March 16, 2018:

Terry and I are on vacation in New Orleans all week so the only research I am doing is on restaurants and jazz clubs. However, as fortune has it, today is the birthday of the late Henny Youngman. So, we’ll fill up space with several of his jokes that you can try out at your St. Patrick’s Day party.
Unlike many show business people, Henny has a boring life story although it is Interesting that the life-long New Yorker was born in London, England. His parents emigrated to NYC when Henny was six months old. Henny’s father wanted his boy to be a classical violinist however as one of Henny’s fellow comedians quipped in the 1930s, “Henny’s the only guy who when he opens his violin case, the audience hopes he’s got a machine gun in there.” 

After high school, Henny worked nights as leader of a band called the Swanee Syncopaters, Henny would tell an occasional joke during his band’s performances. During the day, Henny worked at a print shop where he wrote “comedy cards” containing one-line gags. His cards were discovered by up-and-coming comedian Milton Berle who mentored Youngman. They enjoyed a life-long friendship and of course constantly traded one-liners. Berle said Youngman was “the king of one-liners because he couldn’t remember two.” Youngman responded “Milton, is your family happy? Or do you go home at night?”

I’m happy to say that I am two degrees of separation from Mr. Youngman. My college friend, Kevin Kelleher ran into Henny in a New York City elevator. Kevin said hello and the legend immediately pulled out his wallet and asked, “Would you like to see a picture of my pride and joy?”. Youngman proceeded to show Kevin a card with the images of Pride Detergent and Joy Detergent. That exchange personifies Henny’s reputation as a person who despite his fame was always friendly and unassuming.

Despite the hundreds of jokes he told about his wife, the couple had a very happy marriage and Sadie accompanied him on many of his tours. Their marriage lasted 59 years until Sadie’s death in 1987. Sadie was terrified of hospitals so when she became ill, her notoriously cheap husband paid for an ICU to be set up in their home. He stayed with her continuously during her last month, a rare departure from the grueling tour schedule the workaholic maintained for almost 70 years. 

Here are some of Henny’s best:

  • The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret
  • My wife said to me, “For our anniversary I want to go somewhere I’ve never been before.” I said, “Try the kitchen!”
  • Some people ask the secret of our long marriage. We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes Tuesdays, I go Friday.
  • When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading
  • I once wanted to become an atheist, but I gave up – they have no holidays
  • My grandmother is over eighty and she still doesn’t need glasses. Drinks right out of the bottle
  • I’ve got all the money I’ll ever need. If I die by 4:00
  • My dad was the town drunk. Most of the time that’s not so bad; but New York City? 
  • A doctor has a stethoscope up to a man’s chest. The man asks “Doc, how do I stand?” The doctor says, “That’s what puzzles me!”
  • I played a great horse yesterday! It took seven horses to beat him.
  • The horse I bet on was so slow, the jockey kept a diary of the trip.
  • Getting on a plane, I told the ticket lady, “Send one of my bags to New York, send one to Los Angeles, and send one to Miami.” She said, “We can’t do that!” I told her, “You did it last week”
  • The Doctor called Mrs. Cohen saying, “Mrs. Cohen, your check came back.” Mrs. Cohen answered, “So did my arthritis!

Have a great weekend. Erin go Bragh.