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 [El Producto] cigars in his jacket pocket.
Bill Cosby: While Bill Cosby does not often smoke cigars in public or use cigars as props as frequently as other comedians, he still remains an avid cigar smoker, a habit that he began in order to mimic 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.
Ernie 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, Kovacs 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.
Ron White: Fritch, Texas native, Ron “Tater Salad” White’s trademark has become his Davidoff cigars and a bottle of scotch, which he is rarely seen without off-stage, as well. White made the jump from former window salesman and struggling comic, to comedy superstar, and like most successful performers, it didn’t happened overnight. Ron spent 20 years paying his dues. Then, in 2000 he hooked-up with The Blue Collar Comedy Tour, and when the tour ended in 2003, he had established himself as a household name with comedy fans. White, who really is a serious cigar smoker, has had two Grammy nominations, a Gold Record, a New York Times bestselling book, and has sold over 10 million CDs and DVDs. Since 2006, Ron has also been one of the three top-grossing comedians in the country. (G.K.)
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.
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Jennifer Jordan is the senior editor at Savor Each Glass, a website that explores the spirit of wine in Colorado’s North Fork Valley through wine classes, food events, and personal sommelier services. She has a vast knowledge of wine and cigars, writing articles on everything from how to hold a glass of wine to how to how to hold a cigar. Reprinted by permission.