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Caesar's Hours: My Life In Comedy, With Love and Laughter Paperback – January 4, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs (January 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586482831
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586482831
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #224,211 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the 1950s, Caesar was to comedy what Marlon Brando was to drama. Gifted in dialects, double-talk, linguistic logistics, mime, music, monologues and satirical sketches, all executed with razor-sharp timing, Caesar created "comedy based on truth" and received acclaim as a comic genius. His fade-out from the tube by the end of that decade left many wondering where he went. Caesar answered that question in his autobiography, Where Have I Been? (1982). Now, collaborating with film critic Friedfeld, he offers a satisfying salmagundi of memoir mixed with a probe into the mechanics of merriment. He opens with memories of saxophone lessons during his Yonkers, N.Y., childhood, followed by comedy in the Catskills. After studying at Juilliard, he played in several orchestras, and his WWII Coast Guard shows led to Hollywood, Broadway and TV's Admiral Broadway Revue (1949). On his legendary Your Show of Shows (1950-1954) and Caesar's Hour (1954-1957), he worked with the era's top comedy writers (Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Neil Simon), and one chapter echoes the chortles and chaos of the famed Writers' Room (later recreated in films by Brooks, Reiner and Simon): "The energy in the Writers' Room was like a cyclotron.... No one ever finished a sentence that I can remember." Detailing many of his classic routines (some with script excerpts), Caesar's prose is appealing, informal and fun to read. Chapters like "The Art of Sketch Comedy" make this required reading for directors, writers and performers. Eight pages of b&w photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From The New Yorker

More than twenty years ago, Caesar delivered a memoir ("Where Have I Been?") that detailed his rise to comic stardom in the fifties and the addiction to alcohol and tranquillizers that obliterated the next two decades. This volume revisits much of the same material, but with greater focus on the sources of Caesar's style—for instance, he learned his trademark "double-talk," a stream of nonsense sounding plausibly like a foreign language, from listening to the immigrant clientele at his father's luncheonette. Some of his influences are more predictable than others. He admires the way Chaplin and Keaton worked "both sides of the street," playing humor off against pathos. Caesar was a professional saxophone player before he moved into comedy, and he feels that that skill "was integral to my performing."
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

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Customer Reviews

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Inside the good and bad sides of show business.
SUZANNE
Enjoyable and informative read about Sid Caesar and how he came to enter the world of comedy and become a TV star on the Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour in the 1950's.
Pete Creelman
Those readers who enjoy memoirs and biographies will likewise find this to be a worthwhile and interesting book.
Lawyeraau

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful memoir that takes the reader down memory lane. As anyone one reading this biography knows, Sid Caesar was one of the foremost comedians of his time. In fact, he was actually ranked the third all time great comedian (after Jackie Gleason and Lucille Ball) by a documentary about the greatest comedians of all time, which documentary was featured on the A & E cable television channel.

I know that my parents used to watch Cid Caesar's ground breaking television program, "Your Show of Shows". I myself was too young to have any recollection of it. I do, however, recall that as a young child, together with my family, I watched his subsequent show in the latter half of the nineteen fifties, "Caesar's Hour". Sid Caesar was the then king of comedy, and he broke trail for many of the comedians that were to follow him. Many of the greatest comedic writers to ever write for television started out writing for his shows. Greats such as Neil Simon, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, and Woody Allen were among some of his writers. No wonder that era was heralded as the Golden Age of Television!

In his memoir, Sid Caesar talks only a little about himself on a very personal level. Still, he comes across as an intelligent man who dearly loves his wife of over sixty years. He acknowledges his personal foibles, such as a drinking problem that, at times, threatened to overwhelm him, as well as a never ending quest for creative perfection. This book is not so much about Caesar, the man, but rather about Caesar, the performing artist. Consequently, Sid Caesar the man remains a bit of a mystery. On the other hand, Sid Caesar, the performer, comes vividly to life. This is more of an artistic autobiography rather than a personal one.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Eric S Silvia on April 2, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I wholeheartedly recommend Caesar's Hours. Not only is this book an autobiography, but also an encyclopedia of sorts. Sid eloquently writes of his early years growing up in New York, his numerous tries at breaking into show business, his service to the country during WWII, and finally, his years on 'Your Show of Shows' and 'Caesar's Hour'. Along the way, Sid shares some of his favorite jokes and sketches that he has used during his reign as TV legend.
What makes Sid even more commendable and the book even more facinating, is how Sid gives credit to all those who helped him along the way. While most entertainers take all the credit, Sid carefully notes his comedy writers and fellow actors who, together, are the reason for his and the shows' great success.
I recommend this book to anyone wishing to read about Sid's life, and all those who want to know just how difficult it was to produce a show a week, in an entertainment medium that was in its infancy.
A magnificant work from the last of the Televion Legends!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Here is a man that not only made the world laugh, he could poke fun at himself. Sid Caesar set an example for countless comedians to follow. He makes the history of early television come alive. This is a wonderful way to spend a few hours.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Sid Caesar was the star of Your Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour, two of the most innovative and popular programs in the Age of Television and a creator of some of the greatest comedy writers of his times. This informative autobiography tells how his routines were fashioned and performed, and examines the methods and creations of the writers who made him famous.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Enjoyable and informative read about Sid Caesar and how he came to enter the world of
comedy and become a TV star on the Show of Shows and Caesar's Hour in the 1950's.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By snow white on May 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love Syd Caesar and have since the 60's, so was glad to find this book on amazon. Its terrific, as any fan of his would imagine.
Humor, empathy, keen perception, so much depth as a man as well as a brilliant, innovative comic genius. A must read for any
fan of his.
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