Friday, April 12, 2013

R.I.P Jonathan Winters (1925-2013)

Johnathan Winters, an improv comedian who's career spanned over seven decades, died at age 87. 

Jonathan Winters' stand-up comedy  was full of non-sequiturs and surreal jokes, influenced generations of comedians, notably including George Carlin,  Robin Williams and Jim Carrey. 

Winters was the first comic to recognize the video stunt, which utilized  videotape to allow one comic to play two characters bantering about apparently on the same set.   In fact, Albert Brooks tweeted "Beyond funny, he invented a new category of comedic genius."  In 1999, Winters was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

Jonathan Winters accepting Mark Twain Award in Washington, Oct. 1999

While Winters may be remembered for his slew of comedy albums, movie appearances and as Mork and Mindy's Orkan son, Winters' ought to also be remembered for a couple of heroic virtues in this day and age. 

Jonathan Winters was a Hollywood entertainer who was married to his wife for sixty (60) years, including 20 years when his wife was battling with breast cancer.  

Early in his career in the spotlight, Winters suffered two nervous breakdowns.  In 1958, he was institutionalized for eight months and also again in 1961 for what was later deemed manic depression.  Winters did not let these mental health setbacks keep him down, nor did he play the victim for sympathy.  Winters referenced not wanting to go back to "the zoo"  on his album "The Wonderful World of Jonathan Winters" (1960).  A couple of years ago, Winters participated in a small comedy  film "Certifiably Jonathan"  (2007) which plays off his depression as well as his painting, which had been deemed the missing link between Joan Miro and Salvador Dali.

Perhaps the best way for a humorous surreal zymurgist to honor Jonathan Winters passing his mortal coil is to share an "out of this world" 1962 Utica Club Beer video, one of the hundred of talking beer stein ads where Winters voiced Schultz and Dooley. 

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