Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Shelley Berman, the comedian, actor, writer, teacher, lecturer, poet, and philanthropist, celebrated his 90th birthday in February. He merits a place in our list of the great Jewish comedians of our time.
Berman started as a straight actor, receiving his training at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, honing his acting skills in stock companies in and around Chicago and New York City.
In the mid-1950s, he became a member of Chicago's Compass Players, which later evolved into The Second City. While performing improvised sketches with Compass, Berman began developing solo pieces, often employing an imaginary telephone to take the place of an onstage partner.
He went on to star in plays, movies, TV, and has been involved in virtually every form of entertainment including records and books.
He's been performing on TV as recently as 2009 in the role of Larry David's father in Curb Your Enthusiasm, a role which earned him an Emmy nomination.
We previously posted one of his telephone sketches in which he speaks with a hotel clerk.
You asked for more, so here's another classic example of Berman's comedy from a Judy Garland Show episode in January 1964. The scene takes place in an accounting office one minute from the 5 pm closing time.
(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS. YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)