Tomorrow marks the start of perhaps the coolest annual comedy event in the country, The Del Close Marathon at the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theatre. And that means this is the perfect time to share Del Close and John Brent's How To Speak Hip.
Released in 1959, this album captures the underground comedians at their early best and manages to both lampoon and accurately encapsulate the difference between hip and square society at the time. Unlike other mean-spirited comedy takes on the beatnik craze (Allan Sherman's "The Rebel" springs to mind), Close and Brent's satire was close to the truth because they truly were bohemian spirits. John Brent wrote poetry and honed his "Geets Romo" character (also known as "Huey the Hipster") while acting in a Jules Feiffer play. Del Close was an actor and poetry director at the Gaslight. And they both became well-known as being early members of Chicago's Second City.
Even though Del Close plays the square reporter on How To Speak Hip, he went on to live one of the most exciting (and hyperbolic) lives in comedy history. He befriended, worked with, and quite often did copious amounts of drugs with the likes of Lenny Bruce, Wavy Gravy, Frank Zappa, Tiny Tim, the Grateful Dead, and the Merry Pranksters. Then he cleaned up his nasty heroin habit in the 70s, and Del's stint as director of Second City made him even more legendary as he went on to train and inspire many of the country's greatest comedic talents (Check out the biography Guru for more on Del).
1. Introduction | 2. Basic Hip | 3. Vocabulary Building | 4. The Loose Wig | 5. The Riff | 6. The Hang Up | 7. Put On, Put Down, Come On, Come Down, Bring Down | 8. Cool | 9. Uncool | 10. Field Trip No1 | 11. Field Trip No2 | 12. Field Trip No3 | 13. Summary
Included with the "How To Speak Hip" L.P. (and one reason to seek it out), is an informative manual. Download a tasty chunk of it as a pdf file.
But wait! You think this is the first guide to cool bohemian slang talk? Neigho, Pops... the hepcats were there first.
Starting in 1938, Cab Calloway published continual updates to his own Hepsters Dictionary, "the official jive language reference book of the New York Public Library". Read some of the definitions on line, or learn all you need in one quick dose thanks to this informative song.
Listen to: Cab Calloway, "Hepster's Dictionary"
And in other hip dictionary finds, Slim Gaillard attached his name to a promotional piece that is also hard to resist: The Slim Gaillard Vout-O-Reenee Dictionary. While not as detailed as Cab's guide, it does at least help you to decipher Gaillard's infectious scatisms.
Download pdf version. Sorry, there is indeed a page missing.