Posted Byalain on September 18, 2003 at 21:43:46:
In Reply to: Jack Benny and Bob Newhart posted byGerry O. on July 30, 2003 at 08:45:53:
: : The interesting question of “whose left” has been brought up. Its hard for me to put Jerry Lewis into the same grouping of Benny, Burns, and Hope since his comedy was so physical. I agree that the focus would need to shift to the 1950's or beyond. Bob Hope was the last of the Vaudevillians who would later dominate radio and early television. Its hard for me to think of any new talent of this comedic model that made their appearance in the 1950's and endured. Syd Caesar comes to mind as an early television star but his physical humor makes him more of a match to Jerry Lewis - both very dependent on sight rather than sound. As far as great presenters of monologues / standup, I think we may have to look into the early 1960's. This would imply that an entire generation was eclipsed by our Vaudevillian heroes and it would be a review of who made it to the big time and was heavily influenced by the B,B,&H group. Of course, the legitimate heir to the Benny throne would be Johnny Carson but he’s wrapped up in some self imposed exile. Does anyone know why he’s dropped off the planet? It always seemed odd to me for a man to confess such adulation towards Benny and the likes of Burns and Hope that he wouldn’t try to follow their example by being active up until the end. Maybe he doesn’t have to ($)? Anyway, I think as far as the title of “Elder Statesman of Comedy” is concerned, I’d look towards Bob Newhart (b. 9/5/1929). His A&E Biography stated that he was a big fan of Jack and that he treasured the memory of the few meetings they had in the 1960’s as he was an upcoming star mainly known for his comedy records. Just a thought.
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: I never really thought of Bob Newhart as a "successor" to someone like Jack Benny, but if you stop to think about it, there ARE some similarities....both comedians have a deadpan, low-key style of comedy, and in both of Newhart's major sitcoms he did great "reaction" comedy...Like Jack, Bob was surrounded by a bunch of funny/strange/eccentric/weird characters, and both men just sort of stood back and reacted to the comments and actions of those supporting characters.
Very interesting connection between JB and Newhart
(BTW-i think he is slated to appear in a few episodes of ER (?)this year).....who would be the closest, most recent performer to fit this sort of genre? While i'm not a fan, one that comes to mind is the "everybody loves Raymond" star (?) further, but any here are