SHELLEY BERMAN, R.I.P.
Right before the holiday week-end, we lost another of this country’s original old school comedians. Shelley Berman was a funny, funny man whose comedy I could relate to, even as a little girl. I didn’t even realize this coincidence until I read tributes to him last week, but I love it: When I was doing my television show, Karen’s Restaurant Revue, people always referred to me as a “sit-down comedian,” because my show was amusing, (knock on wood,) but I just sat at a table and talked by myself the whole time, rather than doing official stand-up comedy. I just learned that Shelley Berman always did his comedy sitting on a stool, which must have been very unusual in those days, even more than it would be today. So now I like him even more, in retrospect.
I met Shelley many years ago, when I was first doing my show. I was invited to a party for the launch of one of the books he wrote, and was all starry-eyed about it because I had known of him forever. I was hoping that no one would question why I was at the fete since the guests were a Who’s Who of the comedy world. All of a sudden, I saw Shelley coming up to me, and I was hoping it was not to kick me out. (I had been invited by his PR people, not him personally.) He introduced himself, (like he needed to do that,) and told me he was a big fan of my show, which I was shocked and thrilled about! And I’m happy to report that he delivered his compliments in his famous comedy voice, but underneath it all, I felt like he was really a Brooklyn uncle telling me what a nice girl I was. I loved that meeting!
I always expected to see Shelley around town again, but, sadly, as life went on, it was not meant to be. But I’ve always thought of him fondly.
RIP, Shelley Berman.