On Being Funny: Woody Allen and Comedy

Charterhouse, 1975

Eric Lax takes readers into the world of Woody Allen and his vision of comedy.


Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

In spite of the title, which could indicate that humor and humorist are about to be canned in formaldehyde, this is a responsible, exploratory monograph, with intelligently managed interviews, observations and excerpts from the oeuvre in which Allen is allowed to take the lead in examining his art. Biographical detail is minimal and incidental to Allen’s evolution from teen-age comedy writer (at eighteen he was a writer for NBC in Hollywood) for TV and movies, to performer and director. He doesn’t consider himself an “intellectual” comic: “I’m a one-liner like Bob Hope and Henny Youngman. . . . I’m a comedian in the classic style.” His life consists mainly of work: “I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t get high. . . .” And he’s not one for country retreats: “I’m Mr. New York City.” The excerpts from used and unused material are all from the best stuff: from the “bug/gun” scene in Take the Money, to a discarded sequence from Everything You Wanted to Know in which “Woody” courts a black widow spider: “Ever make it with a black widow before?”/ “No. . . I once went down on a bee. . . we were kids. . . .” Unlike Woody’s father reading a ransom note for his son, you won’t fall asleep halfway through.