The Last Laugh: The World of Stand-Up Comics

The Last Laugh: The World of Stand-Up Comics

Phil Berger

Language: English

Pages: 480

ISBN: 0815410964

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The Last Laugh is the first and only book to take readers deep into the bizarre universe of the standup comic, from the classic years of Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, and Shecky Greene, to today's comedy superstars. Phil Berger shows how styles and trends in standup have changed over the past fifty years, but how taking the stage in a comedy club is as tough as it's always been. Performers profiled in the book include Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Elaine Boosler, Robert Klein, Bill Cosby, Billy Crystal, Dick Gregory, Andy Kaufman, Steve Martin, Cheech and Chong, Eddie Murphy, and a host of others. Filled with comics' hilarious routines and anecdotes, this substantially updated edition also chronicles the lives and careers of more recent artists, including Richard Lewis and Jay Leno.

On Humour (Thinking in Action)

The Cartoon History of the Universe, Volume 1: The Evolution of Everything

More Playboy's Party Jokes, Volume 2

The Cornerstone

Elrod McBugle on the Loose

The Bigger Book of Gross Jokes



















covers so it’d look like a sleeping figure when he opened the door. On his return he’d carry on a conversation with a fictitious lady—I’m back, dear—until he was inside. Then he’d fabricate a dog—Thatta boy, thatta boy—right down to, he swore, its barking response. He was not so wary in his Broadway retreat. He made do, a man with a knack for tomorrows. That’s the thing in comedy. You always got a chance to get lucky. It sustained. Bernie Travis remembered an odd minstrel figure from Village

character’s integrity. Says his longtime creative collaborator, Bob Zmuda: “Andy never drank or smoked, but when he’d do Tony Clifton he’d drink, smoke and curse—offstage as well as on. At the beginning, it was just a put-on. And to convey Clifton, there was the fake mustache, fake putty for the nose and a toupee. But after a while, it became very important for him to get into character. He’d go to some lengths to do it. Like for ‘Taxi,’ he insisted on separate contracts, one for Andy Kaufman [by

the drug habit he had and the change it made in him. He was not as easy to be around. He kept to his house in the Hollywood Hills, working on his court cases, or tilling the earth—planting flowers and vegetables, rooting out weeds. He was more moody now. Part of it was cop funk. In cities he worked, he’d switch cabs several times on the way to a place, suspicious the driver was an undercover officer. Once, a friend of his noted that the furniture in his place was uncomfortable. It was, Lenny

stylized affair. In Robert’s world, the pompous man’s came with the romantic flourish of a “William Tell Overture” that lapsed to the universal last gasp (duh-duh duh-duh, daaaaah). For “a funky cat,” the end came with a primitive Sonny Terry sound, a gutsy lament that ceded to the common expiring note. Any and all ideas he tried out in Friedman’s room. Klein was at home there, free to go to the kitchen and ask Louie for a cup of coffee or even a meal, carte blanche few other comics had. Most

into the Hilton to open for Barbra Streisand—three weeks at five thousand dollars per. In Vegas, big names—Cosby, King, Hackett, Greene, Rickles—made sixty-five to eighty thousand dollars a week. “And,” said newspaper columnist Joe Delaney, “I’m sure that until the government began checking it, most of the comedians got cash beyond their contractual amount. ’Cause, don’t forget, if you’re making fifty thousand a week and you can get ten thousand more in cash, that’s like getting seventy-five

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