Cigar Smoking Comedians
To the serious cigar smoker, cigars are no laughing matter. That is, of course, unless the cigar smoker is a comedian. For comedians, cigars aren’t just used in matters of luxury, they are also used as props, sometimes serving as a signature feature of a stand-up routine. To some, cigars are as essential as the microphone, helping entertainers to leave the audience in stitches... and ashes. This article is dedicated to the cigar smoking comedians of past and present, those who have allowed us to find out what happens when “two cigars walk into a bar.”
Groucho Marx: He is perhaps not only the most famous cigar smoking comedian, but one of the most famous cigar smokers of all time. Rarely ever seen in public without his trusty cigar, Marx was one of the pioneers in the cigar smoking world. Today, comedians everywhere can mimic his routine simply by puffing on a cigar and not plucking their eyebrows for two and a half years.
George Burns: Preferring cigars over most things in life, George Burns was also rarely seen on stage without a cigar. Starting his vaudeville career using cigars as props, Burns eventually became synonymous with cigars; the two were inseparable. Upon his death at 100, he was buried in a suit, with three cigars in his jacket pocket.
Bill Cosby: While Bill Cosby didn't smoke cigars in public or use cigars as props as frequently as other comedians, he was once an avid cigar smoker, a habit he has since given up. This was a hobby he began in order to copy Groucho Marx, one of his comedic idols. In an episode of "The New Bill Cosby Show," Groucho Marx appeared on stage, looked at Cosby and said, "You smoke cigars I see. They're a handy thing to have for a comedian - assuming, of course, you are a comedian." And here we thought Bill Cosby only smoked pudding pops.
Milton Berle: Whether he was performing in front of a packed house at a Vegas hotel, or becoming television’s first major star, Milton Berle always maintained a magnetic charisma. During the golden age of TV, he became known as “Uncle Miltie”, a nickname attributed to the endearment America felt towards him. Though he wasn’t a drinker, Berle was an avid cigar smoker and an avid gambler, spending days smoking cigars at the horse races.
Ernest Kovacs: A pioneer of television, with his ad-lib routines and off-the-wall antics, Kovacs helped turn comedy into what it is today. As series such as Laugh-In were modeled after his creative genius, a creative genius that led him to knock down the wall between audience and performer, Kovac was nothing if not innovative. While Kovacs was a spokesman for Dutch Masters cigars, off camera he only lit up Havana cigars. Nonetheless, the commercials for Dutch Master cigars featuring Kovacs are still regarded as some of the funniest of all time.
David Letterman: Following in the footprints of one of his mentors, David Letterman has become as synonymous with late night television as Johnny Carson. While he does not use cigars as an on-stage routine, he can often be seen smoking cigars between commercial breaks. He then returns to the stage with a look of guilt on his face, appearing like a cat that ate a canary.
Comedians and cigars have always gone hand-in-hand. From the early days of silent movies to the present day stage routine, if there is one bit of luxury made for comedic performers, it is cigars. That’s, of course, not to say only comedians should smoke cigars. That notion, naturally, deserves the biggest laugh of all.