Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Super Dave

When Pat Paulsen got his own “Half a Comedy Hour,” he told syndicated columnist Mel Heimer in 1970: "I almost can predict one star now: Bob Einstein, my head writer, who's going to double as a performer."

Einstein eventually did reach stardom, but seemed to spend the bulk of his TV career doubling, either writing/producing or performing.

At one time, Einstein might have been best known for portraying “Officer Judy” on the Smothers Brothers and Paulsen shows. But then came a series called Bizarre which occasionally included an inept, perpetually blown-up/squashed stuntman named Super Dave Osborne. Einstein parlayed that into his own TV show in the late ‘80s. (There was also a Super Dave cartoon series. It was like making a cartoon of a cartoon).

Einstein has passed away at the age of 76. (Einstein might have appreciated it if you inserted your own irreverent “failed stunt” joke here).

My memory of Einstein comes from an entirely different place, if age isn’t playing tricks. Einstein used to do a routine on Redd Foxx’s variety show where he’d walk on stage and interrupt Foxx, generally telling him things he couldn’t do on television. It was one of the many series which he wrote.

Einstein was working at Grey Advertising in 1968 when he sent sketch material to Tommy and Dick Smothers. He ended up being hired to write for them and won an Emmy for it.

However, we’ll let this wire story from November 24, 1987 tell us more about Einstein. His “Super Dave” show may have aired in the U.S. on Showtime but it was shot in Toronto. As mentioned, his character appeared on Bizarre, which went through a bizarre gestation. Einstein co-created it, and a pilot starring Richard Dawson aired on ABC, but the network didn’t want to pick it up as a series. Einstein ended up going to Canada and producing it with CTV, which aired a censored version while Showtime broadcast it in the States (John Byner replaced Dawson). Versions of this story appeared around November 20, 1987. Interestingly, there is no mention of his brother, Albert Brooks.

'Super Dave' Osborne brings stunts to Showtime
with new variety series

By Jerry Buck

Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Bob Einstein might give a thumbs-up sign as "Super Dave" Osborne, the hapless stuntman he plays on Showtime's "Super Dave" series. But more often than not, his "stunts" leave him bottoms up.
"Super Dave," a comedy and variety show currently showing on the pay cable network, is the first spinoff from a cable series, Einstein said. He developed the "Super Dave" character in the six years he and Allan Blye did "Bizarre" for Showtime.
"Super Dave" looks and talks like a stuntman, from his aw-shucks attitude to his red-white-and-blue jumpsuit. But somehow nothing ever seems to go right. "I'm wishing luck to everyone, then my head is pounded into my shoes," Einstein said. "I think everything will come out fine, but it never does. The stunts always go wrong. They're planned, they're rehearsed, but when it comes time to do them for the show we have problems. I have great recuperative powers.
"Everybody's trying to find a new way to do variety," said Einstein. "So, instead of singing songs, I get killed. All our guests have a great time on the show. It's a different feeling doing a variety show as a character.
"It's hard to do a variety show. It's hard to do all that small talk and make it sound real. When you have a star, he becomes the focus of a variety show, and he has to take himself seriously. But with Super Dave, it's all phony anyway. The baloney is really baloney, and it's a way of not taking yourself seriously." The first show features guest star Ray Charles and a cameo by Carol Burnett, plus a real stunt by a group of acrobats who perform precision basketball slam-dunk routines after leaping from trampolines.
"Super Dave" will become a weekly series in January.
Einstein is primarily a writer and producer and got into performing only after Tom Smothers spotted him on a local TV show.
"I did a put-on character who said he was responsible for putting the names of stars along Hollywood Boulevard," Einstein said. "Someone asked me how to get a name on the sidewalk, and I got huffy and said I couldn't be bought. He asked me again and I said, 'Have you got $5?' Tommy saw it and bought the character until I did the switch."
The award-winning advertising copywriter became a writer and performer on "The Glen Campbell Summer Series." Later, he became head writer for "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour." His writing partner was Steve Martin.
He and Blye, his partner for the past 14 years, wrote and produced "Van Dyke and Company." Einstein also wrote and directed his own movie, "Another Fine Mess," and was head writer for two Andy Williams specials and "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour." He was co-host of 45 segments of "The Steve Allen Show."
The tall, lanky Einstein grew up in a show business family in Beverly Hills. His father was Harry Einstein, better known as Nick Parkayakarkus, the host of the radio show "Meet Me at Parky's" who also starred on shows with Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson.
"I loved humor," Einstein said. "I had that in me. But I had no ambition to go into show business when I was growing up. I started out as an advertising copywriter and evolved into it. Once you get into it, however, it's very difficult to get out. It gets into your blood. You don't want to do anything else. You want that excitement."


  1. Couldn't wait to catch " Super Dave's " weekly stunts to see how bad he would get it every week. I think the radiation super charger machine was the hardest I laughed. He walks off with that dead pan delivery saying " I'm fine....fine " as body parts fall off one by one..I had forgotten that Albert Brooks was his younger brother.

  2. I remember watching BIZZARE here on USA TV in mid 1980s and Super Dave later..Bob also, as himself, used to catch host John Byner (whose own animation credits famously were, DePatie-Freleng's ANT AND AARDVARK), doing something wrong, and that went back to Einstein's late 60s SMOTHERS BROTHERS show as Officer Judy!