In Memoriam: Carl Reiner
The role of straight man in comedy is a dying art. It grew out of vaudeville and moved to movies, radio, and television as the vaudeville artists moved to new mediums. Bud Abbott, Dean Martin, and Margaret Dumont are 3 of the most famous and successful straight men in comedy history (with “men” in this instance being a catchall akin to “mankind”). One could argue any of those 3 were the best and could back up their assertion with multiple clips. I, however, have always held Carl Reiner as the greatest straight man in history because he was able to do the role to perfection for two very different performers: Mel Brooks and Dick Van Dyke.
Carl Reiner passed away on June 29th at the age of 98. To say he was one of the most influential comedians ever understates the impact he had on humor both here and around the world. If he had only done The 2,000 Year Old Man he and Brooks would have influenced an entire generation of stand up performers.
If he had just been one of the writers on Your Show of Shows he would have helped shape the entire idea of sketch comedy.
If he had just created The Dick Van Dyke Show he would be considered a pioneer in the art of situation comedy.
ANY one of those three things would make him a legend in the field. He did ALL of them.
And don’t forget he fathered Rob Reiner, without whom we would not have This Is Spinal Tap or the Christopher Guest films like Best In Show, A Mighty Wind, or Waiting for Guffman.
I think it’s no coincidence that he died the day after Mel Brooks’ birthday. Carl Reiner was so much a professional that he couldn’t let his own death upstage the Wise Guy.
Looks like there is one less person eating breakfast today.
This loss really is a punch in the gut. My late father & I used to watch Reiner’s stuff, and his work with Mel Brooks was pretty instrumental in shaping my sense of humor.
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I remember watching the Dick Van Dyke Show with my parents, in particular my mother. She would laugh so hard her eyes would tear up.
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Reblogged this on Drop Three Improv/Sketch Comedy and commented:
D3 founder Ron Burr has some thoughts on Carl Reiner’s passing.