Never a moment's peace...
April 9, 2009 8:51 PM   Subscribe

Tonight in the MetaFilter Lecture Series, "Health through Nutrition: Its Prevention and Cure" by Brother Theodore Gottlieb (1906-2001), stand-up tragedian.

His gravestone reads: Known as Brother Theodore / Solo Performer, Comedian, Metaphysician / "As Long As There is Death, There Is Hope" Earlier in his long life, he lived through Dachau (while much of his family didn't), and was sent off to the US courtesy of his mom's purported boyfriend, Albert Einstein. For much more: Wikipedia Bio | A fan page bio | The NYTimes obit also linked to above.

He gained his moniker from Merv Griffin, on whose show he appeared 30+ times. He also was a frequent guest on Late Night with David Letterman; the unlikely pairing made for some comedy that will make you squirm uncomfortably in your seat: einzweidreivierfunfsechs...And some topics that could make you a bit queasy, but is interesting in a time-capsule-ish way as to how "safe topics" in comedy can change over time: "You are asking dangerous questions, and you provoke dangerous answers." (Also, this, from the disco-vampire movie "Nocturna".)

Yes, aside from working theaters and talk shows, he would appear in movies every once in a while:
The Burbs: Go and see it, or Brother Theodore will "come to your home one of these nights, and you won't enjoy it."
• He was the voice of Gollum in the animated version of The Hobbit.
• There's a documentary about him, too: here's the trailer.
• And here's a bit of Brother Theodore with Sammy Davis, Jr. (Billy Crystal) doing "Who's on First?".
• He was on the Radio, too: He provides a voice in this episode of Julius Knipl [real audio].

I originally decided to post this after listening to some of this hour-long interview with Bob Claster, from Kattullus' great post. As I poked into more links, I found that BoingBoing had the same thought as me, so here's their post which contains a few more links. And hey, a WNYC No Show dedicated to Brother Theodore from the same date! Huh!! Did I miss Brother Theodore Day or something?

Odds and Ends:
A Fairy Tale
posted by not_on_display (8 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I'm really excited about this post! (Someday I want to know what the connection between Jewishness and comedy is.)
posted by grobstein at 9:33 PM on April 9, 2009

(Someday I want to know what the connection between Jewishness and comedy is.)

The connection between X and comedy is suffering.
posted by crataegus at 9:44 PM on April 9, 2009

Never heard of him before now. But COMPLETELY AWESOME.

The bio is staggering.

Under Nazi rule, he was imprisoned at the Dachau concentration camp until he signed over his family's fortune for one Reichsmark. After being deported for chess hustling from Switzerland he went to Austria where Albert Einstein, a family friend, helped him escape to the United States. He worked as a janitor at Stanford University, a dockworker in San Francisco and played a bit part in Orson Welles' The Stranger before moving to New York City
posted by unSane at 9:44 PM on April 9, 2009

Wow, I just found out about somebody awesome I'd never heard of before. This is truly what Metafilter is all about. Thanks, not_on_display.
posted by Rangeboy at 10:29 PM on April 9, 2009

Love this guy.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 1:33 AM on April 10, 2009

If there is not a Theodore Gottlieb Day, there should be.

Here he is doing a mindbender of a voiceover in Al Adamson's Horror of the Blood Monsters. I once read he'd done more than one movie with Al.
posted by gargoyle93 at 5:13 AM on April 10, 2009

I was watching that documentary last night and was going to do this post today... out of my head, you!

On the plus side now I get to enjoy it, instead of write it...
posted by 1f2frfbf at 6:26 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

I went to the studio when a friend was supposed to be on Letterman. This Theodore Gottlieb character was the segment before hers. Dave liked him so much, that he held him over. She got bumped and never made it back. So I can't get behind this.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:42 PM on April 10, 2009

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