TELEVISION: Confession Comedy

The skinny, green-eyed guy with the hurt, hesitant frown looked like a loser —the kind of character who can never quite cope with life's ludicrous little defeats. Wherever he slouched in front of an audience—last month on the bare bandstand of a Chicago nightclub, this week before the unforgiving cameras of Ed Sullivan's TV show—it seemed hardly probable that sad-sack Monologuist Shelley Berman could deliver.

Shelley scarcely seems to try. He merely offers solemn, almost sorrowful comments on some of the irritating incongruities of modern life. Take air travel, says Shelley, with...

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