We already have some wonderful videos of the stand-up comic mastery of Robert Klein….and although I never knew of him before my “more than a handful” posts of him already in our video museum….and I just can’t stop laughing when I watch his “I can’t stop my leg” routine….so, I decided to showcase him today. Robert Klein is an American stand-up comedian, singer, and actor….who had several comedy albums in the 1970’s….was nominated for a Best Actor in a Musical Tony Award for 1979’s They’re Playing Our Song…..and has made a variety of TV and movie appearances, including hosting Saturday Night Live twice.
Comedy – 1975 – Robert Klein Special – “A Child Of the 50’s”
Klein had planned to study medicine….however, he changed his mind during his studies at Alfred University….when after graduating, he studied at the Yale Drama School….when he learned about an opportunity to audition for The Second City. In a piece he wrote for the improvisational troupe’s book….as Klein recalled sitting in a room full of other hopefuls….which included Fred Willard….when Klein’s audition consisted of an improvisation set with Willard about two guys in a nightclub….which was successful enough to get Klein and Willard hired by Second City. In the spring of 1965, Klein was chosen as a member of Second City….then when he returned to New York City a year later, he was cast by Mike Nichols in the Broadway musical The Apple Tree.
Music – 1957 – Ted Mack Amateur Hour – Featuring The Teen Tones With Robert Klein – “Sunday Kind Of Love”
His first major appearance was as host of the 1970 summer replacement television series Comedy Tonight….from which were introduced many of the routines that in the next few years would be released on Klein’s comedy record albums. His extensive routines about the Watergate scandal made him highly popular in the 1970’s…..then in 1974, he appeared in an episode of Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers. Klein starred in HBO’s first stand-up comedy special in 1975 during the cable channel’s early broadcast days and has continued to appear in several more one-man shows which have typically concluded with his “I can’t stop my leg” routine.
Comedy & Music – 1985 – HBO On Location With Robert Klein – “I Can’t Stop My Leg”
On Nov 15, 1975 during Season 1 and again in Season 3 on January 28, 1978 Klein hosted Saturday Night Live…..when his skits included Tough Director in 1975….Nick The Lounge Singer Sings Star Wars Theme in 1978….and The Olympia Restaurant: Cheeseburger, Chips and Pepsi in 1978…..then in 1979, Klein was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role in They’re Playing Our Song. In 1985, he starred in the “Wordplay” episode of The New Twilight Zone…..and had his own late-night talk show with Robert Klein Time…. which ran on the USA Network until 1988. Klein hosted Monty Python Live at Aspen….which was a reunion and tribute show for the five surviving members of the British comedy troupe, in a special that appeared on HBO in 1998.
Music & Comedy – 1979 – Tony Awards Ceremony For Best Musical – With Robert Klein + Lucy Arnez – “They Are Playing Our Song”
Klein has made several albums, the most successful being his first two. In A Child of the Fifties in 1973 with Brut/Buddah Records….who was shown as Child of the 50’s on the cover….and talks about his life as a child in the 1950’s on subjects about air raid drills….Johnny Mathis music…..showing off condoms while at the high school dance….the high school lunch ladies….Senator Joseph McCarthy….Governor W. Averell Harriman of New York…..meeting Yankee stars….the Yankees losing the World Series….and much more. He also goes into other things that he has observed in his life such as substitute teaching….1970’s FM radio disc jockeys….late-night delis….and annoying commercials e.g., Geritol. He also performed two songs that he wrote himself….with “Fabulous ’50s” and “Middle Class, Educated Blues.” His next album, Mind Over Matter in 1974, included extensive discussion of the Watergate scandal and another song—the title track “Mind Over Matter”….which is about a kid who turned to humor to become popular. A review of rock albums in the 1970’s is quoted as saying about the album that it is “The funniest album by a stand-up comic since George Carlin’s Class Clown leaves behind the grammar-school nostalgia….which although frequently amusing always seemed formulaic when it wasn’t….that kept Klein from sounding commercially uncompromised. Unlike Carlin, Klein gets better all the time. Never trivial, never cynical, never lacking a comic purpose for his outrage, he’s up there with Richard Pryor and Lily Tomlin.”
Comedy – 1974 – Burt Sugarman’s Midnight Special – Featuring Comedian Robert Klein
His follow-up album, New Teeth in 1975 on Epic/CBS Records features the comedian’s on-stage work on tracks such as “Mother Isn’t Always Right”….along with his transposition of George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can’t Say On Television”….which was titled “Six Clean Words You Can Say Anywhere”….with studio-recorded material such as “Continental Steel” and “On the Bayou.”….then he responded to the end of the sexual revolution with his 1990 album, Let’s Not Make Love….which contained many of the same routines as his 1984 HBO special Child of the ’50s, Man of the ’80s….along with his 1986 special Robert Klein on Broadway.
Comedy – 1977 – HBO On Location Comedy Special – With Robert Klein
Klein has appeared in such movies as The Owl and the Pussycat, Hooper, Primary Colors, Radioland Murders, Ira and Abby, One Fine Day, Two Weeks Notice, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Last Unicorn, and The Safety of Objects….plus, he had a recurring role in the TV drama series Sisters. In the 1970’s, he hosted Saturday Night Live twice….as well as his appearance as a guest star in the animated series Duckman, the NBC sitcom Family Ties and on the CBS sitcom The King of Queens. In March 2007, he once again collaborated with Adam Sandler….after originally appearing in Mixed Nuts…. in Reign Over Me…..and in September 2007 released a new DVD compilation of his eight live HBO specials, titled Robert Klein: The HBO Specials 1975 – 2005.
Comedy – 2010 – Robert Klein Special – “Medical Marijuana”
Klein starred in The Mysteries of Laura, a crime dramedy on NBC starring Debra Messing. In this series he played the father of the show’s main character, Laura. He appeared alongside Messing again in the relaunched version of her sitcom Will & Grace….while playing the father of her character, Grace Adler. In 2014 he played the Canadian Ambassador on Madam Secretary….and he played the Mayor of New York City in two of the Sharknado films. On January 29, 2018, it was announced that Klein would be playing Grace Adler’s father Martin in the NBC revival of Will and Grace replacing Alan Arkin. During the finale of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in February 2014, Billy Crystal reminded Jay Leno that when Leno was an aspiring comedian, the only decoration in Leno’s apartment was a poster of Klein. Both implied that they were influenced by the Child of the 50s recording.
Music & Comedy – 2015 – Robert Klein Live In Concert – Performing “Keep It In Your Pants”
Like so many other stars of the Baby Boomer generation….Robert Klein was a multi-talented entertainer…. who mastered the arts of comedy, music, writing and acting in a career that has spanned some 55 years from 1965 to the present….as we at ImaSportsphile that thanks to his work in comedy, television and the silver screen….as evidenced by the videos seen in this story herewith and the others we already posted, that Robert Klein deserves his own special showcase in L E’s Stories.
Comedy & Music – 2003 – Robert Klein Live On Stage – Singing “I Don’t Like Getting Older”