Jonathan Winters was a brilliant comedic genius

July 13, 2013

Jonathan Winters was my all-time favorite comedian. Although there are many very good comedians around today, I’m not sure we’ll ever see anyone who can match Winters’ amazing ability to create comedy on the fly.

Not much has been said in recent years about Winters’ two nervous breakdowns in which he committed himself for treatment.

Reportedly, the first time he sought treatment followed an episode when Winters was found, stark naked, climbing the mast of a ship in San Francisco harbor and looking upward, shouting: “Wait for me! I’m coming with you!” I’ve not seen that story repeated in anything recent, but if it’s true, I’m sure Winters was just introducing a new form of comedy.

Winters did a character called “Maude Frickert.” Johnny Carson’s version was an advice to the lovelorn character called “Aunt Blabby,” which Carson would do in costume, gray-wig-with-bun and all, as did Winters with Maudie.

With each, it was comedy at its best.

Winters’ “Maudie,” as he called her, was an innocent-appearing little ol’ lady until she opened her mouth.

Once a friend of mine, an ad agency executive and a bigger Winters fan than even I, slipped his own recorder into a studio where Winters was taping a TV commercial with an actress.

His unbridled comedic mind produced a 45-minute tape of “out-takes” from the recording session that were some of the most side-splitting, mind-boggling comedy you’d ever want to hear.

I feel certain someone will produce a video of some of his standup routines and also a sound CD of his best stories and jokes.

I’ll buy both.

Willis Webb is a retired community newspaper editor-publisher. He can be reached at [email protected]

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