Comedians Chris Gethard, Maria Bamford, Wyatt Cenac, and Tyler Davis on Tuesday reflected on the legacy of Carl Reiner, the iconic creator of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” who died Monday at age 98.
“I mean it’s so hard because he is one of the people who set the bar for what comedy on television and movies is,” Gethard said as part of TheWrap’s “Comedy, Coping, and Change: Finding Humor in Change” webinar, presented by Topic and hosted by TheWrap editor in chief Sharon Waxman. “When you’re that embedded in the history of comedy, it’s kind of hard to point to one thing and instead I think I would just have to say, thank you to him for being one of the people who kind of established what the medium of TV can even be when it comes to comedy.”
The panelists, who all have stand-up specials on the Topic streaming service, noted that even in his 90s Reiner kept his finger on the pulse and would still frequent comedy shows.
“I did get to meet Carl Reiner, he would come out to shows here in LA,” Bamford said. “He was a lovely, lovely man to come out and stay for an entire standup show when you’re over 90 much less and you’re late 30s.”
Despite Reiner’s legacy, accomplishments and wealth, he was also remembered for being curious and aware of up and coming comedians.
“It would be very easy for someone with the career and the accomplishments that Carl Reiner had to just kind of disengage with present day comedy and with the times,” Cenec said. “What is interesting about his legacy is that he continued to want to be curious and be aware of the people who were doing comedy. … That’s very rare that you find any older comedians — much less than a 90-year-old — who would say, ‘Oh yeah, I’ll invite Nick Kroll and John Mulaney to come and spend the day with me’ or ‘I’ll go see Maria Bamford do stand-up.'”
Davis added, “It’s very admirable for someone to not rest on your laurels and and continue to try and push the the medium forward.”
In addition, the comedians had an often honest but frequently hilarious discussion about mental health and how it factors in the world of comedy. Bamford often brings up her battles with mental health issues in her act, even talking about how she called her manager “from the psych ward.”
“There is this is this dialogue in comedy that sadness, like the sad clown myth, that this is necessary or that you’re your trauma is necessary to feel comedy,” Gethard said, singling out Bamford’s efforts to address the topic in her act. “I feel like she deals with it so much more honestly, where it’s not romanticized at all it but you can laugh in the face of it while recognizing what it is in a very real way you’re also not giving into addiction and being messed up in the head.”
Cenac said that there are unique dangers for comedians. “I think as a career path, it’s one that puts you into places where you’re going to be more vulnerable,” he said. “Taking care of your mental health is something that is really important … and the ability to talk about it on stage can hopefully normalize those conversations.”
See the whole video at the top of the page, and watch more funny stuff on Topic.
The webinar was presented by Topic. To enjoy two months free, visit go.topic.com/TheWrap and enter the promo code LaughsWithTopic.