Actor, director, screenwriter, and playwright Woody Allen redefined film comedy during the 1970s, bringing a new measure of sophistication and personal complexity to the form. Drawing universal insight from the traditions of Yiddish humor, Allen established himself both as a comic Everyman and one of American filmmaking's true auteurs, writing and directing features which broke with established narrative conventions and infused the screen-comedy form with unprecedented substance and depth.
Born Allen Stewart Konigsberg in Brooklyn, NY, on December 1, 1935, he adopted his stage name at the age of 17, and in 1953 enrolled in New York University's film program, quickly failing the course "Motion Picture Production" and soon dropping out of school to begin writing for comedian David Alber for the sum of 20 dollars a week. Two years later, Allen graduated to writing for television, working on the staff of the legendary Your Show of Shows, as well as penning material for Pat Boone. During his five-year tenure in television, his efforts won him an Emmy nomination, but like Mel Brooks, Allen found his writing career stifling, and he eventually decided to try his hand as a standup performer. After slowly gaining a reputation on the New York-club circuit, he became a frequent talk show guest and in 1964 issued his self-titled debut comedy LP.