Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The undeniable legacy of Ernie Kovacs

Jan. 28, 2009
Posted by Noah

Ernie Kovacs is one of those guys who everybody should know about, though so many don’t. If you’ve ever watched a late night talk show, a sketch comedy show or a variety show then you’ve felt the impact of his television greatness. If you’re scratching your head right now, wondering who he is, or clicking quickly to Wikipedia, then the true greatness of the man will be lost on you, as will the amazing grouping from the Ernie Kovacs and Edie Adams Estate Archive that we have coming up as part of the February Music & Entertainment Auction. I suggest going to YouTube, entering his name, and watching a few of the clips that come up. Even if you’ve never seen Kovacs, there will be something vaguely familiar about what you were seeing.

Ernie Kovacs was a hard living comedian, and a true giant of early American television comedy. His comedy still ranks as some of the greatest to hit the small screen, especially such classic bits as Percy Dovetonsils and The Nairobi Trio, the latter of which is so absurd and nonsensical that you can’t help but laugh at the broad physical nature of. I won’t describe the Nairobi Trio to you, instead insisting you watch a clip, but suffice it to say that Kovacs’ audience never tired of it, nor did the parade of stars that donned the monkey masks and manned the mallets.

The real question is: would this same kind of sketch play as well today? I seriously doubt it given how much the medium has changed. Still, Kovacs’ imprint is everywhere, from SNL, to Letterman to Steven Colbert and beyond, and they all know it. There’s also a good chance that a lot of them will be bidding on the Kovacs props, documents and awards.

Check it out. Bask in the glory of Golden Age TV. You know you want to…