ON BEING FUNNY: Woody Allen and Comedy by Eric Lax

ON BEING FUNNY: Woody Allen and Comedy

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In spite of the title, which could indicate that humor and humorist are about to be canned in formaldehyde, this is a responsible, exploratory monograph, with intelligently managed interviews, observations and excerpts from the ouevre in which Allen is allowed to take the lead in examining his art. Biographical detail is minimal and incidental to Allen's evolution from teen-age comedy writer (at eighteen he was a writer for NBC in Hollywood) for TV and movies, to performer and director. Jokes, states Allen, are vehicles for personality, and a comic's chosen role can overlap with others. Like Hope, Benny, Chaplin, Keaton, and Groucho, Allen's owl-eyed ""Woody"" is compounded of ""vanity, cowardice, lust for women, lust for importance."" He doesn't consider himself an ""intellectual"" comic: ""I'm a one-liner like Bob Hope and Henny Youngman. . . . I'm a comedian in the classic style."" Lax watched Allen on a shooting set, between nightclub performances and at his most relaxed -- playing clarinet with a jazz group. His life consists mainly of work: ""I don't drink. I don't smoke. I don't get high. . . ."" And he's not one for country retreats: ""I'm Mr. New York City."" The excerpts from used and unused material are all from the best stuff: from the ""bug/gun"" scene in Take the Money, to a discarded sequence from Everything You Wanted to Know in which ""Woody"" courts a black widow spider: ""Ever make it with a black widow before?""/ ""No. . . I once went down on a bee. . . we were kids. . . ."" A relaxed greenroom study of our most creative comic/auteur and unlike ""Woody's' father reading a ransom note for his son, you won't fall asleep halfway through.

Pub Date: May 12th, 1975
Publisher: Charterhouse/McKay