Inside Com­e­dy: The Soul, Wit, and Bite of Com­e­dy and Come­di­ans of the Last Five Decades

  • From the Publisher
September 1, 2020

The world of com­e­dy and come­di­ans of the last five decades, by the man the New York Times calls a com­ic insti­tu­tion him­self,” the only come­di­an (twen­ty-six years in stand-up) to have made Elie Wiesel laugh, as well as hav­ing appeared on The Tonight Show (140 times, sec­ond only to Bob Hope, but who’s count­ing), direc­tor of TV com­e­dy series Mad About You, Sein­feld, Friends, Weeds and Curb Your Enthu­si­asm.

From David Stein­berg, a rab­bi’s son from Win­nipeg, Cana­da, who at age fif­teen enrolled at Hebrew The­o­log­i­cal Col­lege in Chica­go (the rab­binate was­n’t for him) and four years lat­er, entered the mas­ter’s pro­gram in Eng­lish lit­er­a­ture at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go, until he saw Lenny Bruce, the Blue Boy” of Com­e­dy, the coolest guy Stein­berg had ever seen, and joined Chicago’s Sec­ond City impro­vi­sa­tion­al group, becom­ing, instead, the come­di­an’s come­di­an, direc­tor, actor, work­ing with, inspired by, teach­ing, and learn­ing from the most cel­e­brat­ed, admired, com­pli­cat­ed come­di­ans, then and now – a fun­ny, mov­ing, provoca­tive, insight­ful look into the soul, wit, and bite of com­e­dy and come­di­ans – a uni­verse unto itself – of the last half-century.

From the greats: George Burns, Lenny Bruce, Sid Cae­sar, Lucille Ball, Mel Brooks, and Carl Rein­er, et al., to the new­er greats: Car­ol Bur­nett, Steve Mar­tin, Lily Tom­lin, Bil­ly Crys­tal, Bob Newhart, and the man for all com­e­dy, Mar­tin (Mar­ty) Short; to the greats of right now: Chris Rock, Dave Chap­pelle, Julia Louis-Drey­fus, Wan­da Sykes; and more.

Stein­berg, through sto­ries, rem­i­nis­cences, tales of direct­ing, tour­ing, per­form­ing, and, through the come­di­ans them­selves talk­ing (from more than 75 inter­views), makes clear why he loves com­e­dy and come­di­ans who have been by his side in his work, and in his life, for more than six­ty years.

Here are: Will Fer­rell, Eric Idle, Whoopi Gold­berg, Mike Myers, Grou­cho him­self, and the great­est of them all (at least of the last half-cen­tu­ry), Jonathan Winters.

Discussion Questions