Picks and Pans Review: The Young at Heart Comedians

updated 07/25/1988 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/25/1988 01:00AM

The comedians in question—Shelley Berman, Jackie Gayle, Jackie Vernon, George Gobel, Henny Youngman, Norm Crosby and Carl Ballantine—may be young at heart, but this 77-minute tape suggests they are old at sense of humor. Hosted by David Brenner, it was shot at a 1984 Laguna Beach, Calif., concert. Crosby does his tired malaprop bit, thanking the audience for greeting him with an "ovulation." Gayle, probably best known for his acting performance in Tin Men, does a routine that leans a little heavily on a mincing gay put-down. Gobel rambles on about a performer in North Dakota whose act involved catching a pig that jumped off a platform. The best moments, however, come offstage, where the comedians sit in an anteroom, getting made up and dressed and trying to top each other. Berman's onstage segment (mostly about getting a popcorn kernel stuck in his throat) will seem painfully lame to those who remember him as a sharp-voiced, sharp-minded social critic in the '60s, and he seems to be the designated target of his peers. When he says about Youngman, "He just said something that wasn't funny," Youngman snaps back, "How would you know?" Offstage, Youngman has a certain Jabba the Hutt quality, rousing himself only to put somebody down. At one point Brenner interjects, "Henny hasn't talked in two minutes! Feel his pulse!" Somebody should preserve this tape as a record of the long history of nervous (Gobel excepted) Las Vegas lounge comedy. Not much of it seems funny anymore though. (Paramount, $29.95)

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