I don’t remember the first time I heard of Steve Allen, but it was definitely before I was culturally aware enough to appreciate the man and his work. Years later, when I saw an excellent documentary about the Beat Generation (The Source) that featured appearances on Allen’s Tonight Show by both Lenny Bruce and Jack Kerouac, I knew this was someone to investigate further. Lo and behold, investigating Allen further uncovers a treasure trove of truly subversive genius comedy and some of the best guests in television history. Allow me to illustrate:
Miles Davis – All Blues (Buy It)
Bob Dylan – The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll (Buy It)
Jack Kerouac & Steve Allen – Readings from On The Road and Visions of Cody (Buy It)
Lenny Bruce – Marijuana (Buy LB cds)
And finally, a sketch from Tonight, starring Pat Harrington Jr. and Gabe Dell, titled “Wonderful World of Violence.” Remember when watching that this was made in the late 1950s, and then think about how at-home this sketch would feel on one of the more “alternative” and anarchic comedy shows in recent tv history (Conan, UCB, Mr. Show, SNL, etc.), and it’ll give you some idea of just how ahead of his time Allen really was.
Do yourself a favor and learn more about Allen HERE.
posted by Adam