Monday, July 2, 2012
In 1977, Billy Crystal was an actor in a TV series called Soap. Harry Shearer, who would become the voice of Mr. Burns and many other characters on The Simpsons 12 years later, was a member of a radio comedy group. Rob Reiner, son of comedian-director Carl Reiner, had just finished a five year run as Archie Bunker's son-in-law, the Meathead, on All in the Family.
The three comics got together one night that year in a hilarious skit on the Tonight Show, where Reiner, as guest host, introduced Crystal as boxer Muhammad Ali and Shearer as Tom Snyder, a late-night TV show host.
Ali, who years earlier had changed his name from Cassius Clay and converted to Islam, was portrayed by Crystal as deciding to change his name and religion again, this time to Izzy Yiskowitz, a Hasidic Jew.
Crystal, in a deadpan imitation of Ali speaking in black dialect, manages to toss out about 20 Jewish references in six minutes in explaining elements of his "conversion." Fifteen years later, Crystal appeared again as Ali, this time without the Jewish references, at a tribute to the boxer on his 50th birthday. Ali was in the audience this time, smiling at Crystal's tribute.
(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS. YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)
(A tip of the kippah to Sheila Zucker for bringing this video to our attention.)