Ernie Kovacs (January 23, 1919 - January 13, 1962) was a creative and innovative entertainer from the early days of television. His on-air antics would go on to inspire TV shows like Laugh-In, the Uncle Floyd Show, Saturday Night Live and TV hosts like David Letterman.
Born in Trenton, New Jersey, Kovacs became a pioneer of television comedy as a distinct medium; earlier television comedians mostly continued comedy styles of vaudeville, film, or radio.
His shows were innovative for their time because of their ad-libbed routines; experimentation with video effects (including superimpositions, reverse polarity, and reverse scanning which flipped images upside down); the use of quick "blackouts" and running gags; abstraction and non-sequitur; and a willingness to break the "fourth wall" by allowing viewers to see activity beyond the set - including crew members and, on occasion, outside the studio itself. He would also talk to the off-camera crew, or introduce segments from the control room.