Federman’s Stand-Up Comedy Book Stands Up
Book Festival PreviewCommunity

Federman’s Stand-Up Comedy Book Stands Up

The comedian’s “History of Stand Up” is an easy, amusing, even scholarly look at the shtick business in only 130 pages.

After 37 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and now with the AJT, , Jaffe’s focus is lifestyle, art, dining, fashion, and community events with emphasis on Jewish movers and shakers.

Comedian Wayne Federman’s “The History of Stand-Up: From Mark Twain to Dave Chappelle,” is not a book of jokes. More sentimental, it is a logically compiled walk down memory lane that goes behind the scenes of the development of our favorite comedians with one thing in common: Lone humans standing on stage, struggling to get laughs from and connect with the audience.

While many may have ended up in the “Tonight Show” seat or with a top TV comedy series, most of them started out in much humbler venues, with an open microphone, beer, dip and a crowd spitting straws. One of those comedians, Jerry Seinfeld, summed it up: “We get paid to joke around.”

Consider the thrill and nervousness that comes with appearing on stage. Having been in the audience many times, the book brought back decades of memories: seeing Alan King at the Concord, Hal Holbrook portraying Mark Twain, Don Rickles in Las Vegas, or being in the front row with Robert Klein at the Great Southeast Music Hall in the ’70s, then again a few years ago in Sandy Springs.

Federman outlines our parents’ enchantment with the likes of Bob Hope, George Gessel, Phyllis Diller, Jimmy Durante, Jack Benny, Sammy Davis Jr., and Myron Cohen. Certainly not all Jewish, but “schmaltzing” things both heartfelt and relatable.

Federman dates the “boom in comedy” to around 2018, when Kevin Hart sold out a football stadium and Sebastian Maniscalco sold out four shows in one weekend at Madison Square Garden, grossing $8.28 million (and can now be seen on Netflix).

The younger generations’ idols are also in the book: Ellen DeGeneres, Tiffany Haddish, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” are all here, with careers bolstered by modern technology. Federman writes in conclusion, “How the acceleration of online streaming will change stand-up comedy is anyone’s guess. … Maybe when fans get the chance to go out and experience the juice of a live ‘in person’ performance, they will view digital comedy as a pale doppelganger.”

Wayne Federman and Annabelle Gurwitch will appear in conversation with Holly Firfer, both in-person and live-streamed, on Nov. 21, 7:30 p.m. EST.

read more: