Woody Allen is one of very few comedic delineations universally respected by comedy writers the world over. Held in high esteem by comedy’s upper crust, the snooty savants of literature and the vast film literati, Allen is one of the few comedy titans actually considered an artist. Woody Allen’s comedic acumen spans all genres. It has yet to be matched.
However, the first several years of his career are rarely discussed. It is a fascinating period. Comedy devotees swear by the recordings of his stand-up act. At the time of his 1963 debut comedy record, Woody was a smart up-and-comer who’d already logged ten years in the business. But he was far from the personality we think of today.
Most comedians early in their career involve themselves with peripheral showbiz ventures, both to make their name and to survive. Cerebral as we may think Woody Allen to be, he was in many ways no different than most struggling low brow comedians that permeated the landscape. A shill for Parker Brothers and Smirnoff Vodka. A frequent game show panelist. A propagandist for Allen Funt’s Candid Camera. None of these things spring to mind when we think of the storied career of Allen Konigsberg, but they were essential activities in his formative years.
This is the early Woody Allen.