The IBM Machine…

Avery Schreiber was a very funny actor and improviser that, despite his many talents, ultimately became best-known for his snack food commercials. But he served a tenure at The Committee and Second City, and also teamed very successfully with Jack Burns and, as Burns and Schreiber, even had their own network TV series one summer.
He was also a friend of Del Close, who is no stranger to followers of this blog. While at Second City in the early 1960s, they developed a scene in which Schreiber played a computer (then better known to audiences as an IBM Machine). Del would get a question from the audience, then feed it into Schreiber’s machine. Avery would then go into various gyrations as he tried to come up with an answer. Finally, he would spit out the answer by way of an invisible tape that Del would pull out of his mouth, and Del would then read the answer to the audience.
This generally got a great laugh from the audience and the audience was always very impressed with Avery. Of course, the person asking the question was the one who did all of the work and had to come up with the funny response, but it was a great bit.
(Avery did the human computer bit with other people over the years, most notably Jack Burns.) Here’s a clip of Close and Schreiber, disguised as a Second City documentary…

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