Sunday, December 03, 2017

Woody Allen is still funny

There was a time when Woody Allen was the funniest guy in show business.  Yes, it was a long time ago, but his stand up act was brilliant and his early movies were hysterical.  The films he makes now that are alleged comedies are tepid at best, and honestly I've been very disappointed.  Woody Allen was an early idol of mine and today I can't bring myself to see his current movies.

But recently he roasted Diane Keaton who was honored with an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award and damn, the guy's still got it.   Listen to the quality of these jokes.   Where have you been, Woody?  I've missed you.

UPDATE:  Just to be clear because I'm already getting angry comments.  I do not in ANY way condone his behavior and there was a time I refused to see his movies just on principle.   What I'm focusing on in this post is his talent.   If you loathe Woody Allen and are not interested in anything he does then fine.  I totally understand that.  Hopefully I'll see you tomorrow.  

47 comments :

scottmc said...

Thank you for this. Woody Allen's latest movie opened on Friday, his birthday. There was a time I would see his movies the opening weekend. Seeing them with a crowd added to the fun of the movie. There are a handful moments of seeing a movie in a theater that are etched in my mind. Two of those moments are from Woody Allen movies, SLEEPER and ANNIE HALL. Woody Allen was interviewed for the recent Bob Hope documentary airing on PBS. At their peak they were both without equal and you can see the influence Hope had on Woody.

Rashad Khan said...

No offense, Ken, but now might not be the right time to sing Woody Allen's praises.

Jonny M said...

Welcome back Woody, or as I think of him, Roy Moore with a few Oscars. Sure he's in to teenagers, but let's talk about the ebbs and flows of his sense of humor. As his character says in Bullets of Broadway, "An artist creates his own moral universe."

Steve said...

I'm sure people are going to write nasty comments, because they always do with any mention of Woody, but thanks so much for posting this. It's the funniest thing I've seen him do in years. Excellent!

gottacook said...

Did he really say "fellatrix" in that list of what Keaton's good at, just after "photographer"? No reaction from the crowd, but maybe they didn't figure out what word it was before he moved on to "director"; the word very rarely appears in print, and I've never before heard it spoken aloud. I'm sure it's sincere praise, though.

As for his being less funny in recent years, my lament is that his New Yorker pieces that I've happened to see in the past 30 years or so don't hold a candle to the earlier ones collected in Getting Even and Without Feathers.

WardHill Terry said...

Fellatrix? Cool word!

Rick said...

Thanks for posting this. I’m afraid you’re going to get some angry and offended posts. I know Mia’s kids believe that Allen molested the daughter. But I remember the implanted memories at the McMmartin Pre-School.

I understand people who don’t believe in giving accused molesters a presumption of innocence—and they don’t have to, presumption of innocence is required only in courtroom.

VP81955 said...

Allen's "The Moose" from the mid-sixties is among the greatest comic routines ever created. Perfectly crafted from start to finish, including the payoff.

https://youtu.be/pFaP-BJhZg8

Laura said...


Not a single post or a single line all these years condemning this monster. But praise, that comes easy?

Theo said...


"Sure he's in to teenagers" - You make it sound like a cool thing... a habit or some casual stuff. ....... No, it's NOT. He is a RAPIST period

""An artist creates his own moral universe."" -- sure that's what a RAPIST would say. To escape blame, and to try and make the world believe that an "artist" is above the law.


Brian said...

Funny is funny... and maybe only people who have tried to be funny for a living can appreciate that. Ken, I would ignore any of the on-the-nose politically correct comments from people who are looking for applause and respect because they said something about how wrong it was for you to admit Woody Allen was funny and is still capable of being funny. Take heart in the knowledge that the odds are the people with the loudest voices in that chorus have never made anyone laugh in their lives and never will. I don't know a damn thing about Woody Allen's personal life but I do know that his standup act in the 1960's and his records and his movies from the 1970's and early 80's made me laugh and I enjoyed them very much. I guess my point is that no one should be ashamed to admit that someone is funny. If he's not funny, then don't laugh. But don't tell other people not to laugh until YOU are willing to step in and create some laughter yourselves. Mel Brooks, Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock are so right about political correctness killing comedy. My advice to all the people offended by this is to show us how caring you are by donating some time at a shelter for women and children... you could earn actual applause and respect for that. Of course, that would require giving something of yourself beyond an offended blog comment.

Jonny M said...

Theo - I think you're missing the sarcasm. I called him Roy Moore with Oscars.

And for those that don't believe Dylan Farrow's story, you know he also made a movie about having a sexual relationship with Mariel Hemingway as a teenager (he did wait until she was 18 before asking her to go to Paris with him) and, oh yeah, he married one of his children. So I think there's some pretty strong "He's a total creep," evidence out there.

I wonder - would we be posting Louis C.K. clips today and then remarking, "He is still funny." Yeah that all might be funny, but they doesn't deserve the power of celebrity.

Kim T. Bené said...

I am amazed at how so many people are willing to believe bad things about other people without any real evidence. The book on Woody has many funny chapters and so far only one person has made accusations after years of it being public knowledge and that person's mother pretty much hates him for jilting her so it seems a very cloudy issue to me and one that has absolutely no bearing on this great Woody Allen speech.

Mike Bloodworth said...

No one is saying Woody Allen is a great guy. We're talking about his body of work. You don't have to like Mr. Allen as a person. But even if you despise him one has to admit that many of his movies are classics. A similar situation is O.J. Simpson. He may be a scumbag and a pariah now, but no one can deny that he is one of the greatest running backs of all time. Look at how many people still worship Michael Jackson. Like most humans they have, feet of clay. We're all guilty of something. To paraphrase the bible, he who is without sin, cast the first stone.

VincentS said...

Absolutely right, Ken. Once a great comedy writer, always a great comedy writer. Even the dated jokes were funny. I guess like Brando and Alfred Hitchcock, we should separate his work from his behavior as a person. Maybe he should write jokes for others under a pen name. What was Martin Short doing sitting at Diane's table, though? If they're a couple I haven't heard. But her deserving the award notwithstanding, once more the AFI gives its award to another ratings-getting performer. Did you know that the AFI has NEVER given any of its 45 life achievement awards to some one who was exclusively a writer? Yes, they've given it to hyphenates like John Huston and Billy Wilder, but that's saying being just a writer isn't good enough! Try making a movie without one. Also try finding their screenwriting classes on their website. It's WAY down, past the set designer and art director! No disrespect to those professions but I think it's safe to say the writer might rate a little higher. Okay, spleen empty. But it's too late to give the award to Nora Ephron and William Goldman isn't getting any younger!

sanford said...

I also thought the Moose story was one of the funniest things I have ever heard. As for the response of Woody marrying his daughter, I don't even know if you can say if that is technically true. She is not related by blood. The age difference deoes seem kind odd. But they have been happily married for 20 years. I have friend who is my age (70) and has been in a similar relationship. I think she was 19 when they first met. They have been married for at least ten years, maybe a little bit longer. One would think that with such an age spread you would have nothing in common. That is not true. As far as what happened between him and his daughter, it has never been proven. Not that it couldn't have happened. For the most part I would tend to believe women when they say that have been sexually abused, but Dylan was just a young girl. She could have been influenced by Mia. And as for his speech here, there were some funny things but I didn't find it funny as Ken did.

michael del said...

TCM played The Front (Martin Ritt, 1976) this week and it’s one of the few Woody Allen films that I seen recently without viewing through the lens of his personal history. This, of course, is because he only acted in the film. And, by the way, it really is a terrific film with a great cast, especially Zero Mostel. Some say Allen is miscast, but I think he does a fine job and, for my money, gives one of his best performances.

That said, I’m still bummed that I will never be able to enjoy Hannah and her Sisters, one of my favorite films, like I once did.

Loosehead said...

I'm with Theo.

On a related note, I've just seen a movie trailer that proudly proclaims "A Weinstein Production". I wonder if that will affect its box office.

Laura said...


Brian, nobody here is trying to get applause. This is a virtual world, hardly do I, or others condemning here need you appreciation.

Yes, I have (am/will) worked for the victims (saying this not for your applause). So I know what it means to be scarred for life by these monsters.

Punishment is one way of justice. So is social boycott. By constantly praising what a great artist this man is, you embolden him. He is so emboldened that he came out in support of another monster recently. He is being kept on a pedestal and worshipped because he is an artist. That is wrong.

Social boycott and public criticism is the only way these powerful people can be made to understand - that his acts have damaged whatever appreciation he got from people for his talent.





SharoneRosen said...

Damn.. I hate when a creep is brilliant.

Ted said...


AFI awards is a sham.

They are giving George Clooney one this year. They gave Michael Douglas some time back. These 2 no-talented dicks are getting, but no one has questioned - why Denzel Washington hasn't got one yet?

Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, Al Pacino got only after the greatest actor - master thespian - Shining Beacon of Hollywood 'Tom Hanks' got one. So I guess Denzel has to wait.....

Eric J said...

Echoing Brian above, "Funny is funny." That was funny. Whatever else Woody Allen is, he is a comic genius. Thanks for posting that.

Mike said...

Maybe it would have been better if he'd phoned it in.
Maitre'D: "OK Mr Allen, I'm putting you on speakerphone... You're driving along with Diane Keaton tied to your front fender... More chicken on table nine... There's a little known law in New York State..."
Philatrist? She's a stamp collector?
All those cultural references that only the elderly would understand: Eve Harrington, colonoscopies, eating in expensive restaurants.
What was she wearing? Was it cold in Hollywood? She forgot why she was in the theatre, put her coat on to leave and then the show started.
And that surprise appearance from Al Pacino: "It's not me, Kay. That's him & his family."

Mike Schryver said...

I'm on your side, Ken. Appreciating art is not the same thing as approving the artist as a person. The people who want to vet everyone who might potentially entertain them must get very tired doing so. Seems like it would be a full-time job in itself.

Buttermilk Sky said...

I will never understand why insulting people is considered to be honoring them. The "roast" seems to have escaped from the Friars Club like a bad case of ptomaine, and while it might be funny to a roomful of professional comics, it doesn't travel well. Diane Keaton looks old, doesn't know how to dress and gives expert head -- hilarious. I looked at some earlier AFI events (John Ford, Bette Davis) and they were nothing like this. Insult humor cheapens the whole culture, and you wind up with a president who thinks racial slurs and playground taunts are the way to do his job. I hope the air raid sirens aren't activated during your Christmas vacation in Hawaii, Ken.

Sorry to ruin everybody's mellow Sunday, but Woody used to be better than this. Yes, "The Moose" is still wonderful.

suek2001 said...

Can't watch Woody as he creeps me out. I would like to say that in this age of harassment, Margaret Houlihan took her fair share from others on MASH. The thing is even though she took it, she fought back..and by the time her divorce happened, she realize that she was so much more than any man could give her. True, she was screechy at times but when you're a woman in a war zone, that's sometimes the only way to be heard....

Random note Ken...your episode "Billfold Syndrome" was on last week....it remains a classic in my book. I do have a question..for the meatier guest roles like Jerry Nielsen, did you have to audition them or were they just sent to you? Your gift of comedy is well known but that episode showed a fantastic drama narrative...Did writing for a clear drama become a desire for you?

MikeKPa. said...

I think there are still a lot of prominent names in Hollywood in which much, much more will be revealed. Wouldn't be surprised to see Allen's name among them -- and not for what has already been reported. There's a sick underbelly in that industry -- and in politics -- that needs to see the light of day; driving out those responsible for the actions and those for allowing it to go unchecked.

cadavra said...

I can't believe that this "rapist" BS is still going on. Once again: The case was thoroughly investigated by the police, the FBI and a respected child psychiatrist who interviewed Dylan nine times, and found her stories varied wildly each time. The unanimous conclusion is that the child was coached into saying these things by Mia. No charges were ever filed, because he was innocent.

If you wanna think he's a creep, that's fine, but don't libel him by accusing him of crimes that never happened.

Val Waxman said...

Well, I paid to see "Whatever Works," "Cafe Society" and "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger," so I'm a three-time rape victim of Woody Allen.

Wayne said...

From the Entertainment Weekly writeup:
He [Woody] briefly refrained from his teasing when it came to presenting her with the award, saying, “The minute I met her she was a great, great inspiration to me. Much of what I’ve accomplished in my life I owe for sure to her. She’s really astonishing. This is a woman who is great at everything she does — actress, writer, photographer, fellatrix, director.”
At least director gets top billing.

Bob said...

Yes, Woody Allen honored her with, "This is a woman who is great at everything she does — actress, writer, photographer, fellatrix, director.”
He put fellatrix between photographer and director.
But above actress and writer.
Comedy is all in how you set it up. Woody couldn't just say she's a great fellatrix. People might think, "How does she compare to your daughter?"

Carol said...

TV has different standards. Woody Allen can call a woman a fellatrix. But they cut poor Al Franken from the Dave Letterman Mark Twain awards.

Rashad Khan said...

Told you so. ;)

sumerlad said...

I thought he said theatrics.

ScottyB said...

'Radio Days' still has a place at the top my list of favorite movies.

Dr Loser said...

A great shame about the angry comments. Whilst I'm fully capable of understanding that Woody Allen's personal behaviour (for several decades now) has been something between spotty and unconscionable, I don't really need anybody else to point this out to me. And I don't think anybody else here would be enriched or enlightened by the experience.

For what it's worth, I think it was big-hearted of you to emphasise the positives of a man who clearly has disappointed you in many ways. I wish more of us had this generosity of spirit.

(And no, I didn't really find much of the roast speech funny, although I did enjoy the vintage "Freudian slip" joke. What I think it did show was an enduring (and rather playful) love and affection for Ms Keaton. I think that is worth celebrating.)

Dr Loser said...

Oh, and Woody's timing is still superb. That alone was worth knowing.

MikeN said...

Ken Levine in the past has been critical of Woody Allen and suggested not viewing his movies because of his personal behavior. I know this because I wanted to accuse him of hypocrisy on this point when he attacked someone else's movies, and searched this blog for a quote about Woody Allen or Roman Polanski. He's been consistent.

Chris P said...

After watching the video clip and reading all these comments, my main takeaway is: What on earth is Diane Keaton wearing and who the heck dressed her? She looks like Frosty the Snowman blew up on her.

Steve Bailey said...

Did you see his Amazon TV mini-series "Crisis in Six Scenes"? It's very worth checking out, especially if you want to see Woody in his old (comedic) form.

JohnnyW said...

I haven't watched anything Woody Allen in years (after I attempted to go through all his movies and learned far more about him than I ever meant to, and got sick of sharing his twisted mindspace). But recently I watched a short clip from Annie Hall and, well, wow. Nobody quite had a voice like him, even now. So funny, so talented.

Not necessarily a nice man, but definitely brilliant.

Joy said...

The Friars Club used to have roasts in 50's. Some clean. Some dirty.
The clean roasts, only Milton Berle was funny.
The dirty roasts, everyone was funny even Art Linkletter.
Woody Allen was funny. But he was working blue.

At least he said "fellatrix" not "c***s***er."

gottacook said...

A little online research turns up "fellatrix" in an Allen movie, Mighty Aphrodite, in which he says to Mira Sorvino, "I'm sure that you're a state-of-the-art fellatrix." Also, in 2001 on the British chat show Parkinson, he said of Monica Lewinsky, "Nobody in American history ever rose so far or so quickly as Monica. She went from fellatrix to superstar practically overnight."

I've never heard anyone else ever use the word - but who else would want to? It's possible, too, that "fellatrix" is just an intrinsically funny word, entirely separate from its meaning. Perhaps he even told Keaton in advance that he was going to use it about her, just to see whether it got a reaction from the AFI audience (i.e., his using the word in a public speech about her without forewarning her seems even less likely than that he discussed it with her firsst).

Greg Thompson said...

"Life is like the prep day" is a pretty great punchline, no question.

blogward said...

"Fellatrix" fell flat, didn't it? Should he have said, "fellaytrix"? (No pun intended)

Jonathan Ernst said...

A late comment, but Ken will read it since he moderates this section. Dylan Farrow’s op-ed in the LA Times questioning why Allen has gotten off the hook while Weinstein and others have gotten taken down. Worth a read and maybe it will put Woody in a different light.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-farrow-woody-allen-me-too-20171207-story.html

Unknown said...

Sorry if this was already mentioned, but people are so hot-headed after all these years I feel like I can say this - especially since nobody can see it.

He's not a rapist. There is nothing to substantiate rape in anything he did. It's easy to lump everyone in with Weinstein and Cosby but come on, get real.

He did not marry his child. He married the adopted daughter of Mia Farrow and André Previn, with whom he obviously had an extremely inappropriate relationship. It isn't incest any way you define it.

He's a dirty old man and a deviant, perhaps, but also one of the all-time greats. I can make the distinction between the man and the output and everybody else should too.