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In his two-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Shelley Berman (1925-2017) talks about his early career, and recording his first comedy album, "Inside Shelley Berman." He describes learning how to deal with an audience as a stand-up comedian, and the tools of their trade. He recalls several of his favorite comedians, including Jackie Gleason, Robin Williams, Jim MacGeorge, and Danny Kaye. He discusses the construction of comedy, what makes people laugh, and the evolution of comedy. Berman speaks of the lifting of limitations and censorship on comedians, and what he considers to be the lack of creativity that leads to vulgarity in modern comedy. He talks about the then-future of comedy, and how he feels it is embodied by his 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' co-star Larry David. Jenni Matz and Bill Dana conducted the interview on March 8, 2005 in Los Angeles, CA. Additional topics covered include: Censorship/Standards & Practices, Historic Events and Social Change, Television Industry, War, World War II, and Comedy Series.

2005-03-08

In his three-hour interview, Billy Crystal talks about his early life, and becoming interested in comedy at a young age. He describes attending NYU to study film, where he learned from Martin Scorsese, and met Christopher Guest. He recounts getting Buddy Morra to manage him, and his appearances on 'The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson' and 'All in the Family.' He recalls his disappointment at being bumped off the first broadcast of 'Saturday Night Live,' only to be picked up as a regular cast member on ABC’s 'Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell'. Crystal discusses playing the groundbreaking character of "Jodie Dallas" on 'Soap,' the first regular, gay character on a network series, and the show’s dealing with controversial subject matter on a weekly basis. He details his stint on the 1984-85 season of 'Saturday Night Live,' where he was part of a comedy all-star team selected by producer Dick Ebersol, which also included Martin Short, Christopher Guest, and Harry Shearer. He outlines his popular character "Fernando" from the show, whose catchphrase, "You look marvelous," swept the nation. He recalls his series of successful HBO stand-up comedy specials, and his huge success as a nine-time host of 'The Academy Awards.' Dan Pasternack conducted the interview in partnership with the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College on October 25, 2018 in North Hollywood, CA. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Creative Influences and Inspiration, Emmy Awards, Historic Events and Social Change, Pivotal Career Moments, Television Industry, Comedy Series, Daytime/Primetime Serials, Late Night, and Music Shows & Variety. Other shows mentioned during the interview include 'The Billy Crystal Comedy Hour,' 'Comic Relief Specials,' 'The Emmy Awards (Primetime and Daytime),' and 'The Grammys.'

2018-10-25

In his hour-and-a-half interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Lewis Black talks about his early interest in drama, and what made him decide to be a comedian. He speaks of developing his routine, and crafting his comedic persona that 'The Daily Show' audiences would eventually come to know. Black speaks of anger in comedy, as well as politics, and if comedy can be learned. He discusses the business of show business, and the importance of cultivating longevity in a comedy career. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on October 19, 2005 in New York, NY. Additional topics covered include: Fame and Celebrity, Pop Culture, Television Industry, and Talk Shows. An additional show mentioned during the interview is 'The Steve Allen Show' (1956-61).

2005-10-19

In his one-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Eddie Brill talks about his early years, and forming a comedy team with Denis Leary at Emerson College. He discusses teaching and learning comedy, as well as how comedians develop their voices. He describes his job as the audience warm-up guy and comedy talent booker for 'Late Show with David Letterman,' as well as his working relationship with Letterman. Brill speaks of how he deals with the business end of show business, and what he gets out of being a comedian. Jenni Matz and Bill Dana conducted the interview on October 18, 2005 in New York, NY. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Creative Influences and Inspiration, Pivotal Career Moments, and Late Night.

2005-10-18

In his hour-and-a-half interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Irwin Corey (1914-2017) talks about his status as "the world’s foremost authority" and his comedy style. He discusses the then-current state of comedy on television, and the signature comedy of various performers. Corey speaks of using comedy to put across his political views, and how his comedic style developed over the years. He details some of his experiences with audiences, dealing with the business aspect of show business, and the importance of the comedian taking comedy seriously. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on April 8, 2005 in New York, NY. Additional topics covered include: Historic Events and Social Change, Television Industry, War, War on Terror, and Late Night. An additional show mentioned during the interview is 'Late Night with David Letterman.'

2005-04-08

In part one of his two-part interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Bill Dana (1924-2017) discusses the use of humor as a survival tool. He talks about his time at Emerson College, and early comedy partner Gene Wood. He recalls his time on 'The Steve Allen Show,' as well as creating his most famous character, "Jose Jimenez." He details using "Jose" as the main character for 'The Bill Dana Show,' and his eventual decision to kill him off due to cultural sensitivity concerns. He recounts writing the famous 'All in the Family' episode "Sammy Visit," featuring Sammy Davis, Jr., and addresses comedy’s role in society. Jenni Matz conducted part one of the interview on February 21, 2005 at the Cutler Majestic Theater at Emerson College in Boston, MA. Additional topics covered include: Bloopers, Censorship/Standards & Practices, Fame and Celebrity, Pop Culture, Television Industry, Comedy Series, and Talk Shows.

2005-02-21

In his one-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Budd Friedman talks about opening his comedy club, the Improv in New York City, and discovering Andy Kaufman. He recalls several luminaires who worked at his club, including Bette Midler, Milton Berle, Eddie Murphy, Steven Wright, and Chris Rock. He discusses what it takes for young comedians to make it as a stand-up comedian, and the challenge of finding wider audiences. Friedman describes what he feels is the then-current state of comedy, and speculates where it might go in the then-future. He concludes with one of his favorite jokes. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on January 25, 2006 at the Improv on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, CA. Additional topics covered include: Television Industry, Comedy Clubs, Comedians, and Performers.

2006-01-25

In part two of his two-part interview for the American Comedy Archives, Bill Dana (1924-2017) talks about comedians learning to deal with their environment and audiences. He describes first learning how to make people laugh, and later using comedy to disarm. He discusses evolving standards for subject matter and language in comedy, and his controversial character "Jose Jimenez" from 'The Bill Dana Show. 'Dana speaks of working with Norman Lear on writing the classic 'All in the Family' episode "Sammy’s Visit," featuring Sammy Davis, Jr., and outlines his own guest shot on 'The Golden Girls.' He sums up by talking about the need for performers to pay their dues, and he answers the question, "Was it worth it?" Jenni Matz conducted part two of the interview on June 3, 2005 in Los Angeles, CA. Additional topics covered include: Fame and Celebrity, Pop Culture, Television Industry, Comedy Series, and Talk Shows.

2005-06-03

In his one-and-a-half-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Charles Grodin talks about his writing career, and writing for specific audiences. He describes his acting training under Uta Hagen, who taught the importance of listening and knowing your lines cold. He speaks of appearing in several feature films, including "Rosemary’s Baby," "King Kong," and "Catch-22." He discusses his talk show "persona," perfected on 'The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson' and 'Late Night with David Letterman.' Grodin details his experiences as the host of his own show, 'The Charles Grodin Show,' on CNBC, as well as his time as a commentator for '60 Minutes.' He chronicles his many dealings with agents and managers over the years, and opines on the role of comedy in history. Jenni Matz and Bill Dana conducted the interview on February 23, 2005 in New York, NY. Additional topics covered include: Creative Influences and Inspiration, Pivotal Career Moments, Television Industry, News and Documentary, and Talk Shows

2005-02-23

In his one-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Carlos Mencia talks about growing up in East Los Angeles, and how his early experiences shaped his comedy. He describes developing his racially based stand-up act, and finding healing in making people laugh at our differences. He recounts working with his writers on his show 'Mind of Mencia,' and gives his reaction to political correctness in comedy. Mencia discusses how humor evolves over time, as well as his use of "blue" material in his act. He speaks at length about accusations of his having stolen jokes from other comedians, and sums up his career. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on February 15, 2007 in Hollywood, CA. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Diversity in Television, Historic Events and Social Change, Minorities, Television Industry, and Comedy Series. Other shows mentioned during the interview include 'Mind of Mencia' and 'Seinfeld.'

2007-02-15

In her one-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Betty White talks about her early aspirations before setting on a career in television and appearing on several early live and local Los Angeles broadcasts. She describes her first show 'Life with Elizabeth,' and becoming one of the first television stars to form her own production company with the help of producer Don Fedderson. She recounts her time playing "Sue Ann Nivens" on the classic 'Mary Tyler Moore Show,' including the famous "Chuckles Bites the Dust" episode. White discusses the importance of humor in her life, and playing "Rose Nylund" for seven seasons on 'The Golden Girls.' She speaks of her "bag of tricks" as an actress, as well as the business side of the entertainment industry. She discusses her prolific career on several game shows including 'Match Game' and 'Password.' She outlines her then-current role as "Catherine Piper" on 'Boston Legal,' and working on that show with co-star William Shatner. She concludes with some words of wisdom for aspiring television performers, and comments on her career longevity. Bill Dana and Jenni Matz conducted the interview on March 11, 2005 at Emerson College in Boston, MA. Additional topics covered include: Advice, Characters & Catchphrases, Classic TV series episodes, Comedy, Pop Culture, TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s), Television Industry, and Comedy Series.

2005-03-11

In his one-hour interview for the American Comedy Archives at Emerson College, Arte Johnson (1929-2019) talks about transitioning from doing publicity at Viking Press to show business and his first audition for "Gentleman Prefer Blondes." He recounts his first experience working with Jack Benny and working on the comedy series "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In." He talks about ad-libbing and using double-talk and different dialects to create ethnic characters. He also discusses what makes a comedian, and how it's important to have a back-up career during down-turns in their show business career. Jenni Matz and Bill Dana conducted the interview on June 2, 2005 in Los Angeles, CA. Additional topics covered include: Creative Influences and Inspiration, Pivotal Career Moments, Television Industry, Comedy Series, Daytime/Primetime Serials, and Game Shows. Other shows mentioned during the interview include '3-2-1 Contact,' 'The Andy Griffith Show,' 'The Dick Van Dyke Show,' 'The Donna Reed Show,' 'Don’t Call me Charlie,' 'Fantasy Island,' 'The Gong Show,' 'It’s Always Jan,' 'The Jack Benny Program,' 'Knockout,' 'Lost in Space,' 'The Love Boat,' 'Mama,' 'The Partridge Family,' 'Playboy after Dark,' 'Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In,' and 'Sally.'

2005-06-02

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