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The Underground Tapes

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iTunes Review

As any fan of Jonathan Winters knows, the late, great comedian had a wildly inventive mind that could lead him almost anywhere. Just how far beyond the realms of respectable taste Uncle Johnny could go can be heard on The Underground Tapes. These recordings capture him riffing off of radio commercial scripts during a session at a New York studio sometime in the early '60s. Freed from censorship worries, Winters launches into a series of crazed improvisations that would never have been allowed over the airwaves at the time. The Civil War, Elvis Presley, insanity, and self-abuse are among the topics covered here, served up along with twisted versions of ads for cigarettes and shaving cream. Winters sends his fellow actors into convulsions of laughter as he runs through a gallery of characters ranging from Maude Frickert to Mary Todd Lincoln. No mere celebrity blooper reel, this album documents a mad comic genius in completely freewheeling form. Be warned, though: Winters’ skits are often politically incorrect to the extreme. Easily offended souls should proceed with caution.

Customer Reviews

An Injustice To The Genius of Jonathan Winters

An opportunity to catch a Jonathan Winters performance is nothing that should be taken lightly. He's an original, if ever there was one. It's unfortunate that a more professional record label didn't have the insight to sign on and capture the brilliance and fantastic wit of such an outstanding comedian. A listener of his performance only gets a fraction of the total experience of a genius such as Jonathan Winters. To truly appreciate all of his artistry requires visualization also, as he is quite adept with his facial expressions and mannerisms. For that reason most recordings of Jonathan Winters are somewhat disappointing. This particular recording is made even worse by the distracting and somewhat nonsensical chuckling in the background. This reviewer does NOT mean to impune the talent of Jonathan Winters because I marvel at his talents. This review speaks only of the injustice done him in the recording process itself. Very few comedians can match him for his quickdraw humor. Maude Frickert will always be one of my alltime favorite characters of his.


Born: November 11, 1925 in Dayton, OH

Genre: Comedy

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Jonathan Winters was an utter original, a wildly improvisational comic whose work careened from childlike prankishness to bitter satire and from bizarre sound effects to straight-faced moralizing -- often all within the same bit. Mercurial and manic, Winters veered from character to character and premise to premise at breakneck speed, yet with balletic grace; for all of the seeming chaos inherent in his comedy, his aesthetic remained remarkably consistent and pure, his stream-of-consciousness narratives...
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The Underground Tapes, Jonathan Winters
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Comedy, Music
  • Released: Mar 07, 2007

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