A reader sent me this letter, which, with his permission, I reprint here as a guest column and review of this book.

Note that Moorlockery, Social Justice, Postmodernism, Postrationalism, Self-Important Holier-Than-Thou Jabberwocky, Cultural Marxism, Coprophagy, or whatever you want to call this moral and mental disease that has corrupted our society not only destroys comic books (Female Thor, Negro Johnny Storm and Jimmy Olsen, Islamic Batman and Ms Marvel) and science fiction (If You Were an Ancillary Pronoun Wereseal, My Love) and politics (CNN, MSNBC) but indeed render the Morlock incapable of any work or act requiring even a modicum of honesty and integrity. 

The Moorlock cannot even write a book about stand up comics without ruining it. 

THE COMEDIANS by Kliph Nesteroff

Review by ‘The Conductor’

My wife and I usually exchange “wish lists” before Christmas to give each other gift ideas. One idea that I gave my wife was a book I saw online that I thought looked like it would be a good read – THE COMEDIANS by Kliph Nesteroff. It was advertised as a history of stand-up comedy, which I thought would be a fascinating and light-hearted subject for a holiday-time read. My wife happily presented me with the book on Christmas morning.

It turns out I should have done some more research.

The beginning of the book was actually quite good. The origins of stand-up comedy in vaudeville were every bit as interesting as I thought they would be, and the story remained engaging straight through the 1940s, with such great names as Jack Benny and Abbott and Costello highlighting the saga.

The first sign of trouble came when the author arrived at the late 1940s, when the subject of so-called “blacklisting” came up. I found myself unable to cry a tear of sympathy over people who were unable to work in Hollywood for a few years because of their support of regimes that killed millions of their own citizens. But nonetheless, I thought the nod to “McCarthyism” was a boilerplate gesture and that the interesting and funny narrative would resume.

Then we hit the 1950s and 1960s.

At that point the author ripped off his mask and revealed himself to be a Morlock through and through. He hit every left-wing touchstone, with determination, like a guy trying to get one of those club cards punched enough times to get himself a free hot dog.

He raved over Lenny Bruce, who, he declared, was influential to a degree impossible to overstate. He’s probably right, although I am far less gleeful about that notion than he was.

Likewise for George Carlin, Mort Sahl, the TV show All in the Family, and the likes of Janeane Garofalo and Dick Cavett – indeed, his favorite adjective at this point became “subversive,” and like most of his ilk he remained incredibly blind to the fact that he and those who think like him are now very much the establishment and that a true “subversive” nowadays is a Christian conservative. Even as they are closing down bakers for sticking to their Christian convictions, they imagine themselves “subverting” all that they hate.

Of course, you are clear on what they hate – the Church, America, all forms of public decency. Lenny Bruce is hailed as a hero for mocking all of these things and inspiring others to follow in his footsteps.

Now, whenever I hear people talk about Lenny Bruce, they always use adjectives like “subversive,” “groundbreaking,” “edgy,” “defiant” and on and on. One adjective doesn’t seem to come up very much: “funny.” That would seem to be a rather serious omission for one who was allegedly a comedian. But even people on the left seldom seem to think of Bruce as funny. This is such an issue, in fact, that Mr. Nesteroff felt compelled to come up with an excuse for it: we are told that the surviving records and films of Lenny Bruce were “toned down” and don’t do him justice. I have a hard time imagining what I would be missing, other than an even more vulgar rendition of the same unfunny material.

And on and on it went, and I felt tremendously badly about it, firstly because my wife had given me this as a gift, and it would be rude indeed to express distaste; but also because, without the left-wing poison, the book would actually be quite good, because when he didn’t indulge in lefty preaching, it was actually engaging and interesting. But he just couldn’t help himself. Political mockery of conservatives by liberals was shaming the powerful with the truth; but Dennis Miller’s conversion to conservatism after 9/11 was bigotry. Conservatives have a “pathological hatred” of Obama, but the pathological hatred heaped on George W. Bush was liberation. Shockingly, even Bob Hope was raked over the coals for daring to go to Vietnam and entertain troops that were facing death to protect self- indulgent drug addicts like Lenny Bruce or George Carlin.

The saddest thing of all, though, was that the room devoted to political “comedy” meant that the type of comedy I enjoy, the history of which I would have loved to have learned more about, was given short shrift. For example, he tantalizingly mentioned that David Brenner was one of the first stand-up comedians to use the “did you ever notice…” approach. I love observational humor – which is something anyone can enjoy, and doesn’t ask me to entertain the opinions of some comic, as if I should care who he votes for. (I have no idea to this day who David Brenner ever voted for, and that’s the way it should be.) This represented a sea change – around the 1960s, comedians started talking in the first person, going from “This guy walked into a bar” to “I walked into a bar…” He mentions this, but doesn’t follow up on it, and left me dangling while he went on to talk some more about his beloved “subversives.”

Oh well – all I can do is hope that someday, long after I have gone to what I pray will be my Eternal Reward, the likes of Bruce, Carlin, Garofalo, Bill Maher and all the rest of the “subversives” will lie long forgotten, and histories of comedy will focus on absurdists like Andy Kaufman or Steve Martin, or on observational humorists like David Brenner, Robert Klein, the late John Pinette, Jerry Seinfeld, Jeff Foxworthy, Brian Regan, Jim Gaffigan and all other such giants who truly know how to make people laugh.