Allan Sherman was the Larry David, the Adam Sandler, the Sacha Baron Cohen of 1963.
Sherman led Jewish humor and sensibilities out of ethnic enclaves and into the American mainstream with explosively funny parodies of classic songs that won him extraordinary success and acclaim across the board, from Harpo Marx to President Kennedy.
Sherman’s legacy represents a touchstone of postwar humor and a turning point in Jewish American cultural history. He was a manic, bacchanalian, and hugely creative artist who sold three million albums in just 12 months, yet died in obscurity a decade later at the age of 49.
This according to Overweight sensation: The life and comedy of Allan Sherman by Mark Cohen (Waltham: Brandeis University Press, 2013).
Today would have been Sherman’s 90th birthday! Below, My son, the folk singer, the album that started it all.