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Overweight Sensation
The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman
Mark Cohen

Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life

2013 • 320 pp. 25 illus. 6 x 9"
Biography - Entertainment & Performing Arts / Comedy

$29.95 Hardcover, 978-1-61168-256-4

$19.99 Ebook, 978-1-61168-427-8

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

"Lively and meticulously researched."—Chicago Tribune

A groundbreaking biography of the song parodist and Jewish humorist

Allan Sherman was the Larry David, the Adam Sandler, the Sacha Baron Cohen of 1963. He led Jewish humor and sensibilities out of ethnic enclaves and into the American mainstream with explosively funny parodies of classic songs that won Sherman extraordinary success and acclaim across the board, from Harpo Marx to President Kennedy. In Overweight Sensation, Mark Cohen argues persuasively for Sherman’s legacy as a touchstone of postwar humor and a turning point in Jewish American cultural history. With exclusive access to Allan Sherman’s estate, Cohen has written the first biography of the manic, bacchanalian, and hugely creative artist who sold three million albums in just twelve months, yet died in obscurity a decade later at the age of forty-nine. Comprehensive, dramatic, stylish, and tragic, Overweight Sensation is destined to become the definitive Sherman biography.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

"In bringing context to the life of a now largely forgotten one-hit wonder, Cohen adds a valuable chapter to the history of American popular culture.”—Booklist

"[A] masterful, critical biography."—The Jewish Advocate

"Writer and journalist Cohen here captures the complex life of musical satirist Allan Sherman. . . . The author delves into the history of Jewish comedy in the 20th century, exploring Sherman's role in this complex story. . . . Highly recommended." —Choice

"[Allan Sherman] did as much as anyone to bring Jews out of the American pop-culture closet. One can hope that, thanks to Cohen, his legacy is now safe."

"Mark Cohen has written a most comprehensive and accessible biography, “Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman” (Brandeis University Press), complete with lyrics of songs recorded and others that were never released. Cohen succeeds in presenting the fullness of Sherman’s larger-than-life personality, the family background that led to his original take on Jewish life and the connection of his life’s work to the world of American Jewish humor."New York Jewish Week

“A penetrating biography by a savvy observer of show business.The Jewish Journal (Los Angeles)

"Sherman's story offers a "fascinating encapsulation of a lot of major trends in American life," including "immigration, assimilation, and the ethnic revival of the '60s," as well as Sherman's personal background of a "dysfunctional family and dysfunctional son."The Examiner

“I love Allan Sherman’s work. Allan was funny and clever, and he touched my heart. He was more than just a writer of song parodies. He was an extraordinarily gifted word-weaving rhymester, and this is a definitive look at this talented, complicated, conflicted little munchkin!” —Tommy Smothers

“Allan Sherman was the original. . . . Before Forbidden Broadway, before Weird Al Yankovic, there was Allan Sherman—brilliant wit, satirist beyond compare, and stand-up comic with a melody.”—Jason Alexander, actor and Seinfeld star

A passionately written story of quite nearly tragic proportions...We are all in Cohen's debt.”—Eric Alterman, author of The Cause: The Fight for American Liberalism from FDR to Barack Obama

“At last, the first biography of Allan Sherman—the father of modern song parody, an inspired lyricist who turned phrases worthy of Cole Porter and skewered the soft spots of our culture with deadly accuracy. . . . Mark Cohen has devoted years of research to Sherman’s too-short life, in which he succeeded and failed, loved and lost, and ate and drank on the very grandest of scales.”—Dr. Demento, host of radio’s Dr. Demento Show

“Allan Sherman is one of my biggest inspirations and all-time musical heroes. If Mark Cohen were to do a biography special on him . . . well, by golly, I’d watch it. Maybe even twice!”‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, song parodist and winner of three Grammy Awards

MARK COHEN is a writer, editor, and journalist specializing in American Jewish culture. His previous books include Missing a Beat: The Rants and Regrets of Seymour Krim, and Last Century of a Sephardic Community. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Thu, 14 Mar 2019 13:08:19 -0500