This is essential listening for any fan of film, comedy, or, of course, Woody Allen himself. Taped in his New York City office just months before the release of Annie Hall, this interview captures Woody at a pivotal time in his career. Already considered to be one of the funniest men in America, he would soon also become an acclaimed moviemaker with a slew of Oscar nominations and awards. One wonders if the self-deprecating opinions of his films heard here may too have changed since this was recorded.
As with most interviews recorded for the King Biscuit "Conversations With…" series, the discussion here covers his entire life, including how he got started in comedy, why he dropped out of film school, and his greatest influences. More current topics include his thoughts on Annie Hall, his career as a jazz musician, and why he won't move to L.A. Perhaps the highlight, however, is his recounting of a political satire he made for public television broadcast, which was not aired due to governmental restrictions. Regardless of the topic, because of his forthrightness and conversational ability, there is not a boring moment in this hour.
00:00 - Introduction00:54 - Early interest in writing comedy / reasons for not being the class clown01:47 - Cutting school to watch movies in Times Square03:02 - "What is comedy?" 03:43 - How he knows if something will get a laugh04:50 - Allen's humor as verbal cartooning / early monologues and movies06:32 - Testing new material: alone in his room vs. before an audience08:38 - A comedian's reaction to flopping on stage10:28 - Different types of humor: the big laugh vs. fun without laughter11:30 - Comic influences: Milton Berle, Ernie Kovacs, Jackie Gleason, Sid Caesar 13:22 - The importance of a second banana 14:12 - Family reaction to his career choice14:49 - Getting off the ground as a comedian: newspapers, a PR firm, radio, TV16:10 - Writing one-liners in newspapers attributed to other celebrities19:08 - Being thrown out of college (as a film student) / learning how to play the drums20:52 - Seeing Mort Sahl as a life-changing experiene 22:02 - A revolution in comedy in the early 60's and again in the present day24:08 - Mort Sahl's restructuring of jokes (like modern jazz)25:26 - Thoughts on Lenny Bruce26:39 - The more terrifying the times, the more important comedy is
00:00 - Reasons for staying away from television: better movie traffic01:55 - Film as an illusion of permanence02:27 - A lost political satire that public broadcasting networks wouldn't air 05:01 - More on governmental censorship06:37 - What Woody watches on TV06:52 - Worst parts of making films08:33 - Not enjoying his films: compromising from brainstorming to writing to filming09:57 - Choices for best comedy films of all time: Chaplin, Keaton, Fields, Hope, Hard Day's Night13:38 - Making The Front / working as just an actor15:31 - Not an actor (can only play himself)16:19 - The ever-present danger of fascism / lucking out with Watergate17:50 - Preview of Annie Hall, a contemporary neurotic love story19:23 - Reasons for using the same actors in different movies20:10 - A role for Paul Simon20:37 - Coming up with titles for Annie Hall, other movies22:09 - Creating his own ad campaigns, not using television23:30 - Difficulty with finding endings for films / Monty Python and the Holy Grail25:04 - Origins of What's Up, Tiger Lily? / a lot less crazy than people think28:15 - Managing to stay in NYC as a film maker28:53 - Why he loves NYC / other possible city for relocation / disgraceful aspects of NYC30:23 - A rank amateur clarinet player / history with the soprano sax32:03 - Playing with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band 32:35 - What music he listens to: jazz and classical32:54 - Thoughts on the culture of America34:25 - Feeling accomplished about his New Yorker articles; might never happen with films
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