Only when we have drunk from the river of darkness can we truly see.
In 1906 Theodore Gottlieb was born to a very wealthy Jewish family in Germany. Around 1940 he was taken prisoner by the Nazis and sent to Dachau concentration camp where he witnessed German soldiers laughing as they watched prisoners being tortured to death. He never saw his family again.
He signed over his wealth to the German government to obtain his freedom. In Austria he found Albert Einstein, a family friend who arranged for him to come to America. He did janitorial work in California, but was also an expert chess player and made money at chess tournaments.
He appeared in a few films, made many TV appearances and eventually, back in New York, had a regular nightclub act as a comedian. In his 80's he was a regular guest of David Letterman.
His humor was dark and strange. One of his famous monologues was about why people should not eat food. He frightened some people with his intensity, but he had a loyal and dedicated following of fans. His gallows humor did not appeal to everyone. But those who know that there isn't anything in life that doesn't deserve to be laughed at, including me, appreciated and enjoyed his work.
"I'm the bride at every funeral, the corpse at every wedding."
"I don't understand music but I like the noise it makes."
"I've always aimed at nothing and I've always hit it."
"I find it hard to still in one spot and impossible to sit still in two spots."
"Fear of life is only matched by fear of death. I have both."
"Doctors are quacks and so are their patients. Only the Coast Guard is honest."
His tombstone reads "As long as there is death there is hope."
His humor may sound morbid to some, but in the dark, cruel, vicious and macbre world it's the comedy of one who knows what's in the shadows and can laugh at it. Bless him.
The title of his act was "Stand Up Tragedy."
Brother Theodore, may he rest in pieces.
Tomorrow: Theatre Story #27
(This is not a contest.)
Given the resources and opportunity, what one thing do you want to do in 2010 that you've never done before.
You have all Winter to answer. Answers will be posted on the first day of Spring.
15 responses so far.
DB - The Vagabond