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The America of George Ade, 1866-1944
Airdate: 1961

Books - Contributions by Shep

Show Description
Shep was the Editor, and wrote the Preface and Introduction. Preface: ONE NIGHT after a broadcast on which I had performed one of the lesser-known Fables by George Ade, I took a phone call which turned out to be from S. J. Perelman. He was practically in tears. We exchanged Adeisms for over an hour. It was his considered opinion that Ade was undoubtedly one of the greatest humorists, if not the most outstanding, humorist, America has yet come up with. And what's more, that it was truly sad and ridiculous that the Great Man had become merely a three-letter word meaning "Indiana Humorist" in the New York Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle. A couple of nights later at a late supper in Dinty Moore's, near Broadway, we continued what we had begun over the phone. In addition to remarking on the excellence of the blueberry cheese cake we were consuming, Perelman, in the flush of orgiastic pleasure, went on to say that he felt that Ade had influenced all of the 20th Century American humorists in one way or another and had written about blueberry pie and ice cream as no one ever had or will again. Up to this point I had felt that Ade was a private little crotchet of my own that I had best conceal from my more literate friends, to be secretly enjoyed when no one was looking, along with other vices such as White Sox shortstops, G-8 And His Battle Aces, old movies starring Merle Oberon, and red cabbage (sweet-sour). After hearing from Sid Perelman, I began to nose around among my other colleagues in the vineyards and immediately uncovered others who lived by Ade's advice, "Don't try to Account for Anything." Among them is the wildly talented cartoonist-writer Shel Silverstein, who supplied me with several rare volumes of Ade to add to the present collection. I will not pretend that putting together this volume of what I consider the best of Ade was even remotely related to work. Time and again I got hung up reading selections to my friends late at night until I'm sure they couldn't tell whether I was doing a book or getting together a vaudeville act. One more thing: since most of the material in this volume has not been reprinted since the very early days of the century, I hope that a critical reevaluation of Ade will now be possible and that later generations of Americans will not only get huge enjoyment from reading Ade, but will understand American life better by having seen it through the eyes of one of the sharpest and most realistic commentators we have ever produced. J. S.
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