Ep. 02 — Comedy Albums and Comedy Clubs
In This Episode:
The comedy albums of the 1960’s ushered in a new era of standup, eventually leading to the the worlds first comedy clubs opening their doors, helping drive the standup comedy boom of the ’80s. This is episode 2 of a 6-part series, featuring a look into Judd Apatow’s childhood record collection, plus we speak with Zoe Friedman, daughter of the founder and original proprietor of The Improv Comedy Club, Budd Friedman.
Andrew: Most standup comedians spend years working at open mics and in comedy clubs, developing their routine, hoping that one day they may be able to record a comedy album or a standup special. But this is not that kind of story.
Wayne: There’s a comedian at a Chicago who’s never worked in a nightclub, just kind of done little radio sketches named Bob Newhart — used to be an accountant.
Andrew: And at the time, Warner Brothers wants to get into the comedy album business.
Wayne: So they’re like, let’s do this Bob Newhart guy. We’re not going to…. They’re not going to mainstream, like, let’s see what these young comedians… so they get Bob Newhart to go down to Texas and record these sketches, which are all kind of on the telephone talking to someone, so you only hear one half of the conversation…
Clip: This is a telephone conversation between a boy and his press agent just before Gettysburg. Hi Abe Sweetheart, how are you? How’s Gettysburg? Sort of a drag huh. Well Abe, you know those small Pennsylvania towns… You seen one, you’ve seen them all. Right. Listen Abe, I got the note. What — what’s the problem? You’re — you’re thinking of shaving it off? Uh, Abe, uh, dont you see that’s part of the image? Right, with the shall and the stovepipe and the string tie. You don’t have the shall?
Wayne: I can’t tell you how popular that album is. I’m going to show it to you right now. It’s called The Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart.
Andrew: Came in in 1960.
Wayne: Yeah. Take a look at that.
Andrew: He’s so young on the cover.
Wayne: What does it say?
Andrew: The most celebrated new comedian since new comedian since Attila (the Hun).
Wayne: Right. But they were into new comedians. This is sort of the — what I’m trying to say, tell you…
Andrew: And just as an aside, for listeners who may be unfamiliar with who Bob Newhart is — I mean, for me and people younger than me, he might be best known for being Will Ferrell’s elf guardian father in the movie Elf.
Andrew: Um, but this was way before that movie came out.
Wayne: And he had two very successful television shows. And the third one actually in the 60s. But um, when it comes… it sells so it’s so popular they can’t keep — they can’t print them fast enough to keep up with this. It’s faster than any… It’s top of the charts. More than any music act, anything. Bob Newhart. So they rush a sequel to it called “The Button Down Mind Strikes Back,” I believe is the name of it. So “The Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart” does not win the Best Comedy Recording for that year (so it will be ’61). It wins Album of the Year. Like beats all the music acts. Guess what wins Best Comedy Album? “The Button Down Mind Strikes Back.” His sequel wins Best Comedy Album as he’s winning Best Album…
Andrew: So he wins both.
Andrew: With two different albums.
Andrew: That’s insane.
Wayne: That’s why I’m talking about it. That’s why we’re talking about it. Yeah. So that was… That was incredible. And then…
Andrew: You said he wasn’t a nightclub performer?
Wayne: Not a nightclub performer. This is according to Bob Newhart, the first time he ever performed a nightclub, when he was — when he went to this, The Tidelands Club in Houston, Texas. That was set up…
Andrew: So this was a recording of his first night performance?
Wayne: Well, I think he did like a week of shows or weekend of shows. So the first one apparently he was too nervous and and his voice was…
Andrew: Had he performed in front of an audience?
Wayne: Apparently no. I don’t know if he was, I think in little like…
Andrew: Little things here and there…
Wayne: But not like, oh, a week at…
Andrew: Not like an official billing…
Wayne: Right, right, right, right.
So this is, in a way pre-echoes a comedian who is very famous now named Bo Burnham, who got famous doing a song in his bedroom in Massachusetts when he was still in high school.
Andrew: On Youtube.
Wayne: Same kind of… Never in a club and immediately more famous than a lot of comedians who’d work clubs for years. And by a lot of comedians, I mean: Me, Wayne Fetterman. So, uh…
Andrew: Yeah, but Bo Burnham doesn’t have a podcast.
Wayne: He doesn’t… He’s a genius that guy. That guy’s so good.
Clip: I’m of the, uh, the younger generation, so I just wonder for all of you, who are you?
Andrew: Welcome to The History of Standup, where comedian Wayne Federman teaches us all, well, more about the history of standup. And I’m your fellow student, Andrew Steven.
So just to put this in context on the last episode, we were talking about the importance of television and sort of how that paved the way for mainstream standup to come into the homes of the everyday American. And so continuing in that fashion, when comedy records gained popularity too, they give another opportunity for you to consume comedy at your home.
Wayne: And Americans were thirsty for it. Thirsty for this new brand of — this kind of new brand of humor. Because this wasn’t like Joey Bishop or like these mainstream headliners that we’re working in Vegas or Miami beach at the time.
Clip: …the story of a couple in a room and there’s a knock on the door. And the guy says, “who’s that?” She says, “It could be my boyfriend.” He says, “where’s your back door?” She says, “we don’t have one.” He says, “where would you like one?”
Andrew: So these new comedians were different than that.
Wayne: These were sort of the young, edgier comedians…
Andrew: …and comedy was changing.
Judd Apatow: You can say that standup changed in the ’60s.
Andrew Steven: Here’s Judd Apatow again, and on the last episode he talked a lot about how comedians went from these big broad characters to these more individual standups. And the trend continued into the ’60s.
Judd Apatow: So everything before the late ’50s, early ’60s is very different. It was more jokes. People weren’t going that deep.
Judd Apatow: I don’t think there were comedians who were very personal, but I didn’t see Mark Twain’s act to know how personal he got. But for the most part, I don’t think people were actually bearing their souls when they did standup comedy.
Wayne: And you felt like that has elevated comedy?
Judd Apatow: I think so and I think that when people decided to do that… and I’m not sure who you would say is the first person to do it. You know, Mort Sahl clearly was one of the first people to be really smart and insightful.
Clip: We were in Mane on Saturday night, which is kind of depressing…
Andrew: This is Mort Sahl from his debut album, “The Future Lies Ahead,: recorded at San Francisco’s hungry i.
Clip: …and uh, we’re supposed to work. And there were a lot of rumors that Brubeck didn’t want to work because it was Mozart’s birthday. That was one of those folk lore things going. And uh, he wants to spend it with his kids. We all have a thing, you know. And so, uh, I went into town with this other fellow in the unit who is a bachelor. We went into town and we went to see what was shakin’ and in Portland, Maine at night. So it’s kind of a fantasy we’re living in. So we went to this cab driver and uh…
Andrew: Not how different, his halting, loose style is compared to say Bob Hope from our previous episode.
Clip: So we went to this cab driver and we said to him, “where’s the action?” This kind of masculin, sorta guy. So he took us to this place where they fish illegally.
Andrew: And so besides kicking off the comedy record boom, Sahl is critical to the history of standup for two other reasons. One, his non presentational style. And like Will Rogers many years earlier, he added current events and politics to his comedy.
Wayne: Does not say he’s a standup on this album. Calls himself, I believe, an iconoclast. But it’s put out by this jazz label named Verve — and it is not the first comedy album — I just want to be very clear. I don’t want anyone tweeting me, I don’t want anyone going on my old Myspace account and saying bad things about me. I know it’s not the first comedy album. But it is an important comedy album because it was his act, but this album sold pretty well for verve to the point where they’re like, hey, Mort, do you know anyone else who could do an album for us? So he talked to his friend Shelley Berman is like, you want to record an album? he was like, sure, I’ll record an album. And so Shelley Berman recorded this album the very next year and it’s called Inside Shelley Berman. We’re looking at it right now. And guess who writes the liner notes on the back on half of it?
Andrew: Mort Sahl.
Wayne: Mort Sahl, Yeah.
Andrew: Berman’s album is an even bigger seller. Inside Shelley Berman — the name of the album — becomes the first gold comedy album and wins the Grammy Award for Spoken Word Comedy.
Wayne: This album, along with Mort Sahl’s album were like, kind of the start of the mainstream record comedy boom that happened in the late ’50s, early ’60s,
Andrew: But this new wave of comics was expanding. It’s not just Sahl and Bob Newhart or Shelley Berman. There’s also Lenny Bruce who eventually became legendary for attacking religion and being arrested for using obscenities in his act. But here’s Lenny just talking about his recent divorce.
Clip: When people say to me, “how come you’re divorced?” I just make up a lie and say, “my mother-in-law broke up my marriage.” They say, “well, how’d that happen?” So one day my wife came home early from work and she found us in bed together. She’s an old woman but firm… So we used to go to a Chinese restaurant on this strip a lot, you know, in Los Angeles. For years we went through together. So when I go in alone, the waiter says to me. “Where’s mama? how come you don’t bring mama in any more? Such a beautiful girl, the long red hair, I like her. Here’s some cookies, bring mama home some cookies. So I said, “I’m divorced!” So, “Ah, you better off!” …out of left field.
Andrew: These new comedy albums were evolutionary. Instead of just seeing a five minute polished routine on Sullivan or the early Tonight Show, fans for the first time could hear and feel these comedians actually working in clubs and in theaters. It was immersive and it was powerful.
Wayne: But then what happens next is even more mindblowing.
Bob Newhart: I just… I was an accountant and uh, worked as an accountant and was terribly bored by it.
Andrew: That’s the voice of Bob Newhart.
Bob Newhart: George Robert Newhart legally. Uh, I never bothered to change it to Bob Newhart.
Andrew: And this is from an interview he did with David Green for Morning Edition.
Speaker 8: A friend of mine in Chicago, a disc jockey, Dan Sorkin. He… The Warner Brother record people were coming through town and he said, I have this friend of mine I think is funny. And they said, well, put, you know, have him put down some of his material on, uh, on tape. So I put it down on tape and brought it downtown and they listened to it and they said, okay, okay, we think we’d like to make a recording contract with you and, and we’ll record you at your next nightclub. And I said, well, we have a problem there because I’ve never played a nightclub.
Wayne: So they record these sketches.
Bob Newhart: And then it just, it just exploded. It just took off beyond anyone’s — especially my expectations. And uh, it still is, according to Billboard, that 20th best selling album of all time. I had the number one and number two album. My first album was number one, my second album was number two. And then my second album became number one. My first album became number two. So I had the number one and number two album on the Billboard charts for something like 35 weeks or something. There was a whole change in comedy that took place in and late ’59 and the early ’60s. And we just kinda started doing a whole different kind of comedy.
Clip: Abe, you got to speech. Abe you haven’t changed the speech have you?. Abe what do you change the speeches for? A couple minor changes… I’ll bet… all right, all right, what are they? You’re changed fourscore and seven to 87? I understand they mean the same thing. Abe, that’s meant to be a grabber. Abe, we test marketed that in Erie, and they went out of their minds. Trust, trust… Well Abe, It’s sort of, it’s sort of like Marc Anthony saying, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, I’ve got something I want to tell you…”
Andrew: One standup doing this different kind of comedy was Dick Gregory. This is from his debut album In Living Black and White.
Clip: A lot of nice things happened. Not too long ago they put my president in office, Mr Kennedy. But I want to see a change in the White House. We had a baptist, named Truman, gave us eight years of piano playing. Ike gave was eight years of golf. I want four years of bingo…
Andrew: Dick Gregory was not just a comedian. He was a trailblazer. He standup’s version of Jackie Robbinson.
Clip: …Eight years of what wasn’t too bad? (From audienc: “Eight years of golf”). I’m not knocking golf or nothing like that, honey. I don’t give a damn. I just barely got to vote this time…
Andrew: At the time, major nightclubs only headlined white comics, until The Playboy Club in Chicago booked him in January 1961.
Clip: It make me know difference who won, you know? (From audince: “It matter to me a little bit.”) Well see, you’ve been voting for a long time. I haven’t. See, back in my hometown to make us take a test to vote: Nuclear Physics in Russian. And if you pass the test to tell you, “Boy, you can’t vote. If you can read Russian you must be communist…”
Andrew: And in less than a year, with a boost from appearances on Jack Paar’s “Tonight Show,” Dick Gregory went from performing for $5 a night to over $10,000 a week.
Clip: …And we have a lot of racial prejudice up north, but we’re so clever with it. Take my hometown, Chicago. I mean you can’t see it just going in there. When negroes in Chicago move into one large area and it looked like we might control the vote, they don’t say anything to us. They have a slum clearance. You do the same thing on the west coast, but you call it freeways. Anybody here from Chicago? Where did you live in Chicago? South side? Whereabouts? How long have you been away? Seven years… You’re in a hell of a surprise if you ever go back, my brother just moved in there…
Andrew: Dick Gregory’s immense success blew open the doors of opportunity and in walked a slew of great comics including Nipsey Russell. Moms Maybley, Godfrey Cambridge, Bill Cosby, and Richard Pryor.
Clip: A friend of mine lives in… near me where I live…
Andrew: This is Redd Foxx who later gained fame as the star of “Samford and Son.”
Clip: He woke up one morning with a black eye and as his wife, he said, How’d this happen? She said, well, it was last night while you sleep and you put your arms on my leg and your hand on my leg and said my what a smooth finish. Then your reached further and say what perfect headlights. Then you reached still further and said, who left the garage door open? She said that’s how you got that black eye…
Andrew: But beginning in 1956, he released a series of more adult themed comedy albums called “Laff of the Party,” and these “party albums” were also part of the comedy boom. But it wasn’t just Redd Fox making these hidden-behind-the-counter style albums.
Clip: I’m gonna line a hundred men up against the wall / I bet $100 I could bang them all / I banged about 98 / I thought my back would break / I went around the corner had an oyster stew / Came back banged another two…
Andrew: And if you don’t know who this is — singing about banging 100 men — her name is Belle Barth. And along with women like Rusty Warren and Pearl Washington, they were part of a wave of comedians starting in 1960, releasing albums of “bawdy” jokes and songs.
Judd Apatow: Here’s the weird thing I never talk about when it comes to comedy. My grandfather had a record company. And one of the things he used to put out was this guy named Dickie Goodman. And Dickie Goodman would put out these singles, which basically was him interviewing someone, but all the answers was little snippets from song…
Clip: [Dickie Goodman clip]
Judd Apatow: You know… and they were very famous, those records.
Wayne: Yeah, wasn’t there a Watergate one?
Judd Apatow: There was a Watergate one. There was one about the energy crisis and there was one where he interviewed Jaws.
Wayne: Yeah, I think I have that. Mr. Jaws.
Judd Apatow: Mr Jaws.
Judd Apatow: And so they put out a bunch of those and that fascinated me. Just, there’s this weird guy making these records…
Andrew: Was it like the construction that fascinated you or that that could be comedy or just in general?
Judd Apatow: I think maybe, as a little kid, it was more that they were important to the family. That there was a pride in the fact that they were putting these out and they were really popular. And it’s so… they were so stupid and funny that it basically meant to me that there was something important about, like funny stupid stuff. It wasn’t talked down. It was — this is like one of the great things in our world is this guys making these stupid records. And I don’t know, in some, some part of my brain. I must have thought that’s something you do and people admire it and people are happy about it. Ao I think all of those were little seeds of what got me interested in comedy.
Andrew: It’s easy to see how TV influenced records, which then created this new market for live comedy.
Wayne: In the same way that radio — those radio comedians, Jack Benny and Fred Allen was all created by new technologies. And I think that’s one of the themes of the history of standup, is that with each new technology, a new group of comedians embrace it immediately, almost immediately. But I do remember also that there was a lot of… like the Vegas comedians. There’s these big rooms in Vegas where comedians were making thousands and thousands and tens of thousands a week. A lot of those comedians didn’t want to put there…
Andrew: Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. Is there a pushback?
Wayne: I don’t think anyone was put out or said it was bad for the industry. I think there was some jealousy from the older comedians that were like, oh, suddenly these guys were making a lot of money on the road now, because they were famous and everyone wanted to go, oh, let me go see Bob Newhart or our Shelley Berman, or Lenny Bruce, of course.
Andrew: And just as a side note, this also happened with Bo Burnham, like we mentioned in the beginning of the episode. We actually talk about him a lot in a future episode, but I just wanted to share this brief clip of Bo Burnham on an episode of “The Green Room with Paul Provenza.”
Clip: Paul: I’m a big fan of Bo’s and you kind of had a quick trajectory in a very short time. And people gave you s–t for it without even having seeing… Bo: The biggest reason people give me s–t is since I came on the Internet, they said that I didn’t get enough criticism. I wasn’t in the clubs grinding, grinding it out. But then the truth is for the older comics, let’s say that, uh, I want them to read 10,000 Internet comments and see if they don’t feel fully criticized….
Wayne: But I think they were worried that they had spent so many years coming up with their “act” in the Vaudeville sense of it, of like, you have an “act,” you do your “act,” you make your money, you do it year after year… Whereas this generation was like, I’ll do it, and then it’s on record, and then I’ll come up with a new record of stuff.
Andrew: Well, and I’ve heard you say that quote from the Vegas headliner Alan King, where he says, I’m not going to give away my act for a $1.98. Was that the sort of thought process?
Wayne: It’s a different kind of comedian. So during this time we’re transitioning from the Vaudeville comedians to nightclub comedians to now what we call — eventually it’s going to be called comedy club comedians.
Andrew: If you’ve ever seen live standup, chances are you’ve been to a comedy club. And so it’s weird to think that that didn’t always exist. The cliche of the brick wall, the stool and the microphone stand started with the Improv.
Wayne: So Budd Friedman starts this room on 44th street in Manhattan and calls it The Improvisation Cafe and had no, no idea that it was going to become this comedy Mecca. He wanted just to place where — all these Broadway shows let out around 10:30 at night, all these tourists are there — maybe you can get like a piano bar where people would come and Broadway singers would sing and people would sing along and like, you know, all this talent is around there… That was the idea. That was the idea
Zoe Friedman: A space and a place that could be for theater performers after their curtain goes down. You know, there were Sardi’s, and Sardi’s is very expensive, those were for the stars. And then there was sort of, you know, like Downey’s, like a pretty low end bar, you know…
Andrew: This is Zoe Friedman, the daughter of Budd Friedman.
Zoe Friedman: …and I don’t know how long it took for the lease to go through, but you know, it was as spontaneous and without a plan as that…
Andrew: and the types of talent that was going up on stage at the time. You know, you had Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli and Peter Allen accompanying them on piano.
Andrew: …and so, the sort of big difference I think, they were not trying to attract the folk singers from Greenwich Village and that sort of, you know, um, you know, hippie vibe. They really wanted the theater people because they, my mom was on Broadway and my dad loved Broadway.
Andrew: And so a year after its opening, roughly.
Wayne: So in 1964 is when it happens, right. Dave Astor drops in — who is a, just a comedian, not a young comedian, but he did have an album. He was on the Ed Sullivan show a few times.
Zoe Friedman: Dave Astor was sort of the first person, the first standup to perform. And he attracted a lot of other comedians, including Richard Pryor, and Lenny Bruce and Carlin…
Clip: I have found the two mean to attain unbelted happiness and they are: religion and booze. ‘Course I don’t mean separately, I mean drink religiously.
Andrew: This is Dave Astor, and just to restate it, he was the very first comedian to ever perform in a comedy club.
Clip: …alcohol is good for you, my grandfather proved it irrevocably. He did 103 years of research on hooch. Drank two quarts of booze every mature day of his life, lived to the age of 103. I was at the cremation, that fire would not go out…
Wayne: The next night he brings two other of his comedy buddies along with him…
Andrew: Does well enough that he comes… He’s able to come back the second night.
Wayne: Yeah, Budd’s like come in anytime and do a set, I’d love it. He brings his friends. Pretty soon it becomes this comedy place and known as a comedy only — not comedy only place because they still had singers — but mainly a comedy place…
Andrew: It’s where wanted to go in New York to see comedy…
Wayne: To see young comedians and also you could see them into the night. And so what happened, Rodney Dangerfield became the house emcee.
Clip: My whole life. I don’t get no respect, no respect from anyone.
Wayne: This comedian named Robert Klein, who was like an actor and he was in Second City and he started doing sets there and he became like the wonder kid.
Clip: We were given dog, which was one of the highlights of my school career. This was surely one of the most frightening things because they let information leak out that it could withstand a certain amount of heat. You know, and they got up, of course, with great subtlety, “Children, no talking! Take these tags home that’d be used in the event that you are burnt beyond recognition in a nuclear holocaust. And no talking during a nuclear holocaust. I want an orderly nuclear holocaust. Two lines, no talking! I’ll be taking names…” Just one of my greatest fears that I might get a zero during a nuclear holocaust…
Wayne: And then soon Budd started booking the room. And even then, even in the ’60s wasn’t paying people. I don’t even know if he paid Rodney to emcee — I’m not sure. But that’s how valuable stage time was. So from the Improv, suddenly the booker from the Merv Griffin show would show up and you get on the Merv Griffin show. You know, the booker from Jack Paar would show up and you get on Jack Paar. So it was, it was… New York was still the central area in the country to be discovered for doing comedy.
Andrew: And so Budd became another one of these comedy gatekeepers.
Wayne: And it’s really tough because you have to say no ten times for every yes — excuse me, maybe 30 times for every yes. So a lot of the young comedians are like, I’m as funny as this guy.
Andrew: There’s a story of Lily Tomlin who wanted to make such a first impression on Budd, in order to get booked there so then she could go on and have her career, that she hired a limo to take her to the Improv. And had the limo circle several times waiting for bud to be outside so she could make her grand enterance.
Wayne: I love it. I love it. And she became one of the great comedians… So anyways that was the — is considered the first comedy club, even though it wasn’t comedy only. There’s actually a book about it that I’m going to show you. It’s called The Last Laugh. It says, “The World of the Stand-up Comics.” And this is mainly, even though it’s about Milton Berle and Shecky Greene and Shelley Berman and people we’ve talked about — Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce — but this is mainly about Robert Klein and The Improv and how that kind of that scene exploded.
Andrew: So this was going on in New York, what was going on in Los Angeles?
Wayne: Big nightclubs. Where the comedy store is now was a place called Ciro’s, which was a big nightclub. So you would have those old Vaudeville, like Sophie Tucker and Jimmy Duranti, but you’d also have Martin and Lewis would be a big act there and Jack Carter, and so…
Andrew: When did Ciro’s become The Comedy Store?
Wayne: It didn’t, it closed down. Then became a number of different weird venues and then became The Comedy Store. So it wasn’t directly Ciro’s into The Comedy Store. But I do remember, believe it or not, talking to Sammy Davis Jr. who played Ciro’s many times with his “uncle” (and I’m using an uncle in quotes) as part of the Will Mastin Trio, and talking about how the dressing rooms were upstairs, which I didn’t know. And so, uh, and I was just at The Comedy Store a couple of weeks ago, so I went up those stairs and there were still, you could see where the mirrors were. So that’s what…. But things were about to change with New York and Los Angeles.
Andrew: Yeah. And uh, The Comedy Store becomes the first comedy only…
Wayne: Well, I have seen some ads where they have had booked, they did some musicians. But as a rule, yes, that became the first.
Andrew: So the, uh, The Improv is the first comedy club.
Wayne: No question.
Andrew: But The Comedy Store is the first comedy only.
Wayne: I would say… I think that’s accurate. I would say that’s accurate.
Andrew: As much as standup was changing and growing, it was essentially still the same thing. Someone in a room was telling jokes, trying to make someone laugh. Whether that room was around the TV or radio or in front of a brick wall.
Wayne: Okay. I’m going to show you one more thing.
Wayne: This is George Carlin’s first album. So…
Andrew: Take Offs and Put Ons recorded live at The Rooster Tail in Detroit, Michigan.
Wayne: Right. So its this great little album. It’s got all his classic stuff that got them on Ed Sullivan Show. Most notably something called “The Indian Sergeant.” That was the bit he created to get on television. But he also did “The Disc Jockey” and all of that stuff. So this album comes out, does all right. It’s on this… I don’t even know what this… Oh yes, RCA. So it’s on this pretty good label. Then he gets dropped from RCA because it doesn’t sell that well and then becomes more famous in the ’70s. They rereleased the same album, different cover.
Andrew: Very different.
Wayne: What do you see thats different?
Andrew: The original cover is, is basically — it’s a bunch of like passport and license photos of George Carlin making many different faces and it has a bit of counterculture to it, but it’s still pretty…
Wayne: He’s in a suit and tie…
Andrew: He’s in a suit and tie and…
Wayne: Short hair.
Andrew: And the rerelease is a, he’s got a beard, he’s got facial hair, long hair, and it’s almost like a psychedelic, um, that might be too strong of a word, but it’s, it’s definitely has the counterculture deeply ingrained in it.
Wayne: So that’s also something that’s about to happen. In the ’60s obviously, we all know about the music and the…
Andrew: …same liner notes though.
Wayne: Incredible. I just think it’s interesting that it was like that’s how much his persona changed, that they’re like, we don’t even connect with this guy in a suit and tie and short hair doing comedy.
Clip: …this one’s been on the charts for two and a half years, it’s just starting to make the big move this week. Last week it was number 215. This week, zooming up to the big number 212 spot, a folk protest song by Danny and the Demonstrators: Don’t want no war / Don’t want no war / Don’t want no war / don’t want no job neither…
Andrew: Thanks so much for listening to The History of Standup. Be sure to tune in next week to hear about this…
Wayne: There’s never been anything as dramatic before or since. Freddie Prinze goes on The Tonight Show,” young comedian, 19 years old. Just think about that. 19. Goes on “The Tonight Show.” Carson says, “We got a great young comedian…” It kills, whatever the word for it — the thing does great, great, great! Now usually, when you did”The Tonight Show,” you did your set, said thank you, maybe Carson would give you an okay sign. But if you were great, he would bring you over to the couch as sort of like his endorsement as the king maker. So he brings over Freddie Prinze. He’s Stunned. Sits him down. Says, “that was unbelievable. That was, uh, one of the best things I’ve ever seen. We’ll be right back.” Comes back. There’s — He’s still gushing over Freddie Prinze.
Clip: You know there’s no greater thrill for me personally, to have somebody come out here who’s unknown, and stand up in front of an audience and absolutely whipe them out on their first apperance, coast to coast…
Andrew: And if you’re itching for more History of Standup, well then I have two things to tell you. First, you know, last week… last week on the podcast we talked a lot about how comedians went from baggy pants comedians or characters into portraying themselves onstage. And we realize that doing a six episode series, there’s a lot of stuff that we didn’t quite get to cover. So if you, the listener, wanted to do a deep dive on your own. We wanted to suggest some interesting stories and people sort of in the same scene.
Wayne: ‘Course pre Vaudeville we have Mark Twain and Artemis Ward, and then in the Vaudeville era we have Charley Case, who, interesting guy who started doing song parodies and then started doing monologues and ended up killing himself. And then of course the great Will Rogers and Burt Williams, the incredible singer and comedian, are all excellent examples of early comedy that were starting to morph into what we know as Frank Fey era standup.
Andrew: One of the ideas we have for the future is to do some deep dives into interesting characters in the comedy and standup world. And perhaps one day we’ll do an entire episode on some of these people.
Wayne: One hundred percent.
Andrew: And the second thing is we’re doing a live special podcast taping, so if you live in the Los Angeles / Southern California area on November 18th, we’re doing a special live version of the podcast at Dynasty Typewriter at the Hayworth. So for more information you can check out thehistoryofstandup.com. We’re also going to post about it on social media and you can get tickets starting now. Hope to see you there.
The show is also produced by Jeff Umbro and Chris Boniello of the Podglomerate. You can find more of their podcasts at thepodglomerate.com.
Thanks again to Judd Apatow. Seriously, check out his book, Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy.If you’re a standup and comedy fan, it’s a must read. Also, huge thanks to Zoe Friedman and Morning Edition. You can hear the full interview with Bob Newhart at NPR.org. Special things to the Abraham Comedy Archive. They helped us pull a bunch of clips you heard in the episode.
Some of the music in this episode is by Break Master Cylinder.
The History of Standup is a CastBox Original.
If you enjoyed the show, please tell a friend and leave a review. We’d really appreciate it.
Thanks so much for listening.