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Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman
     

Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman

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by Mark Cohen
 

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Allan Sherman was the Larry David, the Adam Sandler, the Sacha Baron Cohen of 1963. He led Jewish humor and sensibilities out of ethnic enclaves and into the American mainstream with explosively funny parodies of classic songs that won Sherman extraordinary success and acclaim across the board, from Harpo Marx to President Kennedy. In Overweight Sensation, Mark

Overview

Allan Sherman was the Larry David, the Adam Sandler, the Sacha Baron Cohen of 1963. He led Jewish humor and sensibilities out of ethnic enclaves and into the American mainstream with explosively funny parodies of classic songs that won Sherman extraordinary success and acclaim across the board, from Harpo Marx to President Kennedy. In Overweight Sensation, Mark Cohen argues persuasively for Sherman’s legacy as a touchstone of postwar humor and a turning point in Jewish American cultural history. With exclusive access to Allan Sherman’s estate, Cohen has written the first biography of the manic, bacchanalian, and hugely creative artist who sold three million albums in just twelve months, yet died in obscurity a decade later at the age of forty-nine. Comprehensive, dramatic, stylish, and tragic, Overweight Sensation is destined to become the definitive Sherman biography.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Lively and meticulously researched."—Chicago Tribune

"In bringing context to the life of a now largely forgotten one-hit wonder, Cohen adds a valuable chapter to the history of American popular culture.”—Booklist

"[A] masterful, critical biography."—The Jewish Advocate

"Writer and journalist Cohen here captures the complex life of musical satirist Allan Sherman. . . . The author delves into the history of Jewish comedy in the 20th century, exploring Sherman's role in this complex story. . . . Highly recommended." —Choice

"[Allan Sherman] did as much as anyone to bring Jews out of the American pop-culture closet. One can hope that, thanks to Cohen, his legacy is now safe."—Tabletmag.com

"Mark Cohen has written a most comprehensive and accessible biography, “Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman” (Brandeis University Press), complete with lyrics of songs recorded and others that were never released. Cohen succeeds in presenting the fullness of Sherman’s larger-than-life personality, the family background that led to his original take on Jewish life and the connection of his life’s work to the world of American Jewish humor."—New York Jewish Week

“A penetrating biography by a savvy observer of show business.—The Jewish Journal (Los Angeles)

"Sherman's story offers a "fascinating encapsulation of a lot of major trends in American life," including "immigration, assimilation, and the ethnic revival of the '60s," as well as Sherman's personal background of a "dysfunctional family and dysfunctional son."—The Examiner

Library Journal
Cohen (Missing a Beat: The Rants and Regrets of Seymour Krim) presents a well-researched, interesting study of song parodist Allan Sherman. Sherman was one of the first Jewish comedians to become internationally famous with Borscht Belt-style, Jewish-specific material, such as his biggest hit, "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh." (President Kennedy was one notable fan.) The book describes Sherman's early years, when he moved all over the country after his parents split up; his college years at the University of Illinois, where he first became known for his novelty songs and where his goofball antics later got him expelled; and his rapid fame and decline into obscurity. Sherman struggled with lung disease and diabetes later in life and died in 1973, two years shy of his 50th birthday. Cohen's goal is to ensure that Sherman gets the credit he deserves for his groundbreaking comedy. The book also functions as a well thought out cultural history of Jewish Americans in the mid- to late 20th century. VERDICT Recommended for readers interested in Jewish comedy, Allan Sherman, song parodies, and comedian biographies.—Sally Bryant, Pepperdine Univ. Lib., Malibu, CA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781611684278
Publisher:
Brandeis University Press
Publication date:
05/14/2013
Series:
Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
1,002,430
File size:
2 MB

What People are Saying About This

Jason Alexander
“Allan Sherman was the original. . . . Before Forbidden Broadway, before Weird Al Yankovic, there was Allan Sherman—brilliant wit, satirist beyond compare, and stand-up comic with a melody.”
Dr. Demento
“At last, the first biography of Allan Sherman—the father of modern song parody, an inspired lyricist who turned phrases worthy of Cole Porter and skewered the soft spots of our culture with deadly accuracy. . . . Mark Cohen has devoted years of research to Sherman’s too-short life, in which he succeeded and failed, loved and lost, and ate and drank on the very grandest of scales.”
Tommy Smothers
“I love Allan Sherman’s work. Allan was funny and clever, and he touched my heart. He was more than just a writer of song parodies. He was an extraordinarily gifted word-weaving rhymester, and this is a definitive look at this talented, complicated, conflicted little munchkin!”
‘Weird Al’ Yankovic
“Allan Sherman is one of my biggest inspirations and all-time musical heroes. If Mark Cohen were to do a biography special on him . . . well, by golly, I’d watch it. Maybe even twice!”
Bill Cosby
“Allan Sherman was instrumental in helping me with my career.”
Eric Alterman
“A passionately written story of quite nearly tragic proportions...We are all in Cohen's debt.”

Meet the Author

MARK COHEN is a writer, editor, and journalist specializing in American Jewish culture. His previous books include Missing a Beat: The Rants and Regrets of Seymour Krim, and Last Century of a Sephardic Community. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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