Those Old Catskill Comedians …

I got this post from my husband and who knows how many places it has already traveled. But it made me laugh and this is one of those days when a laugh seems exactly what I need. So here they are …

Those Fabulous Old Time Jewish Comedians!

Maybe you remember the old Jewish Catskill comics. Some of them went back to the really old days of Vaudeville, others were more recent and a fair number of them are alive and well and still working. Except that the center of the action is Las Vegas. Maybe, the Catskills will rise again. There are people trying to create a revival, so time will tell.

Red Buttons,  Totie Fields, Joey Bishop,  Milton Berle, Jan Murray,  Danny Kaye, Henny Youngman,   Buddy HackettSid Caesar,  Groucho Marx, Jackie Mason, Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, George Burns, Allan Sherman, Jerry Lewis (mostly at Brown’s Hotel),  Carl Reiner, Shelley Berman, Gene Wilder, George Jessel, Alan King, Mel Brooks, Phil Silvers, Jack Carter,  Rodney Dangerfield,
Don Rickles, Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor, Mel Brooks, Mansel Rubenstein and so many others.

There was not one single swear word in the ” family” routines, but elsewhere on the road, these guys were (and are) as blue as any other comics. Also, when the punchline was in Yiddish, you knew it was too blue for English.

I always tried to get my mother to translate for me, but she said the lines were “earthy” in Yiddish, but really dirty in English. So mostly, I never did hear the punchlines.

Here are a few  oldies, but goodies:

I just got back from a pleasure trip. I took my mother-in-law to the airport.

I’ve been in love with the same woman for 49 years! If my wife ever finds out, she’ll kill me!

What are three words a woman never wants to hear when she’s making love? “Honey, I’m home!”

Someone stole all my credit cards but I won’t be reporting it. The thief spends less than my wife did.

We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.

My wife and I went back to the hotel where we spent our wedding night; only this time I stayed in the bathroom and cried.

My wife and I went to a hotel where we got a water-bed. My wife called it the Dead Sea .

She was at the beauty shop for two hours. That was only for the estimate. She got a mudpack and looked great for two days. Then the mud fell off.

The Doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn’t pay his bill so the doctor gave him another six months.

The Doctor called Mrs. Cohen saying, “Mrs. Cohen, your check came back. ”  Mrs. Cohen answered, “So did my arthritis!”

Doctor: “You’ll live to be 60!” Patient: “I am 60!” Doctor: “See! What did I tell you?”

Patient: “I have a ringing in my ears.”  Doctor: “Don’t answer!”

A drunk was in front of a judge. The judge says, “You’ve been brought here for drinking.”
The drunk says “Okay, let’s get started.”

The Harvard School of Medicine did a study of why Jewish women like Chinese food so much. The study revealed that this is due to the fact that Won Ton spelled backward is Not Now.

There is a big controversy on the Jewish view of when life begins.
In Jewish tradition, the fetus is not considered viable until it graduates from medical school.

Q: Why don’t Jewish mothers drink? A: Alcohol interferes with their suffering.

A man called his mother in Florida , “Mom, how are you?”  “Not too good,” said the mother. “I’ve been very weak.” The son said, “Why are you so weak?” She said, “Because I haven’t eaten in 38 days.” The son said, “That’s terrible. Why haven’t you eaten in 38 days?” The mother answered, “Because I didn’t want my mouth to be filled with food if you should call.”

A Jewish boy comes home from school and tells his mother he has a part in the play. She asks, “What part is it?” The boy says, “I play the part of the Jewish husband.”  “The mother scowls and says, “Go back and tell the teacher you want a speaking part.”

Question: How many Jewish mothers does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: (Sigh) “Don’t bother. I’ll sit in the dark. I don’t want to be a nuisance to anybody.”

Short summary of every Jewish holiday – They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat.

Did you hear about the bum who walked up to a Jewish mother on the street and said, “Lady, I haven’t eaten in three days.”  “Force yourself,” she replied.

Q: What’s the difference between a Rottweiler and a Jewish mother?
A: Eventually, the Rottweiler lets go.

2008

10 thoughts on “Those Old Catskill Comedians …

  1. I heard these jokes growing up and they were just plain funny. I’m not sure my parents or other family members called them Jewish humor. They were just told and retold as part of the fabric of our family gatherings. They were mixed in with the ancient jokes passed on from our relatives in the Virgin islands and other spots. In fact, I remember hearing some of the now classic Jewish jokes during the time I spent on St. Thomas as a youngster. My Grandfather (My Mom’s father) from Barbados used to tell these jokes. As a young man, I got into trouble when I inadvertently used a phrase I THOUGHT was heard in a Jewish joke. Why do all of us laugh at these jokes?? There’s something of the “Everyman” familiarity to them. Even the Archie Bunkers of the world would agree. We need to hear these jokes more often and not what passes for humor by most of today’s comics. A few years back, I became the unwitting pawn of Billy Crystal and Robin Williams, when I tried to go to the mat with them. It wound up on local and national television. Maybe not my brightest day but certainly the funniest. There’s not enough genuine laughter in today’s angst-filled world. Mel Brooks, a latter day student of Jewish humor, is my hero. HEDley Lamarr is but one of his genius creations. Too Jewish!! Kinky, I like it!! Take my Wife, please … hold on — She’s Jewish!!

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    • Many “ethnic” jokes are really universal. Tell them with a different accent, substitute one ethnicity for another, and voila, now you have a “Black” joke or a Polish joke or a Native American joke. Ethnic humor is remarkably similar from group to group … sometimes weirdly so. We all find ourselves funny because we ARE funny. Human beings are funny. We spend way too much time brooding on sad stuff and not nearly enough time laughing.

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  2. I worked that circuit as a musician all through the 60s…, places like Kutchers, Grossingers, The Browns, The Pines, The Nevelle, Concord and others. Of course I was being type cast as a latin musician at the time…, but there was an advantage. Most of my musician buddies were in the “show bands” and depending on the act, had to remain on stage with the act. We, in “Da Rumba Bend”, as we were affectionately known by certain patrons, could sit it out, and watch the show. A show usually consisted of 3 acts on weekends…, a dance act, some wannabe singer and, of course, a comedian. Many times the comedian was replaced by a top singer like Paul Anka or Diana Ross, and the middle act was a juggler or some acrobatic schtick. My favorites were the comedians and I saw many of the names mentioned. Comedy seemed to touch the roots of our problems and our triumphs laced with the kind of irony that only a good comedian can point out. We spent many an evening doubled up with laughter to the point of pain as much of the material presented just wasn’t, at the time, appropriate for TV or Radio.

    My only one frustration were comedians, catering to an older jewish crowd, that told jokes in English, and the punchline in Yiddish. Here’s where I got lucky…, the Cuban band leader that I worked with for many years before I became a recording engineer, was married to an orthodox Jewish woman (go figure), and Norma would translate for me. Albeit, while Yiddish to English translation took some of the impact out of a joke, I got the drift.

    Jerry Lewis.., well supposedly he started as a busboy at The Browns, and became notorious for his antics, which I understand were not particularly appreciated at the time. But, every year, like clockwork, The Brown’s staff would hang a huge banner across the front of the resort facing Route 52, intimating that “Jerry Was Coming”. I worked there many summers, and never once did Jerry Lewis ever show up. The Browns resort was usually booked up solid just proving the power of advertising false or otherwise.

    Bottom line; I felt more Jewish than anything else for a goodly part of my life.

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