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Comdress for successics, before they are permitted to pass into camp ground— I think to some extent of W.C. Fields and Lenny Bruce— must suffer a sea change. Despair is downgraded to aggravation, madness is misread as eccentricity; and when from the extremes of alienation they rage and rail at us we hear or choose to hear a puny, pathetic cry for love. But worse, even, is the intellectual’s habit of exalting them to the stature of prophets and gurus, of searching their work for commentary on the human condition.

Admittedly, I am tempted in this introduction to the works and ways of Jules Farber to “place” and “pigeonhole” him, to enlarge private perception into doctrine. For the herd of independent minds is already rediscovering and legendizing him, a scant year after his death, into a kind of apocalyptic Harry Golden or acidulous Sam Levinson; some see him as an American Céline, as another— “only another”— example of that special Jewish genius for turning pinpricks into bloodbaths; one observer believes him to have been placed on earth to punish B’nai Brith’s Anti-Defamation League.

back matterAll agree, though, in this: Jules Farber was funny, wonderfully funny, and I shall here only suggest what qualities made him so funny, so wonderful, and to give some sense of these qualities and of the man himself whom I came, unbelievable, to know.

If I say “unbelievably” it is because I am an academic and, given Farber’s contempt for all academics (“Yentas with facts,” he once called them), I had little reason to believe, in 1971, thay he would grant me a meeting, perhaps even several meetings, to tape his thoughts on modern comedy and comedians.
— from Wallace Markfield, You Could Live If They Let You (Knopf, 1974)

This moment in Brooklyn literature was brought to you byahem Yenta Gersh, New Utrecht High School class of 1972. Wallace Markfield went Abraham Lincoln High School and when Kevin Walsh, as pure a product of Bay Ridge parochial genius as Father Jack Sullivan himself, returned to secular Coney Island recently, he missed the fire but made it for the hot dogs. I am Yenta Gersh and I want mustard and onions, please.

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