Woody Allen

  • Date Jan 23, 1977
  • Total Length 1:04:29
Sample this concert
  1. 1Interview28:07
  2. 2Interview36:22
Liner Notes

This is essential listening for any fan of film, comedy, or, of course, Woody Allen himself. Taped in his New York City office just months before the release of Annie Hall, this interview captures Woody at a pivotal time in his career. Already considered to be one of the funniest men in America, he would soon also become an acclaimed moviemaker with a slew of Oscar nominations and awards. One wonders if the self-deprecating opinions of his films heard here may too have changed since this was recorded.

As with most interviews recorded for the King Biscuit "Conversations With…" series, the discussion here covers his entire life, including how he got started in comedy, why he dropped out of film school, and his greatest influences. More current topics include his thoughts on Annie Hall, his career as a jazz musician, and why he won't move to L.A. Perhaps the highlight, however, is his recounting of a political satire he made for public television broadcast, which was not aired due to governmental restrictions. Regardless of the topic, because of his forthrightness and conversational ability, there is not a boring moment in this hour.

Part 1
00:00 - Introduction
00:54 - Early interest in writing comedy / reasons for not being the class clown
01:47 - Cutting school to watch movies in Times Square
03:02 - "What is comedy?"
03:43 - How he knows if something will get a laugh
04:50 - Allen's humor as verbal cartooning / early monologues and movies
06:32 - Testing new material: alone in his room vs. before an audience
08:38 - A comedian's reaction to flopping on stage
10:28 - Different types of humor: the big laugh vs. fun without laughter
11:30 - Comic influences: Milton Berle, Ernie Kovacs, Jackie Gleason, Sid Caesar
13:22 - The importance of a second banana
14:12 - Family reaction to his career choice
14:49 - Getting off the ground as a comedian: newspapers, a PR firm, radio, TV
16:10 - Writing one-liners in newspapers attributed to other celebrities
19:08 - Being thrown out of college (as a film student) / learning how to play the drums
20:52 - Seeing Mort Sahl as a life-changing experiene
22:02 - A revolution in comedy in the early 60's and again in the present day
24:08 - Mort Sahl's restructuring of jokes (like modern jazz)
25:26 - Thoughts on Lenny Bruce
26:39 - The more terrifying the times, the more important comedy is

Part 2
00:00 - Reasons for staying away from television: better movie traffic
01:55 - Film as an illusion of permanence
02:27 - A lost political satire that public broadcasting networks wouldn't air
05:01 - More on governmental censorship
06:37 - What Woody watches on TV
06:52 - Worst parts of making films
08:33 - Not enjoying his films: compromising from brainstorming to writing to filming
09:57 - Choices for best comedy films of all time: Chaplin, Keaton, Fields, Hope, Hard Day's Night
13:38 - Making The Front / working as just an actor
15:31 - Not an actor (can only play himself)
16:19 - The ever-present danger of fascism / lucking out with Watergate
17:50 - Preview of Annie Hall, a contemporary neurotic love story
19:23 - Reasons for using the same actors in different movies
20:10 - A role for Paul Simon
20:37 - Coming up with titles for Annie Hall, other movies
22:09 - Creating his own ad campaigns, not using television
23:30 - Difficulty with finding endings for films / Monty Python and the Holy Grail
25:04 - Origins of What's Up, Tiger Lily? / a lot less crazy than people think
28:15 - Managing to stay in NYC as a film maker
28:53 - Why he loves NYC / other possible city for relocation / disgraceful aspects of NYC
30:23 - A rank amateur clarinet player / history with the soprano sax
32:03 - Playing with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band
32:35 - What music he listens to: jazz and classical
32:54 - Thoughts on the culture of America
34:25 - Feeling accomplished about his New Yorker articles; might never happen with films