Review: Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman

Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman
Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman by Mark Cohen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Started reading this last night. Hmm. The introduction and first chapters are quirkily written. Insular. At least as of these early pages, Cohen is writing for the reader who is a fan and already in the know. ( I am a fan!) It is difficult to imagine a reader with a passing acquaintance with Allan Sherman’s works (maybe “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah) feeling inspired or encouraged to continue and figure out what Cohen is talking about. I will, though, because the works of Allan Sherman shaped my childhood (and also some of my early parenting!) and, because I’ve already put in for a day off from work so I can go to the author’s presentation at the JCA on December 4th. (Will I want my copy signed?)

Okay, at the half-way mark, I need to revise my opinion. Perhaps the early chapters are so angry because Sherman himself was angry? Once the narrative reaches California and his recording success begins, Cohen’s writing changes; Sherman is still a less than stellar father and husband with little business savvy, but the reader does get to sense the excitement of Jewish humor finding its moment in America. You can feel the laughter in the live audiences.

To be fair, Cohen is detailing the man as he was, as well as a specific time in American show business and comedy. The comedy parts are fun, and the biography parts are not.

My brain nearly exploded to learn that Allan Sherman and Mel Brooks appeared on a game show together. Dork fangirl moment! If I can find a recording of it, I might plotz (but in a good way)!

Note: I am ever so grateful to my love for making the investment in My Son, the Box, several years ago. For a certain kind of wife, there is no better anniversary gift! The best antidote to Sherman’s sad end is to pop in those CDs and belt out a little “Seltzer Boy” or “Old King Louie” at the very top of your lungs.

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