Presumably people used to actually tell Woody Allen that while they enjoy his films, they really like “the earlier funny ones.” I once ran into Allen on 57th Street, right near Carnegie Hall, and the instant we exchanged glances he had a look of total horror in his eyes. The first time I saw Bananas I had recently swallowed a chocolate shake spiked with an ounce of pot. I was so ripped I was missing half the jokes or paying so much attention to the thematic undercurrent that I wasn’t laughing. But this is an example, I suspect, of what most people considered the earlier funny material.
You want to know my idea of the earlier funnier stuff? The opening train-car sequence in Stardust Memories, which you can’t find a clip of anywhere. Or this Play It Again Sam riff in which a woman interprets a Jackson Pollock painting: “It restates the negativeness of the universe. The hideous lonely emptiness of existence. Nothingness. The predicament of man force to live in a barren Godless eternity, like a tiny flame flickering in an immense void with nothing but waste, horror and degradation forming a useless bleak straightjacket in a black absurd cosmos.”