Years ago, I watched a television documentary about the comedy duo Mike Nichols and Elaine May. Both are better known nowadays for their directing and acting work, but in the 1950s, they were an ingenious improv comedy team who had met in the late 1940s at Chicago’s Second City, and later began appearing in nightclubs. They performed live in New York clubs, on television, and debuted in 1960 on Broadway with the show, “An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May.”
They poked fun at youth, parents and children, the ultra-conformist, Pollyanna society they saw around them, celebrities, interference by commercial sponsors in television shows, and anything else that crossed their paths. Their brand of comedy was wickedly barbed, intelligent, and achingly funny. Their chemistry was perfect and their humor completely in sync. The following are two examples of their particularly clever work together:
Although I was able to purchase “In Retrospect: Mike Nichols and Elaine May,” a CD of some of their audio sketches, alas, I’ve been unable to find that television documentary on DVD ANYWHERE. So enjoy these, and any of the other sketches you can find of them on YouTube.