ALL ARTS Documentary Selects


Irwin & Fran

"I feel more like I do now than when I first got here", quotes Irwin Corey who, after starting in show business in 1938, claims to be The World's Foremost Authority. The 100 year-old comedian and his chain smoking wife, Fran, are old New York at its most charismatic. With collaboration from Dick Gregory and Susan Sarandon, filmmaker Jordan Stone explores an intimacy rarely caught on camera.

AIRED: February 19, 2021 | 1:23:20

You know what to say.

Just make the announcement.

A young man recently picked as the comic find of 1922

by the Shopping News of Greenwich Village.

Greenwich Village, that's a little

area in New York, where a man

with moderate means can live like a queen.

Direct from two successful days...

Direct from two successful days...

No, no, no, not drec...DIRECT...

This guy don't talk good english right.

Einstein was right MC square.

Now, just make some kind of announcement.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

No, no, no, no, no that's too fast.

Give them a chance to identify themselves.

It's ladies and gentlemen. ... dash, dash, dash ...

Now, when you make the announcement,

speak with clarity, dignity, and enthusiasm.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

The World's Foremost Authority

Professor Irwin Corey.

Now, that's the way it should have

been done right from the beginning.

Don't screw up,

these introductions are so important.

Thank you.

Oh, you got your paper already, yeah?


Do you have the Times at all?

No, s * t,

No, s * t,

No, s * t,

Want the News or the Post?

No, no.

Just a f * *ing quarter.

You want the News or the Post?

For a quarter, I'll take it.

Ok. I'll need some change here.

Did you get your papers this morning?

The News. They're half price today.

I'm all set, thank you very much. I've got one.

Oh, you got one?

I'm going back to the office.

I'll need some change.


I gotta get some change.

I'll give you change.

One, two and another one.


It's half price! It's 50 cents

so half price is a quarter.

Oh, sh * !

You gotta give me another quarter.

There you go!

How much did I give you?

You gave me, you gave me 75 cents.


I'll see you later alligator. Thank you.

Did you get your paper today?

Half price today.

News or the post?

Yeah, I don't read in English.


No, thank you very much.


Thank you very much sir.

Half price.

Ok man!


I see you're still a star.

Yeah, yeah still doing the f * * ing s * t.

By the way, I looked you up on the Youtube.

They... they showed a clip of when

you were with the Jackie Gleason show.

Oh Goddamn.

Anyway, you looked good man,

you looked very young, you know?

Oh, I was young, that was done in 1955.

So... Jesus man, I told you..

And you're still doing it man, that's good.

Ok see you later.

Instead of a dollar only a quarter for the paper.

News or the Post?

Oh, we are from Germany.

We are Germans.

We don't read that.

Half price.

Well, come on we'll take it.

How much is it?

25 cents.


Thank you.

Thank you, have a nice day.

Ok from Germany?

Yes, from Germany... From Germany.


No, Heidelberg...




Do you know why the Germans marry Irish people?

No, why?

They both hate England.

Ok. Auf Wiedersehen.

Auf Wiedersehen.


Oh stop it!

You're being taped, you know?


You're being taped.

Do you have to make so much noise?

You think I do this purposely?

You can control it.

Don't smoke if you can't control it.

When you cough,

have you got control over a cough?

Then don't smoke and you won't cough.

What kind of advice is that?

The only reason you're coughing is because you're smoking that stuff.

Otherwise, you wouldn't be coughing.

This is a film about Irwin and Fran Corey

two dear old friends of mine.

Irwin was born in Brooklyn in 1914.

Fran was born in Marathon, Upstate New York in 1916.

He was the last of 7 children.

Fran was 4th in a family with 8 children.

His Mother placed him and his siblings

in the Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum after she became ill.

He remained there until the age of 13

when he rode the rails out to California.

During the Great Depression he worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps

and while working his way back East,

he became a featherweight Golden Gloves boxing champion in Colorado.

In 1938, Irwin was back in New York,

where he got a job performing in Pins and Needles,

a Broadway musical comedy revue

about a union organiser in the garment trade in New York.

Fran organised anti war demonstrations in 1938

against Franco and the Spanish Civil War.

The time is two o'clock pm.



<i>My name is Jeremy Cardatian</i>

Who is this?

<i>This is Jeremy Cardatian</i>

<i>I'm working on the brief on behalf of people who were blacklisted</i>

Oh yeah, that's me

<i>Ok, so I'm talking to the right guy</i>

Yes, I was blacklisted

The reason I was blacklisted

was because the Foners brothers

they were college professors

and there was a Rapp-Coudert committee

which made every employer in the city

sign a loyalty oath

<i>Uh huh</i>

And the Foner brothers refused to cooperate in that sphere

and I was working at a place called the Copacabana...


...the most famous nightclub in the history of nightclubs


and the only reason I was working there was

Joe E Lewis,

a very famous comedian,

refused to work on Yom Kippur ...

<i>Uh huh</i>

and he recommended me to Jules Podell

who was head of the mafia at that time, the Jewish mafia

Uh huh

And they hired me because

Yom Kippur didn't mean anything to me

I didn't give a kippur for anything


So, while I was at The Copa

the Foner brothers were being indicted

for quitting college as professors

And I was at a fund raising affair to...

<i>to defend the Foner brothers</i>

Yeah... that's true

I got my name in the Daily Worker

<i>So Mr. Corey, I've got two questions for you</i>


you are entitled to two, yeah

<i>We're trying to file this brief</i>

<i>We've got to file it on Monday and we want to know</i>

<i>if we can list you as one of the people who are on the brief</i>

Oh... Sure, sure ... put me...

Let me be, the... the...

on top of the list.

<i>I think we're listing everybody alphabetically.</i>

<i>You'll be near the top but I don't know that you'll be at the very top.</i>

I'm just kidding.

<i>Ok. Here's the second thing. We are including in the...</i>

<i> the brief a brief description of who all the signers are.</i>


<i>What their connection is to the blacklist.</i>

You want me to say something about the blacklist?

<i>No, no, no, no, you don't need to say anything.</i>

<i>We are including something written in the brief that says</i>

<i>who you are and what happened to you.</i>

<i>I've written something up. A few sentences...</i>

<i>... and I'd like to read it to you</i>

<i>and if you want to change anything, you tell me then we'll change it.</i>

I didn't hear ... listen I'm

90 f * *ing 5 years old...

...and... hearing is... not susceptible to simple language

In fact the veteran's administration gave me these hearing aids

and the hearing aids don't understand English


So you have to repeat your inquiry

<i>No problem</i>

<i>no problem Here's the question</i>

<i>We need to put into the brief</i>

<i>a brief description of who you are.</i>

<i>Can I... can I read to you what I'd like to put in there</i>

<i>and you can say if it's ok?</i>


<i>Ok. I'm gonna read it slowly,</i>

<i>tell me if you need me to repeat anything ok?</i>

Alright, what is it?

<i>Irwin Corey is a prominent comedian, performer and satirist.</i>

<i>He was blacklisted during the 1950's for his leftwing political opinions.</i>

<i>As a result of the blacklist he was unable to get the kind of work</i>

<i>that the talent and experience would have permitted.</i>

<i>Due to the after effects of the blacklist</i>

<i>Corey was not able</i>

<i>to get work on Television and movies until the 1970's and 80's.</i>

Yeah, that's good.

Yeah, that was an unfortunate thing.

In fact I'm still blacklisted on NBC.

The last performance I did at NBC was on Dave Letterman's Show.

Nice to see you.

turn around there...

Ah ok... This'll work out just fine...

One of his guest canceled,

so they had to get a replacement right away

and I'm not living too far CBS or NBC or whatever it was.

I was there in a half hour.

We were on 36th street and they were on 52nd.

So I went and...

When I was on that show I remember saying...

"We got Granada, Grand Fenwick is next".

And I kept talking and making political remarks...

And he wanted to talk about my album,

and wanted to talk about something

more personal and I always got off the subject.

And I was saying I'd love to find out

... and he says "you know that's the third time you almost said it..."

Well, anyway Grand Fenwick is the Duchery

in a movie called "The Mouse that Roared"

Yeah. It's an imaginary place

and I remember talking so much

that he finally says, "oh we'll talk about that later"

... and seven minutes were up.

Usually, I come back. He says "When we come back",

and I thought when we come back to the set again.

he's taking maybe a commercial.

Well, usually people that are in that part of the show

get a full 15 minutes of the show

and he cut me off there

and the other 7 minutes was only music.

He never returned to Late Night with David Letterman

after his first appearance in 1982,

which he claimed was the result of the blacklist still being in effect.

In the early fifties during the witch-hunts,

Fran was confronted by FBI agents at her home

and followed on the street.

Their son Richard was convinced that they wanted to catch his father

stealing jokes and passing them onto the Russians.

You know, that House Un-American Activities was

illegal and unconstitutional.

The committee was after her not me.

I tried to join the communist party and they wouldn't...

They blackballed me.

They said I was an anarchist.

Do you remember that when they came after you?


they stopped me on the street and asked me questions.

Times are just as bad now as they were then.

The patriot act is doing exactly what McCarthy wanted to do.

I've always thought that

if the House Un-American Activities Committee ever called upon me

I was prepared

and they would say to me:

Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth

and nothing but the truth?"

And my reply to that would be:


d-d-do you mind repeating the question?"

I thought that would show them where they were.

And they would repeat the question and I said,

"Do you mind r-r-rephrasing it?"

And I don't understand why the defendants did not use that...

...a part of the constitution which gives us a sacred ballot.

Now if you have a ballot and a guy asks you how you voted,

tell him it is none of your business.

Unless you are campaigning, they would know what party you represent.

But if you're not campaigning, they cannot ask you how you voted.

Because that would do away with the sacred ballot.

They had no right to ask these peoples

about their political affiliations

because the communist party was a legal party.

It was a legal party and they didn't have to answer

when they ask them what political party they belonged to.

It's illegal and unconstitutional.

I always said that we've been living under a "kakistocracy".

Now the word "kakistocracy" comes from the Greek.

It's opposite of aristocracy,

"kakós" from the Greek meaning "bad"

and "kaka" from the Yiddish meaning "s * t".

We've been run by a s * t government for over 200 years

and the best president that we ever had was Millard Fillmore...

Two weeks after he was inaugurated, he went on vacation.

Four years later they were gonna run him again

and they found out he was dead.

But there's nothing in the constitution which says

the congress person must be alive or the candidate must be alive.

The candidate must have the qualifications,

the candidate must be at least 35 years old

and have necessary equipment

to screw the people.

That's why I say

I would never vote for a candidate for president

if the candidate did not have a mistress.

Let him do to the mistress

what he would do to the people.

You know W.E.B. Du bois said

"You cannot have a third party in the United States

as long as you have one party

operating under two different names."

During the 1960 presidential election

he campaigned for President

on Hugh Hefner's Playboy ticket.

Irwin was running against Nixon and Kennedy.

Victor Lownes, the Playboy Executive at the time

was his campaign manager

We were running for president in 1959

and I was on the playboy ticket

and Vick Lownes, a Jewish boy

who was the brains behind the Playboy Clubs etc.

He was my campaign manager

when he was arrested

And we had rooms at the Drake hotel in Chicago.

I was at the Playboy Club: it was a smoke filled room,

we had liqueur and the Bunnies were there.

Everything connected with the vile campaigns that the Democrats,

Republicans and all other parties ran.

We spent a lot of money on that campaign.

At election time I got over 4000 votes, write in votes.

And I'm sure that was the influence of the Playboy magazine.

I was invited

by the Republican party

to have a float in a parade

and the New York Times says:

"The only thing that relieves the dullness of the convention was

Professor Corey campaigning against the Republicans

in the Republican party parade."

Kennedy beat me.

He was running for president at the time

and I think Nixon was running against him.

Tricky Dick was a marvelous person,

a piece of b * * * *t if there ever was

Oh, this pain is something terrible.

Don't ever get the shingles.

One guy says to me you know Corey I haven't seen you in 30 years,

you haven't changed a bit.

I said "You dumb bastard,

you mean to say I looked like this 30 years ago?".

Dressed in seedy formal wear and sneakers,

with his bushy hair

he would amble on stage in a preoccupied manner,

and then begin his monologue with ...


He walked into Agamemnon's antique shop and said: ''what's new?''

He created a new style of doublespeak comedy;

instead of making up nonsense words like "krelman" and "trilloweg"

like other comics, the Professor would season his speech

with many long and florid but authentic words.

...evolves out of the intrinsic relationship between these two

oblivious no relative force ...

Irwin would then launch into nonsensical observations

about anything under the sun, and occasionally actually making sense.

Changing topics suddenly, he would wander around the stage,

pontificating all the while.

That's all!

You know who invented the brasserie?

Otto Titzling.

That's the truth.

And the toilet was invented by a guy named

Tom Crapper.

You have to carry on by yourself.

I have to go to the toilet.

Go ahead.

I'll talk to myself.


Once upon a time...

Now what's that song?

... And I scanned all the Earth

and searched all the skies

and found it at last...

in my own true love's eyes.



look to the rainbow

follow the fellow,

oh, follow the fellow

who follows a dream...

follow the fellow,

follow the fellow,

follow the fellow

who follows a dream.

That was a E.Y. Harburg's song from

Finian's Rainbow which is now being revived,

but later on he wrote a musical called Flahooley

and the character of the Genie was based on my personality.

A long thin tie in the beginning and a funny coat like I'm wearing.


you're back in the world

and spring is back.





It must have been a bad dream...

and now

the nightmeer endeth,

the nightingales singeth

and the springtime cometh.

Lad and lass

in tall green grass,

gayly skippeth,

Nylon rippeth,

a zipper zippeth

a ding a dong a day

a which is a to say

the springtime cometh,

hummingbird hummeth,

Gerani... ummeth,

Chrysanthemum... mumeth,

bubblegum... gummeth

and the springtime cometh

for the love of thee.

That was written for me and he tried to write my part

in the style of my doubletalk,

but it had too much on one subject

and it always...

it was almost correct


you can't teach comedy.

You naturally have a sense of humour or

you're like Nixon, a liar.

I don't know how I do it.

I think my key

is to try to make the words follow each other

without being abrupt...

or like a...

a comma affair or a dash,

those things are missing.

The line comes in one

steady stream

rather than in raindrops.

Kissinger was right...

Because Kissinger himself was following

the philosophy of the dictates of those

who have accepted the responsibility

to develop some plateau where their

their energy might be construed

as somewhat dilettante not Détente.

Détente and Uncle did not have

any relationship with the fact that

the wall of China, which was one of the

great marvels of this centuries

past according to the

latest reports recently tabulated

from the peace core,

which was started by Kennedy,

where they would send people

to various countries: Afghanistan, Tripoli and to China,

especially to China where they taught them to build walls

and that was one of the great contributions

the peace core did make

in bringing about Détente in China.

Ladies and Gentlemen, "The World's Foremost Authority"

Professor Irwin Corey.

I mean there are a lot of ways.

The Smothers brothers for instance.

I was on their show, you know, before they disbanded.

Their delivery is quite amusing.


in a certain way.

What's his name again?

Tommy Smothers was playing at the Purple Onion which is

not far from the Hungry Eye, just across the street.

And he used to come every night.

So, someone asked him:

"Just why are you going to see Corey every night for,

you want to steal his material?".

He says "No, no,

we want to steal his timing.

'49 I think, I did the show called "The Toast of a Town"

and the host of that show was Ed Sullivan.

Ed Sullivan a Jew hater if there ever was one.

Even though he married a Hebrew child.

I was at the Blue Angel and he came in drunk,

making remarks that were really

horrendous and I couldn't do anything

I just had to get up and excuse myself

I should have hit him in the f * *ing face.

Ed Sullivan had no talent at all,

absolutely no talent.

Therefore, it was so easy to imitate.

Charlie Chaplin for instance

at a contest,

Charlie Chaplin look-alike and

in acting came in third.

In the beginning George Carlin was great,

going into the ten Commandments was a very funny routine.

In fact I gave him a start to a degree,

I was working at the Playboy Club

and he was going to do the Ed Sullivan show

but he wanted to try his material out

so he asked me if he could take my space at the Club.

I said sure.

He sat up on the chair,

I introduced him to the audience,

I said "Here's a young comedian,

he's going to be on the Ed Sullivan Show

and he wants to try his material out on you.

What do you say, let's give him a chance?"

He was on there for an hour,

picking out what was accepted and what...

and that's how he got the job.

I got Dick Gregory his job.

I refused to work on Sunday at the Playboy Club in Chicago,

so they hired him.

He used to send me flowers

every time I opened at a new club,

with saying thank you for not working on Sundays.


the story goes...

I was playing in London

at the Ronnie Scott's, which is a jazz room,

and I'm the star of this show.

In comes this black guy,

he stands in the middle of the cold

and there the spotlight is on him.

I'm the star of the show

but they have this spotlight on this black guy.

And I looked at him and he was wearing sunglasses

and I said to him

"Dick why are you so goddamn happy?"

And I took the glasses off and I put them on and I said:

"Oh, everybody is black."

Brother that little spill you gave right before you brought me up here,

about me and how nice and...

pleasure to be here...

He told Jesus Christ the same thing on Thursday.

Don't worry Corey.

I'm going upstairs to get some pictures taken and,

he was sleeping...

So when I saw Irwin Corey dressed in a tuxedo, but

he looked like a professor that I knew Doctor Rothental.

Genius and stoned out of his mind.

That's Corey.

And I'm looking at him this bloke...

where did he come from?

He looked like he came from another planet.

He's just there.

If you went to any planet and they said just well

you go to that room and

you'll find the God of happiness,

it would look like him.

That's, this man who I never met...

I didn't know him... I saw him on

and I'm thinking how I felt when I was in school and

God if I had a teacher like this.

But we just walk in

and communicate with this in here,

not this intellectual thing in here.

America of entertainment said:

as a negro, you could sing and you could dance

but you couldn't stand flat footed and talk to white folks.

So, no negro was permitted to work a white nightclub.

There was no law,

there was no law

but it was carried out. Nobody...

The mob owned 99% of the nightclubs

and they wouldn't dare break that.

And here's Hugh Hefner and his entourage.

Tony Accardo that ran the mob in Chicago, you know

St Valentine's day killing and all that.

All them, all them folks was there

enjoying themselves

and Hugh Hefner's there

and he saw Sammy

and he saw the show,

they laughed

and I felt good.

I went to the black community

and I said Hugh Hefner was there,

Tony Accardo was there.

And one day unbeknown to me.

The playboy club was probably the number one club

in the history of the planet.

There'll never be another.

Because of Hefner's book,


people looked at it for the centre page,

but intellects all over the world wrote in that book.

And so you got

a hell of a treat.

So, it had like an accord

and so he opened up the playboy club.

One in Chicago

and he made millions of dollars

because people bought keys from all over the world.

They would get there just to stand.

I'm gonna remember the playboy club.

See you later Alligator.

Okay, thank you.

And then one day my agent calls me and says

"Hugh Hefner wants you play his Playboy"

I didn't know it was just one night.

And there was a couple of things I didn't know...

I was just to take Irwin Corey's place

who refused to work Sunday.

Thank god.

Pays fifty dollars

I had been making 10 dollars a week man.

So I multiplied 50 times 7,

I didn't know what to do with all that money at once.

And I didn't know that white folk didn't pay you.

That's a negro thing, they work and work at your house

get no money and go home.

So I came down there with my last quarter, my last quarter.

So, blessed that night!

I got off at the wrong stop

and I got to be on at the eight o'clock spot in the Carousel room

and I'm panicking.

It was the biggest break that a negro could have

and I'm about to blow it.

I'm running in the snow, slipping in the snow,

I've got my suit in the bag... packed them all...

And I saw a sign. It looked like heaven to me.

About 8 blocks away.

I turned the corner and I saw this huge Playboy sign.

I was going through the snow.

Had I got there on time,

you wouldn't be talking to me today.

Because I got there and there's this black doorman.

A negro always has some kind of feeling about being late, you know.

Never get there on time

and you don't like white folks to know.

I never had that feeling. I didn't care about being late.

And so I get there

and I see this man...

I asked the black guy, I said:

"the Carousel room where is it ?"

He said "second floor to the right."

Now the first floor Aretha Franklin is playing there she...

just blue piano, singing

and you really didn't come to see acts

so he didn't have to spend money for big acts.

They came to see the Bunnies and be part of that

and to be able to call home

"I went to the playboy club." "How was it?"

Yeah, but what act?

and so I'm thinking about the one time I want to be on time.

This big white club and I see this white man standing there.

Now, I don't know he's standing there waiting on me to tell me

I don't have to work that night.

Well, under normal circumstances,

I like to work when I'm getting paid.

But what I found out was that they had

rented that room out, the Carousel room,

to a Southern white frozen food convention.

A white man.

And he said "Oh, God"... And they couldn't have felt...

if Corey would have ... Irwin would work that night...

they couldn't feel no better for another Jew

than they felt about me.

You know, at least he could get in there.

And so I pushed this guy out of the way,

I don't know it was Victor Lownes.

And I run up there, don't have time to change

and I jump on stage at exactly 8 o'clock.

And I'm cooking, man! I am cooking...

9 o'clock I'm still cooking,


the lounge calls Hefner,

man you had better get over here ...

something's happening.

and so they got over there

and they couldn't believe it...

The first things I said to them Southerns was...

I understand you all from Alabama.

I spent 20 years in Alabama one day and they just laughed.

You see Shakespeare

was very much in love with Ann Hathaway

who lived in a thatched hutch.

A hutch thatched in Normandy

just after the Norman conquest

when the Israelites were chased out of Northern England

and they came back during Cromwell's administration

and they took over and then they lost Dublin.

It was a hutch thutched ...

Well, he asked Ann Hathaway's father

for her hand in marriage

and her father said:

"why dosth thy not take the whole thing?"

You see Shakespeare invested in the tighth.

Now the tighth was a tenth of the crop

that the peasants gave to the tighth in order

to carry on the function of the organisation.

And save beer... and got a lot of dividends ...

you see many people thought

that Bacon wrote Shakespeare,

actually Shakespeare ate Bacon ...

Oh, it was allowed in them days,

see all the bacon and all the pork and all the ham was Kosher ...

We are in the third...

It was a thutched hutched ...

we are in the third act

The what period?


I was on at the Carson show

and they were talking about Davis Jr.

... I say "Yes, Sammy Davis Jr."...

... his contribution to the entertainment field was...

...he was very versatile,

he can dance and sing and tell jokes, right?"

But I also said that versatility

is the cloak behind which

mediocrity hides.

When you're not getting them with your dancing,

you try getting them with your jokes,

you can't get them with the jokes,

you try getting them with the singing

and if you can't get them with the singing

you go to the toilet

he said it was devastating to watch me.

kind of a funny compliment

my piano player at the Satire Room was Liberace

and then he became a very famous item in Vegas

wore very expensive costumes

and he had a candelabra

on his piano all the time

I always say... I ask the question

"What's better than a rose on a piano?"

and the answer was

"Tulips on your organ!"

Over a career spanning eight decades

Irwin has influenced generations of comics

one of his favourites being Lenny Bruce who called him

"One of the most brilliant comedians of all-time"

Well, the place that really appreciated me the most

was San Francisco or California

I worked the Crescendo three times

the Interlude twice

When I would be working at the Interlude

Lenny Bruce would be working the Crescendo

when I worked the Crescendo

he worked upstairs at the Interlude

He was something

But Lenny was a-political

he didn't know the difference between Capitalism and Socialism

He thought that Communism and Fascism were the same thing

Lenny was a sweet and gentle person

He had a delivery

and he had a sound in his voice which

was mesmerising

Well, the second night that Lenny opened,

I was there and that night there was Allan Funt

There were a lot of very important people at his second night

and Kunstler was his lawyer

and I said to Lenny

"Just tone it down a bit"

and he says to me

"Irwin, Irwin not at all"

he was so annoyed, unbelievable

and I knew I made a mistake

Well, anyway they did arrest him

and I was at the club

and I told the people

"Mr Bruce can no longer be available."

"He's handicapped."

"He's in the hands of the government."

and those of you

who want to stay and I will take his place

beacause the

the cultural committee okayed me

and the police are the cultural committee

Yes, and there was the burning bush

the Jews had trouble with with bushes even in them days

there was the Burning Bush that was never consumed

and the burning bush said to Moses

"Moses go down into the land of Egypt

and free my people"

and Moses looked at the bush and said

"A bush can't talk"

little did Moses realise...

that was a marijuana bush!

Moses got so high

he thought he was God

and down into the house of bondage

into the land of Egypt

Moses took the Jews

and marched them through the hot burning desert

for forty years and forty nights

without sandals

it was god damn hot!

Moses said "Shut up and move"

and they marched and marched and marched

and what does the dumb bastard do?

he turns left

if he had turned right

we would have owned the oil fields

we would have been rich people.

Remember they used to have

identification cards

to work in cabarets?

That's why Lord Buckley died

they wouldn't let him work in New York

they wouldn't give him a card

because he wanted to smoke marijuana, big deal!

God made everything, he made marijuana

What, did he do it to tease us?

"Ladies and gentlemen that concludes your show"


"The eyes sparkle, a beautific grin flares now I do mine"

What's that?

I don't know

Was it sent to you?


I'm looking through old papers Irwin

You know this stuff is really getting better

Don't fall asleep

So my philosophy is:

it is better

to receive

than to give

A lot of people say it is better to give,

well, if you want to give...

give... give...

...finally you give so much that you say to hell with it,

I gave it up and that's it.

But you never get tired of receiving

So my philosophy is to you people

don't earn more than you could spend

But spend more than you can earn

And die in debt

Now, if you owe a lot of money

you're gonna live long

I mean the people you owe it to

are gonna make sure you live long

I mean, say you die at 75

and you owe 300,000 dollars

To amortize that loan at 30,000 dollars a year

would take you, with a crude interest,

18 years to pay it off

So, you actually live to be 93

Because you're living on money you would have made

if you had lived that long.

So, my suggestion to you

is to borrow to attain this affluent position

Borrow, borrow

start with your friends, borrow from your friends

and when they haven't got anymore money

make new friends but keep borrowing

I wondered where those reviews were

One notable fan of Irwin's comedy

was the influential theatre critic Kenneth Tynan

who once wrote of Irwin in The New Yorker

"Corey is a cultural clown,

a parody of literacy,

a travesty of all that our civilization holds dear,

and one of the funniest grotesques in America."

"He is Chaplin's tramp with a college education."

Fran do you want hear some of the reviews?

London was great to me

One review says

"An excellent, unconventional comedian Irwin Corey,

who makes a virtue of not knowing

what on earth he is talking about."

That was the News chronicle Allan Dent.

"and at the Palladium

that Professor Irwin Corey

who describes himself

as "The world's greatest authority"

and whose act was a majestic chaos

of crumbling half sentences."

Ah here's one by Tinem - Establishment:

"Small tail coated and Brooklyn born Mr. Corey

bridges the gulf between Billy Nennet and Zero Mostel

between British music hall and the transatlantic nightclubs."

"Billed as the world's foremost authority

he delivers the customers

with an arco fervor on any topic

that chances to zigzag

through the chaos of his mind

The accent he uses

is fluently colleageal English

betrayed by momentarily lapse

into Manhattan Jewish

He times and withdraws

his mispronouncing

with a significant precision

unrivaled in the business

and now and then sometimes

after every other praise

he loses the trend of his argument

grasping at a straw he seizes

the end of his knee length slim Jim tie

and makes like a tippy tape

and "My God!" he mutters "We've been wiped out"

returning to his theme which

which is the plot of Hamlet by Julius Shakespeare

He declaims snatches of the poets work

beginning with Anthony's tribute to Caesar

"You all did see that on the Lupercale

I thrice presented him a thringy thrown...

Sophie Tucker is a fat pig.

You will note the emphasis changes of the meter of the last line.

Later he philosophically observed

"It is impossible to capture the minds of a heterogeneous mass

when he ain't even here" unquote...

"I beg you to be there, I beg you to be there..."

This other guy wrote me ...

he saw the same show.

He says here

"Maybe Irwin Corey's brand of humour appeals to his fellow Americans

but it is hard to recall a visiting comedian

who has been such a resounding failure".

He says

"If he doesn't change his material he won't last out his engagement."

So happens, I was held over for 7 weeks.

"Irwin Corey, you were ahead of your time."

An article in the Los Angeles Times Thursday December 16th 1982.

In 1982 I was ahead of my time.

Oh, here's a little note, it says...

Dear Professor I'm not even inside yet I'm laughing already.

Gene Shallt wrote me that.

Somebody sent me a picture in a newspaper...

He's out on the corner,

but he's out there raising money for Cuban children.

So, he's something special.

One day maybe when they start unwrapping universal secrets,

We'll know

where he really came from.

But to me he's just like a...

You know

he didn't have a mother, he didn't have a father

It's published where he came from.

That's what he did

to change the whole planet.

Because when black comics got liberated,

women comics got liberated.

Irwin started doing his paper rounds

almost twenty years ago

He must have decided that it was important

to take on a routine

other than comedy clubs and appearances

It's kept him in shape

I used to get free baseball tickets

from Modell which is a sports store

They used to give me free tickets

to the MET's game

and to the Yankee games

and I just gave the tickets

to the drivers of the Daily News

and they would give me newspapers

People would give me money

The paper cost 50 cents

they gave me a dollar

Some people gave me 5 dollars

and a couple of people gave me 100 dollars

And I collected almost 41,000 dollars

and I gave

Madre 40,000 dollars to buy medicine

for Cuba

We bought 375,000 dollars worth of medicine

for 40,000 dollars.

Because they had medicine that was on the shelf

and it only had a 5 month shelf life

And in Cuba they used that stuff in one month

When I went to Cuba with my family

and my niece

was interpreter, she can speak Spanish

In fact, Fidel Castro

went to Colombia University

and spoke very good English

We were at a house that he gave us

to spend our time there

and the telephone rang

and it was Fidel Castro's bodyguard

He'd told him that he would like to come to the house and meet me

So, I said sure, let him come in

There was a knock on the door

Fidel Castro

So, I says "listen

do you want to go and knock on the door again?"

Because we want to take a film of this

He laughed and didn't do it but he came in

and enjoyed our company

and we enjoyed his company

everybody in Cuba knew me

because it was televised

I didn't realise at the time

Reuters wrote the incident up

and the New York Post criticized it

Called me Fidel's friend

of a communist country

I don't care what kind of a country it is

there are children there

that I saw needed medical help

I met Fidel Castro, one old person,

in my mind

he was the only dictator, if you call him that

that had no bank account in Switzerland

All other dictators have it

Half price only a quarter

25 cents you can't go broke for a f * *ing quarter

Thank you

Fran was often a "plant"

during Irwin's shows

and provided set questions

for Irwin's "questions period"

Once, she and her Sister Mary

got loaded on cocktails given by the club

and they completely screwed up Irwin's routine.

They still laugh about it today

You remember it, huh?

Don't fall asleep

I remember your material better than you do

That's something...

you had nothing else to do...

Yeah, you had to think up the answers

But that woman in Ochas Rios...

when you and Mary were getting loaded on...

Oh yeah...

at that time, you could drink all you wanted

That was a wonderful vacation we had

How long were we there, for two weeks?

I don't remember the time



you were performing and

we were supposed to be asking you questions

but we got drunk on that...

whatever it was we were drinking.

So we...

we mixed up the questions

And one of them was

"Why is the sky blue"?

Oh yeah

And what was your answer?

- It was a two-part... - It was a two-part question...


First you ask "why?"

"Why" has been plaguing man

since time in memoriam

Statesman, philosophers, educators,

teachers, scientists...

have been asking the ultimate "why"...

...and in these few moments allocated me

it would be ludicrous on my part

for the sake of brevity

to delve into the ultimate why

Is the sky blue?


He'd never get there on time

because he'd be

look like he's waiting for people

to fill up the seats

Oh, by the way

it was like

a thought just came to him.

It doesn't matter how many times you see him

It's like a thought just dropped down

Let me tell you something...

That's this spirit

That's love

If you had one word to describe him

it wouldn't be "love"

it would be "lovable"

I love you baby and if I can't have you...

sounds scary but when you're lovable

and I'm safe with you

and you're safe with me

So he's made this planet

a little safer to be in

That's my brother

that's my friend

and that's my spirit

No smoking, no smoking

give it to me

oh oh oh cigarettes...

live, live...

you fellows on scholarship, live...

I've gotta live, too...

you are all under arrest!

Well, they, they...

they were married for a long time


I was talking about my parents

Yes, well I knew them both

Issac was...

He was ...

He unfortunately passed away when he was only 66.

Yes, he was only 66 when he died

And your mother,

I think was 84, right?

- 82 - 82

so you have

very little longevity in your line...

longevity is on my line.

I've got a sister...

Well, I'm 93 years old

That's not young

There's only two out of eight

Oh, I had a big family

I was the youngest of six

I had three sisters and two brothers

and the only one that survived is one of my sisters

and she's a 100 years and 3 months old

She got a birthday party on the 17th of July

My birthday party was

at the Players club

and we had people there like

Mickey Freeman

Now, you people may not know him but he was with

the Bilko show

Hey soldier

Ok, knock it off Chester

There'll be no more dimes for coffee

Oh, you offend me

I was about to ask you to join me

Oh Miss, drinks all around

Hey, where did you get all that money?

A small consideration paid by Mr Hilton for changing my name

I'm glad to see somebody made something out of this deal

Well, so long Chester

Name's not Chester anymore...

It's Walter

Walter, well, that's nice

Walter Rockafella

That was a great book

and you could make a lot of money on it

Charlton Heston made a lot of money on it

That dirty stupid asshole...

A piece of s * t

I use the word s * *t in derogatory way

Did you know there was a female pope?

Well, Pope Joan...

how she became Pope is interesting

She was dressed as a man

with her boyfriend into Bologna

where they were going to study for the priesthood

and he died

and she took up his footsteps

And she became Pope of Rome

and she was pregnant,

so she figured she'd leave town for a while

and come back after the birth

When she gave birth,

everybody in the crowd

cheered a miracle, a miracle!

The Pope gave birth

When they found out it was a woman

they brought her back to where she conceived

and stoned her to death

And now every time the Pope is coronated

he has to sit on a seat

which has a hole in it

and underneath the chair

a man

sticks to find out if it has testicles

Then he'd become Pope

So, I'm sitting in a black nightclub

and the great singer Billy Eckstine

he's sitting next to me

He says "Yeah man,

that Jack Paar's a m * * * * * r

they keep wanting me on the show".

I said it's a great show, what do you mean?

"It's because he ain't never let a nigger sit on that couch".

When I sat on that couch

my salary jumped

from 250 dollars a week

to 5000 dollars a night

That was the power

Nobody in the history was...

No, we could not have survived not at all...

the whole thing changed.

And you trace that back to one man.

He says "I'm not going to work..."

I don't know why!

That's why it was bigger than him

It was bigger than me

because out of that

thank you Irwin

come a floodgate of black comics

that the world had never knew existed

And the whole entertainment industry changed

From the mom and pop jokes

to the woman getting the butt of the jokes

Now, you go back and look at all of Irwin's stuff

and he's never no unfair

you could tell when Bob Hope was gonna tell the Negros

I was walking down the street today and saw this beat bopper

oh, yeah, here we go again...

For you people out there

I feel more like I do now

than when I first got here

And this in itself

shows that the development

of those

who realise

the aspect of joining a curiosity

which can only develop

after the basic information

is given so that these allegations

cannot be supported

by any contribution

that you might endeavor

What was the question?

My things about prophecies...

when the soothsayer

came onto Caesar

and said it onto Caesar

beware of the Ides of March...

what he really meant was:

beware of the ideology of Marx

You are getting less and less interesting


You are getting less and less interesting

Alright, so, well?

he can cut it out

The world's foremost authority

here he is

Professor Irwin Corey

He often appeared on Steve Allen's late night show

whereon he would end his rambling stand-up routine

with Allen literally chasing him off the stage

I've been in a lot of movies you know

They are all bums... they're all flops

My wife taught how to do this, you know?

Let's kick the Kaiser in his kaister

But there were big people in there

Many times over

Wait a minute, I told you I'm going to Brooklyn.

That's the difference between us,

you're going to Brooklyn and I'm not

Now the secret of cracking boxes

opening safes to you

is based on the presumption that

what is on the inside cannot be outside

and what is on the outside

stop eating we'll have intermission later

that Clara, she had fire in her mouth...

Me, I would settle for a few teeth

Keep eating the carrots, I think they are working

There was Robin Williams

who got me the job in "Jack"

And I remember

I only had one line in the whole play

and the rest of it was called adlib...

...and my line was

It's your birthday Jack make a wish

and I added


you are as young as you feel,

not as old as you look".

When you think about entertainers in America,

you think of drugs and perverted sex

and you don't think of family

You don't think of friendship

You don't think of somebody living in New York

You don't think of somebody just as

close to their religion

He called me one day

and asked me to come to the state.

I don't know what the fuck state it was.

what? who is this?

So, you just think!

One day when you look around

fot the good things America has produced

You have got to do it right

and in order to do it right

you have got to have an Indian with you

and a woman

because they used to burn her at the stake

I never understood that.

So if one day

all the Indians and all the people who's been misused

get to pick

some of the beautiful spirits that America produced

his would be one of them

I'm talking about your peers,

about people who know

what beautiful spirits look like.

So hats off to the brother and the family

and we say thank you

On a beautiful May morning in 2011

their son Richard

found Fran on the floor of the living room

She was rushed to hospital

where after a month she passed away

You know

I knew a fellow that

cheated in solitaire

As someone who has remained upbeat for most of his life

Irwin is sad and lonely without Fran

My wife passed away just recently

and this poem fits her to the T

"She was a wonderful woman,

with me for 71 years

Anybody who can stand me for 71 years

must have some character

And I want to say

I miss her

the day she passed away

I missed her

my house is empty without her

empty, empty

Only the loneliness and you remain

all other things are wasted and worn away

The sights and sounds

once vivid are resolved

It will blend in backgrounds somber grain

Against which stand edge biting sharp and clear

my ardent love

and memories deep pain

and minds created of your image

that alone with solitude remain

We call on this particular moment

as a fade out

into a different mood

into a different light...

Irwin is 98

He still travels, gigs and makes appearances


what we must understand is:

we should have a little more respect

for John Wayne

After all if it wasn't for John Wayne,

we would have lost the Vietnam war

even in the movies

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