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Jean Shepherd, on 'That Gap'
Airdate: Wednesday - September 24, 1969

Last Update: 01-11-2009

Show Description
"While Dad's downstairs listening to Henny Youngman, the kids are upstairs. listening to me." That's Jean Shepherd, a fey figure in the entertainment world, discussing another rope's length in the generation cap. It is a gap that interests Shepherd - who is in his 40s - in an academic sense, professionally: his fan mail comes, he says, from 10 to 80-yearolds, and his listeners are bound by attitude, not age. Shepherd fans will get a chance to see the master at 8:30 Friday night in the Rutherford gymnasium of Fairleigh Dickinson University, where he will perform for two hours. Nightly on week nights from 10:15 to 11 p.m., (10:05 to 11 on Saturdays) Shepherd works from a handful of notes, "using 45 minutes of dead air the way a writer uses blank paper," spreading his antic comments over young and old from radio station WOR. It Works It Is effective. Some weeks ago he advised his young listeners to place small notes in places where they'd he seen, saying simply: "Flick lives." (Flick, a boyhood pal of Shepherd's, is a principal character in his book, "In God We Trust," emerging in manhood as a bartender in Illinois with whom the writer shares nostaglic memories). One Clifton man found one in his freezer, typed on sticky paper no larger than a postage stamp. Others showed up in neighborhood supermarkets and stores, on bus doors and telephone poles. The generation gap means one thing to coffin makers, another to car manufacturers and there is probably even a delicatessen man's view of the enigma: Shepherd's is tuned to the field he's in, entertainment. No Carson-Worshippers "A lot of the kids who listen to me," he says and kids range in this case from college-age down - "couldn't care less about what the old man's watching. They think Johnny Carson is the biggest piece of camp in the country - money-talk - a lot of people talking about how much Charley got for his personal appearance. The adults who listen to me seem to think of what I do as some kind of nostalgia, but the young kids listen and say 'It's happening to me!' Kids don't want the one-liners that Dad breaks up with." Shepherd, -a product of Chicago who began his entertainment career as a stage and television actor, had his own television show in Cincinnati before moving to New York, and is slated to become a reporter in the Broadway production of "Front Page." He sees the kind of performance he will do in Rutherford Friday as a form which will increase in popularity: a two-hour show, with full audience concentration on the performer. "Standing up in front of 2,000 people is a lot different from performing, say, "The Purple Onion' before 120 people who came in for a 'good time' and some Scotch." He's done night clubs, and would rather go on the college circuit. Success: Knock, Knock He knows the road to instant success in his kind of show business, he says. "You just go anti-establishment, knock Nixon, Johnson, rap a lot, and overnight you're the Smothers Brothers. I take no pro- anti- basis, and I try to just tell what I see." Apparently it is a successful approach itself: there are four performers most in demand, Shepherd says, on campuses across the country: Al Capp, Dick Gregory, Mark Rudd and Jean Shepherd. While the entertainer declined to discuss what some 30 college shows net him annually, he said each show is worth what the average top comic gets for a weekend in Las Vegas. (Friday's affair at FDU, part of the proceeds of which will be for charity, is being sponsored by the FDU Biological Society, which apparently recognizes the value of a guest. The price of admission of $2, just a $1.75 more than for a 1962 appearance by Shepherd. At that time the entertainer groaned and told his audience: "Twenty-five cents. It just gives a man an idea of what he's worth.") "I was at Rutgers last year - there must have been 2,000 kids there, stomping and hollering, and the cops were there, and finally, I got them quieted down and I said: "O.K. Now's our chance. We'll never have a better chance than that right now. Let's burn down the administration building!" "Everybody cheered like mad jumping-up and down cheering, and I said 'Wait a minute. That's today's big problem. Just because I said let's burn down the administration building - me, a guy in show biz - you're ready to do it. Wait till somebody comes along with a little more than me, and you'll follow him.' "They all sat there, a little stunned," he said, "and we went on from there."
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September 24,1969
Passaic Herald News - Article

Courtesy: Pete Delaney

Airdate History ' - Original' date is earliest known broadcast)
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