King Of Comedy
By Jim Mendrinos
TWO DRINK MINIMUM Issue 10 June 2004

May saw the passing of one of the truly nice people in comedy, New York Friars' Club legend Alan King. King, a product of the Lower East Side and later Brooklyn, died of lung cancer May 9 in New York City. He was 76.

Born Irwin Alan Kniberg, King’s career spanned more than five decades. He began in strip joints and burlesque houses, eventually becoming a fixture in top clubs and theaters and even giving a command performance for the Queen of England.

He started by doing retread one-liners, but two events changed his life. The first was seeing another young comedian of the time, Danny Thomas. King witnessed Thomas talk to the audience, as opposed to just rattling off jokes. He was so impressed and inspired that it changed his style forever.

The other event was moving to the suburbs. When his wife convinced him to leave Manhattan so their kids could get a better education, she unknowingly pointed him in the direction that would define his act for almost 50 years. King mined the suburban experience for all it was worth through 93 Ed Sullivan Show and countless Tonight Show appearances.

His stand up lead him to several film and television roles, but King always returned to the one thing he loved best – the stand-up stage. He was at his best when he was himself, ranting about anything and everything that caught his eye. He was brilliant on shows such as Alan King's Final Warning, and he even hosted several comedy specials for PBS.

Above all, Mr. King had a love of the art form that showed itself every time he stepped on stage. - Jim Mendrinos

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