1 9 5 2 – 1 9 5 6 (USA)
Few comedians used television more effectively than former radio DJ and continuity announcer Ernie Kovacs, whose shows presented television comedy in a way nobody before had ever attempted.
Just a few of the innovations Kovacs featured – in front of an audience of “twenty-three passing strangers” – were blackouts, spoofs of TV commercials and other television programmes, and trick camera effects (such as showing a fully dressed woman and several animals step out of a bathtub in which Kovacs was sitting and taking a bath).
Kovacs also played a number of characters, including Percy Dovetonsils (an effeminate poet), Wolfgang Sauerbraten (a German disc jockey), Irving Wong (a Chinese songwriter), J Walter Puppybreath, and Uncle Gruesome.
Among his regular cast members were his wife, Edie Adams; pianist Ernie Hartak; and straight men Trigger Lund and Andy McKay.
Regularly seen on the Kovacs show were the features You Asked To See It, Mr Question Man and Clowdy Faire, Your Weather Girl.
In the late 50s and early 60s, Kovacs was seen on a number of TV specials but did not have another regular show of his own after 1956.
His brilliant career was cut short in 1962 when he was killed in an automobile accident. In 1977, excerpts from several of his shows were aired in a special, The Best of Ernie Kovacs.