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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Hail Sid Caesar

Aired September 7, 2001 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What you did with the gold mine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You keep (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in it!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, hail Caesar! From the golden age of TV comedy, the genius who made America laugh itself silly and did it live: the legendary Sid Caesar, star of "Your Show of Shows" and "Caesar's Hour" joins us. And with him, the multitalented Carl Reiner. He was Sid Caesar's co-star, co-writer. With them the actress and comedienne Nanette Fabray. She was Sid's leading lady on "Caesar's Hour." Plus, a comic who thinks Cleveland rocks and Caesar rules. Drew Carey, star of "The Drew Carey Show" and host of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We are here to honor one of the true comedic geniuses, Sid Caesar, in conjunction with the release of the "Sid Caesar Collection." It's on various types of tapes, regular tapes, videotapes, audiotapes -- everything you'd want from the golden age of television comedy. "The Sid Caesar Collection" is a follow-up to the highly successful, earlier Sid Caesar Collection. This one is titled "The Fan Favorites," made up of sketches from both your shows, and "Caesar's Hour." We're going to start with our youngest member, here, Drew. Were you a Sid Caesar fan as a kid?

DREW CAREY, ACTOR: Yeah -- I wasn't born until '58. So I didn't know...

KING: The show was off already, right?

CAREY: Right.

KING: '58 it was off.

CAREY: But you know, you always hear about, Sid Caesar's -- Sid Caesar this, Sid Caesar that. So it was an influence -- to the glow of influence that I got.

KING: You saw the tapes and film.

CAREY: He's unbelievable. Not to -- I know you're here and everything, but really honest to God -- I don't know. This is like -- I only came here so I could be mentioned in the same breath as him during the introductions.

KING: There is a -- not on anymore, sketch comedy, right?

NANETTE FABRAY, ACTRESS: No.

SID CAESAR, COMEDIAN: It's on "Saturday Night Live" and a couple others...

KING: I guess.

CAREY: But it's not the same, you know.

KING: Not the same.

CAREY: But it's really a tough -- I'll tell you, it's really a tough thing to do.

KING: Carl, how did you associate first associate with Sid?

CARL REINER, SCREENWRITER: You know, I saw him in a thing called "Tars and Spars" and I said, where did that guy come from?

KING: On Broadway.

REINER: Yeah, the movie. No, I saw the movie, I didn't see him on Broadway. That's Danny Kaye with talent. Funnier than Danny Kaye. I really did said that. And then there was a thing called "Admiral Broadway Revue." And I was on the show called the "54th Street Revue" on CBS, competing.

KING: All these were live.

REINER: Live. I saw this guy, and I said, wow -- I really said to my wife, there is where I belong. I belong on that show. Didn't have any idea how to get there, didn't know about agents calling people, didn't know. And Max Liebman came to see a show I did out of town on Broadway, and he was looking for somebody that -- to be next to Sid to feed him. And he said, would you like to come on the show. I said, "Would I! I told my wife I belong on that show." That is exactly how I said it.

KING: Not only the greatest, but the greatest collection of writers ever.

REINER: That is right.

KING: Nanette, you were on "Caesar's Hour." And the late Imogene Coca. What a sad thing that was, passed away. She was on the "Show of Shows." How did you get on "Caesar's Hour?"

FABRAY: When Sid and Imogene split up, Sid's show had been, on I would, guess maybe five or six weeks. And it had guest female stars coming on. And most of us in show business -- I don't care how big a star you are -- you're insecure once your show has closed or you are out of a job. Will I ever work again? And so my wonderful agent came to me and said, "Sid would like to have another guest shot or leading lady." I said OK, I'll do it. Please get me a job. You know. And I went up and I met Sid and I told him -- I said, I have done nothing but Broadway shows. I'm not sure if I can do this.

And he really (UNINTELLIGIBLE). He took my hand and said, "don't worry, we'll protect you." Meaning that everybody, including Carl and the writers and everybody. And I felt so comfortable it was though I had known him all my life. And we did the first show and we said, would you like to come do another one? It was two years before we ever got around to talking about a long-term contract.

KING: You were on week-to-week basis?

FABRAY: Week-to-week all that time, yes.

CAESAR: After the second week, we said you are it.

FABRAY: You knew. I didn't know

KING: You didn't tell her.

CAESAR: Well, that's the agent's job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Sid, how did the "Show of Shows" start? How did that come about?

CAESAR: Well, I tell you, I was doing a show on Broadway called "Make My Manhattan." It was the first show I had ever done on Broadway. And, Davy Burns was in it, lot of wonderful people. Max Liebman who was the genius of really putting this thing together because he had the experience, he knew the talent -- you know, he knew how to put a show together because he did it up in the Poconos. He used to put real...

KING: In the mountains.

CAESAR: It's a different mountain.

KING: Exactly.

CAESAR: The Catskills. Anyway, he talked to me. He said, you want to do a show on television? I go, what's television? It is, you know, it goes to Chicago. Oh yeah? To me, you know, it was a miracle. And...

KING: It reaches Chicago.

CAESAR: It went all the way to Chicago, you know.

KING: Hold it right there. We've got to take a break. We'll come right back. This is all in conjunction with the release of "the Sid Caesar Collection." We're going to have a grand time. Back with more after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAESAR: ...Beethoven -- call it Mozart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Professor, Mozart is dead.

CAESAR: Moose is gone? I'm sick from that. I was so close with him. What was it an accident? They were both in the same bus or something? Beethoven and Mozart, verklumt. All right, I'll tell you what we do. We get Tchaikovsky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tchaikovsky is dead.

CAESAR: That's where I got you, Sparky. I just made that name up. There is no Tchaikovsky.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(THE SMALL APARTMENT)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Let's discuss what makes him great.

FABRAY: Sid is one of the few geniuses I have ever worked with, and I think Sid has many areas of genius. First of all, as a comedic genius. But the other part of what makes Sid work is that he can find things in other people that they don't know they have. I knew that I was good performer, I had done 12 Broadway shows, but I didn't know how funny I could be.

KING: He made you funnier.

FABRAY: I was funny, but he made me funnier. He made me do things I never knew I could do. He said you can do that, cry, speak these strange languages, copy him, whatever. But also he had this great talent for finding other talent. Look at the writers that he found, I mean...

What he can do. And Sid, of course, was the first original television creation. Up until that time, there was all of the other comics...

KING: What was first, Berle or you?

CAESAR: Berle was first. Berle was on in '48. I was on in 49.

FABRAY: But Sid, you -- all these other people came there from another medium. You were created by television -- you were television's first big star.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll make pictures while you've got your cold.

CAESAR: I can't have a cold all year long. After all, I am healthy man, I do fight these things off but you...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

CAESAR: Thank you very much, dear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAESAR: I had never done Broadway, I had never done radio. And television was it.

KING: You became synonymous with it.

CAESAR: Yes.

REINER: He did Coast Guard, is what he did. That what he found in the Coast Guard, he did :Tars and Spars."

CAESAR: I wrote a show in the Coast Guard called "Tars and Spars."

KING: You wrote "Tars and Spars?"

CAESAR: Yes.

KING: I loved "Tars and Spars." You were in the Coast Guard?

CAESAR: Yeah. I was in the Coast Guard for three and a half years.

KING: Jewish boy in the Coast Guard. You defended the coast?

CAESAR: Why do you think our coasts were so secure?

KING: What was his genius? Is his genius?

REINER: First of all he was gifted with two things. He was gifted with a mouth that works at 3,000 words per second when he needs it. He has an ear which -- a musician's ear, so when he heard languages -- and thank God he wasn't more intelligent -- he would have learned those languages just having a little bit of non-scholarliness in his life, he made fun of those languages. And to this day there isn't a better double talker in the world.

KING: None. We're going to have him do some. And I want to get Drew Carey's thoughts on what makes Caesar great, and then lots more. We'll be right back. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SID CAESAR DOUBLE TALKING) (END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAESAR: Look at her! Sleeps. Boom! Like that.

She must be chasing a dog now. I can't sit here by myself. Doris, Doris. Doris!

That's what you call a sleeper! Sit here by myself for the whole night? I can't do it. No, no, no. I'll go to down to Charlie's and get a beer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where are you going, huh?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Did that show click from the start?

CAESAR: Yes. From the first show. From the...

KING: Was Mel Brooks an original writer?

CAESAR: Yes.

KING: Woody Allen was a junior writer.

REINER: No, he came in, in the ninth year. He was nine years old when we were doing the "Show of Shows." He was 18 when he came on.

KING: He was called the Joke Man, you told me once. We need a joke, he would give you a joke.

CAESAR: He was very, very shy. Woody is really a genius at -- whoo.

KING: This is Woody Allen had to say about Sid Caesar: "He had a prodigious talent, a great delivery, great timing. He could do any kind of voice and dialect, any kind of pantomime, any kind of character from a superhero to a slimy character to an average husband. There was this wit and intelligence that just bowled you over."

As a young comic, what was it like when you watched him the first time? Watching Kinescope, the tapes...

CAREY: I just can't -- well, I have to say, having a show now, I'll say I wouldn't hire you because I want to be my own star on my own show. You come on, all of a sudden I'm the costar, because there's this other guy that can do everything that I can't do.

KING: When a comic watches a comic, a comedic actor...

CAREY: Oh, you just -- I mean, you don't even laugh. That's the thing. I can't -- I can't laugh, because I'm enjoying the performance so much.

KING: You are watching the performance.

CAREY: Yeah. I mean watching him do -- like favorite thing -- one of my favorite things, I can't say a favorite -- but is when you do the high school dance guy, you know, here is -- the first dance. Now -- how can I -- I couldn't laugh. The audience was laughing, and all I'm doing is going "Gee, would you look at that." You know, with my jaws dropping.

KING: He's a good actor, then.

REINER: I was going to say something. People want to the Stanislavkey School of Acting to learn something called sense memory.

KING: Method.

REINER: He knew it all. There's one little story I'll tell. We were looking for sketch, looking for something for him to do in a pantomine sketch. We said, Sid, why don't you pick up a jar of olives and try to open it up but it's stuck. So Sid was doing all kinds of grimaces, working with these, and making faces and funny, and we said -- and he finally got it off. And somebody said, "No, that doesn't work." And Sid said yeah, not aware -- that was real for him. The sense memory, the weight of the thing, and -- he had the cover one hand and they said, "it's not going to work, Sid, it's not working." So. And he did this and he put it down and we all laughed. And he said, "What? What did I do? We said, "Do you realize you've closed the pantomine jar up?"

The only man in the history when he did a cigarette -- a pantomime cigarette. Everybody does this when they smoke a cigarette, and they do that. Sid did this, because he made space for the cigarette, and picked the cigarette -- didn't put his fingers together where he picked it out there was space between -- that's called sense memory. Nobody taught him that. That is genius.

KING: How, Nanette, did you not laugh during skits?

FABRAY: Sid is only person I have ever worked with that was so totally into what he was doing, that person, that he never broke up. That's a phrase, as you know, we use in show business.

KING: It's like Drew said, watching he didn't laugh. He was admiring the actor. So in other words, you couldn't -- you were in the scene.

FABRAY: I was in the scene, but I was conscious of his being the genius that he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAESAR: I have done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have to listen to you.

CAESAR: Go back to (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Get out of here!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FABRAY: He never lost it, Larry. He never, ever lost it.

CAESAR: Because to me, this -- there was one piece that we did, I did with Imogene, where we were on beach we were doing a -- "From Here to Obscurity." And we the had beach scene, you know, and I came out and we had this -- the stage hands were throwing water, for waves.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IMOGENE COCA, ACTRESS: I used to dream of the night in shining armor who...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAESAR: We were doing this scene I loved doing (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I would go out give up and give up the dance hall. I would go and do it. And here we are amongst the ocean.

KING: Ocean.

CAESAR: And then these guys throwing water. And they're starting to throw it faster and faster, and then it got to a point where if started to talk bang, a mouthful of water. I said, "Kind of rough tonight, isn't it? Imogene was actually drowning. She got it right in her mouth and she started to...

KING: We're going to get a break. We'll come right back with more of an evening around and with Sid, don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAESAR: You know, Duchess, I have only known you a short while. But I must ask you one question.

COCA: Yes?

CAESAR: Did you bring a towel?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Movies talk. Sound comes to the screen. Silent movies doomed!

FABRAY: Tell me, what exactly does this mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does this mean? It means a new era has opened up for motion pictures. We will scrap this picture, and make it over in sound. We'll hear the sound of hoofbeats, we'll hear cannons roar, we'll hear birds singing. Rex, my boy, Rex -- do you realize what talking movies will mean for you

CAESAR: At last! At last! The world will hear me talk. And talk and talk and talk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back. "Your Show of Shows" owned Friday night, then "Caesar's Hour" came along. It's OK, Carl.

REINER: I'm listening.

KING: You like this reminiscence. Everything you do is a reminiscence. You walk down the street, reminisce to the birds. Anyway. Let me he tell you what Howard Morris said about you Sid.

Sid -- Howard was one of the regulars on the show. "Sid could be difficult. At times he could be rotten. But he's one of the most creative men I have ever known. I learned more from him than anyone I ever met. Sid didn't like to rehearse. He liked scenes to be fresh. Is that true?

CAESAR: No. I rehearsed.

KING: Then why did Howard say that?

REINER: Howie would say that because Howie was short, and Sid used to toss him around and choke him and throw him and -- hit him over the head with a violin. Can I tell you another thing Howard said? He said he was hired because during interview Sid could lift him. He hired him because he could lift him.

KING: But you did rehearse.

CAESAR: Sure. But I never over-rehearsed. I would take it to certain point, we'd go all right, leave it. Leave it alone.

KING: Jackie Gleason didn't rehearse at all.

REINER: One of the reasons we said leave it was that we didn't have time. We had to go out to something else. An hour and half show every week, there was five sketches...

KING: How much of that was on the fly?

FABRAY: Well, I was corrected once by Mel Tolkin, who was the great head writer on the show. He came up to me in the hall -- I had just done a couple shows and the press had taken over and they were giving me all kind of good reviews and stuff. And he came up to me with that accent, which I can't do, and he says, "Don't ever do that again." I said, "What did I do?" He said, "You told the press that you make things up. We write the show."

I was devastated because I was misquoted. I had simply said that if something went wrong, Sid could take care of it and make it up and make it work.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAESAR: (DOUBLETALKING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REINER: The truth of the matter is that it was a very well scripted show.

CAESAR: Oh, yes.

REINER: But we never knew what the audience was going to do. If audience did something untoward, there was not a lot of words ad libbed, but Sid would ad lib an attitude sometime that wasn't there, an attitude in pantomine...

KING: A standup comic.

CAESAR: Right. I used to do a standup at the end of each show.

REINER: A monologue.

CAESAR: A monologue. It wasn't standup. It wasn't jokes. It was characterization.

KING: But you were most comfortable in the character.

CAESAR: Yes. Yes.

KING: You're comfortable in a character, aren't you?

CAREY: Well, I play...

KING: You play yourself.

CAREY: I'm just a bad actor.

KING: You are a bad actor?

CAREY: You wouldn't believe how bad I am. Are you kidding me? Yeah, yeah, I'm terrible.

FABRAY: I love your show.

CAREY: Thank you. On "the Drew Carey Show" I just played myself, kind of. You know.

KING: You don't think you know how to act? Why don't you go with the master?

REINER: That is called acting. The most difficult acting in the world, playing yourself and making it believable. That is more difficult than you know.

KING: Why?

CAREY: Enough about me. Let's talk about Sid Caesar. KING: Why is that difficult?

REINER: Because every actor usually tries to hide who they are. And to find your -- to be able to play yourself is a very difficult thing. I wonder if Cary Grant was that guy. Because that was the most natural, natural -- being natural on screen is very difficult.

KING: Was Sid tough to work for?

FABRAY: Yes and no. Yes and no.

KING: Was he perfectionist?

FABRAY: Yes and no. This is very hard to...

KING: It's hard to (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

REINER: He was a perfectionist but also a slob.

FABRAY: Let me tell you my impression as I remember it, OK? We would -- we would put the show together in about 12 minutes, it seemed like, having come from the Broadway show where you rehearsed six weeks. And then suddenly, do it Monday, we have to have it ready by Wednesday, because that's when the cameras -- they talked about the cameras.

Anyway, Sid would come in and rehearse with us and kind of get it what we call on our feet. This how I remember doing it. And then he hired a wonderful comic, who would then help the rest of us nerds who had to memorize and memorize and work. And Sid would go off and work with the writers. Am I close to what you did?

REINER: No. I will tell you exactly -- I know the guy.

KING: Go ahead.

REINER: Sid -- when he became his own producer -- we had Max Liebman, there was a guy working with him. Sid didn't trust a lot of these young directors who really knew only how to put the cameras up. So Sid wanted to go into the control room and see the rehearsal. And when it was -- so he got -- I found him a lovely guy, Milt Kamen, who is a wonderful comedian.

KING: One of the funniest men alive.

REINER: What happened when we rehearsed we now -- we had a guy before that called Sonny Sparks who was a nice guy. But he just stood in. Milt came and performed it like Sid might have performed it, and every once in a while Milt became very creative, would throw a line in that would remain in the show. Sid would see it, say that is it. So that was the help that Milt Kamen gave us.

KING: Remember his bit about the failed Disney creatures? You didn't see that, Milt? Well, anyway, another time. We will be right back. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAESAR: There's the finger. Could you make the finger come back?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're joshing, professor.

CAESAR: No, I want to see, yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You remember the old trick. You just say hocus-pocus finger reappear. And the finger would reappear.

CAESAR: A finger like that, right? You throw it over, then you grab it like this here. Then you say alakazam, alakazam, and then boom!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAESAR: (DOUBLETALKING)

CAESAR: You bet your sweet life there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We are back, saluting the "Sid Caesar Collection," the release of the new one dealing with "the Sid Caesar Collection: the Fan Favorites." You can get them anywhere. They're at stores, they're on the web sites, they're available in unique great-looking packaging, too. We love Sid and we're honoring him.

Our guests are the legendary Mr. Caesar himself, host of "The Admiral Broadway Revue" -- that was the first name of "Your Show of Shows." Then "Caesar's Hour." And in 2001 he received the Career Achievement Award from the Television Critics Association. He accepted it in doublespeak.

Carl Reiner, actor, writer, director, all around funny man. Casting writer of "Your Show of Shows" and "Caesar's Hour." Created "The Dick van Dyke Show."

Nanette Fabray, one of the great comedienne/actresses. A Broadway leading lady and a leading lady for "Caesar's Hour."

And our youngster, Drew Carey, the star, creator, executive producer of "the Drew Carey Show." Host and executive producer of the improv series "Whose Line Is It Anyway?"

Where did you learn to doublespeak?

CAESAR: You don't learn that. You know, it's...

KING: How do you explain it?

REINER: But you heard the language...

(CROSSTALK)

CAESAR: I did, yeah. What happened was, my father had a restaurant in Yonkers, New York, and at lunchtime I used to go around and pick up some dishes, you know, to help my father out. I came up from school, and at lunchtime I would eat and then pick up some dishes.

KING: Busboy.

CAESAR: Yeah, like a busboy. And when I got to there, every table had a different language, because the guys used to come in to sit down, they'd see each other and they would pick a table. There was a Italian at this table, there was Polish at this table, there was Russian at this table, there was German at this table, there was French at this table. Because where everybody was working in these factories.

And I as I went by, I picked up -- but the first thing they taught me were dirty words. That's the first thing they taught me. (SPEAKING MOCK ITALIAN).

KING: So, you had an ear for it, right?

CAESAR: Yes, and every language has its own song. And French it's (SPEAKING MOCK FRENCH).

KING: Now, you there -- you did not speak a French word?

CAESAR: Not one word.

KING: You don't know what you are saying?

CAESAR: No, I think in English.

KING: You think in English.

CAESAR: Yes.

FABRAY: I have to tell you something. Sid and his beautiful wife Florence and I would go out and have dinner sometimes, when we had a chance to do that. And Sid loved to go to restaurants that were ethnic, you know, and he would give these poor waiters this terrible time ordering in French or -- and you could see guy -- and call over the maitre d' who would hang in there. He was wicked. It was funny.

CAESAR: I was in Rome. I said, "Florence, I'm going to order in Italian." She says, "don't start this. Don't start, we'll get in trouble." I said, "no, it will be all right."

So (SPEAKING ITALIAN).

And he is going -- this and writing down. You wanted chicken, right? Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

REINER: It's true, he did give him a hen, (SPEAKING MOCK ITALIAN).

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Now, how did you get to Japanese?

CAESAR: Japanese, you just listen to it, you know. To me, Japanese is a very -- it's like German. Japanese is (SPEAKING MOCK JAPANESE). And I like it.

KING: And German is?

CAESAR: German is (SPEAKING MOCK GERMAN).

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS")

CAESAR: (SPEAKING MOCK GERMAN)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: You were thinking in English, and that is all in German.

(CROSSTALK)

CAESAR: To me, it's a song. It's a song because...

KING: So it had to be fun being around all this?

(CROSSTALK)

REINER: When I heard him do it -- I used to do double talk in the Army -- Italian, and French, and German -- and when I heard him, I says, well, if -- and especially being on the show, I said, "I will never be able to use this here, because this is the guy..."

(CROSSTALK)

REINER: I'm finished with that. So one day, in the writers -- when we were looking for something, and we all loved foreign movies. I said, "why don't we do a foreign movie?" Now I knew I can work my way in, and everybody else said, "what are you talking about?" He knew immediately. I went in and sold him something, it was (SPEAKING GIBBERISH).

CAESAR: (SPEAKING GIBBERISH).

REINER: And from that we did -- and we used to go foreign movies every week. We'd eat in the restaurant of the movie. A French movie, we'd go to a French restaurant, and every week we'd see one of these movies and take them off.

KING: We'll be right back with more, don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS") CAESAR: (SPEAKING GIBBERISH).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CAESAR'S HOUR")

CAESAR: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! What is jazz? Jazz is a pencil sharpener, jazz is a frying pan, jazz is (UNINTELLIGIBLE), jazz! Jazz is an older woman whose older brother is a policeman. What is jazz? I don't know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back. Sid Caesar is telling us they never did jokes on "Your Show of Shows" or "Caesar's Hour," but you were saying Mel Brooks wanted you to do a joke.

CAESAR: Yeah, it was in "The Professor." It was during the, you know, the professor (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: And you were playing the professor?

CAESAR: I was playing the professor, and the professor was in the zoo. And he was walking by the reptile house, and I heard this knocking, and he said, "tell a joke." And he said, "tell a joke," and I said, "what's the matter, what's the matter with you?" And the snake said, "you got to get me out of here." The snake said, "I got to get out of here, please get me out of here." I said, "why?" "There is all snakes in here."

And there was no laughter. And I said, "I will see you after the show. Mel, I will see you after the show." And I said that without the accent.

REINER: The punchline was -- you forgot the punchline, which was, he said, "I want to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the snake, so he says, "you are a snake." He told -- we told the snake it was a snake, but that was -- that was a joke that was used -- not the joke, but every time we said -- somebody would suggest a joke, we'd say, "you want to do the snake joke again?" It was this snake -- it became the snake joke.

KING: Did you have a favorite skit?

CAESAR: Well, we did thousands of sketches, but there was one that I think I had the most fun doing, was "This Is Your Story," it was a take-off of "This Is Your Life." And we never rehearsed, we just walked it through, because to do that, you know, we did that...

(CROSSTALK)

CAESAR: The Radio City Music Hall, the sister theater to the Radio City Music Hall, the Center Theater, which is 5,000 seats. Now, you go up and down those aisles, that's a lot of...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: ... the surprise came out of the audience, right?

CAESAR: The surprise came out of the audience, because I was sitting in the audience, and sitting next to me was Dave (UNINTELLIGIBLE), who was one of the executives of RCA. And when Carl came over and said, "Is it your life?" And I went like this: "This is your life (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

(LAUGHTER)

I think he fainted. I had to wake him up. Then I said, then he said, come on. I said, get out of here! I mean really, I said, get out of here! Real. You know, and the realer it is the funnier it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

This is going to be the story of your life, we are going to tell intimate inside story of your life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: How about the things with the clock, the cuckoo clock and the Swiss clock and they are hitting each other on the head?

CAESAR: We always had a routine, I would start it off this way, then Carl could go this way. And he had the bellows, Howie had the bellows and Imogene had the water. And then the clock goes crazy.

REINER: I remember the genesis of that. Sid Caesar came in one day, he wanted to look for something, her loved pantomime. He is a great pantomimist, he said you know, I saw that clock, the Bavarian clocks where the big characters run around, and Sid suggested this and Max Lehman in his wisdom said, I don't see it, Sid.

I remember seeing Sid like that, he said, it is funny, it is funny it is going to be funny. And he insisted that we try it. We'd start working on it and we did. And it became a classic.

KING: The dolls come out and hit each other on the head. How about the Mike Wallace appearance when you sweat to death?

CAESAR: Oh, gee, that was in early shows, and I was...

KING: Mike Wallace did the show called -- "Night Beat." And every guest was sweated and they did in black and white, and Mike smoked and the judge...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: ... did you fix that case you -- he comes on as a guest -- Mike Wallace, you played mike.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAESAR: Let us meet Professor Ludwig Von Integrity. (END VIDEO CLIP)

What was wonderful about that is this was early television. We didn't have tricks to do.

KING: So how did you get water to come down?

CAESAR: Very simple. He was supposed to sweat. We asked him about his income tax, or something. Professor, they cut him here, the camera was here, and there was a guy behind him with a big sponge out of camera just squashing the sponge and...

FABRAY: Do you remember the coat -- where I bought the coat, and you were going to cry. And you said, but I can't cry like that. And I said what they do in movies, they have a tube like a -- you know, and they put not a test tube, well...

REINER: No, it is called a hydride -- whatever it is.

FABRAY: And they put dry ice in it.

REINER: Crystal.

FABRAY: And you blow through it, so I'm behind Sid saying, I bought this coat you are going to love it and I chatting away and they get close on Sid's face and then they blow through this glass tube and you see his tears come down. But the camera is right here the tube is right there blowing at him. And it worked it worked.

REINER: The audience in theater is watching this and seeing, they are laughing a little extra.

KING: We will be back with our remaining moments. Boy has this gone fast with Sid and the gang. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "NIGHTSEAT")

CAESAR: Don't start in with you know, the schnozzes, and ask what size shoes I take, you know. I'm (UNINTELLIGIBLE) don't ask the -- pajamas (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, professor.

CAESAR: But don't give the schtook away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Professor in 1923.

CAESAR: Aww...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that picture of you, Professor?

CAESAR: It looks a lot like me. I will say that. But...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you are with a chorus girl. And you are supposed to have sold over $450,000 dollars worth of stock.

CAESAR: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You say you weren't fixing a fight?

You haven't said what you did with the gold mine.

CAESAR: Why do you keep Schtooking into everything?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "CAESAR'S HOUR")

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut up, you like it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut up, I like it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is good. I like it, shut up, don't talk back to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen, I would like...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut up. Shut up. Don't talk to me, sing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You shut up. You don't like it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't tell me I like it when you don't like it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can like it when you don't like it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We are back. What was the toughest thing about being live?

FABRAY: Being live? Was being live, that is the hardest part of it all.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) break, camera six could fall...

FABRAY: yes, but there are no cue cards. There is no teleprompter. You are on. They say it is 9:00 or 8:00 you start, and whether you finished your song or not, it is 9:00, you are off the air.

KING: You do the show live to tape, don't you?

CAREY: On "Whose Line?" We do live to tape. But we edit out stuff.

KING: You have time to edit.

CAREY: Yeah.

KING: Would you would like to do it live?

CAREY: We did actually a live on Super Bowl -- the night before the Super Bowl -- we did a live pay-per-view special that was all improved, two 90 minute shows.

KING: Did you like it?

CAREY: Loved it. I thought it was...

KING: No pressure?

CAREY: We do a live "Drew Carey Show" for the last few years, we do a live "Drew Carey Show" three times. We do it three times so everybody gets a little bit (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because we improvise on that show.

KING: Does it increase your respect for what they did every week?

CAREY: Oh, there is no -- yeah, it is -- I'm telling you, not only is it -- is that it is, -- I mean, I have read where you like the next day you would shake in the shower and the next day after you get done. And I am telling you, there was, there is nothing like it. It is better than sex and everything else. It is the greatest...

FABRAY: Well, wait a minute...

CAREY: I am serious. There is no thrill for me than live TV when it goes well.

(CROSSTALK)

REINER: How about live TV during sex? Having both of them?

KING: Sid, when you were having your problems which you discussed. You have written books about it, and alcohol and the like, was that while you were doing the show?

CAESAR: I never took a drink during the show. Never took a drink before a show, ever.

REINER: He was appalled at people who did. He said, how can they do that?

CAESAR: I said how are you going to think?

KING: But you were an alcoholic?

CAESAR: I was -- he was a one-time after-the-show drinker and that's what he did. CAESAR: It was after the show. I said, is everything away, and when we finished with the writing day, I said, is everything put way, everything is done, everything is this or that, then I would take out the bottle and the pills. I had a double thing going. I mean it was pills...

KING: For a long time.

CAESAR: For about 20 years.

REINER: As I remember it, he was having trouble, he wanted to relax and he would drink, never saw a bottle of liquor go so fast. As a joke we used on the show, guys, I am going to -- one hour a day, that is it. I will just drink one hour a day. You never saw a case of whiskey go so fast. But that was the joke, based on something he was doing. He was drinking a lot after the show.

CAESAR: I could not go to sleep. The whole thing was to get some sleep. A Tuesday was terrible for me because Tuesday nothing -- everything is in half. It is not written yet, and you go to sleep, and well, we will do it this way, no, do it that way. Why should we do it this way, we will do it that. I couldn't turn it off. I couldn't turn it off, but then I would get drunk and you fall asleep, you know.

KING: But boy, did you lick it. When you beat it, you beat it good. You lost all the weight, you got healthy.

CAESAR: Oh, yes, as religiously as I drank and took pills, that is how religiously I gave up. I went on a diet, I started exercise, I started to take care of myself, and I became...

KING: To this day.

CAESAR: Yeah, to this day.

KING: Were you ever concerned about him?

FABRAY: I didn't know what was going on. We would have a party after the show. He never showed it. He never showed his anger. If he was upset about something he would say, excuse me, walk out of the room and I heard, I was told he would sometimes put his fist through the wall.

KING: Did you put your fist through the wall?

CAESAR: Oh, yeah.

REINER: He could do it better than anybody.

REINER: He is the only plan who pounded -- this is actually -- he came once and he was very angry at something that had happened, maybe about the show, something else, and most people pound the table like this...

(POUNDING) Sid pounded the table with the tip of his fingers like a karate person. Never hurt -- I thought he was going to break his fingers. (UNINTELLIGIBLE). And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) noise.

(POUNDING)

(LAUGHTER)

No, he was the strongest man I knew.

FABRAY: But we never saw that.

KING: And you were in the next room?

REINER: No, right in the room he would do that.

KING: OK. But would that scare you? How did you react to...

REINER: No, it was never against us. It was against something that was bothering him in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The lights went bad.

REINER: It could be a political thing. It could be...

KING: Are you that way?

CAREY: Yeah, I have been, yeah. The sleeping problem, a lot of people I know that are creative, too, can't sleep at night. It's a big problem. And I always thought, you know, from everything I've heard and even watching, I would say that's just being extra- passionate about what you do, especially when your name is on, because you, you know, that's you then. It's not -- you know, my writers and those guys can go, oh, it didn't work, hey, it didn't work, and I look like an idiot.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me out there.

CAREY: Right. And it's the -- really, it's this passion that drives you for wanting -- for wanting perfection and wanting to do good, because you don't want your legacy and your name to be bad.

KING: We'll be right back with more of our tribute to Sid Caesar. Don't go away.

(ARGUMENT TO BEETHOVEN'S FIFTH)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Roseanne! Roseanne, (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

(LAUGHTER) (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Roseanne.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: When you're talking Sid Caesar, this is new to you and this is belly-laughs. I mean, we've seen a lot of sketches here tonight that are laughs. And you get this collection, you just invite people over and roar, because there isn't a moment when you're not screaming. And if you can't get it at the store, you want to get it through your Web site, it's www.sidcaesar.com.

CAESAR: And you know, Larry, I have never heard you recommend anything that wasn't correctly recommended.

KING: If I like it, I like it.

CAESAR: If you like it...

KING: Who could not like this? Who could not like Sid Caesar?

Do you learn from it, Drew?

CAREY: Yeah, absolutely. And I think -- you know, you also learn from -- well, I like to read the interviews and stuff about how people worked and stuff like that, because you learn from that. And from just -- I think, you know, I know -- you look like there was also something going on when you were doing something. Even when you were just bug-eyed at somebody and staring at them, it seemed like wheels were always turning in your head.

CAESAR: Oh, yeah.

KING: Yeah.

CAREY: All the time.

KING: The show had energy.

CAREY: All the time.

CAESAR: Oh...

KING: Enormous energy.

(CROSSTALK)

Therefore, the pressure.

REINER: Pressure, pressure gives you energy. I mean, you're -- you're in a state of slight panic, and that slight panic keeps inventive minds and creative minds working.

CAESAR: We did a thing, an English movie where we were playing pool... REINER: Oh, I love that.

CAESAR: ... playing pool.

REINER: My favorite. That's my favorite.

It's the one time we broke up, I broke up.

CAESAR: It started with: "Hey, where are you going?" "I'm going out to Blackpool for some white fish." "Oh, really, I want to..."

And we're playing this pool. And we take a shot. It goes right through the -- the cloth.

KING: Tears up the thing.

CAESAR: Oh, and rips it up. Bad shot.

(LAUGHTER)

REINER: No, what I think was wonderful -- I remember that very well. It's the only time I laughed and I bled, because we had the table scored so that Sid would take a shot, get his pool cue under the felt, pick it up, and it was like ripped underwear, it would rip. And I was like "Good shot." And everything was "Good shot."

And I would do -- and what happened is that there's a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of the cloth. And when he was going this way, it would rip. Now, Sid gets a ball that has to go this way, and it has a little indentation under the cloth. He puts it under and he pulls up and it doesn't rip. It breaks -- his pool cue breaks. This is what made me laugh. And Sid has got a pool cue in hand like a phallic symbol. And he's walking around the table looking for his next shot...

(LAUGHTER)

... with his pool -- with this club in his hand. And I know -- I know the next lines, and I started to laugh because I knew what was going to happen.

He does like a polo mallet, he hits it and it goes flying over the table, and I'm saying, "Good shot." And I rack it up...

CAESAR: He racked it up.

(CROSSTALK)

REINER: And I started to bite my lip, and he won't laugh. He never -- I turned away and just bit my lip.

CAESAR: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). That's 14 (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Thank you all very much. Our guests have been... CAESAR: Oh, thank you, Larry.

KING: ... Sid Caesar and Carl Reiner and Nanette Fabray and Drew Carey. The collection, the Sid Caesar collection, the Sid Caesar collection for the fans. You can get it at www.sidcaesar.com.

We hope you've enjoyed this hour. We hope to do more shows like this with -- well, I was going to say with people like this. You ain't going to get people like this, but we hope we have a lot more laughs, because it's good to laugh. Good to be the king, to quote our friend.

Thanks for joining us and good night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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