|Sid Caesar in 1961 (Public Domain)|
When Sid Caesar was interviewed by Barbara Paskin of The Jewish Chronicle a few years ago, she asked him whether he would consider having a second bar mitzvah like Kirk Douglas did.
Caesar replied, "I had one and one was enough. For me, it's enough to be a man once in my life."
Caesar's one and only bar mitzvah turned out to be "a very big deal." Even at that tender age of 13, he was already showing signs of being a "master of his own words." Rather than run with the rabbi's prepared speech, Caesar wrote his own. In it, he conveyed "how being Jewish has affected me."
Being a Jew continued to affect Caesar throughout his long lifetime. He felt that "Jews appreciate humour because in their life it's not too funny." Caesar's amazing team of writers (Woody Allen, Neil Simon, Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks) were each Jewish too - not because Caesar planned it that way, but because "they were genius."
Nevertheless, Caesar was careful not to become too steeped in "the kind of Jewish neuroticism that Woody Allen exhibited…" Although Caesar incorporated traditional Jewish humor into his act, he did not wish to "make fun of being Jewish."
Copyright February 12, 2014 by Linda Van Slyke All Rights Reserved