by Mitch Myers
Originally recorded be tween 1964 and 1968, Standup Comic captures the legendary filmmaker during his formative years as an entertainer. At the time of these performances, Allen’s eccentric ramblings were still fresh and particularly unique. Nowadays, the pervasive influence of his self-deprecating, Jewish-neurotic shtick can be felt when listening to such contemporary funnymen as Richard Lewis and Jerry Seinfeld. Woody Allen was actually born Allen Konigsberg in 1935. In the ’50s, he worked as a writer for television shows, including Sid Caesar’s celebrated revue. Beginning his stand-up career in small, sophisticated supper clubs, Allen became a worldwide success by mocking his pathetic upbringing and outrageously disastrous love life. Whether kvetching about his dysfunctional family values or exaggerating bittersweet memories of his childhood in Brooklyn, Allen had fantastic comic timing and a knack for making the absurd quite believable. The autobiographical themes he brandished so easily would ultimately reappear in films such as Annie Hall and Manhattan. While some of the themes here may come off a bit dated, Allen’s insightful humor remains wholly undiminished by time. His topical monologues regarding psychoanalysis and birth control were absorbed into American culture and have remained engrained in our collective unconscious ever since. Always the New Yorker, Allen’s anecdotes move from the streets to Manhattan jazz clubs and swinging penthouse apartments with irreverent ease. These nightclub recordings are important milestones in American comedy. While Allen’s numerous films are considered essential, this comedy disc is an important historical document that should be heard at least once.