It was with a young girl’s excitement that I learned the Skirball would be presenting The Hits, the Life, and the Lost Lyrics of Allan Sherman, a conversation between author Mark Cohen and journalist/film producer Tom Teicholz about the legacy of song parodist and comedian Allan Sherman. Mark Cohen has written the first biography of Allan Sherman and I am excited to learn more about this voice that had such an impact on my childhood. I still remember listening to Allan Sherman’s songs when they were released. We had a record player in the room I shared with my sister, and that’s where we listened to his records. I don’t remember how many albums we had, but we played the songs over and over and laughed ourselves silly—including my parents. Of course, the song I remember most is from the homesick kid at sleepaway camp: “Hello Muddah, hello Faddah, here I am at Camp Granada …”
Listen to Sherman’s “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah” here:
We really appreciated this humor for at least two reasons: First, I went away to a girl scout camp and was so homesick and unhappy, even though the camp was in Staten Island—just thirty miles from my home in Queens, NY, and the whole session was only five days! It was practically over before it started! Second, we had very good friends who were in the sleepaway camp business and they had certainly experienced parents calling after receiving horrible homesick letters. Usually by the time the letters were received, the child was a very adjusted and happy camper. In any case, Sherman’s humor resonated with more than a kernel of truth.
We also had a comedy record album by Vaughn Meader, who satirized the Kennedys (which lost its humor appeal after JFK was assassinated), and we had albums by Shelley Berman, too. I remember one about “the morning after the night before,” in which he pleaded with his Alka Seltzer not to fizz. Hysterical.