Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars
If you were alive in the 1970s you invariably were a fan of the Unknown Comic. Best known for his appearances on Chuck Baris’ “The Gong Show” television program, the Unknown Comic took a simple prop, a paper grocery sack, placed it on his head and never looked back. “Journey Thru the Unknown” tells the story of the man under the paper sack, a very funny man named Murray Langston who, in his almost 70 years, witnessed and, more importantly, helped shape the modern world of stand-up comedy.
Langston tells his story in a unique way, highlighting every year since his birth. That being said, the first chapter, entitled June 27, 1944, is the shortest, with his main recollection being that it was very hard for him to find work. This is the style Langston employs throughout the book. Whether recounting a meeting with his idol Jerry Lewis, or expressing a father’s love for his two daughters, Langston manages to add a little humor just when it’s needed.
From his early days in the Navy, where he entertained his fellow sailors as a radio DJ to his debut on “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In” to “The Sonny and Cher Show” and beyond, there doesn’t seem to be a time when Langston wasn’t making someone laugh. And along the way he met, or worked with, some of the greatest names in comedy, including Steve Martin, Pat Paulsen, Ruth Buzzi, Tim Conway, Jim Carey, Ted Knight and so many others. The book is also packed with photos – a virtual who’s who of comedy. As someone who enjoyed the various variety shows of the time, including “Sonny and Cher,” I was thrilled when I instantly recognized Langston’s mustached face as someone I had thoroughly enjoyed watching. Reliving his stories with him made me enjoy him all over again!