the Best of the Colgate Comedy Hour: Sketch One

The Best of the Colgate Comedy Hour is a series I'll be doing over the next couple of weeks...highlighting (what I feel are) the top ten sketches from Martin & Lewis. The Colgate Comedy Hour was a musical comedy/variety show. It ran from 1950-1956 and featured monthly rotating hosts such as Donald O'Connor, Eddie Cantor, and of course, Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis. Martin & Lewis hosted 28 episodes over the course of six years but sadly, a good box set of complete episodes is hard to find. Some have the commericals cut out; a great deal have left out Dean's singing numbers entirely and some have actually cut out a few of the sketches themselves. You can find a variety of DVD sets on Amazon.

Sketches will be rated in three areas: first, the amount of ad-libs and times they get thrown off script. This, to me, is what makes Martin & Lewis so different (aka, better) than the other comedy teams out there: they can work, and work brilliance, without a script. That is one of the most difficult things for a performer to do and they do it with mad hilarity. Every time they mess up, the sketch instantly becomes funnier.

Second,  breaking the fourth wall. This is something Jerry (and sometimes Dean) does continuously and is what first attracted me to Martin & Lewis. I had never seen a performer break the fourth wall in this way ("He adlibbed, I don't know where I am now!") and continually find it both hilarious and intriguing.

Third, overall wittness of the sketch (attributed to good writing). I place this last because some real bums of sketches have been noticeably perked up by Nos. 1 and 2 (ad-libs and fourth-wall-breakings). So good writing is, at least for Martin and Lewis, not a necessity. However, it is a contributing factor, obviously, and the most stellar sketches are the ones that have a combination of all three of the above traits.

And now...*drumroll* the number one, all-time, best-ever favorite sketch of mine ISSSSSSSSS:

MILKSHAKE! Air Date: 2-10-52

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This has to be, by far, the funniest sketch those two ever did.  They mess up SO many times they don't even get to finish the rest of the show and every time they screw up...well, when they get lost, they get lost! The overall brilliance and insane amount of ad-libs, plus just general silliness rates this sketch as number one.

To go off on a tangent here, it is my personal (deeply felt) opinion that when Dean & Jerry mess up, they're funnier than ever. Those two had ad-lib skilz like nobody's business. And the best part is, they're having so much fun together! An audience is bound to have fun when the performers are enjoying themselves, too.

Ad-Libs/Mess-Ups -- 20 out of 10!
Fourth-Wall-Breakings -- 5 out of 10
Wittiness (Good Writing) -- 7 out of 10
Overall Rating: 10.6 out of 10

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