Woody Allen’s Infancy

Nov 6 2013 @ 8:12pm

Ayun Halliday points to footage of a 30-year-old Woody Allen performing on British TV in 1965:

It does a body good to see him at this ‘childlike’ stage of his career. … As [Allen] told journalist Eric Lax in Conversations with Woody Allen:

“…comics are childlike and they are suing for the approval of the adults. Something goes on in a theater when you’re fourteen years old and you want to get up onstage and make the audience laugh. You’re always the supplicant, wanting to please and to get warm laughs. Then what happens to comics — they make it and they become a thousand times more wealthy than their audience, more famous, more idolized, more traveled, more cultivated, more experienced, more sophisticated, and they’re no longer the supplicant. They can buy and sell their audience, they know so much more than their audience, they have lived and traveled around the world a hundred times, they’ve dined at Buckingham Palace and the White House, they have chauffeured cars and they’re rich and they’ve made love to the world’s most beautiful women — and suddenly it becomes difficult to play that loser character, because they don’t feel it. Being a supplicant has become much harder to sell. If you’re not careful, you can easily become less amusing, less funny. Many become pompous… A strange thing occurs: You go from court jester to king.”

For another piece of obscure footage, below is a reel of bizarre ads Woody did for Seibu, a Japanese department store, in 1982:

Amber Frost captions:

From what I can tell from Seibu’s original press statements, Japan wasn’t even particularly aware of Woody Allen at the time! Seibu’s executives said they wanted someone who was an “adult” to represent their brand. One said “being good-looking is not enough.” You’ll note that Allen’s name is never mentioned in the spots. It’s amusing to wonder if he was hired more for being a “funny looking white guy” than for being Woody Allen.