Berman rose through the comedy ranks in the late 1950's and '60s as a "sit-down" comic, rather than the popular "stand-up" comedian.
The comedian built his career as a "sit down" stand-up comic, eschewing the easy punchlines of earlier comedy for wry, nuanced, and observational storytelling.
Berman's "Inside Shelley Berman", released in early 1959, became the first comedy album to be awarded a gold record, and the first non-musical recording to win a Grammy Award, Deadline says. Berman taught at USC for more than 20 years.
Berman began his career after serving in the Navy and joined the Chicago improv company the Compass Players, which eventually became Chicago's Second City. The LP was the first comedy album to go gold with 500,000 copies sold and made the Number two spot on the the Billboard 200 (American charts). "But I did not deserve the things that were said about me". He wasn't a joke teller nor a "sick" comedian.
Along with his busy schedule in nightclubs and auditoriums, he fulfilled his first ambition to be an actor. In the documentary, a phone rings at the end of one of his monologues.
Berman had trouble finding work after the incident and eventually filed for bankruptcy.
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Berman appeared as Nat David on Curb from 2002 to 2009, and retired from performing in 2014.
The comedian who poked fun at life's idiosyncrasies, Shelley Berman, has died.
Berman died Friday at his home in Bell Canyon, California, from complications from Alzheimer's disease, according to spokesman Glenn Schwartz. One of his routines involved portraying his own father when the then-18-year-old Shelley called home to ask for $100 for acting school.
The Facebook announcement stated that Berman seems to have passed away peacefully in his sleep.
Right now, I'm a bit of a wreck, having spent much of the last couple of hours crying, pacing, being unable to concentrate, and, frankly, being conflicted as to how I should feel about all of this. In it, his act was interrupted by a ringing phone, this in the days before cellphones, and he yelled "I'll pull the damn phones out of the wall" on camera, getting him a reputation as a troublemaker. Sarah loves the fact that Shelley has so many devoted followers on social media. There will be a public memorial for Berman after a private service for family and friends.