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Remembering Jonathan Winters, the 'father of improvisational comedy'
LA Times ^ | 4/12/13 | Deborah Vankin

Posted on 04/12/2013 4:10:50 PM PDT by Impala64ssa

The trailblazing comic improviser Jonathan Winters, who died Thursday at age 87, was a seminal influence on scores of comedians and the person Robin Williams credits as his mentor.

Winters' high energy, unpredictable and often surreal comic riffs included an array of characters, reenactments of movie scenes and pointed, quick-morphing sound effects that he often produced on the spot.

Take, for example, his 1964 appearance on "The Jack Paar Program." In order to illustrate Winters' genius for creating comedy out of thin air, Paar gave him a simple wooden stick. “Do something with the stick” Paar said, and in what’s now a classic bit, Winters morphed from wayward fisherman to tepid circus ringmaster with a whip, to highbrow flute player.

(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bigw; entertainment; jonathanwinters; winters
I first saw Jonathan Winters in Mad Mad Mad World, way back when. He had me ROTFLMAO ever since. RIP
1 posted on 04/12/2013 4:10:51 PM PDT by Impala64ssa
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To: Impala64ssa

One of the funniest men who ever lived. Rest easy, Mr. Winters. Thank you for the laughs.


2 posted on 04/12/2013 4:12:30 PM PDT by Lurker (Violence is rarely the answer. But when it is it is the only answer.)
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To: Lurker

It’s a Mad, Mad, World!

Rest in Reace Jonathan.


3 posted on 04/12/2013 4:15:39 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty - Honor - Country! What else needs said?)
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To: Lurker
Pairing him up with Mork was genius.

Thanx, Jon.

4 posted on 04/12/2013 4:16:23 PM PDT by knarf (I say things that are true ... I have no proof ... but they're true)
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To: Lurker

One of the funniest men who ever lived. Rest easy, Mr. Winters. Thank you for the laughs.

...loved his work, ever since I was a kid back in the mid sixties...in pace resquiescat...


5 posted on 04/12/2013 4:17:57 PM PDT by IrishBrigade
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To: Impala64ssa

The Stick

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwWDa1xPTPA


6 posted on 04/12/2013 4:17:58 PM PDT by PapaBear3625 (You don't notice it's a police state until the police come for you.)
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To: Impala64ssa
THIS one ?
7 posted on 04/12/2013 4:18:35 PM PDT by knarf (I say things that are true ... I have no proof ... but they're true)
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To: SandRat

Mr Winters also served in the United States Marine Corps for over 2 years in the Pacific theater during WWII.


8 posted on 04/12/2013 4:20:10 PM PDT by Lurker (Violence is rarely the answer. But when it is it is the only answer.)
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To: Impala64ssa

The man was a comic genius.


9 posted on 04/12/2013 4:21:00 PM PDT by BerryDingle (I know how to deal with communists, I still wear their scars on my back from Hollywood-Ronald Reagan)
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To: Impala64ssa

Semper Fi. Rest in peace. Jonathan Winters was a class act and one of the funniest comedians I have ever seen. He never used profanity or made overly crude sexual references. Most comedians today can’t go 2 minutes without cursing or talking about sex in a crude way. Winters was also Marine combat vet from WWII. His brand of comedy will be missed.


10 posted on 04/12/2013 4:25:11 PM PDT by 3Fingas (Sons and Daughters of Freedom, Committee of Correspondence)
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To: Impala64ssa

I was maybe 4 or 5 years old in the mid fifties and saw this strange man on live TV doing a routine about a space ship approaching a mother ship. He was making all the sound effects himself. He had me laughing hysterically. That’s been true ever since. I count him a genius along with Richard Pryor and George Carlin. I will miss him.

RIP Jonathan.


11 posted on 04/12/2013 4:27:26 PM PDT by muir_redwoods (Don't fire until you see the blue of their helmets)
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To: ConorMacNessa
A Marine WWII Vet has Reported to St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.
12 posted on 04/12/2013 4:30:03 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty - Honor - Country! What else needs said?)
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To: Impala64ssa

However often you laughed at him, and however deserving of praise Winters may be it is utterly ridiculous to call him the “father of improvisational comedy.” My reaction to it is the same as I have when I hear the Earl of Sandwich credited with inventing the sandwich. Does anyone really think no human thought of putting meat or cheese—or meat and cheese—between two pieces of bread before that guy? Balderdash!

Imprivisational comedy is at least older than speech, and is probably as old as homo sapiens. I’ve noticed, as have all pet owners, the hint of a sense of Humor in animals. But I’ll let that go. Grant humor is something uniquely human, and all that remains is demonstrating the improvisational kind is the oldest kind, which obviously it is. Is anyone going to seriously argue planned comedic routines came before Humor off the top of your head?


13 posted on 04/12/2013 4:34:57 PM PDT by Tublecane
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To: Impala64ssa

A twofer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOBb5dXh-Ik&feature=youtube_gdata_player


14 posted on 04/12/2013 4:35:41 PM PDT by muir_redwoods (Don't fire until you see the blue of their helmets)
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To: Impala64ssa
Winters also played a few serious roles. A pool hustler in a Twilight Zone episode comes to mind. We used to listen to his albums in the late 1960s. Great stuff. RIP Mr. Winters.
15 posted on 04/12/2013 4:36:32 PM PDT by 4yearlurker (God Bless Margaret Thatcher.)
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To: Impala64ssa

Dang.


16 posted on 04/12/2013 4:39:07 PM PDT by noblejones (Obama rules!)
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To: Impala64ssa
Jonathan Winters came from a very prominent banking family in Dayton, Ohio.
I remember watching him on his daily 15 minute local TV show in the mid fifties. He had many of his later characters including Maudie Frickert and did all the sound effects. Funny as heck even to a young teenager.

He served in the Marine Corps during or just after WWII and had a routine about an amphibious landing that was absolute roll on the floor laughing your can off funny. I agree with the story, he cannot be replaced. After him the others are pale imitations.

17 posted on 04/12/2013 4:39:10 PM PDT by Tupelo (Old, Bald, Ugly, Fat and Broke in Arizona)
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To: Tublecane

Yeah, also I understand that George Washington was not actually the biological father of all Americans in the late 18th century. I can’t understand why they call him the father of his country.


18 posted on 04/12/2013 4:40:12 PM PDT by muir_redwoods (Don't fire until you see the blue of their helmets)
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To: Tublecane

BTTTT!


19 posted on 04/12/2013 4:44:45 PM PDT by Mastador1 (I'll take a bad dog over a good politician any day!)
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To: Impala64ssa

He was great with Jack Klugman on The Twilight Zone episode “A GAME OF POOL”. He played Fats Brown.


20 posted on 04/12/2013 4:46:02 PM PDT by ohiobushman
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To: Impala64ssa

JW was much better than IAMMMW, and don’t ever remember him using foul language in his jokes, maybe just a little innuendo.

He was truly funny.


21 posted on 04/12/2013 4:46:43 PM PDT by wizr (We are "one Nation, under God " or "one nation, trod under ". Keep the Faith.)
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To: Tupelo

I also remember his mother who was a news caster on WING-Am in Dayton.


22 posted on 04/12/2013 4:47:52 PM PDT by ohiobushman
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To: Impala64ssa

All ooover myyy body - RIP....


23 posted on 04/12/2013 4:48:54 PM PDT by Intolerant in NJ
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To: Impala64ssa

He was the funniest man I ever saw, and my favorite comedian of all time.
Thanks for the laughs, JW. Rest in peace.


24 posted on 04/12/2013 5:06:29 PM PDT by Ignatz (Winner of a prestigious 1960 Y-chromosome award!)
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To: Impala64ssa
I first saw Jonathan Winters in Mad Mad Mad World, way back when. He had me ROTFLMAO ever since. RIP

Indeed - still one of my top ten favorite films, and especially Winters' role in it.


"We're gonna have to kill him!"

25 posted on 04/12/2013 5:07:34 PM PDT by Alex Murphy ("If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all" - Isaiah 7:9)
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To: Impala64ssa

He was the best of the best. May he rest in peace.


26 posted on 04/12/2013 5:11:57 PM PDT by Swede Girl
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To: muir_redwoods

Your argument is a non sequitor. Was my point that Winters isn’t biologically related to the improvisational comedians who came after him. Improvisational comedy is an abstract concept to begin with, and therefore we all know its paternity can only be discussed metaphorically. I certainly knew that when writting my post.

Washington’s paternity of the country is meant metaphorically, too. Because the country is not, as you seem to imply, made up of its people. It’s an abstract concept, too. There are manifold ways Washington metaphorically fathered that abstraction, which are utterly lacking in the relation between Winters and his supposed child. Firstly, Washington actually predated the United States. Also, he has been called, and the argument can be sustained, the “indispensable man” of the revolution. With no success in war, there’d be no independent American states, and therefore no country. Furthermore, he sat as the symbolic leader of the constitutional convention of 1787, then served as the first chief executive of the new government, thus giving it legitimacy and setting precedents which all future presidents have followed.

Nothing of the sort is true of Winters’ relation to improvisational comedy. The best that can be said is that he was uniquely gifted at it, and publicized it at a time when it wasn’t very popular on tv or in the movies, thereby influencing generations of comedians to come in ilhis particular style of it. I don’t know if that’s even true. There were probably crowds of improvisers we’ve forgotten, and the names we remember from the era may also have riffed on the spot, just not as noticeably or in a manner as sui generis as Winters. Also, comedians who came after Winters, for instance Lenny Bruce, I can argue as at least as improvisational, or seemingly so, and probably more influential.

Nevermind that, however. Let’s assume Winters did solely influence all comedy off the top of people’s heads on stage, on tv, and in movies since his heyday. That’s not what the headline says; it says something far less true and infinitely more insane.


27 posted on 04/12/2013 5:17:25 PM PDT by Tublecane
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To: ConorMacNessa

Jonathan Winters served in the Marine Detachment on the aircraft carrier Bon Homme Richard off the coast of Japan in 1945 and was in the occupation force at Yokosuka.


28 posted on 04/12/2013 5:21:31 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty - Honor - Country! What else needs said?)
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To: Impala64ssa
RIP Jonathon, Many years ago I had the pleasure of meeting him at a friends Bar-B-Q, (Jonathon and my friends father met in Long Beach during the filming of MMMW and became lifelong friends).

It was a small gathering, only eight of us there and Jonathon was on. It was like a private non-stop stand up routine. Last year they interviewed Jonathon at his house in Montecito (starts at 17:00 minute mark): John Kerwin Interview with Jonathon Winters

29 posted on 04/12/2013 5:28:31 PM PDT by Michael.SF. (Obama lied, Stevens died.)
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To: Impala64ssa

Semper Fi my brother. I look forward to meeting you at that Tun Tavern over yonder.


30 posted on 04/12/2013 5:43:48 PM PDT by Past Your Eyes (Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.)
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To: Impala64ssa

Oddly enough, while he was mostly Scots-Irish, he was also part Native American, and was active in some Indian causes, including serving as an honorary chairman to the Native American Congress.

Mysteriously, though, there doesn’t seem to be any mention of what tribe he descends from. The matters a great deal, because at the time of Thomas Jefferson’s survey, there were about 200 known tribes (today some 566 are recognized), and the diversity of the tribes is so great that to lump them together as a single people is like lumping Europeans and Africans together.


31 posted on 04/12/2013 5:46:06 PM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy (Best WoT news at rantburg.com)
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To: Tublecane

Oh for crying out loud. Take a pill and get over yourself.


32 posted on 04/12/2013 5:59:16 PM PDT by lewislynn ( What does the global warming movement and the Fairtax movement have in commom? Misinformation)
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To: Impala64ssa

Remember him from my yute when did Utica Club beer
commercials as “spokesmugs” Shultz and Dooley


33 posted on 04/12/2013 6:11:56 PM PDT by njslim (St)
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To: Tublecane

Winter said most people think they have a sense of humor and most of those are wrong. You’re proof.


34 posted on 04/12/2013 6:29:04 PM PDT by muir_redwoods (Don't fire until you see the blue of their helmets)
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To: Impala64ssa

As far as I am concerned, Jonathan Winters was one of the best. He just made me feel good.


35 posted on 04/12/2013 6:50:00 PM PDT by popdonnelly (The right to self-defense is older than the Constitution.)
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To: Impala64ssa

My Dad used to work on Mr. Winter’s Car back in the 70’s when he lived in Toluca Lake, near Burbank.

He said he was the nicest guy you would ever meet, and he was always cracking jokes. My Dad enjoyed going for a drive while Mr. Winters was trying to show him what the mechanical problem was. If I recall, he had a old Rambler.

I’ll have to check with my Dad. It’s ben a long time since he told me any Jonathan Winters stories. My Dad is 90, I hope he still remembers.


36 posted on 04/12/2013 7:06:12 PM PDT by Kickass Conservative (Compliance with Tyranny is Treason...)
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To: Impala64ssa

What I remember most was Winters’ zany characters especially Maude Frickert.


37 posted on 04/12/2013 7:15:03 PM PDT by The Great RJ
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To: 3Fingas
Jonathan Winters was a class act and one of the funniest comedians I have ever seen. He never used profanity or made overly crude sexual references.

The importance of this is totally lost on young people today. They hardly even see comedians without profanity or sex included, anymore. They don't know the beauty of comedy that's innocent and just plain fun.

38 posted on 04/12/2013 7:17:14 PM PDT by SuziQ
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To: Tublecane

I’ll bet you also pass gas in church, don’t you?


39 posted on 04/12/2013 7:45:56 PM PDT by NonValueAdded (If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, you've likely misread the situation.)
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To: The Great RJ

I remember Maude well...in many ways, Winters followed in the footsteps of Red Skelton...


40 posted on 04/12/2013 7:48:32 PM PDT by ken5050 (My tagline has mysteriously vanished...)
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To: Tublecane
Grant humor I never thought of Grant as a humorous guy. Can you tell us of your favorite Grant joke?
41 posted on 04/12/2013 8:33:32 PM PDT by Michael.SF. (Obama lied, Stevens died.)
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To: Impala64ssa

Came across the Twilight Zone episode with Winters and Jack Klugman. Simple yet fantastic.


42 posted on 04/13/2013 7:34:27 AM PDT by ConservativeStatement (Obama is the "Disco Duck" president. A no-substance novelty that reached number one.)
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To: Intolerant in NJ

That Line is just funny, I don’t care who you are!


43 posted on 04/13/2013 9:11:16 AM PDT by Conan the Librarian (The Best in Life is to crush my enemies, see them driven before me, and the Dewey Decimal System)
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