What made Sid Caesar brilliant? I would say, in a word, explosive reaction to a world constantly wreaking frustration upon mankind. His art was that of endured anger, taken to the breaking point and then beyond. His getting to that point is made simultaneously palpable and hilarious by his amazing ability to exaggerate and caricature.
For all my friends who remember him and those for whom Sid will be new, I offer my picks. In Sid lies the essence what it is like to cope in the age of anxiety, which, alas, proceeds apace.
Sid and Nanette Fabray pantomime Beethoven’s 5th, finding a narrative and even a punchline. One take, live on network TV.
The immortal This is Your Life parody. This has outlived the memory of the actual (awful) show. I’m sure clips of this are on all the news broadcasts tonight. Here the whole thing is in all its glory.
Then there is the business meeting sketch. It’s all about the food.
The German General (sorry for the quality. Still great.)
The Recital. My life.
There’s more on Youtube and on Netflix. Thank goodness for them. And the work of Sid and the idea of humor this personal, real and deeply funny.