life in and around NYC is insane

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I feel like I'm doing homework -- Allan Sherman

If I said the name "Allan Sherman", a few people might nod in recognition.

If I added "My Son, the Folksinger", a few more people  would understand.

And a few more would get it if I said "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah".

I'm just a bit too young to remember Sherman's heyday as a comedian/song parodist.  I discovered one of his albums in my parents' collection when I was about 12, and then I read his autobiography, "A Gift of Laughter," also in my parents' collection.

I love his sense of humor, and his obvious pride in his Jewish identity.

Drew is an even bigger fan than I am, he has many of Sherman's albums on vinyl, and many of them on CD, including one that was just released, with "all new material".  Before Sherman became a star, he used to sing his parodies at parties, just Sherman and his piano, and someone recorded a number of these songs, but they'd never been released to the public until now.

Sherman's works are getting airplay on one of the comedy stations on Sirius Radio, 40 years after his death.  You know we listen.

So what has this got to do with "doing my homework"?

There's a new biography of Sherman, "Overweight Sensation;  the Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman".

To quote

In Overweight Sensation, Mark Cohen argues persuasively for Sherman's legacy as a touchstone of postwar humor and a turning point in Jewish American cultural history. With exclusive access to Allan Sherman's estate, Cohen has written the first biography of the manic, bacchanalian, and hugely creative artist who sold three million albums in just twelve months, yet died in obscurity a decade later at the age of forty-nine. Comprehensive, dramatic, stylish, and tragic, Overweight Sensation is destined to become the definitive Sherman biography.

Mark Cohen will be speaking at my synagogue in a few weeks as part of our Adult Education program.  Of course Drew and I are planning to go.   So of course we are both reading his book, and today I tracked down a library copy of Sherman's book -- it's out of print.

Yes, we are prepping for Cohen's appearance.

Here's Sherman's classic:

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