Carl Reiner on George Gobel's Comedy Timing
Carl Reiner weighs in on one aspect of George Gobel's technique:
“Timing is, of course the thing that makes all comedy work and there's all kinds of timing.... The best timing is... where a joke comes in when you don't expect it to be coming in, and Gobel had that technique. He was talking along and you didn't expect a joke to be coming because he was talking serious, about his wife, whatever, and all of a sudden he would throw a little aside-- but that would be why he was doing the whole thing-- the aside, the little joke and then he would continue on. He made a science out of that-- I think he was the best at interrupting himself.”
Veteran comedy writer Dave Pollock agrees: “…. Because he interrupted himself... and went off on tangents upon tangents, it gave the illusion of added spontaneity-- so you weren't as aware [of Gobel as] a guy trying to entertain you, going from joke to joke-- though in fact he really was!... He was usually... being caught up in a set of circumstances or forces greater than himself.... And it seemed that he sort of got a kick out of relating it to you and it appeared to be... crystallizing in his mind at the same time he was telling it to you.... He was he was a very engaging guy doing this.... But, you'd hate to diagram his sentences in your seventh grade English class-- quite complex!”
In late 1954, Gobel was a guest on a special edition of The Dinah Shore Chevy Show. He delivered a Hal Kanter gag that exemplifies his practice of self-interruption and of seeming to go in one direction and pulling you up short by taking you in another. George is reminiscing:
“See, it was a long time ago, it was back in Detroit, and I was workin' on the Chevrolet plant there on the assembly line-- and we would stand there assemblying and assemblying and assem--
“But one day... the foreman came down the line and he fired me....
“He said that I wasn't taking enough, uh....
“Well, it wasn't that so much, see, but Chevrolet has a policy where, uh....
“See, the parts in a Chevrolet are so finely, uh...
“Well, they caught me makin' a Cadillac!”