Some Larry Gelbart Interviews

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If you only know Larry Gelbart because of his connection to M*A*S*H, take a moment to read over his entry in the Encyclopedia of Television, published by the Museum of Broadcast Communications. The online version is the 1997 edition; an updated second edition was released in 2004.

And here’s a wonderful interview (in PDF format) for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, conducted in March of 2005 by Bill Dana and Jenni Matz. There are several questions about M*A*S*H, including one in which Gelbart explains how the series was survival humor:

Well, M*A*S*H was, in a sense, I don’t think I’m stretching it, those people were in a ghetto in a sense. They were cut off from their families, they were cut off from what they knew to be civilization, huddled together far from home, displaced, doing something they didn’t want to do. As doctors they weren’t prepared to operate on basically healthy people who just happened to be insulted by a piece of metal, you know? So, that was the series, but in real life it was exactly the same. The series we know came from a movie which came from a book. And that book is full of reminiscences about doctors in Korea behaving insanely to stop themselves from going insane.

It’s a fascinating interview that covers Gelbart’s life and career (I had no idea he spent the first five years of his life speaking only Yiddish) but primarily focuses on humor and comedy. Here’s another interview, by Kenneth Plume for IGN, that is all about M*A*S*H. It was conducted to celebrate/commemorate the release of the first season of the series on DVD. Gelbart discusses his time on the series, fighting with the network, writing out the character of Colonel Blake and more. There’s also 10 Question with Larry Gelbart.

Finally, the Archive of American Television conducted a lengthy videotape interview with Gelbart in May of 1998. It’s available at YouTube in eight parts; here’s part one.

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