replacing Carl Reiner's straight man role from the early 50's shows. Lee had toured with Sid all over the world, performing the great sketch comedy that had made Sid so famous.

And then he asked, "How would you like to meet Sid Caesar in person?" I couldn't believe my ears. That would be like someone asking, "How would you like to have ten or twelve million dollars?" Lee said he would get with Sid, set it up and call me back. In the meantime Lee sent over a DVD of a couple of sketches he did with Sid awhile back - very funny stuff.

As of this writing I haven't yet met with Sid Caesar, but it could very well take place in the next couple of days. I'm not sure what I could possibly say to Mr. Caesar that ten thousand other fans haven't already said to him. The man has won, I don't know, maybe seventy-two Emmys and has gotten at least a billion other awards and honors over the years. What does one say to a legend? What does one ask a comedy genius?

Maybe I'll just thank him. Thank him for showing me all those many years ago what funny is all about. Every young comedy writer should take a month off and sit in a room in front of a DVD player and watch those classic Sid Caesar comedy sketches. That's how it's done, guys. No bodily function jokes, no four-letter words, no hard-edged ugly street slang, no put downs. Just pure funny. Believable. Honest. No one has ever been funnier than Sid Caesar. No one.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2008, Greg Crosby