Kliph Nesteroff's "The Comedians" is a terrific history of the last century of American comedy, from vaudeville right up to today. With so much ground to cover, Kliph was nice enough to join me for an extended conversation in which I asked him:
- Who was the first comic to record an album?
- What was the Mafia's influence on careers of comedians like Don Rickles?
- What's the story on Jerry Lewis and the most expensive talk show failure in TV history?
- Did Bob Newhart steal Shelley Berman's act?
- How did Albert Brooks get on TV with material he'd never done in front of audiences before?
- Is Lorne Michaels now the most powerful man in television?
- Why haven't any women had real success in late-night TV?
- What impact do podcasts like Mark Maron's WTF have on the hosts and their guests?
- Are college campuses too politically correct for comedians, as Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock claim?