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Jewish Comedians – Pioneers of Television: Featuring Sid Caesar, Jack Benny, Danny Kaye and Joan Rivers
Wednesday, February 22 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
An event every week that begins at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, repeating until Wednesday, March 15, 2023
Join Entertainment Historian John Kenrick as he brings to life the comedic legends of Sid Caesar, Jack Benny, Danny Kaye, and Joan Rivers! From the Catskills to Broadway and beyond, these icons redefined comedy and captured the hearts of audiences everywhere. Don’t miss out on these hilarious presentations on Wednesdays, February 22, March 1, 8, and 15, from 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm, exclusively on Zoom.
Hail Caesar!: How Sid & His Legion Conquered the World of Comedy – Sid Caesar was playing saxophone at a Catskills resort when he discovered he could make audiences laugh. For TV’s Your Show of Shows, he headed a team of performers and writers who would triumph on stage and screen, shaping modern comedy as we know it. How did Caesar, who never told a joke, become a comic icon? And why is his work almost unknown today? Entertainment historian John Kenrick answers these questions in this hilarious presentation.
Jack Benny: “Modesty is My Best Quality” – After achieving stardom in vaudeville, Benny refined his comic persona (cheap and forever age 39) to become a multi-generational audience favorite on network radio and television, as well as some big screen successes. How did this gentle, unassuming man charm audiences by playing a cowardly cheap skate who insists he is forever 39? And what made his sitcom a radio and TV favorite for more than 30 years? With appearances by Benny’s sidekick Rochester, the genius of Mel Blanc, and his real-life wife Mary Livingston, we celebrate a genuine show business legend.
Danny Kaye: “I Wasn’t Born a Fool. It Took Work!” – Born to near poverty in Brooklyn, this versatile comedian got his start in Catskills resorts before attaining stardom on Broadway, in Hollywood films, and finally in his own long running CBS TV variety series. What role did Danny’s wife Sylvia play in building his fame? How did rumors of Kaye sharing a gay romance with Laurence Olivier get started? And how did his work for UNICEF get him in political hot water? A frank and affectionate celebration of a complex man who brought joy to the large and small screen.
Joan Rivers: Can We Talk? – One of the first women in stand-up comedy, this edgy comedienne went from Tonight Show guest to becoming Johnny Carson’s favorite replacement host. What professional move permanently destroyed that longtime relationship? And how did Joan move beyond cancellation and personal tragedy to become the world’s top female comedian? John Kenrick shares memories of meeting this superstar, with plenty of clips from her memorable TV appearances.
Entertainment historian John Kenrick has worked in the theatre at every level from amateur to Broadway, eventually serving as personal assistant to six Tony Award-winning producers, including the team behind the original production of Rent. He has taught musical theatre history courses at New York University’s Steinhardt School, The New School University, and Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. John’s books include Musical Theatre: A History. He is the creator of the educational website Musicals101.com, and the YouTube series Musicals101.com’s Aisle Say! One of his students put it this way: “He didn’t just make me laugh – he made me care.”
There is no fee, but please RSVP for planning purposes. This event is held on Zoom. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the event. For more information, contact Director of Programming and Communications, Ilene Tatro at email@example.com.
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