The shock and horror of the 9/11 terrorist attack twenty years ago still preys on the collective memory of those who witnessed the events of that day, either in person or watching on live TV. Countless aspects of American society were not only drastically affected then, but, to some degree, remain so to this day.

Among those was the entertainment industry (not to imply that entertainment was anywhere near as “important” as maintaining the necessary functions and safety of everyday life in the aftermath of the attack). And, within the entertainment industry itself, the smaller world of comedy was brought…

Another Olympiad is upon us — this time from Tokyo, after a year’s delay due to the Covid pandemic. It could very well be the most bizarre Olympic Games yet, as athletes from all over the world will partake in opening and closing ceremonies, and compete for medals and world records in front of empty stadiums, swimming halls, and other venues. Expect to see no crowds, no cheering, just mostly empty seats and virtual silence (except for VIPs, coaches, staff, and a throng of journalists). Yet, it will all be televised, of course.

Reaching back in time to recall another…

This week marks the 60th anniversary of the first in-flight movie shown on a domestic airline, which helped make long, cross-continental trips a little more tolerable (depending on the movie, of course).

The history of jet airplane transportation is a fascinating one. The arrival and immediate popularity of jet service in 1958 changed the world in countless ways that we take for granted now. Long distance air travel for tourists and business professionals had been made not only practical, but desirable — even glamorous.

And, while other airlines may have been the first to offer 707 jets to the flying…

The Office, a modern sitcom classic co-created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant (and starring Gervais), premiered on the BBC July 9, 2001. Its comedy was of a nature that required the viewer’s undivided attention, especially for its quieter conversations and other subtle comic nuances. In fact, it almost doesn’t feel right to refer to it as a “sitcom” at all. Like many of Britain’s best comedies through the years, The Office took the traditional sitcom form and discarded all but the most basic elements. Its creative success, though, inspired a number of other contemporary sitcoms to emulate its style.

This year marks the 80th anniversary of one of the classic film comedies of all time, Abbott & Costello’s Buck Privates. It deserves to be remembered — even praised — for a number of reasons.

It was the first of Hollywood’s wartime musical comedies. Filming began in late 1940, taking advantage of the nation’s preoccupation with the newly instituted draft. Hitler’s armies were trampling across Europe at the time, and already at war with Britain and France. …

In honor of Mother’s Day, I humbly offer this tribute to my favorite — and funniest — sitcom moms since the turn of the 21st century.

Sitcom moms from television’s earlier decades (or “Golden Age” if you insist), are celebrated for reasons that are becoming increasingly difficult to fathom with the passage of time.

“Fawlty Towers” pays homage to the Germans.

There have been several occasions in which a British sitcom develops such a sterling reputation in Britain, and perhaps in the states as well, that an American producer or network will attempt to recreate that success with an American version of the show. The odds against success are great. Rather than allowing Americans to be content with the laughter and joy so many brilliant Britcoms have brought us, Hollywood insists on watering down true comedy masterpieces with versions that often miss the point (and creativity)of the originals.

“The future ain’t what it used to be — and what’s more, it never was.”

Even the great folk singer-songwriter Lee Hayes may not have fully appreciated the true wisdom of his bon mot — at least where predicting the future is concerned. And, now that we’re saying good-bye and good riddance to 2020, we can safely conclude, as we look ahead, that most of the predictions we might venture to make about life in our future are not likely to come true (although you might stand a better chance if your family name is Nostradamus). …

It has been forty years since John Lennon was assassinated. I’m not sure what’s more difficult to believe seeing in print (other than the word “assassinated”): writing the word “forty,” or writing the numeral “40.” Either way, it’s a disturbing thought on a number of levels.

On December 8, 1980, I was 19 years old, in college at the University of Maryland in College Park, not too far from downtown D.C. …

On December 7, 1941, the “date that will live in infamy,” Japan attacked the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii, and several other Pacific islands, a few minutes before 8:00 a.m. local time, 2:00 p.m. Eastern time. Even at that early date, television was able to cover the breaking news as quickly as possible.

In New York, local radio station WOR and the radio network affiliates of CBS and NBC all interrupted their broadcasts with the bulletin off the wire services; they all did so between 2:26 and 2:30 p.m.

Garry Berman

Pop Culture historian, Freelance Writer, Author, specializing in American comedy history in films, radio, and TV. Beatles and jazz enthusiast, animal lover.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store