The Vodka Ad
Let me start at the very beginning. I did a vodka ad, that's
the first important thing. A big vodka company wanted to do
a prestige ad, and they wanted to get Noël Coward originally
for it. He was not available, he had aquired the rights to My
Fair Lady, and he was removing the music and lyrics, make it
back into Pygmalion. They tried to get Laurence Olivier, and
Howdy [Mokey?] - they finally got me to do it. I'll tell you
how they got my name, it was on a list in Eichmann's pocket,
when they picked him up. And I'm sitting home, and I'm watching
television. I'm wathcing a special version of Peter Pan on television,
starring Kate Smith, and they are having trouble flying her,
'cause the chains keep breaking all the time, y'know. And the
phone rings and a voice on the other end says "How would
you like to be this years vodka man?", and I say "No.
I'm an artist, I do not do commercials. I don't pander. I don't
drink vodka and if I did, I would not drink your product."
He said "Too bad. It pays fifty thousand dollars."
and I said "Hold on. I'll put Mr. Allen on the phone."
And I was caught here in an ethical crisis. Should I advertise
a product that I don't actually use? It's a problem 'cause I'm
not a drinker, my body won't tolerate...eh...spirits, really.
I had two martinis new years eve and I tried to hi-jack an elevator
and fly it to Cuba. In the past whenever I had any sort of...eh...emotional
problem, I used to consult with my analyst all the time. This
is public knowledge, I was in analysis for years, 'cause of
a traumatic childhood I had. Remember I was breastfed from falsies.
It scarred me emotionally, y'know. I was in a strict freudian
analysis for a long time. My analyst died two years ago, and
I never realized it, and now, whenever I have any sort of problem,
I consult with my spiritual counselor, who in my case is my
rabbi. I called him on the phone and laid the proposition on
him, and he said "Don't do it, 'cause it's illegal and
immoral to advertise a product that you don't use, just for
the money." And I said "Okay", and I passed the
ad up and I must say, that it took great courage at the time,
'cause I needed the money, I was writing and I needed to be
free, creative. I was working on a non-fiction version of the
I'd just passed the ad up and a month later I'm leafing through
a Life magazine, and I see a photograph of Monique van Vooren
in a slim bikini bathing suit, and she is on the beach in Jamaica,
and there, next to her, with a cool vodka in his hand, is my
rabbi. So I call him up on the phone, y'know, and he puts me
on hold. What happened is, that he wanted to go into showbusiness
- he had done a late night prayer on television. He was in the
middle of the twentythird song and he tried to ad-lib, y'know,
tried to name the ten commandments, couldn't think of them quickly
and instead he named the Seven Dwarfs. He's got a discoteque
now in his college, with topless rabbis, y'know, no scullcap
I addition to my vodka ad, I also played Las Vegas for the first
time. Y'see I'm not a gambler, you should know that about me.
I went to the racetrack once in my life and I bet on a horse
called Battle Gun, and when all the horses come out, mine is
the only horse in the race with training wheels. You have to
believe me when I say, that there is something seductive about
me, when I shoot crap. And I'm at the crap table, I'm...dicing.
A very provocative woman comes up to me, and she begins to...size
me up...and I take her upstairs to my hotel room. Shut the door.
Remove my glasses. Show her no mercy. I unbutton my shirt, and
she unbuttons her shirt. And I smile. She smiles. I remove my
shirt and she removes her shirt. And I wink and she winks. And
I remove my pants. She removes her pants. And I realize I'm
looking into a mirror.
Which I think brings me to my main...conclusion here, that is
that I got married, that's the biggest thing that's happened
to me over the last... I got married for the second time, incidentally.
I should have known something was wrong with my first wife,
when I brought her home to meet my parents, they approved of
her, y'know, - my dog died, that's what happened. I got to be
careful what I say about her publicly now, 'cause she's sueing
me. I don't know if you read that in the paper or not, but I'm
getting sued because I made a nasty remark about her..she. She
didn't like it, she lives on the upper west side of Manhattan,
and she was coming home late at night, and she was violated.
That's how the put it in the New York papers: "She was
violated", and they asked me to comment on it, and I said
"Knowing my ex-wife, it probably was not a moving violation."
Let me tell you how I met my second wife, which is really...romantic.
I read an article in Life magazine saying there was a sexual
revolution going on on college campuses all over the country,
and I reregistrated at New York University to check it out,
'cause I used to go there years ago, I was a history of hygiene
major at NYU, and I was thrown out of college, and when I was
thrown out I got a job. My father had a grocery store in Flatbush
Avenue in Brooklyn, and he hired me to work for him. I was a
delivery boy for my father, that was my first job, and I unionized
the workers and we struck and drove him out of business. He's
always been touchy about it.
Now, when I went back to school, suddenly everybody wanted to
fix me up with women. And I have had a very bad history with
blind dates. You must not misunderstand me - believe it, sex
is a beautiful thing between two people. Between five it's fantastic.
I was very depressed about that for a long time. I was gonna
kill myself, but as I said, I was in a strict freudian analysis,
and if you kill yourself, they make you pay for the sessions
you miss. So I accept this date. First blind date in years,
I go to a fourth floor walk-up, and then knock on the door,
and this girl comes to the door, and she is absolutely beautiful,
but really terrific,
long blond hair, and a short skirt and boots and a sleeveless
jersey, and she is packed into it. When I see her look that
beautiful, I wanna...cry, write a poem, jump on her. I'm very
sensitive, y'know. She asked me what I wanted to do, and I'm
not a swinger. My idea of a big evening is go down to the corner
roticimat and watch the chickens revolve, y'see.
I take her to a party on McDougle Street in Greenwich Village.
We go into a smokedfilled room, and I do not use - you should
know this about me, too - any sort of consciousness expanding
material. My body will not tolerate that. Y'know I took a puff
of the wrong cigarette at a fraternity dance once, and the cops
had to get me, y'know. I broke two teeth trying to give a hickie
to the Statue of Liberty. The party begins to move downstairs
now, unto the street, and everybody is playing bongoes and guitars,
and a cop on horseback comes up to me, and he puts his arm around
me. He says to me "Are you one of those draftcard burners?"
And I say "No, I'm not. I never registered, I don't have
a draftcard." Now a little girl feeds, what look like a
cube of sugar, to the policemans horse. The horse showed up
at a sit-in in Georgia. Now I decide to strike. I get my date,
and I jam her into my Hertz. I have a rented car, which is a
flat rate 12 cents a mile, in an effort to cut down on the mileage
charge, I back up every place. So I'm backing over the George
That was two o'clock in the morning, and I get my date back
to her apartment, and the two of us are alone, and we're going
pretty good. I have to explain this very delicately, 'cause
it's really tentative. As I... as I am an inordinately...passionate...man.
Volatile. Sensual. In general a stud. When making love...when
making love...in an effort...to prolong...the moment of ecstacy...I
think of baseball players. All right, now you know. The two
of us are making love violently, she's digging it, I figure
I better start thinking of ballplayers quickly. So I figure
it's one out, the ninth, the Giants are up. Mays lines a single
to right, he takes second on a wild pitch. Now she is digging
her nails into my neck. I decided to pinch-hit for McCovey.
Alou pops out. Haller singles, Mays holds third. Now I got a
first-and-third situation. Two out, the Giants are behind one
run. I don't know whether to squeeze or steal. She's been in
the shower for ten minutes, already. This is too...I can't tell
you anymore, this is too personal. The Giants won.
And I married the girl, incidently, and had a very good wedding,
except for my father, who squatted down and did one of those
russian dances, see, and tore a leg muscle and froze in that
position. Walked down the aisle like that, y'know.
The Great Renaldo
Listen to this. I was watching one night the Ed Sullivan Show,
and Sullivan had on a hypnotist called The Great Renaldo. And
Renaldo got four guys up of the audience, and he hypnotized
them, and he said to them "You think you are a fireengine".
And I'm home watching and I get drowsy and I fall asleep. And
I wake up an hour later, I turn the set off, and suddenly I
am seized with an uncontrolable impulse to dress up in my red
flanel underwear. Which I do, and I'm looking at myself in the
mirror. Suddenly the phone rings, I burst out the front door
and start running down Fifth Avenue fast, making a sirene noise.
At Fourteenth Street I hid a guy at an intersection, who was
also wearing red flanel underwear. We decided to work as one
truck. We start running down to the Village. Suddenly two guys
in red flanel underwear pass us running uptown. We figured,
they must know where the fire is. We turned and followed. At
Eightysixth Street a cop flaggs us down, 'cause there is four
guys in red flanel underwear running in the street. He said
"You'er coming down to headquarters, get into the car."
I start giggling hysterically, 'cause this jerk is trying to
get a fireengine into a lousy little chevvy. And down at the
station there is hundreds of guys in red flanel underwear.
These... I should just add, parenthetically, these stories are
true. These things actually happened to me. I don't make them
up. My life is a series of...of...eh...these crises that...that
eh... I came home one night, some month ago, and I went to the
closet in my bedroom, and a moth ate my sports jacket. He was
laying on the floor, nauseous, y'know. It was a yellow and green
striped jacket, y'know. The little fat moth laying there, groaning,
y'know, part of a sleeve hanging out of his mouth. I gave him
two plain brown socks. I said "Eat one now and eat one
in a half hour."
Someone asked me if I would tell this...story. A long time ago...
It's a wierd story. 'Twas out in Los Angeles and I was at a
party with a very big Hollywood producer, and at that time he
wanted to make an elaborate cinemascope musical comedy out of
the Dewey Decimal System. And they wanted me to work on it,
and I go out to the producers building in downtown Los Angeles,and
I walk into his elevator, and there are no people in the elevator,
no buttons on the wall or anything. And I hear a voice say "Kindly
call out your floors, please." And I look around, and I'm
alone. And I panic, and I read on the wall, that is a new elevator
and it works on a sonic principle and it all sound. All I have
to do is say what floor I wanna got to, and it takes me there.
So I say "Three, please", and the doors close and
the elevator starts going up to three. And on the way up I began
to feel very selfconscious, 'cause I talk, I think, with a slight
New York accent, and the elevator spoke quite well. I get out
of it, and I'm walking down the hall, and I look back, and I
thought I heard the elevator make a remark. I turned quickly
and the doors closed and the elevator goes down, y'know, and
I...didn't wanna get involved at the time with an...elevator
in Hollywood, but - this is the strange part of the story, the
other was the normal part - I have never in my life had good
relationships with mechanical objects of any sort. Anything
that I can't reason with or kiss or fondle, I get into trouble
with. I have a clock that runs counter-clockwise for some reason.
My toaster pops up my toast and shakes it, burns it. I hate
my shower. I'm taking a shower, and somebody in America uses
his water. That's it for me, y'know, I leap from the tub scolded.
I have a tape recorder, I payed a hundred and fifty dollars
for, and as I talk into it, it goes "I know, I know."
About three years ago I couldn't stand it anymore. I was home
one night. I called a meeting with my posessions. I got everything
I owned into the living room. My toaster, my clock, my blender.
They never been in the living room before. And I spoke to them.
I opened with a joke. And then I said "I know what's going
on, and cut it out!" I have a sun lamp, but as I sit under
it, it rains on me. And I spoke to each appliance, I was really
articulate. Then I put them back, and I felt good. Two nights
later I'm watching my portable television set, and the set begins
to jump up and down, and I go up to it. And I always talk before
I hit, and I said "I thought we had discussed this, what's
the problem?" And the set kept going up and down, so I
hit it, and it felt good hitting it, and I beat the hell out
of it. I was really great, I tore off the antenna, and I felt
very virile. And two days later I go to my dentist in New York.
I had gone to my dentist, but I had a deep cavity, and he'd
sent me to a chiropodist. I'm going into a building in mid-town
New York, and they have those elevators, and I hear a voice
say "Kindly call out your floors, please", and I say
"sixteen" and the doors close and the elevator starts
going up to sixteen. And on the way up the ellevator says to
me "Are you the guy that hit the televison set?" I
felt like an ass, y'know, and it took me up and down fast between
floors, and it threw me off in the basement. It yelled out something
that was anti-semetic.
The upshot of the story is, that day I called my parents, my
father was fired. He was technologically unemployed. My father
had worked for the same firm for twelve years. They fired him.
They replaced him with a tiny gadget, this big, that does everything
my father does, only it does it much better. The depressiong
thing is, my mother ran out and bought one.
I shot a moose, once. I was hunting up-state New York, and I
shot a moose, and I strap him on to the fender of my car, and
I'm driving home along the west side highway, but what I didn't
realize was, that the bullet did not penetrate the moose. It
just creased the scalp, knocking him unconscious. And I'm driving
through the Holland tunnel - the moose woke up. So I'm driving
with a live moose on my fender. The moose is signaling for a
turn, y'know. There's a law in New York state against driving
with a conscious moose on your fender, tuesday, thursday and
saturday. And I'm very panicky, and then it hits me: some friends
of mine is having a costume party. I'll go, I'll take the moose,
I'll ditch him at the party. It wouldn't be my responsibillity.
So I drive up to the party and I knock on the door. The moose
is next to me. My host comes to the door. I say "Hello.
You know the Solomons". We enter. The moose mingles. Did
very well. Scored. Two guys were trying to sell him insurance
for an hour and a half. Twelve o'clock comes - they give out
prices for the best costume of the night. First price goes to
the Burcowiches, a maried couple dressed as a moose. The moose
comes in second. The moose is furious. He and the Burcowiches
lock antlers in the living room. They knock each other unconscious.
Now, I figured, is my chance. I grab the moose, strap him onto
my fender, and shoot back to the roads, but - I got the Burcowiches.
So I'm driving along with two jewish people on my fender, and
there's a law in New York State ... tuesdays, thursdays and
The following morning the Burcowiches wake up in the woods,
in a moose suit. Mr. Burcowich is shot, stuffed and mounted
- at the New York Athletic Club, and the joke is on them, because
I was kidnapped once. I was standing in front of my schoolyard,
and a black sedan pulls up. And two guys get out, and they say
to me, do I wanna go away with them to a land, where everybody
is fairies and elves, and I can have all the comic books I want
and chocolate and wax lips, you know. And I said "yes",
y'know, and I got into the car with them, 'cause I figured,
y'know, "What the hell", I was home that week-end
from college anyhow, y'know. They drive me off, and they sent
a ransom note to my parents. And my father has bad reading habits,
so he gets into bed at night with the ransom note, and he read
half of it, y'know, and he got drowsy and fell asleep, then
he lent it out, y'know.
Meanwhile they take me to New Jersey, bound and gagged, and
my parents finally realize that I'm kidnapped. They snap into
action immediately: they rent out my room. The ransom note says
for my father to leave a thousand dollars in a hollow tree in
New Jersey. He has no trouble raising the thousand dollars,
but he gets a hernia carrying the hollow tree.
The FBI surround the house, "Throw the kid out,",
they say, "give us your guns, and come out with your hands
The kidnappers say "We'll throw the kid out, but let us
keep our guns, and get to our car."
The FBI says "Throw the kid out, we'll let you get to your
car, but give us your guns."
The kidnappers say "We'll throw the kid out, but let us
keep our guns - we don't have to get to our car."
The FBI says "Keep the kid."
The FBI decides to lob in teargas, but they don't have teargas,
so several of the agents put on the death scene from Camellia.
Tearstricken my abducters give themselves up. They are sentenced
to fifteen years on a chaingang, and they escape, twelve of
then chained together at the ankle, getting by the guards posing
as an immense charm bracelet.
I was talking about this on TV last week. I escape always into
a rich fantasy life, that comes from an unhappy childhood. I
come from a poor family. My father worked at Coney Island. He
had a consession on the boardwalk, where you knock over milk
bottles with baseballs, which I could never do for my entire
childhood. There was a tidal wave at Coney Island, when I was
a child, ripped up the boardwalk and did about a million dollars
worth of damage, houses and everything. The only thing left
standing was those little milk bottles, y'know.
I was, I would say, overdiciplined which is really humiliating.
I had to be home nine thirty, prom night. I made a reservation
at the Copa Cabana for five o'clock. I took my date and we wathced
them set up. I was, as a matter of fact, when I think of it,
terrorised as an adolescent. I was not that young when it happened,
I was...eh...I guess about thirteen or so at the time, and was
on my way to an amateur music contest. And, my family is musical,
you should know that, my father used to play the tuba as a young
man, he tried to play the tuba, he tried to play "Flight
of the Bumblebee", and blew his liver out through the horn.
Now I'm on the subway with my clarinet [jewish?] jazz musician
style, unwrapped and everything, and these twelve guys come
running through the subway. Really hairy-knuckled types, y'know,
raced through there. Apparently they just come from a settlement
house, y'know' as they were dribbling a social worker as they
went through the car. They stop right over me, y'know, because
I was conspicous, 'cause I had just eaten a sea-food lunch,
I had forgotten to remove the lobster bib, y'know, so I looked
like a farmer with a fat tie, y'know, with Neptune on it. They
stand over me, they start cursing and smoking and tearing up
seats, y'know. I don't say anything, y'know, I just sit there,
look down, continue reading 'Heidi'. All of a sudden the leader
puts his finger under my neck, like this, and goes feeww. I
got up. He snapped his knee up, quickly, and I refused to give
him the satisfaction of doubling over, but I did one of the
greatest imitations of Lily Ponds, you've ever heard. I hit
an M over high C and I'm being [????]. Showed up an hour late
for the music contest. Came in second anyhow. I won two weeks
at Interfaith Camp, where I was sadistically beaten by boys
of all races and creeds.
The Science Fiction Film
I wrote a science fiction film which I'll tell you about. It's
ten after four in the afternoon, and everybody in the world
mysteriously falls asleep. Just like that, they are driving
cars, whatever they are doing, bang!, they got to sleep, the
Russians, the Chinese, the Americans, and the whole world sleeps
for exactly one hour, till ten after five, and they wake up
at ten after five, and mysteriously upon awakening everybody
in the world find themselves in the pants business.
Stay with us, 'cause it's brilliant.
Everybody is making cuffs and flies and cutting velvet, y'know,
And a spaceship lands from another planet, and men get out with
jackets and shirts and black socks - no trousers at all. They
say: "Are the pants ready?" We say: "No. Could
you come back thursday?". They say they must have them,
'cause they are going to a wedding, and we work dillingently
and make pants constantly and they come to get them, and when
they come to pick them up, they leave us with socks, hankerchiefs,
pillowcases and soiled linnen, and they say: "Do it!",
and the president of the United States goes on television and
says that an alien superpower from outer space with superior
intelligence is bringing us their laundry, and they are foiled,
'cause they travelled a hundred and seventeen million lightyears
to pick it up, and they forget their ticket.
I had once a pain in the chestal area. Now, I was sure it was
heartburn, y'know, 'cause at that time I was married and my
wife cooking with her nazi recipies, y'know, chicken Himmler.
I didn't wanna pay twentyfive bucks to have it reaffirmed by
some medic, that I had heartburn. But I was worried 'cause it
was in the chestal area. Then it turns out my friend, Eggs Benedict,
has a pain in his chestal area, in the same exact spot. I figured
if I could get Eggs to go to the doctor, I could figure out
what was wrong with me, at no charge, so I con Eggs. He goes.
Turns out he's got heartburn. Cost him twentyfive dollars, and
I feel great, 'cause I figured I beat the medic out of twentyfive
big ones, y'know. Called up Eggs two days later - he died. I
check into a hospital immediately, have a battery of test run
and x-rays. Turns out I got heartburn. Cost me a hundred and
ten dollars. Now I'm furious. I run to Eggs' mother, and I say:
"Did he suffer much?" And she said: "No, it was
quick. Car hit him and that was it."
I must pause for one fast second and say a fast word about oral
contraception. I was involved in an extremely good example of
oral contraception two weeks ago. I asked a girl to go to bed
with me, and she said "No".
I have been in Europe for the last six months making a film
called What's New Pussycat, starring Peter O'Toole and Peter
Sellers and myself, in that order, and it's the first time in
my life, that I ever acted in anything like that. I have acted
before, but I don't count it, many many years ago I was the
nursery school play, when I was a child. I played the part of
Stanley Kowalski in the school play of A Streetcar Named Desire,
and I was one of the great five years old Stanleys. And..I wrote
the film, and it's an autobiographically movie. It's based on
the experiences of a great ladies man and I ... you're laughing?
... it so happens, on my honeymoon night my wife stopped in
the middle of everything to give me a standing ovation.
Yes, as a matter of fact, you should know the etymology of how
I got to Europe in the first place, which is fascinating. I
was appearing in Greenwich Village at a coffee house in Bleeker
street called the Integration Bagle Shop and Flea Parlor. I
was the master of ceremonies on the bed, y'know, and I was on
with real Greenwich Village acts, y'know, myself and an eskimo
vocalist, who sang Night and Day six months at a time. A little
blond girl with a child by a future marriage, y'know, [???]
and in walks one night mr. Feldman, our producer, and he just
adored me on sight. He thought I was attractive and sensual
and good-looking, y'know, and just made for motion pictures.
He is a little short man with red hair and glasses. And he asked
me if I ever wrote anything before, and I have been a televison
writer for years, and I wrote a three-act versed tragedy about
a vetenarian faith healer, who restored speech to a parrot,
y'know, and I also wrote a short story about my first year of
marriage, which Alfred Hitchcock showed interest in for a while.
And he flies me out to Europe, absolutely all expenses paid,
TWA flight, y'know, movie on the flight and everything. Irene
Dunne in The Life of Emelia Earhart, y'know, ... sitting shaking
on the plane, y'know.
And I meet a girl at my European analyst's. I have to explain
this: I was going to a European analyst, that meant a European
boy can see my analyst for six months, y'know. The neurotic
exchange program. And I invite her up to my hotel. I get all
ready for our dinner date, y'know, I anoint myself completely,
I beat my body with auto wrenches. I throw an ample light on
me, to make me look really effective. Two little backlights
to give me the illusion of three dimensions, a baby spot to
pick out the brown in my eyes, and I put on my mood music records,
y'know, my Arthur Godfrey Hawaiian music. She had invited me
over to her place, but I didn't want to log the lights and everything,
y'know, so...and...oh! I didn't dress properly, this was partially
my fault, I know how to dress better now, but I was not a good
dresser a short while ago. You don't wear argyle with dark blue.
I had on dark blue socks and an argyle suit. I looked like a
farmer, y'know, and my radiator breaks and the hotel room is
absolutely freezing, and I'm ashamed, y'know, because she is
going to come into a cold room, so I go into the bathroom and
I turn on the hot water in the shower, which is an old Brooklyn
trick to heat the apartment, and hot water comes down and billows
of steam come into the living room. And icecold air is seeping
in under the windowsill and the two fronts meet in the living
room, and it starts to rain in my hotel room. I'm standing there
in the rain, and I did not do well with the girl.
Europe for me, as a matter of fact, was a series of near misses.
I was at a cast party with our cast, and I was in the corner
and I was playing the vibes, very sexy like a jazz musician
- up and down. And a great girl comes up behind me, really elaborate,
and she says to me "You play vibes?" I say "Yeah,
it helps me sublimate me sexual tensions." She says "Why
don't you let me help you sublimate your sexual tensions.",
so I figured "Great", y'know, "here's a girl
who plays vibes." I turned quickly and asked her out for
a date, but Peter O'Toole, who's in the movie, asked her out
first - aces me out, y'know - and she was a beautiful girl,
so I said to her "Could you bring a sister for me?",
and she did: Sister Maria Teresa. It was a very slow night,
y'know. We discussed the New Testament, y'know. We agreed that
He was extremely well adjusted, for an only child.
The Lost Generation
I mentioned before that I was in Europe. It's not the first
time that I was in Europe, I was in Europe many years ago with
Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway had just written his first novel,
and Gertrude Stein and I read it, and we said that is was a
good novel, but not a great one, and that it needed some work,
but it could be a fine book. And we laughed over it. Hemingway
punched me in the mouth.
That winter Picasso lived on the Rue d'Barque, and he had just
painted a picture of a naked dental hygenist in the middle of
the Gobi Desert. Gertrude Stein said it was a good picture,
but not a great one, and I said it could be a fine picture.
We laughed over it and Hemingway punched me in the mouth.
Francis Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald came home from their wild
new years eve party. It was April. Scott had just written Great
Expectations, and Gertrude Stein and I read it, and we said
it was a good book, but there was no need to have written it,
'cause Charles Dickens had already written it. We laughed over
it, and Hemingway punched me in the mouth.
That winter we went to Spain to see Manolete fight, and he was...
looked to be eighteen, and Gertrude Stein said no, he was nineteen,
but that he only looked eighteen, and I said sometimes a boy
of eighteen will look nineteen, whereas other times a nineteen
year old can easily look eighteen. That's the way it is with
a true Spaniard. We laughed over that and Gertrude Stein punched
me in the mouth.