Christian's Reviews > Treadmill to Oblivion

Treadmill to Oblivion by Fred Allen
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Feb 01, 08

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Recommended to Christian by: A lit professor who taught a course in American humor
Read in February, 1997

Fred Allen is one of the great American humorists of the 20th century, who gained prominence on the radio. I imagine I liked this book, I just don't recall the whole of the work well enough to rate it. I added it to this bookshelf for two parts that I do remember.

1: Allen is describing the challenge of coming up with fake names for his sketches, since he kept inadvertently coming up with names of real people. He kept creating more and more outlandish names, which seemed to solve the problem, until someone told Allen he heard his name on Allen's show. Allen asked the man's name: Sinbad Brittle.

2: The source of the title, which is the final paragraph of the book. I don't know if I would say a book changed my life but this paragraph came as close as anything.

Whether he knows it or not, the comedian is on a treadmill to oblivion. When a radio comedian’s program is finally finished it slinks down Memory Lane into the limbo of yesteryear’s happy hours. All that the comedian has to show for his years of work and aggravation is the echo of forgotten laughter.

Allen was a radio comedy icon and yet this is how he felt. It shows that you can't depend on the work alone for long-term fulfillment.
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