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The Last Laugh: The World of Stand-Up Comics Paperback – November 14, 2000

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Hilarious yet harrowing… the breakthrough book on the subject. (Publishers Weekly)

Phil Berger is best known as a New York sportswriter... but his best work might be 'The Last Laugh.' (Robert Armstrong Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Utterly authentic, a fascinating account of what life is like in an important area of American humor. (Steve Allen)

About the Author

Phil Berger is a journalist whose award-winning writings on sports have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Playboy, and many other publications. He is also the screenwriter for the film Price of Glory. He lives in New York City.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Cooper Square Press; Updated edition (November 14, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815410964
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815410966
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #363,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Atar Hadari on February 7, 2003
Format: Paperback
A strange, nervous little book that I picked up at a bus station to have something to read on the journey and found myself engrossed by. The device is simple - Berger starts with the career of one obscure comic and follows it, weaving in and around it the careers of endless other comics - an initially obscure Lenny Bruce among them - and the book just goes on in one long series of anecdotes and bits and gags to tell the history of the business from mid-century or so and towards the present day. The book has a slightly antiquated, out of date feel to it - it's definitely about the era that preceded today's comics and the people they watched on TV - but it does capture something of the DRIVE of these people and their compulsiveness. Not a book to browse, a book to listen to like a long, long monologue. Full of the sweat of comics long ago shut down and gone to Florida to sell aluminium siding. Yes - that's one of the good things about this book - it's not a glam bio and tells it like it usually was - long, and difficult and here and there quite funny as well as painful.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've read The Last Laugh probably six or seven times, which oughtta tell you how good a review this will be...and I'm delighted to learn that I can now have the Kindle version with me at all times.
Phil Berger's book was the first to look at the origins and inside workings of standup comedy. It's written in a sort-of jazz hipster patois that may seem a little dated now, but which certainly rings true when you see it alongside the jazz-influenced routines of Lenny Bruce, Lord Buckley, and other influential fathers of modern comedy.
You'll get tastes of lots of comedians who were successful in the 50s and early 60s, but largely forgotten today. You'll learn about the part of Rodney Dangerfield's life you never heard before. You'll see who influenced Robert Klein and George Carlin—who would go on to influence virtually every comic of the past 40 years.
If you're building a library devoted to standup, this should be the first volume you buy. It is indispensable!
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Format: Paperback
Waaaayyyy back in the 80's I did standup in Cambridge and Boston Massacusetts, usually Jimmy Tingle or Lenny Clark hosting at the Ding Ho. I loved this book. I staggered under the stories. Anyone interested in standup comedy --- fan or performer --- will be illuminated. Jeeezzz ... climbing the world of standup can be like climbing Everest. Hard Hard Hard. But fascinating. And lots here of interest too for comedy writers and joke writers I read the first hardcover edition in a History of American Comedy class and thirty-plus years later I still remember the stories. ie the funniest man in America in the 50's was the son of Holocaust survivors, awful on stage but brilliant over coffee in NYC delis.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is fantastic to have it! Thank you Amazon.
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