Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Some of the funniest Jewish comedians became famous long before YouTube, and even before their standup routines were kinescoped or videotaped for posterity. The only way you could laugh at their shtick was to be in the audience at Grossinger's, the Concord, or any of the many hotels in New York's Catskill Mountains that became known as the Borscht Belt.
Then came television and the Ed Sullivan Show, which brought the likes of Sam Levenson, Shelly Berman, Buddy Hackett, Mort Sahl, Henny Youngman, and Myron Cohen to the attention of a wider audience.
Cohen (1902-1986) started out as a salesman in the garment industry in New York. When calling on customers, before showing his samples, he would tell a joke to put everyone at ease and establish a friendly mood. Cohen’s jokes were often more popular than his garment samples, and his customers urged him to become a professional comedian.
He entertained in nightclubs in the 1950s and 1960s, and appeared frequently on The Ed Sullivan Show. Although he spoke perfect, cultured English, he was a master at capturing the ethnic accents of the Jewish citizens of New York City.
There aren't many video clips of Myron Cohen's routines, but here's one we found from a 1978 performance in Warwick, Rhode Island. If you like the clip, you can rent the 60 minute video from Netflix or buy it at Amazon.com.
(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.)