December 20, 1973 [Sleeper]

About eight years ago I saw Woody Allen's nightclub act--the bit that stays with me is his account of group therapy baseball teams, in which a kid on the Neurotics steals second, then feels guilty and goes back to first.

That kid grows up and is frozen solid in Sleeper, and wakes up in a gag-man's dream: a future of endless over-sized props, from bananas to noses to chickens--but he's still neurotic, and a narcissist, and a cynic, and most of all the exasperated pragmatist--with an eye on the Orbs that life has to offer, the Pleasure Principle finally at his fingertips. Whether as fugitive or robot, revolutionary or the only cellist in a marching band, Allen remains the nebbish, the kvetcher, the kibbitzer, the Wandering Jewish schlemiel-schlimazel, one losing his ice cream from the cone--to land on the other's shoe. After an Allen performance I feel a Yiddishness seeping in--no, tugging at the sleeve, and I look down where the little guy winks, mincing around and a real pain--but charming somehow, eager for both of us to always have our way, despite the glasses and Larry Fine haircut.


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