Who needs Leno or Letterman? Video fans have already picked their favorite funny person. And he is — are you ready? You sure? — Victor Borge. Yes, 1990’s The Best of Victor Borge has sold more than 1.4 million copies — double its nearest comedy-video rival (I Love Lucy tapes). Previously available only by mail, the tape — highlights from a late-’80s live performance from Minneapolis — has just been made available to stores.
Meanwhile, CVM has produced a new Borge tape (which first aired on PBS), called Victor Borge: Then and Now. It consists of more-recent concert footage intercut with clips of various Borge TV and film performances going back to the ’50s, and will be available in February by mail order only. Both tapes are impressive testimony to the appeal of an unseemly funnyman, an 84-year-old Danish-born, classically trained pianist whose humor is a notch above buffoonery and a notch below genius and who excels at lampooning the pomposities of highbrow culture without demeaning its value. Whether performing the roles in Mozart’s The Magic Flute all by himself (on Best of) or joining guest Leonid Hambro to send up concert pianists (on Then and Now), Borge captures the logic-defying joy of for-the-sheer-hell-of-it comedy better than anyone else now performing. Indeed, his most familiar bits are more like classical musical pieces than like contrived comedy riffs, with fans always eager to see him reprise such favorites as phonetic punctuation and the four-handed Liszt duet. Funniest comic on video? The numbers speak. Both tapes: A+