Lenny

By Seymour Krim Nugget June 1963 We come, with mixed feelings, to the Case of Lenny Bruce. You probably have an opinion—who doesn’t?—but sit still long enough to hear ours. First, so that no matter how finky you finally think our stand is, let it be triple-clear that...

Trading Places

By Peter Richmond GQ July 1992 The lights are rheostated low inside a customized bus parked on Tenth Avenue in Manhattan at nine o’clock on a winter dark evening. Two candle flames dance on a table. Eddie Murphy stares at them, without speaking. Hammer just dropped...

The Gookie

By Alex Belth The Stacks Reader The origins of “The Gookie,” from one of the great showbiz memoirs, Harpo Speaks! The man who first inspired me to become an actor was a guy called Gookie. Gookie had nothing to do with the theatre. He rolled cigars in the window of a...

Beyond Laughter

By David Hirshey Rolling Stone April 1981 Out of the blue, in the middle of the action, an extremely clever comic actor began counting, very slowly, and with great concentration: one, two, three, four … enunciating each of the numbers with the utmost...

Albert Brooks Is Funnier Than You Think

By Paul Slansky Playboy July 1983 It’s Thanksgiving Eve in NBC studio 6-A, and Albert Brooks is talking about bowling. “In every bowling alley, there’s a room just a little bit larger than this desk called the pro shop,” he tells David Letterman. “It’s full of balls...

Martin Mull is Almost Famous

By Paul Slansky New Times January 1978 Martin Mull’s manager has forgotten to make a reservation, so we stand in the entrance to the Universal commissary waiting for an empty table while stars like Lily Tomlin and Sly Stallone march past us to immediate seating. “I...

Robin Williams: More Than a Shtick Figure

By Joe Morgenstern The New York Times Magazine November 11, 1990 On a movie set, Robin Williams wears two heads. When the camera rolls, he is an actor of great authority and accomplishment. Between takes, he is himself, or a stand-up version of himself, giving little...

The Gospel According to Hicks

By Mike Sager GQ September 1994 “Good evening, folks,” says the comic, freeing the microphone from its stand, charting a course across the stage, his shadow following. His right hand searches the pocket of his baggy pants, puddled atop weary moccasins. The cool mesh...

Buster Keaton

By Charles Simic From Writers at the Movies 2000 Only recently, with their issue on videotape, have all the films of Buster Keaton become widely available. It’s likely one may have seen The General (1926) in some college course, or caught a couple of shorts at some...

Everybody Should Have an Albert

By Paul Slansky The Village Voice March 1979 On February 4, 1974, Albert Brooks walked on the stage of The Tonight Show for the 22nd time. His past performances had included some of the funniest bits ever seen on the show: an impressionist whose imitation of various...

Richard Pryor Is the Blackest Comic Of Them All

By Mark Jacobson New West August 30, 1976 The zooty mobiles are rolling slow and sweet up the Strip. In front of the Roxy there’s style a block long. Hats, satin, dudes with their names rhinestoned on their eyeglass lenses, jumpsuits emblazoned with the word “coke,”...

King of the Park: Cracking Up with Charlie Barnett

By Ivan Solotaroff The Village Voice Late ’80s [Date Unknown] Collected in No Success Like Failure On the third step of the entrance to the Palace Hotel on the Bowery and Third Street I catch an unmistakable whiff of aging vomit; halfway up the steep concrete stairs I...