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Ladies and Gentlemen this is al of wire presenting another comic artist close up. I like comedy that's not a problem problem I bought a parked car and you know the whole story right there. Michigan State University radio presents the comic arts and essay unsolved on the humor of our times featuring the comic the humorist the joke writer the clown the Dauntless individuals who work in the world of comedy. When a comic has established a truly unique style in his performing work he has built the basic foundation for professional progress and audience recognition. Whether they call it the hook point of view style or attitude all comedians are keenly aware of the image factor an outstanding example of this essential element is the long term and consistent
comedy style of Henny Youngman the king of the one liners. Armed only with a supply of short sharp jokes and his famous violin and he has successfully occupied a special spot on the show business scene for many many years. The comic art series is happy to present a candid personal interview with that one liner virtual soul and a young. You don't mean your own comedy style what what led you to specialize in what is termed a one liner kind of joke which you practically trademark in this business. Did you have any cues that lead you in that direction heading. No but you know to go on I was on a case from a show I had six minutes to make good. So when jokes were submitted to me I try to pick the show up when I had time to make 20 24 jokes short ones. Again three long ones that maybe wouldn't pay off you see. So the percentages were with me you know if I meet a man once out of every two jokes or three jokes I wind up what I have way these shows and I've worked out that way and it's been that way ever
since I just blended into it. By accident maybe or automatically or by that taste I didn't know I had you know and I like brave comedy I solved the problem problem I bought a parked car. If you tell the whole story right they see and that's the way it has been going all these years very likely very likely for audiences too and this seems to seems to fit the current trend of life as a matter of fact in America today everything is rather facile quick to go find a parking place you get to move in quickly here at is this road of thought idea to get a laugh and go to the next one. I noticed in your performance that you knew your timing seems to absorb a considerable amount of time. Possibly longer and a pause than the line itself part of the job was right the latter got a way to let people laugh at it. It's no use telling a joke and not waiting. Sometimes they wait you wait a little less you want to the next one. I get some very important jokes and you gotta wait for the lavish I get the neatest mother in law in the world. She puts paper
under the cuckoo clock. You take a second to read another thing gets a big laugh you see that kind of thing has to sink in just a little bit doesn't it. That's right and that's where the timing comes in. What do you think are the toughest problems that a supper supper club comic has today in your view. Oh there's no comic that anybody knows the business the type of problems they get new material every time you go on a television show you try they I try to get material that tops what I have you know and it's really tough to get these great jokes you just don't get them that quickly and that often and sometimes you have to settle because the writers aren't coming up with anything nowadays that all the good writers are writing pictures that blended into producing and all my boys are very important if I was a spotter would be you know I mean the writers who started with Oh there are a lot of them will be one show which watches Gilligan's Island. Bill manhours has written serials for years he wrote the pussycat is going towards Broadway now U.S.
and I have no time to write jokes as if they can take one joke and make a whole show out of it now there are pictures you see. And it's really tough to get right as you work up much of your own material or pretty much rely on writers who write together from professionals I'll tell you frankly I hope the job when I get it Sam would do a joke unless I like myself. You don't strike me funny I will do it you see. Why try to accent the jokes what by lifting an eyebrow maybe making it a little face or you know a shrug and I think I can help the joke along sometimes which it needs. What is your own approach to nightclub comedy or any kind of cabbies that maybe your philosophy of performing style as you say Well I think I make jokes plenty and I think to try to make every joke a picture see other people on how to think too much and I think that's the basis of Walcott to me and I just do comedy in cartoons I think I planned everything when I say sometimes I rocked up and we said
you see a cop around isn't always just to come up. You see there's the whole picture right in front of you. I think it's graphic that would be the word. And I found out that these kind of jokes pay off so I try to make everything in that vein if I can when I say a near-sighted hold up man he can see walks in the bag as they come up on the up. You know what I mean and I know why Joe take my wife please you know that are always good to know your one liners have have not only are integrated us Sassan appearances around the country but they have been rather widely copied and there is no war a sincere form of flattery they say that and an imitation is this any problem to you having your own gags come back at you. I'm sure they were made on happen too much only the public likes it likes the jokes and they walk up and they pull one of the lines I get a kick out of it and it proves that what I do is acceptable all over the country all Mada try all the places I play. They understand this kind of humor if I talk about Liz Taylor they know about Liz Taylor you know
about Ridge Braden you know about Sinatra you know about all the all the top people show business so you can always talk about these people as long as they're in and the popularity of immediacy. I'd like to ask you honey. Maybe don't read into the situation but I'm sure you have in your past experience. How do you as a performer just to a cold or hostile audience when you feel that out there well that's how I write seldom happens anymore because I've been on television about 55 times and the people who come in must like you know they wouldn't come in and I have good jokes I know what I'm doing out there you see so there's no hostile audience so you got to go out there and handle him nicely like a lady and ladies and gentlemen and not get out of line don't be dirty. I knew I would good jokes and that's it. They're not hostile no job and I am not the problem money is yours I think I do a good show for the people. How about in the earlier years when you were breaking and wow a lot of testing you don't know
what you're doing half the time some things are not funny some node you know you're floundering so they're not hostile and so back to you know they say a lot of things a lot of times I would answer them back and get into our squabble you know but good naturedly. And if you insult a man who walks out with a six family a six and he hates you so somebody heckles you cutely you have a little fun with them and I handle him differently than I did years ago we used to try to top him. And used to try and make him feel like two cents was they were doing to me but I gave that up now I play with them. I very seldom get heckled anymore. Good naturedly or somebody says they have to do what I do you know. Nothing wrong with that you know you remind you bridge over the door from all three ass requests on the front of the door for me don't buy them what they like. I've noticed this in your performance here at the rooster tail tonight that there is a rapport between the audience it's as if your son in the living room you know piped up here as I do is that things I see that's the way you have to do it nowadays.
But it took a long time to develop this. I think so. Confidence and frankly in the stores the audience and the rapport as you call it it's like a Paula these people are out in Apollo and Second City home they come and I want to be entertained I want to have dinner and I found out that that's after Bob and I are in here you know I was like a salesman to have you let him get out of the store you're pretty bad salesman. He came in looking for a hat you know. Right you are a veteran comedian you're well established that business with many years of experience and success behind you what chemist you have about the new generation of comics trying to work their way up an entertainment field are really tough on him I don't know whether going to practice and have no place to be lousy the tennis route you know to find out of date good or bad and it's very tough I would advise anybody on our business now days unless you had a fortune. You got to get the job to get them and we got to do it and we got a test and we got to get an agent he had to get the jobs and we got to get another job and he got to get someone to believe you.
So a very rough business for anybody going to say like this is the universal comment of professional comedians that you have to talk for half anyway what you want to put they you say you can't overstate it. Well at the same time a few hundred or a few thousand guys every year are going to start out they're going to come into it. What do you think they should have in a way of basic abilities. Say should be clowns they should be guys who've been in trouble maybe from saying funny things you know. Yes when I was in school I always said funny things got thrown out. Arise as a teacher I'd go I should have noticed that I say funny things and I asked my parents support me in the professionals who or I wouldn't be a so-called nuisance over an asshole I would be getting a Mox over here I'm a nuisance. So the plans I just just wait for to see if you find a way if it early and people encourage you you get along better you know you got a better chance of anyone did the idea first take hold with you that you you might enter enter the field of comedy professionally and actually make a living at and then follow it through.
Not I never planned it I just have a band I was a fiddle player we had a band I used to say funny things to people passing by and I when I was thrown out of school I used to go to a theater every day. Caesar would one of them around so I don't amount to very much to memorize a lot of jokes. So when I got out and the man the boy said throw the band out we want to keep you see. So I was breaking little jobs around you know. You kept the federal and it is of course part and parcel of your trademark an image with with the audiences or any background story with a viable NFL other than that. Well my people forced me to land at this hall all Jewish kids had to learn to fiddle. Sound a little better. It was late at night and I don't play to lead you know a lot of people like him they can see constantly as well the pedal so it was a trademark and a good gimmick and a good crutch message if you didn't have it. That's right they asked for it and it's a blessing to have a thing like that. What kind of a television show out of the many different ones that you've appeared on do you like best for the late night shows like Johnny Carson I mean you know I think you are you display different products of your character when you're
sitting down and you have a little time when you want to celebrate show us six minutes. That said the pro people don't get to like it or they don't have a chance to lead you go into the home you know and those are the shows in my we have a show on Carson and Mike Douglas way to sit around for an hour and have a little fun on the people you can get to like you see. Yes I hold no more than just a one dimensional sight here. I just write it and I discover maybe another polyphase your character and so nice things you may not be able to display when you walk by six minutes. What doesn't make club business formed the bulk of your year most your time but in clubs and no more I do conventions now sales meetings trade shows I do a banquets that's the main part of my business nowadays supermarket open these anything so all these things need talent to there to draw a crowd so I've been busy doing these things you see the regiment and that because
that brings us to rather what I feel is an important question for our discussion here and that is again with reference to maybe some of the younger guys coming up or trying to break into this field. I wanted to find out what you think of the club date as a column organizations always various things look really good for me because I get paid very well so I mean I know they're good for you but as as I break in feel as if I mean they don't have to worry because they can get to work and find I don't know if they can please the people on that stage you know it's rough I get it has no name to go up into what they write as I say he's not prepared for these. He winds up when they start talking on him you know it was my child so I got a pretty good material. You know you have good material you got half the battle see the material carries surely what I told the audience would be having a good material again hold on they started talking. So I may need material outside of having to be a performer. You must have good material. If you haven't got that I think you just don't know
where the six minutes to make good on a network show he filled the spot with a rapid last adopted the one liner joke as his personal stock in trade and set the pattern for an entire generation of stand up comedians. The veteran comic artist who still holds the crown as King of the one liners and a youngling. Portions of this program were pre recorded for the comic arts. The comic arts series with al the wire is produced by Michigan State University Radio in cooperation with the humor societies of America program consultant George Q. Lewis the music by Jerry Tillman. Your announcer can be charter. For.
This program was distributed by the national educational radio network.
The comic arts II
Henny Youngman
Producing Organization
Michigan State University
WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Series Description
For series info, see Item 3529. This prog.: Henny Youngman: Six Minutes to Make Good (Includes "Take My Wife...Please")
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Producing Organization: Michigan State University
Producing Organization: WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-29-9 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:14:41
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Chicago: “The comic arts II; Henny Youngman,” 1968-11-08, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 28, 2024,
MLA: “The comic arts II; Henny Youngman.” 1968-11-08. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 28, 2024. <>.
APA: The comic arts II; Henny Youngman. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from