Suggested Reading List
Even More Old Jewish Comedians
Author: Drew Friedman
Description: The superheroes of the Borscht Belt!
Master caricaturist/portraitist Drew Friedman’s spectacular visual tribute to—well, old Jewish comedians—returns with a third and concluding installment that throws its net a bit wider to include a few women (Olive Oyl voice Mae Questel, Ed Sullivan show regular Jean Carroll, and The Rise of the Goldbergs creator Gertrude Goldberg); a handful of more contemporary figures (Richard Belzer, whose Law & Order: SVU gig has eclipsed his stand-up comedy, and Welcome Back, Kotter’s Gabe Kaplan); and pop-culture legends (Prof. Irwin Corey, legendary Warner Bros. voice artist Mel Blanc), plus among others Marty Ingels, Fyvush Finkel, Gary Morton, Sam Levenson, Bobby Remsen, Max Patkin, Marvin Kaplan, Norm Crosby, Sammy Shore, Joey Adams, Lou Jacobi, and Sid James. It’s a heaping pastrami sandwich of gloriously liver-spotted, wrinkled personalities, that will appeal to anyone who likes old people, Jews, or comedians.
Old Jewish Comedians: A BLAB! Storybook
Author: Drew Friedman
Description: This comprehensive collection of portraiture of comedians born before 1930 includes the famous (Milton Berle, Groucho Marx, Jerry Lewis, Mel Brooks, Jack Benny), the not-so-famous (Benny Rubin, Shelly Berman) and the largely unknown (Al Kelly, Menasha Skulnik). The Reuben Award-winning Friedman presents a thorough visual history of these greatest Borscht-Belt comedians with 28 full-page portraits.
More Old Jewish Comedians: A BLAB! Storybook
Author: Drew Friedman
Description: They're back and they have liver spots!
This comical collection of of Jewish comedian portraiture is a sequel to 2006's wildly successful Old Jewish Comedians, which earned Friedman raves from Jerry Lewis, Howard Stern, The Believer, Entertainment Weekly and many more, and earned Friedman his own roast at New York's legendary Friar's Club. This all-new collection includes the famous (Woody Allen, Carl Reiner, Joan Rivers, Mel Brooks, Soupy Sales, etc.), the not-so-famous (Jerry Stiller, Zeppo & Gummo Marx, Larry Storch, Zero Mostel, etc.) and the largely unknown (Molly Picon, Herbie Faye, Jan Milton, etc.). The Reuben Award-winning Friedman, one of the great caricaturists of his age, presents a thorough visual history of the 20th Century's greatest Borscht-Belt comedians through 28 full-page portraits; every crease, mustache hair, and liver spot looks utterly real. As Booklist put it after the first OJC, "If only we were all funny enough to get Friedman to draw us!"
The Haunted Smile: The Story Of Jewish Comedians In America
Author: Lawrence J. Epstein
Description: Lawrence Epstein's The Haunted Smile tackles a subject both poignant and delightful: the story of Jewish comedians in America. For the past century and more, American comedy has drawn its strength and soul from the comic genius of Jewish performers and writers. An incomplete listing of names makes the point: The Marx Brothers, Jack Benny, Fanny Brice, George Burns, Milton Berle, Jackie Mason, Joan Rivers, Rodney Dangerfield, Mel Brooks, Alan King, Mort Sahl, Buddy Hackett, Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, Andy Kaufman, Richard Belzer, Jerry Seinfeld. These men and women, among others, form the canon of Jewish-American comedy.
I'm Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Stand-Up Comedy's Golden Era
Author: William Knoedelseder
Description: In the mid-1970s, Jay Leno, David Letterman, Andy Kaufman, Richard Lewis, Robin Williams, Elayne Boosler, Tom Dreesen, and several hundred other shameless showoffs and incorrigible cutups from all across the country migrated en masse to Los Angeles,
Comedy at the Edge
Author: Richard Zoglin
Description: When Lenny Bruce overdosed in 1966, he left behind an impressive legacy of edgy, politically charged comedy. Four short years later, a new breed of comic, inspired by Bruce's artistic fearlessness, made telling jokes an art form, forever putting to rest the stereotype of the one-liner borscht belt set. During the 1970s, a small group of brilliant, iconoclastic comedians, led by George Carlin, Richard Pryor, and Robert Klein, tore through the country and became as big as rock stars in an era when Saturday Night Live and SCTV were the apotheosis of cool, and the Improv and Catch a Rising Star were the hottest clubs around. That a new wave of innovative comedians, like Steve Martin, Albert Brooks, Robin Williams, and Andy Kauffman followed closely behind only cemented comedy's place as one of the most important art forms of the decade. In Comedy at the Edge, Richard Zoglin explores in depth this ten-year period when comedians stood, with microphone in hand, at the white-hot center of popular culture, stretching the boundaries of the genre, fighting obscenity laws, and becoming the collective voices of their generation. In the process, they revolutionized an art form. Based on extensive interviews with club owners, booking agents, groupies, and the players themselves, Zoglin traces the decade's tumultuous arc in this no-holds barred, behind-the-scenes look at one of the most influential decades in American popular culture.
Comedy Under Attack: The Golden Age and the Headwinds
Author: Carl Unegbu
Description: Where does stand-up comedy stand in an increasingly polarized world? From the British music halls of the 1700s and 1800s to the birth of the Internet, pod casts, and Comedy Central, COMEDY UNDER ATTACK explores the challenges facing contemporary stand-up comics from outside forces, such as censorship arising from out of control political correctness and corporate interests, and the damage they cause themselves when they steal each others' jokes.
The Legacy of the Wisecrack: Stand-up Comedy as the Great American Literary Form
Author: Eddie Tafoya
Description: Despite the claim of many a Borscht Belt comic that he is a practitioner of "the world's second-oldest professsion," stand-up comedy is a young and distinctly American literary form. It was not until the last decades of the nineteenth century when, enabled by unprecedented prosperity and the right to free expression, that monologists began appearing in American vaudeville halls. Yet even though it has since become an entertainment industry mainstay, stand-up comedy has received precious little scholarly attention. The Legacy of the Wisecrack: Stand-up Comedy as the Great American Literary Form looks at the theory of stand-up comedy, its literary dimensions, and its distinctly American qualities as it provides a detailed history of the forces that shaped it. The study concludes with a look at the works of specific comedians such as Steven Wright, whose three decades of performances comprise a single picaresque tale, and Richard Pryor, whose 1982 masterpiece Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip serves as modern America's answer to Dante Aligheri's epic poem, Inferno. The result is one of the first serious treatments of stand-up comedy as a literary form.