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I remember watching this show as a kid; it was a comedy/sketch show, which was hilarious and sadly only lasted a season. I remember it in particular as a break-out venue for Andy Kaufman. Curiously this show didn't make it into the Kaufman bio-pic nor did Kaufman make it into the recent Dick Van Dyke biography on A&E.
I loved this show as a kid! I was so disappointed it got canceled so
fast, it was truly funny. It was my introduction to Andy Kaufman, and
he developed/performed most of his regular shtick on this show.
To the best of my memory: In the first episode Dick Van Dyke had a "Fonzie" look-a-like contest and the winner was this big black guy; the loser was Andy, as his foreign guy (early Latke Gravas). Andy was so upset and weepy he lost "i don't know how I lost, I love Fonzie, everyone says I am just like him when i go 'heyyyy'(thumbs up)". Dick let him tell a joke so he will stop whining, at which point AK went into a pointless and absurdly hilarious story, all as the foreign guy. "Tank you veddy much."
The following week, he walked onto stage, interrupting Van Dyke's monologue. "I had so much fun last time I came to tell another joke. Tank you veddy much". It became a running gag for all eight weeks, each week he would wander onto the show, and interrupt a sketch in progress, and then it became his shtick. And he did jokes, songs, Mighty Mouse, etc... each week he was still the foreign guy, and then one week... He says to Dick that he can do an Elvis impersonation. Dick and us thought it would be like his Fonzie, seriously up until now I "bought" that he was the foreign guy, so immersed was Andy in the role... when he turned around, stripped his suit off and revealed his inner Elvis, which if you ever saw Kaufman do, you know is amazingly dead on. This was before Elvis had died too, and be foe Evis impersonation was such a genre unto itself.... anyway, I know I have not written much about Dick Van Dyke!
The other thing I remember from this show was that a mime troupe, I think they were called the L.A. Mime company, was on it. I knew a couple of the performers, and I was really fascinated by mimes at the time, so that was why I tuned in. Dick Van Dyke is no slouch in the art of physical comedy, so it was a good combo. I loved the show as a 14 year old. I wish it was on DVD. DVD (Dick Van Dyke)on DVD! It is a natural!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Please pardon me, World & America, for I certainly must be out of step.
You see, I've never been crazy about "THE DICK VAN DYKE
SHOW"(1961-66)nor a lot of his other roles. Certainly, this isn't an
indictment of the Great Star's talents, for they are obvious and "right
up front" for everybody to see. It's as obvious as the Nose on your, er
ah, no, the Nose on 'My' Face! These different roles seem somehow to be
sort of below him. They are okay, when there is nothing better, to you
know, pay the bills. It's just that his Rob Petry character is a little
shallow, and not convincing to my way of thinking.
Now take this "VAN DYKE AND COMPANY" (1976), that was a real showcase for the varied theatrical skills for Dick to display and exploit to best advantage. The domain of the Scripted half hour sit-com, with few exceptions, demands a conformity to a certain format. Such a genre usually pull in the reins on what should be categorized as being easily a better premise.
You don't thank so? Well think about this . Take that tremendous Theatrical Film and Box Office Block Buster of a few years back, MY BIG FAT Greek WEDDING (2002). Someone thought to try to transplant some of that audience enthusiasm to the TV World with a derivative spin-off, a sitcom with most of the cast called "MY BIG FAT Greek LIFE"(2003) It lasted 7 episodes.
With this "VAN DYKE AND COMPANY", Dick was striking out in a sort of different direction, for him anywho! He drew the perimeters of the new series, leaving them plenty wide. Making it a 'Variety' Show seemed to be bucking trends then; as they were basically a dying breed at that time.
Mr. Van Dyke was most generous with allocating time to others on the series; as he did a lot of introducing other acts a la Ed Sullivan.
Once again, this is not to be overly critical, nor to infer that Dick was not performing, for he was. Wearing several different hats, his individual roles and strong points were still in evidence, also.
And Dick obviously was not afraid to really go out n a limb, and be an innovator. This was strongly in evidence with some of the monologues and closings. For example, in one week's show, he seems to be having trouble closing the show. Time is called and the Show's "Director" came out to talk with him. The Director (Manager) motions off camera, and a Guy on a Golf Cart comes on, delivering Tommy Smuthers, replete with Baseball Cap. Van Dyke and "Director" depart, at which time Tommy 'delivers' the final pitch of the evening. "Good Night!" he says, getting the 'side' out. Game over. It has to be seen.
An awful lot of people seem to forget that "VAN DYKE AND COMPANY" featured an up and coming off beat comedian by the name of Andy Kauffman as a regular. This certainly was a bold move, rendering the show as being progressive, open-minded and innovative even.
And a lot of good it did for not enough of us watched it and it vanished with the new season.
And where are these "Variety" Shows now that we need them. They would usually close with a message like "Be sure to be kind to each other out there!"*, or "Make sure you get to your place of Worship this week end!" Lord, where are these folks now, when we really need them!
NOTE: * That was Garry Moore's sign-off Wish for Years!
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