DAVID BIANCULLI

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ERIC GOULD

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When the Insults Were Reversed
April 6, 2017  | By Eric Gould
 

Insult comic king Don Rickles passed away today (April 6, 2017), and YouTube is full of riotous Rickles moments throughout his 50-year comedy career. Some of his classic material doesn’t translate well into current boundaries, but as many comedy historians point out, those boundaries are ever evolving and are specific to the culture of the moment – and Rickles broke through many in the ‘60s with his as-yet unheard of rapid-fire, stream-of-consciousness improv assaults on audiences and fellow performers. (If you think Robin Williams was first in disruption, think again.) Rickles appeared on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show over 100 times, and this clip from 1976 veers from the usual fare of Rickles loose in the hen house. With Carson walking onto the taping of Rickles' sitcom CPO Sharkey in a mock rage, it is one of the rare moments where roles were reversed and it was Rickles himself who was on the spot, getting the embarrassing commentary. –Eric Gould

 
 
 
 
 
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