He, along with his contemporaries Elaine May, Bob Newhart, and Mike Nichols, transformed the style of stand-up comedians and laid the groundwork for future icons like Woody Allen and Jerry Seinfeld.
Comedian Shelley Berman, who was famous as a "sit-down" comedian and later as Larry David's dad on "Curb Your Enthusiasm", died on Friday.
Famed comedian Shelley Berman has died. I requested a bar stool to sit on.
Comedy was not a childhood ambition for him.
Born in Chicago on February 3, 1925, Berman trained with legendary acting teacher Uta Hagen in NY and then enrolled as a drama student at Chicago's Goodman Theatre.
"I had dreams of being an actor", he said in a 1960 interview.
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For 10 years, Berman tried his hand at acting, taking whatever odd jobs he could. "I had a hard time of it". At one point, he auditioned at Mister Kelly's, a Chicago nightclub, and got the gig. "I was never just a troublemaker". As a kid growing up in Chicago, I wrote stories for my own amusement. He bombed. The gamblers didn't laugh nor did they talk. They would usually take the form of one-sided telephone conversations, such as a hungover man piecing together his actions of the previous night. He didn't fit any category. He figured he was a "humanist humorist".
A stand-up comic, Berman made his first TV appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show back in 1959. Berman taught at USC for more than 20 years. It won a gold record and received the first-ever Grammy Award for the spoken word. Two other albums, Outside Shelley Berman and The Edge of Shelley Berman, also went gold. He appeared in a Broadway play, "The Boys Against the Girls", in 1959 and a musical, "A Family Affair", in 1962. "Shelley will be deeply missed, but the influence he exerted on our creative community will remain forever".
Berman had trouble finding work after the incident and eventually filed for bankruptcy. He became active in regional theater and also worked his old routines before college and lecture audiences.
An entertainer all his life, Berman retired from the business in 2014, at the age of 89.
Sheldon Leonard Berman was born in Chicago on February 3, 1925. Born in Chicago, Berman first came to publiv attention as a member of the city's Second City improv group. "I told my wife, 'I can buy two suits now'". He went on to attend the Goodman Theatre acting school, where he met the woman who would become his wife, Sarah Herman.