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Comedian Jonathan Winters: elastic talent

Turning back the clock to a 1975 interview with The Christian Science Monitor

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This is reprinted from the Nov. 17, 1975 issue of the Monitor with the newspaper's Los Angeles correspondent.

By Phil Elderkin
LOS ANGELES

Jonathan Winters is a comedian for all seasons!

Winters talent is elastic, stretching across a wide variety of situations and characters. Often he supplies his own sound effects, ranging from gurgling fountains to bouncing Ping-Pong balls.

And he’ll tell you frankly that no one knows exactly what makes people laugh.

“There is no stock or easy answer to that question,” says Winters, who is currently resident humorist on ABC’s “Good Morning, America. “Humor is real all right, only at the same time it’s intangible. It has no definition of its own because so much of it just happens.

“What works for me might not work for other comedians and vice versa,” said the man who so admires the precise timing of Laurel and Hardy. “I do satire because it’s something I like, something I feel comfortable with, and something that turns me on. But if I tried to be a stand-up comic and just deliver clever lines from a stage, I don’t think I could make it.”

On Jan. 21, 1976, as part of America’s bicentennial celebration, the NBC television network will present a one-hour comedy special tracing the 200-year-old roots of American humor and starring Jonathan Winters.

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