Albert Brooks was an early-’70s sensation, pioneering a brand of post-modern conceptual “punk rock” comedy that broke all the traditional stand-up rules and, in doing so, made him a regular fixture on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and led to two cult albums, Comedy Minus One and A Star Is Bought. As anyone who’s followed his career knows, however, Brooks was far more than just a one-trick jokester, and Albert Brooks: Defending My Life (premiering Nov. 11 on HBO) affectionately details the amazing breadth of his talent, as well as his considerable impact on generations of comedians. Both a comprehensive primer and a nostalgic celebration, it successfully makes the case that few 20th-century funnymen were as daring, pioneering, or outright amusing.
Brooks was destined from birth for either greatness or disappointment, thanks to his show business parents Thelma Leeds (an actress and singer) and Harry Einstein (a comic renowned for his “Parkyakarkus” radio persona) naming him Albert Einstein. Growing up in a Hollywood household and attending a high school with Richard Dreyfuss; the kids of Groucho Marx, Lee J. Cobb, and Joey Bishop; and Rob Reiner—a lifelong friend, and the director of this documentary—no doubt contributed to his interest in the spotlight.
As Albert Brooks: Defending My Life reveals, his gift for making people laugh was notable from a young age, with Rob’s legendary father Carl Reiner hailing the then-16-year-old Brooks on The Tonight Show for a riotous comedy bit that he’d later praise by stating, “Without equivocation, in my life, there are but a handful of times that I ever laughed as hard.”
Source: The Daily Beast
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