Your Show of Shows
- For the 1929 movie, see The Show of Shows.
|Your Show of Shows|
Imogene Coca and Sid Caesar in a 1952 skit.
|Created by||Sylvester L. Weaver Jr.|
|Directed by||Nat Hiken
|Narrated by||Ed Herlihy (announcer)|
|Theme music composer||Mel Tolkin
|Opening theme||"Stars Over Broadway"|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||139|
|Running time||90 minutes|
|Original run||February 25, 1950– June 5, 1954|
|Followed by||Caesar's Hour|
Your Show of Shows is a live 90-minute variety show that was broadcast weekly in the United States on NBC from February 25, 1950, through June 5, 1954, featuring Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. Other featured performers were Carl Reiner, Howard Morris, Bill Hayes, Judy Johnson, The Hamilton Trio and the soprano Marguerite Piazza. José Ferrer made several guest appearances on the series.
The 90-minute live series was produced by Sylvester "Pat" Weaver and directed by Max Liebman, who had been producing musical revues at the Tamiment resort in the Pocono Mountains for many years prior. Caesar, Coca, and Liebman had worked on Admiral Broadway Revue from January to June 1949. The series originated as the second half of the two-hour umbrella show, Saturday Night Review, with the first portion hosted by comedian Jack Carter in Chicago, Illinois, and the remainder telecast from the since-demolished International Theatre (also known as the Park Theatre) at 5 Columbus Circle and the Century Theater in Manhattan, New York City. The Chicago portion was dropped at the end of the 1950-51 season, and the series became the 90-minute Your Show of Shows.
Writers for the series included Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Danny Simon, Mel Tolkin, and Carl Reiner who, though a cast member, also worked with the writers. The series is historically significant for the evolution of the variety genre by incorporating situation comedies (sitcoms) such as the running sketch "The Hickenloopers"; this added a narrative element to the traditional multi-act structure.
...appeared in a series of superbly written sketches that poked fun at human foibles and pretensions. Alone onstage, Caesar would depict a befuddled Everyman trying to cope with life, or a blustering Germanic 'professor' being interviewed at an airport and vainly trying to conceal his abysmal stupidity. Alone onstage (or with a partner), Imogene Coca would make us laugh at a passion-ridden torch singer, or a daffy ballerina, or a sweet, wistful tramp. Together, Caesar and Coca would take us through the hilarious marital tribulations of Doris and Charlie Hickenlooper, or show us two strangers exchanging cliches when they meet for the first time.
There was a special chemistry to Your Show of Shows, I think, because [producer-director] Max [Liebman] wasn't afraid to throw out material at the last minute. And I think when you do live television — well, we stopped for nothing. We had no cue cards, no TelePrompTers, and no ad-libbing on the air, becaue Max would have died if anybody had ad-libbed. It would have been utter disgrace, and you would have been drummed right out of the corps.... Nobody ever forgot a line, and that was was the amazing part of it.
A common misconception is that Larry Gelbart wrote for Your Show of Shows; in fact, he wrote for its successor program, Caesar's Hour, which was broadcast from 1954 to 1957. Likewise, Woody Allen did not write for Your Show of Shows, as he only worked on several Sid Caesar TV specials that debuted after it.
Carl Reiner has stated[where?] that the time he spent on Your Show of Shows was the inspiration for The Dick Van Dyke Show. Your Show of Shows also inspired the 1982 movie My Favorite Year, produced by Mel Brooks, and the play Laughter on the 23rd Floor written by Neil Simon.
- 1950-1951: #4
- 1951-1952: #8
- 1952-1953: #19
Most of the kinescopes of the series were discarded by NBC, and so few copies of the series survive. A 1973 theatrical movie titled Ten from Your Show of Shows featured ten sketches from the series edited together.
Dozens of kinescopes of the series are held by the Library of Congress.
In 2000, original scripts from the show were found in a closet belonging to producer Max Liebman in the City Center building in New York City. The find made the front page of The New York Times. A former employee of Liebman, Barry Jacobsen, told The New York Times he had left the scripts in the closet, planning to come back and retrieve them once City Center decided what to do with the papers; he was never contacted by City Center, and the scripts stayed in the closet until being found in 2000.
Syndication and DVD release
Reruns of surviving kinescopes were displayed by Comedy Central during the early 1990s. Skits from the series which are from Sid Caesar's personal collection are available on The Sid Caesar Collection DVD set.
- TV Guide Names Top 50 Shows
- Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2003). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946–Present Eighth Edition. Ballantine Books. p. 13. ISBN 0-345-45542-8.
- Fireman, Judy (1977). TV Book: The Ultimate Television Book. Workman Publishing. ISBN 978-0894800023.
- International Theatre in New York at CinemaTreasures.org
- "Television in the United States." Encyclopædia Britannica Online, 2011. Web. 06 Jun. 2011.
- Sennett, Ted, "Dear Your Show of Shows" in Fireman, p. 169.
- Coca, Imogene, "Coca on Coca, as told to Linda Gutstein, in Fireman, p. 172.
- "Comic Legend Larry Gelbart's Last In-Depth Interview"
- Lax, Eric (2000). Woody Allen: A Biography. Da Capo Press. p. 111. ISBN 978-0306809859.
- Collins, Glenn (November 19, 2000). "Key's Holder Unlocks Mystery of TV Treasure". The New York Times. Retrieved February 14, 2014.
- Your Show of Shows at the Internet Movie Database
- Your Show of Shows at TV.com
- Ten From Your Show of Shows (1973) at IMDB
- The Sid Caesar Collection
- Your Show of Shows-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television