Monday, February 19, 2007

"Buy the Book, Kid"

When I was no more than five years old, I accompanied my parents and a family friend to a small comedy show, headlined by none other than my father’s favorite comedian, The King of the One-Liners, Henny Youngman. It was some minor club – I remember it incorrectly as an airport lounge, near Worchester, Mass. The man was deep into his eighties, donning a snappy suit and accompanied by his ubiquitous violin (which he played intermittently and badly. For comic effect?). I’m not, as a 24 year old, actually about to say this, but you may be too young to remember him. You may recognize Henny when he appears like a glass of aged wine at the end of the famous Copa Cabana shot in Goodfellas. He was the man who coined the phrase: “Take my wife…Please!” My father loved this man and therefore I loved him too.

After the show, Henny was seated at a cluster of tables – a makeshift dais – signing books for the small crowd that had gathered. I waited in line, my new book, 500 One-Liners, held out in my shaky young hands, and when I was granted an audience with one my father’s comedic hero, I poured out my admiration with five-year-old sincerity. Henny, with infinite wit -- possessed only by those who have spent a life honing their comedic skills in countless supper clubs, tv specials, and Borscht Belt Resorts – looked up at me with those Blood Hound eyes showing no emotion but exhaustion and said, “Buy the book, kid.” I loved Henny Youngman.

On my bookshelf today sits this book with Henny’s autograph.

This post is merely an explanation of a series of posts to follow: my humble book recommendations.

No comments: