Saturday, December 08, 2018

Weekend Post

Mike Nichol's & Elaine May were two improv performers in Chicago who really clicked. So much so that they became a comedy team.  And a sensation!  

This was in the late '50's/early '60s.  Nichols went on to be an incredible director, as did May.  Sadly, Mike has passed away but Elaine is alive and well and starring on Broadway.

Here is a bit they did on the 1959 Emmys.  It's nice to know that nothing has really changed.  Enjoy.


21 comments :

Wendy M. Grossman said...

Nichols and May's record of doctor sketches was among my father's records (along with the 2000-Year-Old Man), and I listened to them many times as a teenager. I still have both records, as well as the complete set of Tom Lehrer, who is similar vintage and is also still alive, though not performing.

wg

VillageDianne said...

My ears perked up at 3:44, when Nichols said, "I have tried to offend no one anywhere on earth." Nowadays that is considered a virtue. It's considered a virtue especially among the sort of people who got the joke all those years ago. No wonder we have so much mediocrity these days.

Dhruv said...

Offtopic:

Ken, may I recommend you the movie "Wind River". It's a brilliantly written movie. And acting by everyone is good. I have new found respect for Jeremy Renner.

I saw the movie recommendation on YT. So many comments calling it one of the best movies of 2017 and most of them wondering how it missed getting nominated.

Joseph Scarbrough Puppet Productions said...

I understand Kathy Greenwood was a big fan of Nichols and May when she was growing up.

Unkystan said...

I saw Elaine on Broadway a few weeks ago. She was amazing. But so shy at the curtain call, almost as if she was a different person

DrBOP said...

I still don't understand why my 7-year old self was so excited by seeing Ms May (or Ms Meara) on Ed Sullivan that they could have slapped a collar on my neck and called me Sparky.


And not sure if you're following the "Baby, It's Cold Outside" "controversy", but here's a station manager's perspective from your area of the globe:

https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/07/entertainment/radio-baby-its-cold-outside/index.html?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=THR%27s%20Today%20in%20Entertainment_now_2018-12-08%2007:12:34_wrobinson&utm_term=hollywoodreporter_tie

And then, of course, the PC version (but very humorous...."it's not that bad out there"):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75-PZDq3Jco

It truly is a wonderful life!
;>)

kent said...

I understand they had to discontinue this category because the nominees were too voluminous.

KLAC Guy said...

Brilliantly wicked and funny!

YEKIMI said...

Thanks for answering my question. As an addendum, if I was still writing jokes for morning DJs I'd have no one to send them to since everything nowadays is voice-tracked or there are no lone morning DJs anymore, it's always some zoo type format with three or more people all blathering over each other.

Mike Bloodworth said...

Thank you. Loved it. I've always been a fan of Nichols & May. This is a great example of why.
M.B.

P.S. It was hard to tell because the kinescope was so grainy, but was he wearing women's makeup?

Barry Rivadue said...

Nichols's eyebrows were always penciled in due to a childhood illness.

Mark Solomon said...

Thank you for posting this brilliant clip. Coincidentally,
I just came out of the theater after seeing Elaine May perform on Broadway in the very fine play “The Waverly Gallery.” All these years later, she is still a spectacular performer, both hysterically funny and heartbreakingly sad in the role. What a gift to be able to see Elaine May
on stage!


Mark Solomon

jcs said...

Nichols, a German by birth and a fellow Berliner, was lucky to have parents who managed to get their family out of Nazi Germany at the very last moment.

It is amazing on how many levels he was brilliant. He was quite capable directing stage productions (from THE ODD COUPLE to SPAMALOT) and films (THE GRADUATE) and he was also a gifted comedic performer.

Roger Owen Green said...

DrBop, et al - you don't need a link that long. You can usually chop it at the question mark. https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/07/entertainment/radio-baby-its-cold-outside/index.html

Donald Benson said...

"A New Leaf" -- May reportedly hates it for what the studio removed, but what's left is still a swell movie.

Pat Reeder said...

Thanks for showing a Nichols & May bit I've never seen before. Also, the Richard Nixon impersonator was amazing.

I couldn't help wondering if you were inspired to post this by the announcement of the Grammy nominees. My wife is a voter. Every year, she gets the first ballot with all the contenders, and I track down every last entry in her genre so she can hear them all, just to be fair. She then votes for what she thinks are the five absolute best, most creative and innovative albums. And every year, those are all overlooked in favor of mediocre, cliched releases by the same handful of major label big names. I always predict the five nominees and the eventual winner when I see the first ballot, and I haven't been wrong in five years.

As for the "big" categories, like song and record of the year, there have been recent years when she's left those blank because we both agree that the nominees are all such tuneless, mindless, studio-created aural garbage that none of them even deserve to be called "songs," much less win a Grammy Award.

Buttermilk Sky said...

How can he claim true mediocrity when he didn't even use the word "diversity" once? The Emmys should celebrate the untalented of every race, gender, level of ability and degree of self-importance. Or is that the Golden Globes?

Danny said...

@Pat Reeder:

A friend of mine jokes that in the Traditional Pop Vocal category, they go ahead and engrave Tony Bennett's name on the award before the nominees are even announced and then nominate four other folks in that category just to give the appearance of there being something competitive about it.

Pat Reeder said...

@Danny...

You or your friend must be psychic. That's the exact category I was chiefly referring to. And I said on my Facebook page that they've probably already mailed the trophy to Tony Bennett and his duet partner this year, (spins roulette wheel)...Diana Krall.

Oh well, I like Tony, and if he has to keep making these cash-in duets albums rehashing songs he already cut better 50 years ago, at least Diana Krall has a feel for them, and it's a pretty good album of Gershwin standards. But I wish he'd do what Johnny Cash did and keep building his legacy with challenging new material to the end. Meanwhile, the voters in that category (or possibly NARAS, knowing how the rules work) just keep checking off the five most famous names and ignoring all the artists (including my wife, BTW) who are trying to freshen and expand the Great American Songbook genre. This year's nominees should have included such albums as Voctave's "Snow" and Kyle Riabko's "Richard Rodgers Reimagined," but they have no chance because that would have required actually listening to them.

estiv said...

There’s a book published in the seventies called Something Wonderful Right Away about the birth of improv comedy in Chicago in the fifties. It has some amazing Elaine May stories, centered on her razor-sharp and nearly instantaneous wit. Worth seeking out.

Nick said...

The comedy bit was good but I was more shocked to see the US Vice-President (Nixon) presenting one of the awards! I thought when Nixon appeared on Laugh In a decade later that was ground breaking - I didn't realise he'd been on the Emmy Awards during the 50's.