Friday, August 28, 2009

Thank יהוה It's Friday

My ethnic background is Italian and Czech, so I'm not sure why I have some innate appreciation for klezmer, but I do. Maybe it's that they are close stylistically to the Pennsylvania polkas of my birthplace.

There's no need to examine my attraction to
Borscht Belt comedy, though - it's the well-spring for most of what became popular comedy culture as I grew up. I mean - just look at this list of performers who got their start or regularly performed there:

Joey Adams, Woody Allen, Morey Amsterdam, Benny Bell, Milton Berle, Shelley Berman, Al Bernie, Mel Brooks, Lenny Bruce, George Burns, Red Buttons, Sid Caesar, Jack Carter, Myron Cohen, Bill Dana, Rodney Dangerfield, Phyllis Diller, Totie Fields, Betty Garrett, Estelle Getty, George Gobel, Shecky Greene, Buddy Hackett, Mickey Katz, Danny Kaye, Alan King, Robert Klein, Jack E. Leonard, Pesach Burstein, Mal Z. Lawrence, Sam Levenson, Jerry Lewis, Jackie Mason, Lou Menchell, Jan Murray, Carl Reiner, Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, Freddie Roman, Allan Sherman, Jackie Vernon, Jackie Wakefield, Jonathan Winters, Henny Youngman

Today's album is from The Barton Brothers, pioneers in Jewish-American comedy with their hit record "Joe and Paul" (an excellent article about Yiddish-American culture here):

"Better than they could have imagined, the Barton Brothers captured a moment in Yiddish-American culture when that culture was more than ever a pastiche, when its popular expression was often a synthesis of Yiddish and English. With this post-war redesigned Yiddish, Jewish Americans helped develop a new language best expressed in comedy, a language that moved away from its insular Jewish origins to become American speech. As this Yiddish-English moved from street to stage, Jewish-American comedy was able to reach a wider audience and plant itself firmly on TV and in the movies."

Our selection today is the followup album to the big hit and is simply titled "Yiddish-American Comedy" (Rivoli Records' promotions and art departments apparently took the month off). In addition to the unispiring title and artwork, the track listing on the jacket is incorrect.
The actual track listing is:

Side One
Moe the Schmo: 1 Activity; 2 Takes in a Border; 3 Plays Golf; 4 Rhumba Lessons; 5 Gets Romantic
6 Gay, Vec, Cherie

Side Two
1 The Story of Little Red Riding Hood
2 Mambo Moish
3 The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere


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