Saturday, January 18, 2014

Old Jewish Comedians at the Society of Illustrators

Milton Berle

 The Last Schmaltz

OLD JEWISH COMEDIANS, was my recent trilogy of books of portraiture, lovingly celebrating the greatest Jewish comedians of the 20th century, from the famous (The Marx Brothers, The Three Stooges, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, George Burns, Sheeley Berman, Jerry Lewis, Don Rickles, Mel Brooks, Sid Caesar, Joan Rivers, etc), to the less known, (Menasha Skulnik, Joe Smith, Bert Gordon, Al Kelly, Ben Blue, Belle Barth, Stanley Myron Handleman, etc). The books were designed and edited by Monte Beauchamp.

The Society of Illustrators will be presenting  a 2-floor gallery showing of "Old Jewish Comedians", beginning on March 5th, showcasing all of my original artwork from all three books, as well as early rough sketches and additional Jewish comedian-related art created by for book, print and DVD covers. This will represent the most comprehensive display of my artwork to date, containing over 115 illustrations and biographies of each comedian. Also on display will be over one hundred of pieces of rare Jewish comedian ephemera from my collection,  books, magazines, comic books, records, sheet music, advertisements, brochures, toys, games, buttons, cigar boxes, shoe laces and playing cards,  some featuring art by Al Hirschfeld, Jack Davis and Norman Rockwell.
                                    The Opening Reception is on Thursday March 6th beginning at 7 PM!
show banner designed by Monte Beauchamp
the large (18x28), signed poster for the show, featuring the Marx Brothers, circa 1959, designed by Monte Beauchamp, will be for sale at the Society of Illustrators for $25. This art will also be featured on the upcoming DVD box set fron SHOUT! Factory, The Marx Brothers TV Collection
The Society of Illustrators web page for the upcoming Old Jewish Comedians Show:

                                         All three signed OJC books will be for sale at the Society of Illustrators

Illustrator Stephen Kroninger discusses the OJC show on DRAWGER:
Jerry Lewis
The opening reception for the show will be Thursday, March 6th, beginning at 7 PM and open to the public.  Kosher refreshments will be served and a cash bar will be serving cash. Open to the public.

BOING BOING on the upcoming Old Jewish Comedian show:

the second collection featuring nightclub comic Joe E. Lewis gracing the cover

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Woody Allen is not pleased with my drawing of Woody Allen

Several years ago, the late, great editor Peter Kaplan somehow landed Woody Allen as a (brief) contibutor to the New York Observer. Woody agreed to write a piece about his long love affair with the New York Knicks Basketball team. Peter, a long-time Woody Allen fan was ecstatic, and assigned me the cover illustration to run with the article. I created an image of an up-close, in your face Woody, freckles & all, posed courtside as an old fashioned NY sports reporter, press hat, trenchcoat, pencil behind ear, cig' dangling from mouth, eye-contacting the reader, banging away at his underwood typewriter as the Knicks are mid-air on the court behind him:
"You lookin' at me?"
After the issue appeared, Peter received a phone call from Woody Allen's sister/producer Letti Aronson informing him that Woody was not at all pleased with the (large) freckled illustration on the cover. Woody had assumed the piece would appear more discretely somewhere inside the issue, not as the main feature. She told him Woody would no longer write for the Observer. Peter called me to tell me what had just transpired, and wondered in retrospect if he should have just used a small Barry Blitt (a regular Observer contributor) drawing of Woody to accompany the piece. After all he told me, he had been hopeful to secure Woody Allen as a regular contributor. Then he paused and said "Ah, screw it. It's a great drawing!"

Here's Woody Allen's excellent piece, "Notes of a know-nothing Knicks fan":

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

John F. Kennedy & Comedians

with Jerry Lewis
with Milton Berle
with Bob Hope

with Bob Hope
with Peter Sellers
with Jack Benny
with Shelley Berman and Mrs. Berman
with Joey Bishop
with Carol Burnett &
Danny Kaye
with Jimmy Durante
with Alan Sherman

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"Screwball" The MAD MAD MAD GAME?

 "Screwball", THE MAD MAD MAD GAME?  was released by Transogram in 1960. The game had players entering the "Madvertising business" ("Only Boobs and 1/2 wits can win!") traveling around the board in their "Jokewagons" filled with phony MAD-like products,  (Prince Boobert Tobacco, Swipe toothpaste, Winegoof Beer, Cantaford Motor Co, screamingly funny stuff like that), spending "Mad money". The luck of the spinner determined whether players had to pay nothing, half, full or double price for their prizes. Got it?

The problem was that Transogram and the game's creators didn't bother to license the rights from MAD magazine, despite using an Alfred E. Neuman look-alike on the box cover (with art created by the cult comic book artist Howard Nostrand). MAD objected, and to appease MAD's lawyers the game was recalled with a second version released, this time with a microphone covering the fake Alfred's mouth to cover the gap tooth, and wearing headphones to cover his large ears. The "Screwball" was now larger,  with one less "MAD" in the game's title. Finally,  the hilarity could ensue!
first version of the game, art by Howard Nostrand

game directions
the game and it's contents

some of the game cards, art also by Howard Nostrand

the revised cover 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

"Godfrey Cambridge's Rent a Negro Plan"

The late, great, rotund 1960's black comedian Godfrey Cambridge's 1967 book "Put-Ons & Put-Downs" featured his earlier caustic nightclub/album  routine "Godfrey Cambridge's Rent a Negro Plan". The routine was illustrated for the book by the great MAD caricaturist Mort Drucker and reprinted in Cavalier magazine. Drucker also illustrated the book cover.

The comic book artist Neil Adams is also credited with "illustrating" the art, but I can't really figure out why. Adams had a distinctive style which I'm not recognizing in this work. Perhaps Adams inked Drucker's pencils? Any speculation or information would be appreciated.