Woody Allen, despite some high-profile missteps in his personal life, is one of the funniest men to ever walk the planet. He’s best known, of course, for his long list of movies — including classics like “Annie Hall,” “Manhattan,” “Sleeper,” “The Purple Rose of Cairo” and “Midnight in Paris” — but before he started churning out films at a breakneck pace Allen earned his stripes as a television writer and standup comedian.
The latter is the focus of the two-disc set “The Stand-Up Years 1964-1968,” when Allen was perfecting his soon-to-be legendary neurotic persona. The album features some of his best stand-up bits from that era, as well as 25 minutes of bonus audio excerpts from “Woody Allen: A Documentary.”
The nature of stand-up comedy has changed dramatically since the mid-1960s and most of these bits, while chuckle-worthy, seem rather tame by today’s standards. Allen generates some laughs with bits “Private Life,” “N.Y.U.,” “Unhappy Childhood,” “The Vodka Ad” and “Questions & Answers.” My favorite bit is one of the shortest. When discussing “Oral Contraception,” Allen quips: “I asked a girl to go to bed with me and she said no.” The joke is short and sweet … and Allen at his very best. (Jeffrey Sisk)