The recordings Woody Allen made of his comedy routines in the mid-Sixties will once again be available at an affordable price. November 25th will see the release of a comprehensive two-disc set – The Stand-Up Years: 1964 – 1968 – which will contain everything from the three records Allen released in the Sixties, along with a previously unreleased routine and more bonus audio. The additional material comprises 25 minutes of excerpts from the 2012 film Woody Allen: A Documentary, in which he discusses how stand-up comedy changed his life, as well as liner notes by the documentary’s producer and director, Robert B. Weide.
The album contains Allen’s routines from the Chicago club Mr. Kelly’s in March 1964, the Washington D.C. venue the Shadows in April 1965 and the San Francisco club Eugene’s in August 1968. Previously, Allen’s three comedy LPs had been split between two compilations, Standup Comic and The Nightclub Years. Among the performances are the comic’s routines about everything from Brooklyn and marriage to a vodka ad and “The Moose,” a memorable bit about shooting a moose – and the repercussions he faced from doing so.
Allen embarked on his stand-up career after stints writing for shows like The Tonight Show, during its Steve Allen and Jack Paar days, and Sid Caesar’s Caesar’s Hour show in the Fifties. In the early Sixties, he began doing stand-up in New York nightclubs like the Blue Angel and the Duplex, where he developed his witty, nervous onstage persona.
“If you remember, there was a whole rush of comedians in the Sixties,” Allen told Rolling Stone in 1971. “[There was] Mike Nichols and Elaine May, Shelley Berman, Mort Sahl. Bill Cosby and I were on the tail end of it. Just like a lot of folk musicians, we got our start in small clubs that just don’t exist anymore.”
But even though he was doing stand-up on the regular, it took him awhile to feel comfortable with the term “comedian.” “I had great trepidation about calling myself that years ago, when I first switched from writing to comedy,” he told Rolling Stone in 1976. “But now unequivocally, I call myself a comedian.” When the magazine asked him if he felt like he was breaking ground as a comedian with the opportunity to make movies, he said no. “The only interest to me was making people laugh,” Allen said.