[Gilbert Gottfried, Jerry Stiller, Larry Storch.]
This one’s for Seymour Eisner.
Perhaps I’m just covering the wrong subject matter, but rarely, if ever—in fact, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say never—has a post ever lent itself so perfectly to a dedication for my grandfather. This is not reflection on him, of course, but rather a direct result of the fact that the things about which I tend to write—comic books, computers, and rock and roll music—never quite fall within the realm of his interests, namely contract bridge, Jim Lehrer, and the music of Nat “King” Cole. Recently he’s also become rather enraptured by DVDs of Everybody Loves Raymond, so perhaps I might be able to meet him halfway—but, as ever, I digress.
Earlier tonight, jam-packed into the Milton Berle room of midtown Manhattan’s legendary Friars’ Club (incidentally the largest room in the club, which gave way to bevy of [in]appropriate jokes about the former member’s former member), with 80-year-old Jewish men sporting 90-year-old penis jokes, the inevitability of such a dedication was difficult to escape.
[Mickey Freeman, Freddy Roman]
Celebrity-watching at the book release party for the sequel to Drew Friedman’s collection of old Jewish Comedian illustrations (Fantagraphics’ brilliantly titled More Old Jewish Comedians) was a bit like reading The New York Post’s Page Six, back when Alex Hamilton was a frequent contributor. The proceedings were MCed by one-time Borscht-Belter and current Friars’ Club dean, Freddie Roman, who, thanks to co-MC and former Phil Silvers Show costar (that’s Sgt. Bilko, to you kids), Mickey Freeman, finally got to use the “I’m an old Roman,” joke he’d been waiting to cash in on, his whole life.
[Mickey Freeman, Larry Storch]
The hosts welcomed former F-Trooper, Larry Storch to the stage. The original Ghost Buster promptly launched into an downright uncanny imitation of Joan Rivers, seemingly after a few drinks and a couple of failed facelifts. Friedman himself said a good half dozen words, segueing appropriately into Roman’s timeless jokes about Berle’s legendary uncle Milty. The speech portion of the festivities were closed by a nostalgically-waxing Jerry Stiller, best known to modern audiences as the inventor of the manzier and the man whose seed unleashed Zoolander upon poor unsuspecting audiences.
[Author Drew Friedman]
Also in attendance were, the original king of all media, Joe Franklin (“who went from radio to television to radio,” quipped Roman); Aristocrat and talking parrot, Gilbert Gottfried; and whipper-snapper comedian, Jeffrey Ross (“the first time I came here,” he began, “I wondered, if they don’t let babies in here, where is there a diaper changing station in the bathroom?”).
In all, a hell of a way to spend a pre-Shabbat night in midtown Manhattan. Attendance-wise, Roman put it best at the top of the evening when he said, “if John Grishman were doing a book signing here, there’d be ten people. Write a book called More Old Jewish Comedians and there’s one-hundred.”
Of course, it never hurts to have an open wine bar, and some free pigs in blankets, either.