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The Last Laugh: The World of Stand-Up Comics

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The Last Laugh is the first and only book to take readers deep into the bizarre universe of the standup comic, from the classic years of Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, and Shecky Greene, to today's comedy superstars. Phil Berger shows how styles and trends in standup have changed over the past fifty years, but how taking the stage in a comedy club is as tough as it's always bee The Last Laugh is the first and only book to take readers deep into the bizarre universe of the standup comic, from the classic years of Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, and Shecky Greene, to today's comedy superstars. Phil Berger shows how styles and trends in standup have changed over the past fifty years, but how taking the stage in a comedy club is as tough as it's always been. Performers profiled in the book include Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Elaine Boosler, Robert Klein, Bill Cosby, Billy Crystal, Dick Gregory, Andy Kaufman, Steve Martin, Cheech and Chong, Eddie Murphy, and a host of others. Filled with comics' hilarious routines and anecdotes, this substantially updated edition also chronicles the lives and careers of more recent artists, including Richard Lewis and Jay Leno.


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The Last Laugh is the first and only book to take readers deep into the bizarre universe of the standup comic, from the classic years of Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, and Shecky Greene, to today's comedy superstars. Phil Berger shows how styles and trends in standup have changed over the past fifty years, but how taking the stage in a comedy club is as tough as it's always bee The Last Laugh is the first and only book to take readers deep into the bizarre universe of the standup comic, from the classic years of Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, and Shecky Greene, to today's comedy superstars. Phil Berger shows how styles and trends in standup have changed over the past fifty years, but how taking the stage in a comedy club is as tough as it's always been. Performers profiled in the book include Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Elaine Boosler, Robert Klein, Bill Cosby, Billy Crystal, Dick Gregory, Andy Kaufman, Steve Martin, Cheech and Chong, Eddie Murphy, and a host of others. Filled with comics' hilarious routines and anecdotes, this substantially updated edition also chronicles the lives and careers of more recent artists, including Richard Lewis and Jay Leno.

30 review for The Last Laugh: The World of Stand-Up Comics

  1. 5 out of 5

    Seb

    I liked it! doesn't go as in depth as I wanted, but it seems like it was one of the first books to take stand up seriously, and it was still interesting. I liked it! doesn't go as in depth as I wanted, but it seems like it was one of the first books to take stand up seriously, and it was still interesting.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Interesting, but... This book was originally written in the mid-1970s so it originally heavy with long-dead comics (e.g. Rodney Dangerfield, Jack E. Leonard, Vaughn Meader, etc.) It eventually got to names "I grew up with" like Robert Klein, David Steinberg, David Brenner, but I still felt left out in the cold. Women were basically mentioned but not explored. The writing skill of the author is questionable. Interesting, but... This book was originally written in the mid-1970s so it originally heavy with long-dead comics (e.g. Rodney Dangerfield, Jack E. Leonard, Vaughn Meader, etc.) It eventually got to names "I grew up with" like Robert Klein, David Steinberg, David Brenner, but I still felt left out in the cold. Women were basically mentioned but not explored. The writing skill of the author is questionable.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Zach Freeman

    There are plenty of interesting tidbits sprinkled throughout this book - an exhaustive number of interviews must have been conducted and innumerable nights spent in comedy clubs to get the raw material here - but the way Berger jumps around makes it sometimes difficult to follow and sometimes unclear where Berger is even attempting to lead us. It’s split into three sections but there’s no real rhyme or reason for the splitting. From beginning to end it reads like one long run-on, jumping from cl There are plenty of interesting tidbits sprinkled throughout this book - an exhaustive number of interviews must have been conducted and innumerable nights spent in comedy clubs to get the raw material here - but the way Berger jumps around makes it sometimes difficult to follow and sometimes unclear where Berger is even attempting to lead us. It’s split into three sections but there’s no real rhyme or reason for the splitting. From beginning to end it reads like one long run-on, jumping from club to club and comedian to comedian. Great for comedy history buffs but not something an average reader would want to sit down with and plow through. One big takeaway: this book was published in 1975 and this quote perfectly captures how many people feel about today’s comedy scene: “We occasionally got into battles with some women who were really heavy into women’s lib. For a comic, that’s deadly, ya know... And that’s the funny thing about new comics, they have to be in some ways more sensitive to their audience and offending people. Young kids would criticize the old comics... but let a comic go out and joke with women’s lib people, joke racially, and that’s not funny because it’s politics. And there’s a real lack of humor that way. It’s - watch it!” - Larry Brezner (page 345-346)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    Good subject matter, but I thought the author "bounced around" with his views...sort of like at Stephen Wright comedy routine (well, without the funny bits, of course). There was also a large amount of time discussing Lenny Bruce and Robert Klein, but very little on Robin Williams and nothing about Bob Newhart. These are just examples, and I know everyone has their own taste/opinions, but I was still surprised. Good subject matter, but I thought the author "bounced around" with his views...sort of like at Stephen Wright comedy routine (well, without the funny bits, of course). There was also a large amount of time discussing Lenny Bruce and Robert Klein, but very little on Robin Williams and nothing about Bob Newhart. These are just examples, and I know everyone has their own taste/opinions, but I was still surprised.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    8.9.13 I first heard about this book a few weeks ago, when I heard that this was the book that inspired Jerry Seinfeld to become a standup. Makes me want to read this very much.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Steve Leach

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

  8. 5 out of 5

    C.W. Thayer

  9. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  10. 5 out of 5

    Pat

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Kaperick

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cole Strickland

  13. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

  15. 5 out of 5

    William E. Griffith

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jerry Katz

  17. 5 out of 5

    Hal Johnson

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rich

  20. 5 out of 5

    John

  21. 5 out of 5

    W. Kamau

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dynomint

  23. 5 out of 5

    Season

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jason Jaffery

  25. 4 out of 5

    Raymond

  26. 4 out of 5

    B

  27. 5 out of 5

    Art Levine

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alex

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kenneth E. Purcell

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ian

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