If only we listened to the word-twisting Professor Irwin Corey when he ran for president in 1960. He carried a sign saying he will run for any party and he will bring his own bottle. He may not make us great again, but he’d make us laugh.
By following the career of the World’s Foremost Authority, I stumbled upon more wisdom than I absorbed in philosophy class at Northwestern University. For instance, in his nonsensical monologues the zany comedian often came up with a gem: “Always remember, wherever you go, there you are.”
Corey made a name for himself with his academic erudition. He was hailed as the king of comedic confusion at Friars roasts and chic nightclubs where he has perplexed two generations with his cutting-edge ramblings. His philosophical truisms often rivaled Yogi Berra, the legendary Yankees catcher/coach/manager, who famously said when you come to a fork in the road, take it.
I last saw Corey on July 29, 2014, when I joined 200 friends, including comedian Gilbert Gottfried, at Corey’s centennial birthday party at the Actors Temple on Manhattan’s West Side. He was clad in his signature tattered black coat, string tie, sneakers and scarecrow hairdo and his mental prowess was still amazing.
The one-liners gushed nonstop. “How does it feel to be 100?” we asked. “I feel like 99,” he answered with his demented grin.
His son Richard, an artist and musician, told how he brought his father home after a cataract operation. “Can you see better?” Richard asked. “Who?” Irwin said.
Comedian Bob Greenberg observed, “Corey is blind in his right eye and deaf in his right ear. That makes him an authentic lefty.”
Corey’s wife Fran was missing. After 70 years of marriage she died in 2011 at age 95. “Life is very short,” Corey sighed.
He described marriage as a three-ring circus: First there’s the engagement ring, next there’s the wedding ring, and then comes the suffering.
On premarital sex, Corey advised never do it — if it delays the wedding.
The Brooklyn-born comedian died at 102 on February 6, 2017, in his 1840 carriage house in the exclusive Sniffen Court on Manhattan’s East Side. Richard said, “He died peacefully at his home surrounded by his son.”
Tim Boxer was a columnist at the New York Post for two decades. At the same time he has been a columnist for the New York Jewish Week for 37 years and editor of 15MinutesMagazine.com for 18 years. He is the author of Jewish Celebrity Hall of Fame, interviews of Hollywood stars about their Jewish roots.