Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sponsored by Panbro

            They did it because they loved their craft. No, of course they didn’t make any money from it. Who were the sponsors? Panbro? They were the best comedians in the country and they weren’t about to go home just because they were done shooting for the day. Even if they were getting paid dip. 
       The work ethic was different then, none of these poncey kids who drive their Rolls home at three o’clock because they have a backache. I mean considering make-up, read throughs, rehearsals, and the ads they shot (and everything was done on the lot…it was big enough) they practically lived at the studio. They’d come in at 5 or 6 in the morning and would finish at 5 or so then go home and get dinner or whatever then they’d come back. And so that’s why the cast was different in every episode, it was just whoever wanted to show up for the night and, you know they would throw around a couple of ideas and then whoever was there at eleven they just started shooting and did it. 
         So…and yeah that’s why you would see these weird set pieces that changed all the time, because they would have to use the sets the guys had put up that day for the shows, the ones that would air in 6 or 10 weeks or whatever. 
       Of course they thought it was hilarious. They loved it. Loved the challenge. It’s like these people who want to climb higher and higher mountains right? These folks wanted to make the comedy that was the most difficult, the most unusual, the best. I mean you watch them now and it’s, don’t get me wrong it’s hilarious, but the subject matter is nothing unusual, in fact it seems a little silly. But back then some of the stuff they were touching on was considered pretty edgy and sort of taboo. So then they’d just go, and of course the studio hated it but they humored them anyways because they knew that if they said ‘no’ to the thing the whole lot would pack up and go to another studio and plus some of these folks could get paid way more somewhere else. A lot of them only stayed at the studio because they had been working with the same writers and directors and each other for so long. And... you know it was all improv? This was years before improv became, you know, a thing. That’s why you see are all those pauses and the actors laughing I mean they really are making all that stuff up as they go along, and that’s why it was so funny too. All the folks stuck in New York or (god forbid) elsewhere had to watch this stuff the next day but this was their bread and butter. It was like the daily news for comedians, y’know ‘so and so is doing this now’ and stuff like that. Of course no one in the public knew about it so no one watched it, except maybe a few diehard fans and some old comedians themselves but this is where they got to try out all their new material, to develop new material too. I mean Trigger Katz? One year, I remember, he did a whole routine, a whole hour show that he took to Vegas, from material he developed during the show. It was something about the synergy. They played off each other like if you locked up Hawkins, Feynman and Newton in a room, you get way more than just the sum of the parts. And they all did different types of comedy too so you got this blending of styles. And of course they were always trying to out-do each other. 
       You know i was there a few times, I mean this was when Betty was a baby so I was busy with her but when Carol got home early some nights I would go. There was this energy in the air. And the fact that some of them did it every night…It’s mind blowing. I mean these really were masters at their craft. Of course a lot of them were working during the day, had been relegated, cursed really, to work on those awful, you know, weeknight sitcoms like Stagger’s League and One Rug’s Enough! that got dropped after two seasons so they were pent up all day, reading these gawdawful jokes and really having their creativity cut off. This is where they would go to blow off steam. Hell Johnny Epp, I mean he was a kid then but he was great, and he drank like a fish before he started on the show. I mean call me crazy but if he hadn’t have been on that show four, five nights a week he’d be dead long ago from booze for sure.

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