With his tender, funny memoir of four decades in the business, Alan Zweibel traces the history of American comedy
Alan Zweibel started his comedy career selling jokes for seven dollars apiece to the last of the Borscht Belt standups. Then one night, despite bombing on stage, he caught the attention of Lorne Michaels and became one of the first writers at Saturday Night Live, where he penned classic material for Gilda Radner, John Belushi, and all of the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players. From SNL, he went on to have a hand in a series of landmark shows—from It’s Garry Shandling’s Show to Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Throughout the pages of Laugh Lines Zweibel weaves together his own stories and interviews with his friends and contemporaries, including Richard Lewis, Eric Idle, Bob Saget, Mike Birbiglia, Sarah Silverman, Judd Apatow, Dave Barry, Carl Reiner, and more. The book also features a charming foreword from his friend of forty-five years Billy Crystal, with whom he co-wrote and co-produced the upcoming film Here Today that stars Crystal and Tiffany Haddish. Laugh Lines is a warmhearted cultural memoir of American comedy.
This zippy memoir by comedians' comedian Zweibel (The Other Shulman) offers laughs on nearly every page. Though Zweibel's name isn't well known outside of comedy circles, he has worked with a who's-who of stars, including Milton Berle and Larry David. A Jewish boy from Long Island, Zweibel started out in 1972 working in a deli in Queens and writing gags for Borscht Belt comics at $7 each. (For Rodney Dangerfield: "My mother wouldn't breastfeed me. She said she liked me as a friend.") Industriousness, luck, and a binder stuffed with 1,100 jokes got him on staff for Saturday Night Live's inaugural season in 1975. He knocked out quips for "Weekend Update" and bonded with Gilda Radner, a work relationship that, to his annoyance, became lopsided (he would write sketches at his desk, while she would call in from such places as Studio 54 for notes). Zweibel's itinerant collaborator existence encompassed helping create It's Garry Shandling's Show and turning material from Billy Crystal's childhood into the hit show 700 Sundays. On the more serious side, Zweibel delivers a heartfelt depiction of Shandling's vast talent and often overlooked sense of humanity. Comics and comedy fans alike will delight in this hilarious and self-deprecating memoir.