This is going to be a little bit different that what I normally blog about, but I think you guys will still find it interesting. This is coming from the PBS episode, Pioneers of Television: Stand Up to Sitcom, you can watch it here. I hope you enjoy it!
Jerry Seinfeld started as a stand-up comedian in night clubs. He did this until he was asked to be on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show 5 years later, which was considered the world series for comedians to be asked to do comedy on this show. If you were asked to do your comedy routine on his show, you knew you had made it. After his appearance on The Tonight Show, he asked NBC is he could have a show on their network. He had no idea what it could be, but he thought NBC could come up with something. Larry David ended up helping him with his new sitcom idea, and this is where Seinfeld was born. Jerry Seinfeld said that because it was a show about “two idiots working things out” is what made it funny. Once, Seinfeld ended, Jerry Seinfeld returned to the stand-up comedy circuit. Jerry Seinfeld says that the only way he will ever do another sitcom is if it could top Seinfeld, which he says is impossible.
Tim Allen had a lot of success when he started his stand-up comedy career, and ended up moving to Los Angeles not too long after his stand-up career took off. When he moved to LA, the head of Disney Productions offered him a sitcom twice, but he declined them both times, due to the success of his stand-up career. It wasn’t until he was allowed to make his own sitcom that he agreed to take on this side of the comedy world. This is where Home Improvement was created with the network, ABC. He said that he wanted to base the sitcom off of the TV show, This Old House, and that is exactly what they did. Home Improvment had major success from the very first episode. At this point, Tim Allen asked to do stand-up on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, and ended up messing up. He bounced back though, and ended up having a #1 TV show, a #1 book, and a #1 movie all at the same time. Tim Allen, then became known as America’s funny dad and appeared in movies like, The Santa Claus franchise.
Roseanne Barr was/is considered America’s funny mom. She got most of her jobs as this “funny mom”. In 1995, Roseanne moved to LA, and her career began to take off, just like Tim Allen’s did. Within weeks of moving to LA, she was booked on The Tonight Show as well. Johnny Carson said that she was going to be the woman every comedian looked up too, and that she was going to be breaking barriers for years to come. When she finally got the sitcom, Roseanne, it was a different sitcom that American’s had ever seen on their TV’s before. She broke so many cultural boundaries for TV show’s, and her character became a huge feminist icon. The writers for the show, didn’t know how to write for her until episode 13 when Roseanne finally saw the vision she was hoping for that show come to life, which was showing the life of a working class mother. This was also the first show to tackle topics like teen pregnancy, divorce, and alcohol addiction.
Ray Ramono started comedy after Saturday Night Live gave him the idea of doing skits and comedy in his local hometown bars, and they became an instant hit. He then started to audition for stand-up comedy slots, but after two failed attempts, he went into accounting. After doing accounting for a bit, tried again and was successful, especially when doing impressions. Although impressions were his ticket in, he ended up getting rid of the impressions once he found his voice in the stand-up world. Ray Ramono ended up making an appearance on the David Letterman Show, and ended up doing extremely well. He thought this was his ticket into the sitcom world. A week after his appearance on Letterman, he was offered a show on their production company. This is where Everybody Loves Raymond comes into the picture. This show was based on his comedy routine. It wasn’t smooth sailing though for success. They would have to pay people to be in their audience for taping’s of their show, but it was a huge TV rating’s success.
Lastly, there is Bob Newhart. Bob Newhart was an accountant turned comedian in 1950. He became successful after his vinyl “Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart” was released and knocked Elvis Presley off the #1 spot on the charts. After this success, the sitcom, The Bob Newhart Show came to life. The writers wanted him to get rid of his studder because it was taking too much time off the show, but he said he wouldn’t because that was part of him, and what made him funny, so they ended up keeping it. He also felt, like many other sitcom comedians, that the live audience’s were the key to their show’s success, because they were getting real reactions from them.
It’s easy to see now how these people truly are the pioneers of television. I hope you guys enjoyed this post! I thought it was very entertaining to read and learn about. Thanks for reading!