S(idney) J(oseph) Perelman 1904–1979
American humorist, dramatist, and scriptwriter.
A contributor to The New Yorker for almost fifty years, Perelman is one of America's best-loved humorists. Perelman began his career writing whimsical sketches and remained loyal to the sketch form throughout his lifetime. Even in his longer works, plot and character are less important than the interwoven scenarios that point up human silliness and pretension. Admiring critics have often expressed regret that Perelman never abandoned this approach to write a full-length satire.
In addition to his brilliant occasional pieces on almost every aspect of contemporary society, Perelman wrote several Hollywood screenplays—most notably Monkey Business and Around the World in Eighty Days. He was awarded a special National Book Award in 1978 for his contribution to American letters.
A recent addition to the Perelman canon is the posthumous The Last Laugh, which most Perelman admirers read with affection.
(See also CLC, Vols. 3, 5, 9, 15 and Contemporary Authors, Vols. 73-76, 89-92 [obituary].)