Friday, May 4, 2007

Sitcom, Dead or Alive

I just read the WallStreet Journal article on Betty White and it got me thinking. "You know the secret of good comedy?", and before you have the chance to answer, the reply would come back way too quickly, "timing".

That was the beauty of Jack Benny. He was the master of timing. He never rushed a joke, he never forced a laugh, it was real and he made it his. Johnny Carson brilliantly "borrowed' that timing on the Tonight Show. Johnny, like Jack, watched the joke play out; even though others got the laugh, it was always their show. Jack's schtick, the cheapskate, never grew tired. The laughs may have been at his expense, but they were genuine. Even today, his comedy stands the test of time. Jack with his assortment of crazy characters, Rochester, Mary, Phil, Don and others had the joke, but it was always Jack's show.

So why are today's comedies so stale and forced. Few will still be remembered and easy to laugh with the way the Jack Benny Program did. Seinfeld has the potential to endure; it continues to feel relevent and funny years after it stopped producing new shows. And Jerry, like Jack, surrounded himself with the assortment of crazy characters. They acted, he reacted. And while Kramer, George, or Elaine may have done something hilarious, it was always Seinfeld's show. Jerry must have learned that from Jack.

But the sitcom has been dead on tv and it's time for someone else to learn these age-old lessons. Is there room on tv or will the next place for this breakout hit be the web; who knows. I just know, its time for another great sitcom!

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