JAMESTOWN – The National Comedy Center is celebrating legendary comedy innovator Ernie Kovacs’ 101st birthday through Saturday with special screenings of rare video clips and highlights from his television career.
The exhibit also highlights a display of rare artifacts and never-before-seen material in the “Ernie Kovacs Centennial Exhibit,” which opened last August and continues its run at the center.
The special screenings will be shown Friday and Saturday throughout the day in the National Comedy Center Theater.
Often called “Television’s Original Genius,” Ernie Kovacs influenced generations of comedic artists and entertainers, including Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Kimmel and Andy Kaufman, and laid the groundwork for the creation of Laugh-In, Saturday Night Live, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Pee-wee’s Playhouse and The Muppet Show.
The screenings during the 101st Birthday celebration will highlight some of Kovacs’ most important and acclaimed work, along with rare footage, including a “lost” episode of the Ernie Kovacs-hosted game show “Take a Good Look,” which was originally broadcast on ABC in 1961, and only recently rediscovered.
The offbeat game show features surreal sight gags, blackouts and sketches, along with Ernie’s original Dutch Masters cigar commercials.
Additional video highlights feature two of Kovacs’ beloved characters, “poet laureate” Percy Dovetonsils and Mr. Question Man, plus “Leena Queen of the Jungle” featuring Edie Adams (with Kovacs as Leena), a unique performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake,” and Kovacs’ inventive Dutch Masters cigar commercials.
The “Ernie Kovacs Centennial Exhibit,” which debuted during the National Comedy Center’s Lucille Ball Comedy Festival in August 2019, features never-before-seen material and rare artifacts courtesy of the comedian’s estate and estate executive Josh Mills, including screen-used props and wardrobe, personal effects, rare production documents and audiovisual content that chronicle Kovacs’ career.
Much of the material was personally retained by Ernie Kovacs and his wife/creative collaborate, Edie Adams, and had been packed away since Kovacs’ untimely death in 1962 at the age of 42.
The Kovacs exhibit is available daily as part of the National Comedy Center museum experience.