Monday, April 15, 2013


Jonathan Winters

( 1925 ~ 2013 )

It was never called "bonding" but in the late 1950s through the 60s I used to watch television comedians with my father and that's how we bonded — not throwing a baseball or football or basketball since he didn't play — but with the comedians, and he taught me how to play drums, via Gene Krupa, which was okay since I was playing on my father's large and dull tuned kit with its huge base drum and tom-tom without a bottom skin, more like a kettle. That's how those old guys lived. It was white and loud and yet sincere. The greatest tv show for comedians we watched may have been "The Steve Allen Show." I was too young to know I was watching Jack Kerouac one night, but I was watching Jack Kerouac one night, reading aloud, Steve Allen on piano. It all looked too cool for words. Louis Nye, Don Knotts, Lenny Bruce, probably Jonathan Winters came on the show. Winters was square-shaped, clean cut, reminded me of our grade school janitor until he opened his mouth and used his eyes. There would never be another comedian like him. So many of the best ones came from the American midwest. Like almost everything great from America, Jonathan Winters didn't quite fit in — he was in films but he couldn't swing with it, or on a television series. He just had to appear and have someone interact with him, and then the genius showed, like Groucho, like Buster Keaton, the two other geniuses of that ilk. I'd go on to teach my son how to play drums. . .who became the best player in the family tree.