Thursday, August 1, 2013

Rant #1,011: The World's Foremost Authority

No, it isn't the guy in the beer commercials for that beer, who claims to be the best at everything he does.

"The World's Most Interesting Man" ... clever marketing campaign, but no dice.

No, "The World's Foremost Authority" is Professor Irwin Corey.

Don't know who he is?

Well, he turned 99 years of age the other day, so at least give him kudos for that accomplishment.

But for anybody who grew up when I did, from the 1950s through the early 1980s, Corey was one of the funniest, most original comedians on the planet.

He appeared on every talk show, many movies and sitcoms, looking completely disheveled, wearing a tuxedo or at least a suit that looked like he slept in it, and with his hair in a tizzy.

He could have fit in with the Three Stooges, for sure.

Anyway, the Professor--he wasn't a real one--would be asked a question, and he would go on, and on, and on, taking 10 minutes to answer a single question.

And if you could understand his reply from top to bottom, you were really in on something.

He influenced everyone from Lenny Bruce to Andy Kaufman, and if you thought that his answers were that of a senile old man (even then), think again.

He was one of the greatest of the improvisational comics, everyone from Bruce and Kaufman to even Jonathan Winters and Robin Williams.

Starting his career at the legendary Hungry i nightclub, he had his schtick and he stuck with it through the decades.

He really made his mark on television, where he became a regular on all the talk and variety shows.

Few knew what he was talking about, but he talked and talked and then talked some more.

His delivery was what was hilarious--every bit as funny as Jack Benny's on the other side of the spectrum--and if you tried to follow him, good luck.

He never became what you would call a comedy superstar like the other comics I mentioned, but he was among the most popular comics of his generation.

In real life, he was something of an activist, spoke about his left-wing views, and readily admitted that he tried to join the Communist Party, but was prevented from doing so because they considered him to be an anarchist.

But to the public, all the anarchy he showed was in the way he answered questions.

And he was funny, very, very funny.

He was married for more than 70 years, with his wife passing a few years back.

He has been scarce in recent years, but I am sure that if you asked him a question today, he would come up with the same answer.

And good luck to following him.

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