I have been chronicling the various releases showcasing the unique comic mind of Ernie Kovacs (like last month’s CD debut of the 52-year-old recording Percy Dovetonsils… Thpeaks). Well, there’s new on the Kovacs front. This October, Shout! Factory will release volume two of the Ernie Kovacs Collection. This 3-disc set contains 8 episodes from Kovacs’ 1955-56 NBC morning show and several episodes of Take A Good Look (his version of a game show). Additional material includes a TV pilot (A Pony For Chris) that co-stars Buster Keaton, a rare solo TV interview and nearly 20 sketches. It’s all drawn from the extensive archive collected by his widow, singer/actress Edie Adams. Kovacs fanatics should note at a 4th disc, with 7 more Take A Good Look episodes will be included for those you purchased this set directly from Shout! Factory.
Shout! Factory has two more comic treasures scheduled for release on Sept. 18. Steve Martin: The Television Stuff gathers up over 6 hours of vintage Martin hilarity covering 1966-2005. Yes, 1966. Steve Martin was on the scene way before he “got small” in 1977. He wrote and even appeared on shows like the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and The Sonny and Cher Show. This 3-DVD set shares some of Martin’s early TV appearances along two stand-up specials (from 1976 and 1979) as well as the 4 TV specials he did for NBC from 1978-81. This collection also comes stuffed with various music videos, short films, speeches and other funny television stuff.
When Letterman started out on NBC late night (hmm, NBC seems to be a through-line here), one of my favorite “cast regulars” was Chris Elliott. There was just something hilarious (to me at least) about this gonzo comedy style, mixing irony, satire and goofiness in knowingly amateurish performances. I remember hotly anticipating his TV show, Get A Life. I wanted it to be the best thing ever and naturally it wasn’t. I still watched it regularly and enjoyed his always off-kilter sense of humor. Shout! Factory has a Get A Life 5-DVD set that has all 35 episodes. It’s Elliot Uncut! Bonus material includes cast & crew interviews, audio commentary, a 2000 Paley Center panel discussion and other odds & ends. I wonder how the show will seem to me now, with some distance from my initial expectations.
It all adds up to a terrific trio of DVDs showcasing the talents of three men who in their own unique ways, and varying degrees, have been comic geniuses.