Woody Allen as "therapy made hilarious"

William Zinsser, author of On Writing Well, talks about seeing a young Woody Allen do standup:

Allen’s monologue consisted of telling the story of his life. It was the life of a chronic loser, told in a rapid salvo of jokes: “As a boy I was ashamed to wear glasses. I memorized the eye chart and then on the test they asked essay questions.” “I won two weeks at an interfaith camp, where I was sadistically beaten by boys of all races.” The jokes, though simple, were unfailingly funny, and beneath the humor they were doing serious work as autobiography. This was a champion nebbish, one that every underdog in America could – and soon would – identify with. Allen had invented a perfect formula for an anxious new age: therapy made hilarious.


The rest of the piece discusses Zinsser's role in Allen's flick "Stardust Memories."

Here's some early Woody. It's like an avalanche of punchlines.



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