A Tribute to a ‘Comic Mind’: Talking Carl Reiner with Dr. Roger Cooper

Posted on:

< < Back to

Legendary straight man and comedic storyteller, actor, and director Carl Reiner passed away at the age of 98 on Monday, June 29. Known for creating the innovative and widely revered The Dick Van Dyke Show, Reiner’s ability to play a straight man was further lionized in The 2000 Year Old Man series (crafted with fellow comedian Mel Brooks). Reiner was instrumental in Steve Martin’s break out from stand up, famously directing The Jerk (1979).

Over the course of his career, Reiner was the recipient of 11 Emmy Awards, a Grammy Award, and a Mark Twain Prize for Humor. He described his zen-like approach to crafting comedy in a 1981 interview with American Film:

“You have to imagine yourself as not somebody very special, but somebody very ordinary. If you imagine yourself as somebody really normal and if it makes you laugh, it’s going to make everybody laugh. If you think of yourself as something very special, you’ll end up a pedant and a bore. If you start thinking about what’s funny, you won’t be funny, actually. It’s like walking. How do you walk? If you start thinking about it, you’ll trip.”

WOUB Culture spoke to Dr. Roger Cooper, Associate Professor at Ohio University’s School of Media Arts and Studies, about the legacy of the comedic giant in the feature embedded above.