Here's another excellent piece from Mark Evanier's blog (newsfromme.com):
Today's Video Link
I guess this one's for those of us who speak English and only English. I'm one such person. Matter of fact, I'm pretty hopelessly addicted to English. I took Spanish in Junior High School and I was absolutely dreadful at it. I remember about three sentences, one of which translates to "And notice how nice the lights are!" If I ever travel to a place where they only speak Spanish, I need to be in rooms that only have good lighting. Otherwise, I'll have nothing to say.
Later in school, I took German, Portuguese and Italian. I recall about ten words of each and didn't know that many more when I took my final exams in those courses. You could waterboard me and maybe get thirteen or fourteen out of me but that's about it.
Years ago when I worked with the great Sid Caesar, I was (like everyone) stunned and impressed at his ability to generate double-talk in French, in German, in Italian, etc. I found myself wondering, "What does that sound like to someone who actually speaks the language Sid is doing?" Or more interesting, perhaps: "What does it sound like if someone fluent in another language did double-talk English?" I once asked my pal Sergio Aragonés about it and he did an imitation for me of what Mexican comedians do when they do to English what Sid Caesar does to their tongue. It was...odd. A few real English words intermingled with a lot of incomprehensible vowel sounds with a Texas accent.
Anyway, Jim Newman just sent me this video link to a show apparently from some Italian variety program. The star is a gent of whom Jim says, "I'm guessing this guy is the Sid Caesar of Italy." Apparently so...