”Take my wife – please.”
In honor of April Fool’s Day, the American Jewish Historical Society brings you the last performance of the famous comedian who spouted that most famous punchline of comedic gold: Henny Youngman (1906-1998). Youngman was one of the funniest people on the planet, and he hung out with other funny comedians and famous performers of his era: Milton Berle, Red Buttons, and Jack Benny among them. Youngman performed from 1923-1997. His last shows ran from December 23-26, 1997 when he flew roundtrip from New York City to San Francisco for the (at the time) 5th Annual “Kung Pao Kosher Comedy” show benefiting Shalom Bayit, the Jewish Women’s Domestic Violence Task Force and the Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic for low-income women with cancer. Sadly, on the way back to New York, Mr. Youngman came down with pneumonia and died on February 24, 1998.
Who ever said comedy was easy?
The Kung Pao Kosher Comedy Show was “accidently” founded by Lisa Geduldig in 1993 when she performed at a venue that turned out to be a Chinese restaurant. Thirty years later, the show goes on in San Francisco during the Christmas holiday season as noted on their website: “Kung Pao started out as a community service for all Jews who have ever been stuck on Christmas with nothing to do but hide under the covers, contemplate midnight Mass, or visit a Chinese restaurant… The audience began as 99% Jewish and has expanded to include Chinese-Jewish couples, interfaith ones, singles, families, gays, straights, undecideds, those who are far from home, and just generally people who like smart comedy mixed with Chinese food. Henny Youngman performed his last show, at 91, on the Kung Pao stage in 1997. Shelley Berman has headlined, as has David Brenner.“
In December 1998, the 6th Annual Kung Pao Kosher Comedy Show benefitted two organizations, Women Organized to Respond to Life-Threatening Diseases (WORLD), a social and information network for women with HIV/AIDS, and the Bay Area Council for Jewish Rescue and Renewal. The American Jewish Historical Society holds the records of the Bay Area Council for Soviet Jews and Bay Area Council for Jewish Rescue and Renewal and that is where we found this flyer of Youngman’s last appearances.
In honor of both Henny Youngman and April Fool’s Day, here’s a classic Friar’s Club Roast of Milton Berle from 1969. Youngman is the first to roast Berle, starting at four minutes and fifty seconds: (Friars Roast of Milton Berle) Red Buttons, Jack Benny, 1969.
[AD Vids]. (2022, June 23). (Friars Roast of Milton Berle) Red Buttons, Jack Benny, 1969 [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W49pOlQuxeU