By Mike Berenstain
My parents used to watch the Sid Caesar show in their bedroom. This had started off as their studio, but when I came along, they needed another bedroom and so built a newer, bigger studio onto the house and converted their first studio into a bedroom. It was a bedroom with an enormous skylight in the roof. It also opened directly into the living room, separated from it by a large sliding door. The house was very modern, a very Fifties-Frank-Lloyd-Wrightish one-level, concrete slab house.
My father used to sit down at the foot of the bed in front of the enormous console Motorola combined radio, hi-fi, television set and howl with laughter as he watched Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Howie Morris and Carl Reiner cavort across the screen. He’d howl then rock back and forth in paroxysms of laughter, gradually losing his voice as he ran out of breath. My mother sat back on the bed and laughed more conventionally. All this noisy hilarity often woke me and my brother, Leo, up. We would come wandering out of our bedroom trailing stuffed snoozer dogs, down the hall to the living room and into their studio bedroom, blearily complaining of the noise and point out that sleep was elusive under such conditions. The problem was always solved by an invitation to sit down at the end of the bed and enjoy the show.
I didn’t really understand the humor of Your Show of Shows, besides, I was very sleepy. But I enjoyed it none-the-less. Mr. Caesar made some very funny faces and Miss Coca was somehow raucous, suggestive and sweet all at once. I particularly enjoyed Sid’s German Professor with his garbled made-up Teutonic gibberish.
When it was over, I was duly tucked back into bed with snoozer dog to drift into dreams of Caesarish mirth. The house I remember in vivid detail. I think I could describe every square inch and not just the house, but the yard as well – every bush and flower and tree – and much of the neighborhood beyond.
There is an excruciating immediacy about my memories of childhood which I find difficult to account for or to deal with. It’s as if my childhood was following close behind so that when I stop short or turn around, it bangs into me. It’s right there, always.