Alan Zweibel’s sort of non-romantic comedy with Gilda Radner (Opinion)
You may not know who Alan Zweibel, is but you've definitely laughed at his work and probably even cried a little bit.
An original “Saturday Night Live” writer, Alan has won multiple Emmy and Writers Guild awards for his work in television, which also includes “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” (which he co-created and produced), “The Late Show With David Letterman” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm."
He's also collaborated with Billy Crystal on the Tony Award-winning play “700 Sundays,” Martin Short’s Broadway hit “Fame Becomes Me,” and six off-Broadway plays including “Bunny Bunny – Gilda Radner: A Sort of Romantic Comedy,” which he adapted from his best-selling book and is planning to return to the New York stage.
Alan's cultural memoir, titled “Laugh Lines – My Life Helping Funny People Be Funnier,” was released in April 2020, and he will be doing a virtual event Aug. 31 at the Jewish Center in Princeton.
Zweibel came on my show Monday night and spoke of his special relationship with Gilda Radner, whom he met on SNL. Zweibel helped to create the characters of Roseanne Roseannadanna and Emily Litella that Gilda Radner portrayed.
Roseanne Roseannadanna would begin her segment on Weekend Update by saying, “A Mr. Richard Feder from Fort Lee, N.J., writes in and says...” Mr. Feder did not write any letters. In reality, Mr. Feder was Alan Zweibel's brother-in-law. You could tell by his voice that Zweibel was moved when I opened our interview with the clip.
"Gilda was from out of state and New York was my city so even if I was a few years younger we found each other," Zweibel said. "Not only did we write together, but she became a dear friend, godmother of our three kids."
The last television appearance Gilda ever made was on "It's Gary Shandling's Show," which Zweibel co-created and produced.
"It was not only a very substantial creative relationship but a deep friendship."
Zweibel lost two of his closest friends with the passing of both Radner and Shandling, who he felt was like a brother. Comparing the two he said:
"One of the reasons I wrote 'Laugh Lines-My life Helping Funny People Be Funnier,' was because Gilda's death took a wider turn. She had [ovarian] cancer and there was time, even though it was a shock, it didn't come as a surprise. You could be able to brace yourself and sun up. With Gary, we were slowly making our way back to complete the circle to being friends. Gary and I made plans to have dinner in LA, they fell through, I had to come back to Jersey and we said 'OK we'll speak Thursday night' and he died that morning."
For more on Alan Zweibel's virtual event, go to thejewishcenter.org.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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