The cast of Woody Allen’s latest movie, Blue Jasmine (trailer here), includes Andrew Dice Clay and Louis CK, casting choices you probably wouldn’t make unless you had stand-up comedy on your mind, at least a little. Even Midnight in Paris (Allen’s best in years) seemed to have started as a stand-up bit 50 years ago. Woody Allen recently sat down with the New York Times, and was asked the inevitable question about whether he ever intends to get back to his comedy roots. And unless he was just doing an over-eager job of “yes and”, it sounds like the answer is yes.
“I’ve just been toying with the idea. I would love to see if I could. Just getting together an hour of stuff to talk about would be a lot of work.”
So what was it that inspired the prolific director, who famously still writes his scripts on typewriters and doesn’t have a “text number”? Was it working with Louis CK? The success of that Kevin Hart movie? Seeing some hot young kid crush it YouTube? What made him want to get back on the horse?
NYT: Does working with comedians ever inspire you to revisit your own career as a standup?
WOODY: I was inspired the other night – in the other room here where I play [the Cafe Carlyle at the Carlyle Hotel], I saw Mort Sahl. He flew in from San Francisco, and he worked three late shows and he was wonderful. He’s slowed up a little now because he’s 85. He’s not as rapid as he was when was he was 35. But all the stuff is still there. Watching him, I had the same feeling now, in 2013, as I had when I saw him in 1950-something. Of, “Hey, I’d like to get back onstage and do standup again.” He inspired me then to be a standup comic, and all these years later, I thought of it again because of him. He makes that phenomenon so enticing.
Woody Allen works with the biggest stand-up comic in the world right now, and who ends up inspiring him? MORT. SAHL. Simply amazing. In fact, Woody Allen says he hadn’t even heard of Louis CK before he cast him in his movie.
NYT: Did you know Louis C.K.’s work before you cast him in this movie?
WOODY: I didn’t know Louis C.K. at all. But someone showed me a tape of Bobby Cannavale – it was to see Bobby Cannavale, and he was in a skit with Louis C.K. Cannavale, I thought, yes, he’s great and right for this part. And I said but who’s that guy with him? He’s wonderful. So we had him in originally for the Andrew Dice Clay part. And he read it, and he read it very well. We thought, he’s so likeable. He’s clearly such a sweet guy. I was dying to use him in something, so we used him to play the sweeter guy. I’d love to do a movie with him and me, a comedy. I’m looking for some idea that would work, for the two of us to do. Of course I hope that people aren’t disappointed that I don’t act with him [in "Blue Jasmine"], and he doesn’t have a commensurately comic part with his talent. But some day, I will get something that we could do together, because I do think it would be fun. I’m such a great fan of his. [NewYorkTimes]
Woody Allen is so beautifully unstuck in time, I just want to pick his brain about what he has and hasn’t heard of. Power steering? Pizza rolls? Electronic mail? I would pay a lot of money to see him do stand up, not only because he’s pretty brilliant at it, but if only to hear him try out some new observational bits like “what’s the deal with word processors?” and “have you noticed black people love jazz?”