My Google Alert for S.J. Perelman just pulled up this great article by Rebecca O’Neal on the influence of Perelman (and his contemporary Robert Benchley) on modern humourists such as Woody Allen and spoofzines like The Onion.
The only shame is that at no point does O’Neal mention Marx Brothers scriptwriter George S. Kaufman, who is admittedly not as lexically inventive as Perelman, but who is, gag for gag, much funnier. Then again, I guess there are a lot of people they didn’t mention. And it’s only Part One.
Here’s an extract:
Perelman’s “Acres and Pains” reads like the treatment for Chevy Chase’s Funny Farm mixed with a bit of Tom Hanks’ The Money Pit. I like to think that Perelman buying a costume from New York to affect the look of an authentic bumpkin somehow influenced Andy Farmer’s insistence that the citizens of Rosebud study Norman Rockwell paintings to learn to be normal country folk.
Anyway, it’s a nice tribute to an unparalleled writer, with lots of good links to his writing and YouTube clips and… you know the kind of thing: internet stuff. It’s called Where Have All the Humorists Gone?