- Gebundene Ausgabe: 672 Seiten
- Verlag: Pantheon; Auflage: 1 (15. April 2003)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0375410309
- ISBN-13: 978-0375410307
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 16,3 x 3,6 x 24,2 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: Schreiben Sie die erste Bewertung
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 379.400 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 15. April 2003
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It's been said that analyzing comedy is a bit like dissecting a frog: you arrive at a greater understanding of the frog but the frog does tend to die in the process. The purpose of Gerald Nachman's Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s is not to provide a laugh riot of his subjects' best punch lines, but rather to explore their lives, careers, and influence. Nachman's scope is impressive. He provides detailed biographies not only of household names Sid Caesar, Lenny Bruce, Bob Newhart, and Woody Allen but also comics like Jean Shepherd, Shelley Berman, and Will Jordan whose legacies have far outpaced their name recognition. Nachman has done his research; the book profiles 26 comedians, each in exhaustive detail, and no fan of this era will feel cheated at the end of its 768 pages. There are plenty of entertaining show biz anecdotes (Sid Caesar throwing a lit cigar at young writer Mel Brooks, Bill Cosby punching out Tommy Smothers) along with tales of the darker sides of Mort Sahl, Jonathan Winters, and others whose private lives were far less amusing than their stage acts. But what makes Seriously Funny so compelling, and its dopey title at least partially forgivable, is the author's meticulous attention to each comedian's imprint on the landscape of comedy itself. And while the jokes cited often seem a bit stale and obvious, it bears noting that they were revolutionary when these comedians first made them. --John Moe
Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende
Gerald Nachman has for more than forty years covered theater, movies, cabaret, and television for newspapers and magazines. His previous books include Raised on Radio; two collections of humor pieces, Out on a Whim and The Fragile Bachelor; and a humorous book on marriage, Playing House. He lives in San Francisco.Alle Produktbeschreibungen
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There were flaws, but I could live with them. There were a few errors, and the structure of most of the chapters could have used help. (The chapters tend to start with an overview of the comedian's essence, then shift to biography. In some instances, this came across as repetitious.) Don't expect a history of the era (say for a assessment of how the shift from Paar to Carson affected the direction of comedy.)
The most serious drawback to me was that there was no concluding chapter after we had covered all the biographies, because I had a few questions by then and wanted Nachman to try to draw stuff together. (Chiefly, why did his Fifties comics, apart from Phyllis Diller, tend to fall silent or burn out fast, while the Sixties comics, apart from Bruce and Dick Gregory, seem to go on forever?)
Still, this was a very enjoyable book. My wife is looking forward to reading it, having seen me enjoy it. I say regard it as a useful overview of an era and not a definitive last word on the subject.
Now he has put that golden era in perspective. "Seriously Funny" (Pantheon) is the definitive word on the comedy revolution that changed the way we laugh, at least for a few fantastic years.
This book will please two audiences -- those who want to relive the euphoria they felt when the revolt happened, and the younger crowd that always wondered where these people came from, whether they were any good, and where they are now.
Mort Sahl, Sid Caesar, Tom Lehrer, Steve Allen, Jonathan Winters, Mike Nichols and Elaine May, Bob Newhart, Lenny Bruce, Shelley Berman, Godfrey Cambridge, Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, Joan Rivers are all there, among several others.
Nachman's 30,000-word introduction, a sweeping overview that explains the roots of the revolt, acknowledges its ephemeral nature: "It's hard to find traces now of those brilliant, perceptive, funny comedians. The comics who came later mostly aimed for the gut and the groin, not the brain or the soul." And he laments: "The laughter they left behind in all of those little underground clubs is long gone, but their legacy still smiles brightly, warmly, and merrily."
Nachman seems to have combed through all published sources available, adding personal interviews with the principals and their associates wherever possible. Some cranky characters such as Mort Sahl and Bill Cosby declined to cooperate in this project, but many others added fascinating detail on their career zigzags and what they're up to today. Sahl may be surprised to see that Nachman produces a 48-page profile of him, perhaps the strongest piece in the book, pieced together from Sahl's recorded material, Nachman's occasional encounters with him over the years, and a crystal-clear analysis of the man.
Offstage, Nachman reports, some of these wits were prickly, some were grey and businesslike, some still had the comedy magic. Sadly, many of them are wasting away in retirement. You want to shout: "Shelley Berman, Jonathan Winters, come back. We need more of you."
A deft touch with the language pulls the reader through this 659-page book. Some of Nachman's gems:
-- Of Vaughn Meader's short-lived career as an impressionist specializing in the voice of John F. Kennedy, he writes: "One twist to the single-bullet theory that didn't make it into the Warren report: the same bullet that killed JFK also murdered Vaughn Meader's career."
-- Of Woody Allen's lesser movie scripts: "If the actors were delivering the same lines in a club, they'd be drenched in flop sweat."
-- Of Lenny Bruce: "Bruce gouged under the skin, creating jucier, Jewishier characters in his gallery of gargoyles and showbiz sharks, and made much more racket."
"Seriously Funny" is a brilliant combination of dense research and incisive interviews, presented through the eye of senior critic.
As a bonus, the narrative is sprinkled with some of the performers' best lines and how they came to be. For example, Woody Allen, in his early gag-writing days, was a veritable joke machine, writing easily and prolifically for other comics. Many of his weird one-liners still make me laugh today. Example: He first suspected his parents didn't love him when they put a live teddy bear in his crib. And Jonathan Winters, famous for being "always on", is said to have adlibbed to a lady who complained "You're not handicapped" when he parked his car in a spot reserved for the handicapped, "Madame, can you see inside my mind?"
This history of intelligent comedy is anything but a doorstop. It is a feast. No, it's more than a feast. It is a smorgasbord so big it threatens to collapse the table. It's hard to believe so much history, mirth and critical analysis can be squeezed between two covers.
Author Gerald Nachman has authoritative knowledge backed by extensive research. Most of the comedians covered by his book are in their 70's and 80's, and he has interviewed many of them. For the most part, he avoids over-analyzing comedy or lapsing into pompous amateur sociology.
Overall, however, I find the book to be a mile wide and an inch deep. It's very time-consuming to plow through the whole thing. In the end, I did not come away feeling that I knew much more about Mort Sahl or Jean Shepherd than I did from reading the record jacket of "The Future Lies Ahead" or the book flap of "In God we Trust, All others Pay Cash."
I wish that Nachman had a better editor. At a detail level, the inconsistency of dates is a constant source of annoyance. I felt like someone could be 40 years old one year, and 47 years old ten years later.
On a larger level, I would have shortened the book by trimming some of the name-linking and uninformative quotations. Instead, I would have appreciated some bullet-point style presentations that encapsulated timelines, career highlights, and best available recordings.
This could have been a better book.
All in all, this is a great book presented through the mind of a brilliant columnist... and yes NACHMAN definitely is a columnist... a master storyteller who can schpiel by the column inch and hold your attention all the way. The only danger of reading this book is that after each chapter you want to go out and get the CDs... but with so many comedians covered, that's a lot of bread !
Though I happen to be a fan of the topics covered in this and RAISED ON RADIO, I have to say, whatever Nachman decides to write about next, I'm fair game for it !