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Kovacs, Electronic Tricks, Parody

by Ethan Thompson

The combination of technically advanced video techniques such as the chroma-keying Kovacs used to create the bullet hole and the less sophisticated gags such as the horse costume and the boot crushing the model town characterizes the comic strategies of this segment from The Ernie Kovacs Show, a special that aired on ABC in the early 1960s. But how typical is this combination in Kovacs’ comedy across the various programs, formats, and years? Critics and fans rave about Kovacs as a unique artist and comedian, but some of these jokes look…well, cheesy. What would audiences have thought about the “New Western”—and found funny—back when it first aired? The chapter by Ethan Thompson in How to Watch Television, 2nd edition, examines Kovacs’ unique comic aesthetic, historicizing his work in a way that recognizes his individual genius and comic innovations, yet helps us see how his work emerged within the production logics of the television industry.

The Ernie Kovacs Show - New Western Segment

This segment from one of his specials features Ernie Kovacs prescribing methods for reinvigorating the western TV genre via the "New Western."

from The Ernie Kovacs Show (1962)
Creator: Ernie Kovacs
Posted by Ethan Thompson