The Ernie Kovacs Show

NBC (ended 1956)


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  • Ernie Kovacs, with occasional guests, wreaks wacky havoc with the new medium, television, as no one has ever done before.

    Before Kovacs, the TV camera was just an instrument for photographing plays. Filmic it could be. Zany its subjects could be (e.g., Syd Caesar). But the camera ITSELF became a character in the Ernie Kovacs Show, and Kovacs played with it as it had never been played with before. The show was brief but full of tromp l'oeil; sometimes gravity didn't quite work in the usual way.

    Of course, the camera wasn't the only maniac. Kovacs was a one-man gallery of offbeat personages, from Percy Dovetonsils, the effeminate (before that was acceptable) effete-to-the-point-of-smarm afficianado of horrid poetry, to a primate-costumed member of the Nairobi Trio.

    The show featured the occasional musical guest and some actors other than Kovacs (most notably, in both functions, his wife, Edie Adams) but it was, in every sense, Kovacs' show. It was seminal, yet unique. Without it, there could have been no Laugh In, no Saturday Night Live... yet those two shows are not like the Ernie Kovacs Show and while grand in their own right, cannot replace it.