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Readers Blog: Dobie Maxwell's 'Dented Can' Diary

World Class Woody

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Friday November 30th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   If there had to be a single humorist chosen to be ‘the one’ for the modern era, I don’t see how it could be more than a one horse race. Woody Allen is the clear cut winner, and probably takes the second and third place spots as well. Everyone else is choking on his dust, left to fight for scraps.

   What a spectacular career he has had for more than half a century, and continues to have today. Who else even comes close, either in length or versatility? Either one would be a remarkable feat for anyone to accomplish, but together it’s something I don’t think we’ll see for a very long time.      

   Woody turns 77 tomorrow, and I wanted to pay my respects but I don’t know where to start. In a field where it’s difficult to survive much less excel at ONE thing, he’s done several to the point of legendary status and that just blows my mind. I don’t think he is appreciated nearly enough.

   He started writing jokes in his teens, and soon after was bringing in more income than both of his parents combined while still in high school. How many can say that? He continued and got a job writing for ‘Your Show of Shows’ with Sid Caesar and worked with some of the top comedy writers of all time. Again, that alone would have been a major victory but there was a lot more.

   His standup comedy helped change the game as we know it, and to this day is some of the most well written material of all time. That combined with his neurotic stage persona and well defined nerdish appearance is what legends are made of. His character is timeless, and remains hilarious.

   ‘The Moose’ is a classic standup routine I play for every one of my comedy classes. If there’s a more well structured piece of standup comedy ever written I’ve sure never heard it, and his talent combined with a vicious work ethic make him the number one humorist of all time in my book.

   He also wrote a total of four books of humorous essays, another difficult task. Even harder is to make a reader laugh out loud, but there are several examples of that in all the works I’ve had the chance to read and it’s been several years since I’ve read them. It’s about time to refresh myself.

   Then, if standup comedy and humor essays weren’t challenging enough, Woody jumped into it even deeper and began writing, directing and often starring in feature films. His first effort “Take the Money and Run” remains one of my all time favorites, and I still laugh out loud when I see it.

   ONE successful film is no small feat, but Woody has continued to crank out about a film a year for more than four decades. Why does anyone need to work that hard? I don’t think anyone does, but if creativity is in one’s blood it’s the only alternative. It becomes a way of life for a lifetime.

   I don’t see Woody Allen ever retiring of his own free will. He’s a creative artist, and he’s done about as much as any one person I can think of for as long as anyone I can think of. One doesn’t have to personally be a fan of his work to admire the effort it took to make it come to be. Woody has a work ethic and then some, and his vast body of work will be around to entertain generation after generation. If that isn’t professional success, I don’t know what is. He has set the bar high.

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