Sid Caesar: `Your Show of Shows' star gets award; talks about humor, happiness

On Monday, April 22 (NBC, 9-11 p.m., check local listings), Sid Caesar, along with Carol Burnett, Walter Cronkite, Joyce Hall (of Hallmark), Rod Serling, Ed Sullivan, and Sylvester (Pat) Weaver (a TV pioneer) will be officially inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. Mr. Caesar has been in New York to help publicize that television show, which was taped about a month ago.

He discussed his life and his work as star of ``Your Show of Shows'' and the ``Sid Caesar Hour,'' which aired on television from 1950 to 1958, in his 1982 book, ``Where Have I been,'' but he clearly wants to talk about it today, too.

The old ``Sid Caesar is back,'' he says. ``You're looking at him. In between there was another Sid Caesar. But now no booze. No pills.''

The ``new-old'' Caesar is getting lots of work: the movie ``Alice in Wonderland,'' more projects with Steven Spielberg, a nightclub in Atlantic City. And in the fall there will be syndication of ``The Best of Your Show of Shows'' (65 half-hours of enhanced kinescopes, distributed by Ziv-Lorimar).

Caesar believes that his kind of humor has to be about little people rather than celebrities. ``It's getting up in the morning, catching the bus. Humor has to come out of character.''

Caesar says he watches people and steals their personae. He can listen to any language for 10 minutes and then fake it in a sketch. What's the funniest sketch he ever did?

``The one about the guy stuck in the middle of `This Is Your Life' still works beautifully.'' It will be included in the new series in the fall.

What would he like his new series to accomplish?

``Just to make people laugh. We haven't had that for a long time. And don't forget, laughter is the other side of crying.''

So is Sid Caesar a happy man now?

``Nobody is completely happy. I don't look for perfection anymore. Right now is perfection. I don't have to be the best or the biggest anymore. The greatest joy is appreciation. Once you have something in life and almost lose it and manage to get it back, you learn about appreciation.''

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