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Jean Shepherd, Nut and Invective Hurler, at FDU
Airdate: Tuesday - November 12, 1963

Last Update: 05-19-2019

Show Description
RUTHERFORD The noisier figure lurking onstage looked as if he was expecting trouble. The fashionable chap who spoke here last November had taken on a new form. On the same Fairleigh Dickinson stage last year it looked as if he'd Just stepped down from the pages of Esquire magazine. But, Friday night the green plaid sports cost and ivy league slacks were traded in for a charcoal grey suit and black sweatshirt. To the uninitiated, clearly Jean Shepherd, Nut - a poor man's Jerry Lewis. To the 400 initiated in crowded auditorium, he was simply Jean Shepherd, Artist - a humorist-philosopher who talks nightly to a massive radio audience. He had come to talk about a variety of funny things, including the lost art of head-thumping, the sad plight of the poor starling, itchy wallpaper, Barry Goldwater, and Fu Man Chu. Although he is best known for his nightly 11:15 talk show on WOR Radio, Shepherd is multitalented. He has acted on the legitimate stage, worked in night clubs, written books, cut comedy albums and written articles and drawn cartoons for The Village Voice. Goldwater Feud At Fairleigh he maintained his running feud with Barry Goldwater and, almost in the same breath, gave a subtle warning to the youth of America. "Goldwater thinks by trying very hard we can go back to the good old days of the 1900s when everything was 'all right'," said the humorist. "I think he's one of the best 'hip comics' of our time!" Shepherd says be belongs to no political group, but his opinions on social conditions are quite pointed. "Theres a type of madness developing here that can sway a whole country," cautioned the philosopher. "Its a type of thinking that says all authorized establishment is corrupt and should be abolished just for the sake of abolishing it. This is the method traditionally subscribed to by college students - 19-year-old kids who think they've just discovered morality and want to fight for it. Really, their entire concept of war comes from Rip Thorn and various and sundry battles on TV. "This is a very dangerous development. It's one of the things that happened when Hitler came to power in Germany. When you substitute passion for reason, look out! That's Just what Germany did." Greet Book Hoax Except for a few brief moments Shepherd was more of a story-teller than a philosopher Friday night. A high point in the evening came when a student asked him to repeat last year's story about his now-famous book, "I, Libertine." The story-teller quality of Jean Shepherd matured to full bloom as he answered the young scholar's request. Shepherd said he was doing his radio show in 1956 when the thought came to him that there were books on the New York Times best seller list few people had ever heard of. What followed that seemingly idle thought was perhaps the biggest literary hoax of the 20th Century. Shepherd asked his listeners to think of the weirdest book title they could think of, then phone him. "I, Libertine" written by Frederick Roland Hewing and published by Excelsior Press was spawned. Title, author and publisher are all fictitious. Shepherd then asked his entire 27-state radio audience to ask for the book in various book stores. "Be persistent," he told them. "Don't take no for an answer. Tell them youll go to their competitor." What resulted was a miss movement that sent New York's metropolitan book dealers into hiding. According to Shepherd, within two weeks the fictitious title reached the No. 8 spot on the Times best-seller list, was banned by the Catholic Church and Earl Wilson's column read, "Had lunch with Freddy Hewing. His wife, Marge, is a real doll." "And," adds Shep, - a student at Rutgers University sent me a book report on "I, Libertine" which he had handed in to his English professor. He got a B plus! And, printed at the top, in red Ink, were the words, 'Very Good Research!" Finally, the newspaper story of the hoax broke in, of all places, the front page of the Wall Street Journal. According to Shepherd, the next day it was reprinted word for word in Pravda. Eventually, due to popular demand, Shepherd wrote the book. Another student then asked Shep if he would hurl some more "invectives" at his audience. An invective, it was learned later, is Shepherds way of "saying it" for his listeners. "I tell each listener to turn up the gain on his radio, place it on the ledge of an open window and aim it out into the world," he chuckled. "Then I hurl my invective." According to Shep, 20 minutes of yelling "Help! from nine darkened houses all but brought out the militia one time in Cliffside Park; a tape recording of a train brought similar results; and O.K. Drop it! We gotcha' covered! startled two thieves on a rooftop on 73rd Avenue in New York into dropping $75 worth of burglary tools." But, probably Shepherds most effective invective was "Wow! Cmon, baby! Let's go" "Two days after the broadcast," he recounted, grinning, "I got a letter from a teacher in one of these high-class girls' schools in New York State. He said this loud, raucous male voice coining from the girl's dormitory in the middle of the night caused this gigantic hippopotamus of a house mother to start a full-scale, 24-hour investigation!" Shepherd's shenanigans with books and Invectives are two good reasons he has a reputation as a nut. To that nameless 27-state cult, however, he is the Artist with a capital "A". (1August 1, 1956 Wall St Journal - "Night People's Hoax On Day People Makes Hit With Book Folks")
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November 12,1963
The Evening News (Paterson NJ)

Courtesy: Steve Glazer

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