2015 Ernie Kovacs Award: Bob & Chris Elliott

Kovacs color


Dallas VideoFest 28 – October 18, 2015 @ 4:30 pm

Angelika Film Center – Dallas

By: Joshua Mills (Edie Adam's son) – The Estate of Edie Adams & Ernie Kovacs

"If anything, Ernie Kovacs is known for subverting the medium of Television. Where Kovacs style was more visual, the comedy team of Bob & Ray’s humor is more understated, often deadpan. Like Kovacs, Bob & Ray started out on radio where often much of their humor was improvised. Yet if you really look at their humor and its development for a new medium, it came from the same place as Kovacs’: an irreverent, madcap, cockeyed, subversive worldview that lampooned the media and the establishment. They let you in on the joke (“Maybe this guy I’m interviewing doesn’t know what he’s talking about after all.”) and made you feel like part of the gag. Think of these titans of comedy as if one was Picasso and the other Van Gogh. They both used the same canvas of Television to create something totally unique that no one had seen before. In the 1950s Eisenhower America, you didn’t get more “far out” than Ernie Kovacs, Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding.

"Ironically, more than 30 years after the beginning of Television, it was Bob’s son, Chris Elliott, who was the most subversive comedian on the air. In the 1980s Reagan’s America, it was a rarity to see something so irreverent, bizarre and flat out funny as “The Panicky Guy” on Late Night With David Letterman. Chris Elliott’s characters were about as far away from Who’s The Boss? as you could get in 1984. Yet unlike the genius of programs like SCTV, Monty Python & SNL, Elliott went at it alone. You can draw a straight line from Kovacs to Andy Kaufman and later Chris Elliott. They played with the medium on their own terms. “The Guy Under The Stairs” was as a fully formed (well?….) character whose prop budget was about $1.98. How Kovacs-ian to literally turn the camera around, show us viewers at home that there was indeed was an in-studio audience who were part of the gag!

"With the career of third generation comedian, Abby Elliott now in full swing (she’s literally the third Elliott to be a featured on SNL), one can only wonder what lies ahead for American Television comedy. Surely Bob’s granddaughter, Chris’ daughter is set to find a way to put a red-hot poker in the eye of the establishment today. No pressure, right?

"This year’s Ernie Kovacs Award is presented to Bob Elliott & Chris Elliott, whose collective, cockeyed, subversive, free form and abstract humor are more than deserving of the 2015 Ernie Kovacs Award, presented by the Video Association of Dallas at the 28th annual Dallas VideoFest on Sunday, October 18, 2015 at the Angelika Film Center — Dallas."



The Dallas Video Festival and the Video Association of Dallas announced the first Ernie Kovacs Award at the 1997 Festival. Comedian Joel Hodgson of “Mystery Science 3000” was the first recipient and subsequent annual honorees include “Monty Python’s” Terry Gilliam; “Saturday Night Live” and “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” writer/performer, Robert Smigel; Paul (“Pee-wee Herman”) Reubens; Martin Mull; Texas’ own, Mike Judge; “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” creator, George Schlatter; and Harry Shearer of "The Simpsons" and THIS IS SPINAL TAP.

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