Video: Celebrating a Comedy Composer

At the Museum of Broadcasting, the madcap world of Ernie Kovacs

The face had a cartoon-like directness: big mustache, Magic Marker eyebrows, oversize cigar. Yet few TV entertainers were a more intriguing set of contradictions than Ernie Kovacs. A boisterous cutup who relished tacky props and low-down slapstick, yet a closet highbrow who orchestrated comedy to Bartok and Beethoven. A talk-show pioneer, yet the creator of a classic half an hour that included not a single line of dialogue. A TV "star" who never had a network series that lasted more than two seasons, yet who influenced video comedy for the next two decades, from Laugh-In to David Letterman.

Another Kovacs anomaly:...

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