Jack Benny was a great many things to many people. To millions of radio listeners, his character was simply the cheapest man in America, an image so ingrained into the national consciousness that on opening day of baseball season-instead of throwing out the first ball-he merely glanced at it and put it in his pocket, bringing the house down. To others, he was the world's lousiest violinist, whose ego told him he was one of the all-time greats, an opinion he shared with no one. To many of those same people, he was a man so vain that he claimed to be 39 for almost 40 years. However, for industry insiders and fellow comedians, he was the creator of what is now universally known as the family sitcom and the absolute master of comedic timing. He was also as far removed from his stage character as was humanly possible. Benny may have played the ego obsessed miser, but nobody was more gracious, especially when it came to sharing the laughs on his radio and-later-television shows among his ensemble cast. Benny was not only the pioneer of ensemble cast sitcom work but the genius who knew what made it tick, knowing full well that it didn't matter if you (or for matter, who) got all the laughs as long as the people tuned back in to your show every week. Nobody was better at protecting a laugh than Jack Benny. No matter which cast member had the preceding punch line, Jack always made sure that his writers gave the next line to him, so he could milk the laugh for all it was worth before continuing the routine. As George Burns would so often attest, nobody could wring more laughs out of a blank stare and dead silence than Jack Benny. Certainly no comedian had a keener awareness of what made their act work than he did, a knowledge gleaned from numerous years on the vaudeville circuit, finding out first hand what made audiences laugh.