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Henny Youngman

 

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Henny was born in England – a temporary stop for his parents who had fled Russia and were on their way to America. His father was a hat maker who earned $13 a week working 12-hour days. Young Henny foraged the streets for pieces of coal that fell from delivery wagons and he made a few pennies that way.

He didn’t take school very seriously and was eventually thrown out of Manual Training High School. He worked in local dance bands playing the violin. He had his own group and called the band “Hen Youngman and his Syncopaters.” He wasn’t making a lot of money so he moonlighted as a summons server.

In the summers he played the Catskill resorts. In 1932, he found work as a master of ceremonies as well as musician. He needed material to keep audiences amused every night and raided the joke books, memorizing every page. The jokes the audience liked stayed in.

The Best of the Worst of Henny Youngman, Collectables, 1997.

 
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