CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
LOS ANGELES – The genius comedy of Gene Wilder was often in the subtlety. With a slow burn or a raised eyebrow, Wilder was able to draw big laughs. The star of “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” and “Young Frankenstein” died in Stamford, Connecticut, according to his nephew in Los Angeles. He was 83.
CHICAGO – For the younger set unable to experience the mystique of Dracula, Wolfman and Frankenstein in their original creations, “Hotel Transylvania 2” may prove to be an introduction to the legendary bloodsucker and his band of movie monsters – and for that Adam Sandler deserves a stake through his heart.
CHICAGO – Talking dogs have been around for decades in animated movies and television shows, especially the anthropomorphized kind. From the superhero antics of Underdog to the biting sarcasm from the likes of Brian from “Family Guy” - take your pick and you can find a dog to your liking. I always took a shine to Mr. Peabody, the intelligent and resourceful beagle with a penchant for puns.
LOS ANGELES – It’s a pioneering TV show practically lost to history. Sid Caesar hosted and performed in “Your Show of Shows,” a 90 minute live 1950s sketch comedy program, and also helped to launch a who’s who of 20th Century comedy. Coming out of his writer’s rooms were such comic greats as Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, Larry Gelbart, Carl Reiner and Woody Allen. Sid Caesar died February 12th at his home near Los Angeles, according to a newsfeed from Larry King on Twitter.
CHICAGO – The TV show “Get Smart,” which had its original run on the NBC network from 1965-1970, was an oddball classic. Created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, the sitcom was a goofy satire on cold war politics of the 1960s, with a hapless operative named Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) working for the CONTROL agency, spying against a foreign menace called KAOS. Barbara Feldon (Agent 99) and Bernie Kopell (Sigfried) were part of the supporting cast.
CHICAGO – Mel Brooks’ “The Producers,” recently released in a perfect collector’s edition with both SD and HD versions accompanied by spectacular special features by Shout Factory, may be a perfect comedy. It has that perfect balance of incredibly smart humor and physical antics that would define a lot of Brooks’ best work. It won the Oscar for Best Screenplay and, unlike a lot of films from the ’60s, would win it again today were it released tomorrow.
CHICAGO – I’m a huge Mel Brooks fan, one of those critics who bows at the altar of arguably the two best comedies of all time, “Blazing Saddles” & “Young Frankenstein.” I’ve seen them both a dozen times and can’t wait to watch them again.
CHICAGO – Mel Brooks is an indisputable genius and his comic mastery gets a perfect tribute in the 5-DVD-and-1-CD set from Shout Factory, “The Incredible Mel Brooks,” a treasure trove of rare clips, old TV shows, appearances, and recollections from one of comedy’s greatest writers. This is a fantastic set, a perfect gift for the comedy fan in your family.
CHICAGO – Part slapstick and part Henny Youngman-style one-liner schtick, “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” is a classic American comedy that still rings funny no matter how many times you’ve seen it.
CHICAGO – Legendary comedian and Chicago native Harvey Korman passed away on Thursday. He is best remembered from films such as “Blazing Saddles” and “High Anxiety” as well as a performer on the “The Carol Burnett Show”. Korman was 81.