In 1965, Woody Allen took time out from his first film What’s New Pussycat to tape a half-hour of stand up in front of a live television audience in the UK.
Exuberant and horny in an adorable, puppyish way, the 30-year-old comic seemed to relish this return to his nightclub act. The comedy is situational, observational, autobiographical – imagine Louis CK with a PG vocabulary, no kids, a necktie and a twinkle in his eye. Already ensconced on the Upper East Side, he paints a decidedly downtown vision of a New York populated by artists’ models, swinging Bennington girls, and women with pierced ears. Like Louis—or the young Brooklyn hipsters on Girls—he’s itching to score.
It does a body good to see him at this “childlike” stage of his career.
As he told journalist Eric Lax in Conversations with Woody Allen:
“…comics are childlike and they are suing for the approval of the adults. Something goes on in a theater when you’re fourteen years old and you want to get up onstage and make the audience laugh. You’re always the supplicant, wanting to please and to get warm laughs. Then what happens to comics — they make it and they become a thousand times more wealthy than their audience, more famous, more idolized, more traveled, more cultivated, more experienced, more sophisticated, and they’re no longer the supplicant. They can buy and sell their audience, they know so much more than their audience, they have lived and traveled around the world a hundred times, they’ve dined at Buckingham Palace and the White House, they have chauffeured cars and they’re rich and they’ve made love to the world’s most beautiful women — and suddenly it becomes difficult to play that loser character, because they don’t feel it. Being a supplicant has become much harder to sell. If you’re not careful, you can easily become less amusing, less funny. Many become pompous… A strange thing occurs: You go from court jester to king.”
Woody Allen Amuses Himself by Giving Untruthful Answers in Unaired 1971 TV Interview
Woody Allen Lists the Greatest Films of All Time: Includes Classics by Bergman, Truffaut & Fellini
Woody Allen Boxes a Kangaroo, 1966
Ayun Halliday wonders that she has yet to bump into this famous and curmudgeonly New Yorker. Follow her @AyunHalliday
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