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Friday, February 24, 2017

Who put the Borsch in Borsch Belt? (It's about comedy, really.)

 I was always curious about Borsch soup since an oft-used crossword puzzle clue asks "Borscht soup ingredient" Disappointing answer: "Beets." None-the-less, the recipe for this classic is below for you afictionados. I am told it is as delicious as it looks... or not.

That soup, popular in several Middle Eastern cuisines, is the name origin of the Borsch Belt area in New York's Catskill Mountains, a popular Jewish resort destination in the 1920s through the 1960s because it was close to a large population area, had a great climate and was very welcoming.

Many of the Jewish comedians who performed at these resorts and those Jews and Gentiles who built

their routines around this style of humor that prevails today are so numerous and popular that it boggles the mind. Borscht Belt humor is stylized by self-deprecation, insults, complaints, marital bickering, hypochondria, wordplay and liberal use of Yiddish. So who are some of those comedians ?

Jerry Seinfeld for one. Billy Crystal (Princess Bride and lots, lots more), Jackie Mason, George Burns (If you live to be a hundred, you've got it made. Very few people die past that age. PS: he died at 100 none-the-less), Mel Brooks, Rodney Dangerfield ("I don't get no respect. I come from a stupid family. During the Civil War my great uncle fought for the west!" and "Once when I was lost I saw a policeman and asked him to help me find my parents. I said to him, "Do you think we'll ever find them?" He said, "I don't know kid. There are so many places they can hide.")

ala Mel Blanc
And there was Don Rickles, Woody Allen, Buddy Hackett, Carl Reiner, Sid Caeser, Lenny Bruce, Mel Blanc (the voice of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird and Sylvester the cat, Wyle E.Coyote and the Road Runner, Woody Woodpecker and Tom and Jerry and so many other cartoon characters), Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers, Milton Berle, Jerry Lewis, Estelle Getty (Golden Girls), Lainie Kazan, Joey Bishop, Henny Youngman ("Take my wife...please."), Zero Mostel (Fiddler on the Roof), Phil Silvers, Jack Benny, Bea Arthur (another Golden Girl), Morey Amsterdam, Milton Berle, Joey Bishop, Red Buttons, Phillis Diller (who I knew personally), George Gobel and Danny Kaye.

And also Howie Mandel (America's Got Talent), Most of the Marx Brothers ("Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." and "One 
morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I'll never know."
), Carl Reiner, Soupy Sales (who actually took more than 20,000 pies in the face on his TV show), The Three Stooges (Yuck, yuck, yuck) and so many more that you may or may not be familiar with... some of the great story-tellers and one-liners like this:

*My wife was at the beauty shop for two hours. That was only for the estimate. She got a mudpack and looked great for two days. Then the mud fell off.

* The Doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn't pay his bill so the doctor gave him another six months.

* The Doctor called Mrs. Cohen saying, "Mrs. Cohen, your check came back. " Mrs. Cohen answered, "So did my arthritis!"

* Doctor:"You'll live to be 60!" Patient:"I am 60!" Doctor: "See! What did I tell you?"

Woody Allen
*There is a big controversy on the Jewish view of when life begins. In Jewish tradition, the fetus is not considered viable until it graduates from medical school.

*A man called his mother in Florida:"Mom, how are you?" " Not too good," said the mother. "I've been very weak." The son said, "Why are you so weak?" She said, "Because I haven't eaten in 38
days." The son said, "That's terrible. Why haven't you eaten in 38 days?" The mother answered,"Because I didn't want my mouth to be filled with food if you should call."

*A Jewish boy comes home from school and tells his mother he has a part in the play. She asks,"What part is it?" The boy says, "I play the part of the Jewish husband.""The mother scowls and says, "Go back and tell the teacher you want a speaking part."

*Did you hear about the bum who walked up to a Jewish mother on the street and said, "Lady, I haven't eaten in three days." "Force yourself," she replied.

Three Stooges

Recipe for Borsch soup, as promised, here.

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