Woody Allen (born Allan Stewart Konigsberg; December 1, 1935) is an American screenwriter, director, actor, comedian, author, playwright, and musician whose career spans over half a century.
He began as a comedy writer in the 1950s, penning jokes and scripts for television and also publishing several books of short humor pieces. In the early 1960s, Allen started performing as a stand-up comic, emphasizing monologues rather than traditional jokes. As a comic, he developed the persona of an insecure, intellectual, fretful nebbish, which he insists is quite different from his real-life personality. In 2004, Comedy Central ranked Allen in fourth place on a list of the 100 greatest stand-up comics, while a UK survey ranked Allen as the third greatest comedian.
By the mid-1960s Allen was writing and directing films, first specializing in slapstick comedies before moving into more dramatic material influenced by European art cinema during the 1970s. He is often identified as part of the New Hollywood wave of filmmakers of the mid-1960s to late '70s. Allen often stars in his own films, typically in the persona he developed as a standup. Some of the best-known of his over 40 films are Annie Hall (1977), Manhattan (1979), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), and Midnight in Paris (2011). Critic Roger Ebert has described Allen as "a treasure of the cinema".
He is also a jazz clarinetist who performs regularly at small venues in Manhattan, including the Carlyle Hotel on Monday nights.