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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Well, come on we'll take it.
How much is it?
Thank you, have a nice day.
Ok from Germany?
Yes, from Germany... From Germany.
Do you know why the Germans marry Irish people?
They both hate England.
Ok. 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
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 ...
and he recommended me to Jules Podell
who was head of the mafia at that time, the Jewish mafia
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>...in 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...
....my hearing is...
...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 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.
You know who invented the brasserie?
That's the truth.
And the toilet was invented by a guy named
You have to carry on by yourself.
I have to go to the toilet.
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...
the nightmeer endeth,
the nightingales singeth
and the springtime cometh.
Lad and lass
in tall green grass,
a zipper zippeth
a ding a dong a day
a which is a to say
the springtime cometh,
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
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.
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
and Hugh Hefner's there
and he saw Sammy
and he saw the show,
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.
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 ...
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
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
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 in the hands of the government."
and those of you
who want to stay and I will take his place
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
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
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"
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
than to give
A lot of people say it is better to give,
well, if you want to 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
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
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".
"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,
where he really came from.
But to me he's just like a...
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
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
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
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
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...
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.
we mixed up the questions
And one of them was
"Why is the sky blue"?
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,
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
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...
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
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
Now, you people may not know him but he was with
the Bilko show
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...
Walter, well, that's nice
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
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
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
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
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