Theodore...with a tongue of Madness

Beginning in California in the late 40s, Theodore hit his stride working small bohemian theatres in New York. His midnight shows had an enormously strong following, with most appearances being sold-out. His success brought him 36 appearances on the Merv Griffin Show, subsequently appearing with Dick Cavett on his show. Over 30 years, while Lenny Bruce and Lord Buckley died and theater- based purveyors of dark comedy like Nichols and May and Shelley Berman seemed in semi-retirement, Theodore retained a cult following, performing his monologues of guilt, frustration, and existentialist fear. Truly an original.

In the 80s he was rediscovered and appeared at least 15 times on Late Night with David Letterman. You Tube has many of these appearances, for those wanting to see Theodore in the flesh as it were. This recording made in Carnegie Hall on May 21, 1955 at Midnight is the only available recording of this master of fright and foreboding performing two of his classic monologues. Many of the sly quips of Theodore have entered the language. Can you recognize them?


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The Theodore PR20 CD is a comedy album, consisting of 2 tracks (Comedy Acts I and II). Entertainment Of Sinister And Disconcerting Humor of Brother Theodore. The record dates from 1955 and was recorded live at Carneige Hall. Act I is "Tears From A Glass Eye" and Act II is "With A Tongue Of Madness".

Additional Info

Additional Info

Format: Jazz Record
Soloist/Artist Theodore
Instruments Any Instrument
Composer No
Accompanist/ Conductor No


Customer Reviews (2)

"Bizarre Star!"Review by Big Toots
PR 20 Theodore Tears from a Glass Eye

If he were asked by Jack Paar, David Letterman, or Merv Griffin if the proverbial water glass on the late-night host’s desk was half-full or half empty - perhaps as a description of his philosophy of life – frequent guest “Brother” Theodore might just ask to hold the container, peer at it quizzically for a few seconds, and, without uttering a word, toss water, air and glass over his black turtleneck’s shoulder and dead-pan one and all. For, you see, above the shouted commentary and dour, stream of consciousness schtick,

Theodore was a performance artist at heart who knew, sagaciously, that shock value and extremes had comedic currency. And, in this extremely rare performance – at Carnegie Hall, of all places – Theodore is the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the Bizarre.
Theodore Gottlieb saw life with dead-rose-colored glasses. A German-born Jew and scion of a wealthy publishing family, he was sent with them by the Nazis to die at Dachau. They did. He bribed his way to survival, using the family fortune as his method. The experience more than likely soured and scarred Gottlieb who went on to come to the U.S. (having been booted out of Switzerland for chess hustling) and started a theatrical career which took him to the heights of show biz. And generated a huge cult following.

The material here has Theodore, with his thick Germanic accent, riffing for two sets on various subjects (women, especially) interacting with the audience (women, predominantly) and generally acting like Oliver’s Hamlet on bad acid. Unlike a Lenny Bruce (although Bruce also favored higher-volume outbursts) who pushed the limits on satire and profanity, Theodore’s manic shock-schtick possessed a much darker, devious undercoating. At times, the audience responds with polite, but, quizzical laughter (“I threw the baby into the cauldron. Boys will be boys.”).

Brother Theodore (like Lenny Bruce, Jonathan Winters, and Lord Buckley) represented a long-gone hip comedic genius which is now viewed as Jurassic – in a similar way as the Catskills comics we’d see weekly on Ed Sullivan. Since PC and more sexually-oriented commentary reign today, Theodore’s verbal surrealism, as delivered in this recording and elsewhere, might be a breath of, dare I say, “fresh” air?
(Posted on 6/27/2015)
TheodoreReview by Simon Sez
Theodore Gottlieb, who later became known as Brother Theodore, was an avant-garde comedian who put on what he called “stand-up tragedy.” He did comedy routines about the hopelessness of life and became popular in the 1950s during the beatnik era. He lived until 2001 and was rediscovered several times along the way.

Tears From A Glass Eye is one of only two comedy albums that he made. Theodore comes across as an expert at black comedy and satire, a bit odd, and very original, especially for 1955.

Simon Sez: One of two comedy albums that Brother Theodore made, Tears From A Glass Eye (Proscenium PR20) from 1955 is dark and funny.
(Posted on 5/6/2014)

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