The Show Must Go On

milton berle

The Original Must See TV.
Jerry Seinfeld used to be the King of Must See TV. But in the TV's Golden Age, someone else wore that crown. That someone was known as Mr. Television. That someone was Milton Berle, who developed his comedy chops in Vaudeville and the Borscht Belt.

During the Eisenhower administration, people across the USA started buying TV sets just to watch Milton Berle on Tuesday nights. There was a time that no one was bigger than Berle. And he would have been quick to tell you that Elvis Presely made his TV debut not on Ed Sullivan but 5 months before on Berle's show.

elvis presely

So what's Uncle Miltie's Apocalypzian angle?

One winter long after his TV career was over, Milton Berle played Chicago's Empire Room, one of the last great night clubs of an earlier era. The room was routinely sold out during his two week run, but one night, the city was hit with one of its killer snow storms. At showtime, The Great Empire Room, was nearly empty.

The stage manager came to Berle's dressing room to give him the bad news. No audience, no show. "How many people are out there," Berle asked. "Only four," was the reply.

Milton Berle said, "I don't care. They came here for a show and, damn it, they're going to get a show."

And a Show They Got.
Milton Berle went out that night with his full accompaniment of singers, dancers and musicians and put on the same great show he did when the room was SRO. And never once did Milton Berle refer to the size of the crowd.

A young kid working the props to make some college money learned something that night, never thinking he'd be blogging about it years later.

If you're a true professional, you're never playing to the crowd.
You're connecting with individuals, no matter how large -- or small -- that group might be. Whether you're playing for a packed house or not, you show up with your best material and give it your best shot.

berle tv

Mr. Television taught us something about the nature of Apocalypzia that night, so long ago...

(And yes, there is a naughty pun somewhere in this post...)

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