What was the earliest TV show that had the actor look at the camera / "break the fourth wall" during the introduction while the character / actors name was being spoken? I remember quite a few from the 80s and 70s that did it but I have no idea where it originated from.

  • I'm not sure I understand the question, but George Burns routinely addressed the camera early in each show with Gracie Allen, commenting on plot and characters.
    – Chaim
    Jun 7 '18 at 16:48

I think it was Monty Python. From wikipedia:

Michael Palin coined the term meta comment during the writing of Monty Python's Flying Circus. It refers to a moment of commentary or dialogue spoken by an actor referring to the situation that character is in. For example, in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, following Sir Galahad's discovery of the Castle Anthrax – Dingo is telling the sad tale of her life... she turns to the camera: Oh, wicked, bad, naughty, evil Zoot! She is a bad person and must pay the penalty... Do you think this scene should have been cut? We were so worried when the boys were writing it, but now, we're glad. It's better than some of the previous scenes, I think...

  • Monty Python Flying Circus predates Holy Grail, with several instances of fourth wall ( for example when a character winks and looks at (and also talks to?) the audience, proud of himself, but I can't remember which sketch it was ) Mar 31 '17 at 8:00

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