BROTHER THEODORE 2022 fine art print / edition of 15 / $275.00
One evening in 1966, when a spectacularly rancorous little weirdo named BROTHER THEODORE confronted Jerry Lewis on the Merv Griffin show, Jerry wasn't having it. He went full Buddy Love, sneering and flicking ashes in Theodore's hair, to the roaring approval of Merv's audience. The host noted that, had Theodore only tried to win them over, they might appreciate him just as they did Jerry — to which a wild-eyed Theodore shouted in his thick German accent: "I don't want their LOVE! I only want their LAUGHS!" That was certainly one difference between the two.

Lewis needed and demanded all of the audience's laughter and love to make up for early neglect from his vaudeville-slogger parents. Most comedians weave their material from the raw stuff of their lives: abandoning college studies for life as a housewife & mother of five surely informed Phyllis Diller's double-edged self deprecation, and Jerry Seinfeld spent the lonely hours of his suburban Long Island kidhood absorbing the makings of his observational humor straight from a TV screen. Brother Theodore?

Theodore Gottlieb survived the Nazi death camp Dachau.

After losing his family and his fortune, he stomped forward with nothing but will and ferocious brilliance. Not that he was exactly a comedian, calling his act "stand up tragedy." Born in 1906, Brother Theodore was a senior citizen by the time his feral wit baffled Merv's crowd. By then he was also a veteran of the night club circuit, holding forth in dank bohemian haunts of Lower Manhattan, promoted by tiny Village Voice ads that looked like the illos for fright masks from the back of monster magazines. But it was word of mouth that drew his audience, one young, smart, hip oddball to another saying, "Can't describe him ... you've just gotta GO."

And generations of them did go to watch this scowling, black-clad curiosity snarl, sputter and explode with a pessimism as absolute as Fernando Pessoa's, lecturing on some dire, absurd topic as if yanking a long black weed, shaking punchlines loose like clods of dirt. The hilarity was sweet relief without any gesture toward comfort or redemption. This man gazed long into the Abyss, and the Abyss gave him schtick. And it, along with a three-drink minimum, sent many a sophomore back out into the streets of Manhattan dazed, giddy, and maybe a little bit less stupid.

On David Letterman's show, latter-day successor to Merv and the apotheosis of all that collegiate hepcat word of mouth, Theodore triumphed. And stomped onward — powers undimmed, point of view unbrightened — to age 94, eloquently raging against the dying and the light: "We measure things by what we are. To the maggots in the cheese, the cheese is the universe."
— Sport Murphy
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Only fifteen (15) prints of BROTHER THEODORE by Drew Friedman were produced for this edition. Each print is signed in the lower right and hand-numbered in the lower left. We have sold numbers 1/15 thru 10/15 and 13/15, and are now offering number 11/15, unframed, for $275 (plus shipping & handling). Prices for remaining prints will increase as the edition sells down.

The image area is approximately 14-1/2" wide x 18-1/2" high on an untrimmed 17" x 22" sheet. Paper, ink, and production specifications, as well as shipping details, are available on our PRINT SPECS page.