Sunday, April 14, 2013


The Sunday Funnies originally scheduled for today has been postponed so that we may present the following...

Jonathan Winters, circa 1960s
What can you say about a man that not only made so many people laugh, but inspired others to do the same?
This past Thursday, the world lost a great comedian when we lost Jonathan Winters.

Winters first worked in radio as a disc jockey, before spreading out into television and films. He made regular appearances on The Tonight Show, between hosts Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, and Jay Leno. He even dabbled with straight dramatic roles, starting with the deceased pool champion Fats Brown in The Twilight Zone classic episode "A Game of Pool". And of course, who could forget his break out role in the movie, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World? Classic Winters scene from the movie below.

In time, he also did voice acting amongst numerous animated programs while recording his own comedy albums, and found steady work in commercials.

In 1999, Jonathan Winters won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, and has been cited as inspiration by Steve Martin, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Carrey, and of course: Robin Williams.

The two comedians worked together during what became the final season of Mork and Mindy, with Winters portraying Mork's son (long story for those who don't remember the series). It is said that between rehearsals and actual filming, the two would go off on tangents that would leave their fellow actors, crew, and the studio audiences in stitches.

I remember episodes of The Tonight Show where Johnny Carson, and later Jay Leno, would book Winters and Williams together. Because of this, the host would skip the post monologue routine of the evening in favor of bringing Winters out early. Then after the next commercial break, out would come Williams and it was off to the races between Robin and Jonathan.

I bet Winters and Williams were non-stop from the word go, even when the show had to pause for commercial breaks, which makes one wonder when these two great comics ever paused to catch a breath, let alone why they never toured together? Maybe they were afraid of having too many people collapsing from laughter and lack of oxygen.

In short, Jonathan Winters may not have invented improvisational comedy, but he was amongst the first, and the best, in that genre and his talents will be sorely missed.

Videos courtesy of YouTube and (c) by their respective owners.

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