Monday, March 05, 2012
AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Mike Nichols & Elaine May
Mike Nichols is best known as a film director and you may have seen Elaine May in films but she is primarily a screenwriter. But in the early 60s the two recorded some of the funniest comedy ever recorded. They only recorded three albums. Mike Nichols was born Michael Peschkowsky Nov. 6, 1931 in Berlin, Germany. His family moved to New York City in 1939 to escape Nazi Germany and his father changed the family name to Nichols. Elaine May was born Elaine Berlin Apr. 21, 1932 in Philadelphia. Her parents were in the Yiddish theater and moved to Los Angeles in 1942. She married Marvin May in the late 40s and took his surname professionally. The two met in the early 50s at the University Of Chicago and both were members of The Compass Players which was a precursor to Second City. In 1954, Nichols moved to New York to study acting but then returned to Chicago and started working with Elaine and Shelley Berman as a trio. Compass Players founder Del Close suspected the duo were working on an act and fired Nichols in 1958. They moved to New York and in no time were on The Steve Allen Show. Their 1959 debut album Improvisations To Music featured pianist Marty Rubenstein playing classical music to their improvisations. Rubenstein was musical director at the club Mister Kelly's. Then the two opened on Broadway as An Evening With Mike Nichols and Elaine May in 1960. And the show was such a success that a cast album was recorded for Mercury. It was very successful and won a Best Comedy Album Grammy. Telephone is from that album. Mercury released this comp in 1996 but unfortunately none of the Nichols & May albums are in print right now. I guess you'll have to find a used copy. It would be nice if Universal released a 50th anniversary CD. The thing you need to remember about Nichols & May is it was completely improvised. And despite the passage of time, it holds up very well. They recorded one other album in 1962 and then they split up and both have been very successful in their individual careers. My guess is most folks have never heard Nichols & May because this was recorded over 50 years ago. I think you'll enjoy them. Here's Mike Nichols & Elaine May performing Telephone on the Steve Allen Show 1960. The video quality is pretty bad at first but stick with it. It does improve and Elaine is very funny.