THE LAST LAUGH by Phil Berger


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The world of the comic, like that of the pop musician, is as tight, sometimes as terror-stricken and isolated, as a Wallenda on the high wire. The inside talk and rituals and protective promo colorations are not easy to penetrate. Occasionally, however, Berger captures the tension, the spark, at the core of talent-phis-sell -- via a collage of sporadic interviews, anecdotes of capers (which have the sour afterglow of a 3:00 a.m. ashtray) and some roughed-up, often on-target, performance profiles. Beginning with a haphazard scan of the just post-WW II scene when the Names were doing one nighters (from pseudo-Copas to Jersey ""toilets""), through the style changes into the '70's, Berger walks in and out with those who made it and a handful who almost did. Berger's interview feedback is not entirely NET panel talk -- the comics gripe and snipe (Will Jordan, for example, rages on about how Jack Carter took his early Sullivan bit). Among the many subjects: Berle, Hackett (""the Charlie Brown of poop and pinky-stick jokes""), Murray, Berman, Frye, Klein, Pryor, Carlin, etc. A special for the comics fancier is a clutch of possibly apocryphal anecdotes about the late Lord Buckley and samples of his ""woosen weezen wizen woozen. . .hipsomatic"" trips. From the rim-shot stand-ups to the God-bless boys -- this is sprawling and exhibitionistic, but sometimes Berger catches the spike behind the mike and the fang in the grin.

Pub Date: April 14th, 1975
Publisher: Morrow