Carl Reiner is an American treasure. With a comedy career stretching into it’s eighth decade, where do I begin? First, if you are over six years old and do not know who he is, you have already missed out on added joy in your life. Carl Reiner is one of the inventors of sketch comedy and TV sitcoms. His television presence goes back to the first black and white glimmers in American living rooms as a costar on arguably the most golden show of TV’s “Golden Age,” Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows, in which he was part of the comedy gold ensemble with Caesar and Imogene Coca, as a writer and actor. He also created and starred in The Dick Van Dyke Show, still my favorite sitcom. If you have seen it, you might know him as Alan Brady, the arrogant and egotistical star of the fictional show for which Van Dyke’s character writes.
Fast forward to this century and you might know Carl Reiner from Ocean’s Eleven, as the older guy with the “medical event.” He just published his latest book, “I Just Remembered,” and has done the book tour, appearing on Conan, CBS Sunday Morning and Bill Maher. At ninety-five there is not only no slowing down for him, he is as relevant and funny as ever. I follow him on Twitter, although his wit may go over some troll heads. A mind like his is rare and a delightful journey every time he appears. Here he is on Conan, where he coins a new social media term, the selfishie:
If you know what’s good for you, you will follow him on twitter @carlreiner. Here are some of his recent tweets:
“Watching the Oscars, I was once again happy, as I was last year, not to hear my name read in memorial.”
“If won uses two many homonyms, don’t ewe think it ‘s a might child dish? Eye due and sew should ewe. “
“Went to 4 yard sales & not 1 owner would sell me his yard but all wanted me to buy the junk that was in it.”
“If Dr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) could not find a way to stay, what chance have we earthlings? “May flights of angels sing him to his rest.'”
“Excited to report that the brilliant & witty Bill Maher has agreed to a write a preface for my new bio. Wanted Mark Twain. but unavailable.”
I thoroughly enjoy everything about this man but for me, Carl Reiner’s greatest contribution is the Dick Van Dyke Show. It’s smart, sophisticated and, thanks to Dick Van Dyke, brilliant physical comedy, a template for all future sitcoms. The writing and timing is so impeccable, it’s as funny the first time I see it as it is the fiftieth time. Reiner created and wrote the show, which is based on his real life. The characters bloom with realism and it’s that honesty in the humor of every-day life and the brilliant dialogue that are still so damn funny today.
Besides creating and writing the show Reiner occasionally appeared as Alan Brady, a star of the fictitious Alan Brady Show. In this link, his head writer’s wife, played by Mary Tyler Moore, comes to apologize to him for revealing his baldness on network TV. The comedy timing is incomparable.
Please indulge me a bit more with sharing a couple of my favorite scene from Dick Van Dyke. I know you have ninety-five years of brilliance, Mr. Reiner, but this is President Obama’s and my favorite show. Frankly, most episodes are just too good for a snippet and are worth watching in their entirety. But I edited a few hilarious scenes of Van Dyke’s physical comedy that stand alone well:
Carl Reiner deserves this blog post all to his own but he would disagree and remind me I would be remiss not to mention his son is Rob Reiner, director of “This Is Spinal Tap,” “Stand By Me,” “A Few Good Men” and “When Harry Met Sally,” in which his wife Estelle Reiner said the famous, “I’ll have what she’s having.” Carl will fight me again for not mentioning how he and Mel Brooks still have diner together every night, being best friends of more than six decades and now both widowers.
I could obsess about this post more than any other because I respect this man that much.But it’s “R” in the April blog a day challenge and I’m tired! Carl Reiner, you inspire me to write better, see the funny, take risks and get up every day just in case.