Live At The Improv
Shelley Berman
Originally released 1995
Varese Sarabande / Varese Vintage 2007
60 minutes

Shelley Berman is, and rightly so, a stand-up comedy legend. Live At The Improv is a solid addition to any serious comedy CD fan. It features some classic material anyone who has ever listened to stand-up on late-night radio will have heard such as The Department Store and the classic Hotels where little bars of soap multiply faster than the loaves and fish of the bible.

Fans of Shelley Berman should note Live At The Improv is the same release as the K-Tel and Laugh’s Shelley Berman Live Again! (the latter is what your computer will read as being loaded).

Aside from Hotels and The Department Store, this comedy CD includes many other really good stand-up routines such as International Conference -though a lot gets lost in the translation-and another Bob Newhart style telephone bit titled Neurosis. Though it perhaps runs a bit long Neurosis is a very funny stand-up bit where a forgetful patient calls his doctor.

Berman admits his Airline material is old but toys the audience into asking for it. It is worth a listen or two. This is also the case for Embarrassing Moments.  A bit off the beaten track is the closer, Father And Son, a smart, touching bit about borrowing money from his dad so he can be a nectar.

There is no doubt this is smart, intelligent, well-told stand-up comedy by a master. Unfortunately, the sound quality on Shelley Berman Live At The Improv is much less impressive. It is fairly competently recorded but unevenly so. Berman does not raise his voice though he tends to bring it down a bit to make a point and the recording fails to follow up.

Another more annoying problem is you can crank it up all you want it is almost impossible to hear this comedy CD at more than intimate conversation level. This is a personal peeve and hobby horse with stand-up CDs, especially since there are enough shareware programs on the internet that would have allowed someone, anyone to tweak this re-release satisfactorily. I know I tweaked my copy and am much happier with it now.

Shelley Berman Live At The Improv includes Argued With My Pants, The Department Store, Hotels, I’m Not Doing The Airline Material, International Conference, Neurosis, Embarrassing Moments, and Father And Son.

Henny Youngman on Varese Vintage


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