YIDDISH GUIDE TO NORM CROSBY (AKA “MR. MALAPROP)
Comedian, Norm Crosby, was born on Sept. 15, 1927, in Boston, Mass. Shown below is a Yiddish guide to this Jewish comedian.
Crosby is allergic to horses and dogs.
(a) “bisel freyd, a bisel lakhen” (a little joy, a little laughter)
Crosby loves to receive a “standing ovulation.”
Crosby, in an attempt to freshed up his act, induced laughter through the use of malapropisms.
Crosby raised huge sums of money for the City of Hope National Medical Center and Research Institute in Duarte, California.
“You’ll never win a World Series in Anaheim. The town flower is a prune. In Anaheim, cobwebs is a social disease.” (Crosby quote)
Crosby started to talk about the Viking who was to travel 500,000 million miles to see if there was life on Mars. Crosby said, “We have no one in space. They sent a Viking up last year to find out if there were living creatures on Mars. There was one living creature. Just one. The damn spaceship landed on him!”
“hartsik, shaineh gelechter” (hearty laugh)
Crosby gives his audience a hearty laugh when he speaks of “human beans,” “trousers that need an altercation,” a sports idol who is “an insulation to young players,” and the human body’s being “subject to so any melodies.”
“hern” (to hear)
During W.W. II military service, Crosby suffered a permanent partial hearing loss. He wears a hearing aid and often jokes onstage about his inability to hear indistinct speech. He has served as honorary Chairman of the Better Hearing Institute of Washington, D.C.
Note: “A mentsh heft andere.” (a mentsh helps others.)
“kholemen” (to dream)
“Did you ever dream you’d get up in the morning and miss Nixon?” (Crosby quote)
Crosby perfected his style through years of polishing it in nightclubs, at Catskills resorts, in “kontsert” (concert) halls,, theaters, and on “televisye” (TV).
“There was no such thing as a ‘dark room’ [in Vegas]. If somebody was ill, the people across the street would come over and fill in. I did that. I remember when Connie Stevens had some problem, and I went over. I was working with Tony Bennett at the Sands. And it was Wayne Newton who went over and opened the show for Connie. And then as soon as I finished, I ran over and I closed the show after Wayne. You know the hotels covered each other, and helped each other. The hotels did that.” (Crosby quote)
Milton Berle had bypass surgery. He returned to the Friars Club. Joe Vitrelli, a Friar who’d been away for several weeks after his operation and recovery, mentions that he hadn’t seen Berle all week. Berle explained that he’d had a bypass. Norm Crosby shrugged. “Okay, that explains Monday. What about Tuesday and Wednesday?”
“I’ll tell you a miracle. Last week at Cedars-Sinai in the Cardiology Department, after eight hours of surgery and amnesia, they put the heart of a turtle into a human being. Last Monday the patient walked out of the hospital. And Thursday he got to the parking lot.” (Crosby quote)
“I don’t do the same show twice. I’ve never done a show word for word. You get a feeling for the audience. You’re supposed to be able to get a basic instinct for them when you walk on the stage. It’s a gift. You have to be able to do that.” (Crosby quote)
“peklfleysh” (corned beef)
Crosby’s favorite snacks are licorice and corned-beef sandwiches.
“por shikh” (a pair of shoes)
Crosby was once the advertising manager for a shoe company that had about 40 stores.
“shtik” (a special bit of acting)
Crosby’s routines take the form of lectures based on “hysterical truths.” He explains the wisdom (“chochem”) of “Sigmund Frood,” who went into a lavatory and friggered out all for himself on the sperm of the moment, that there was equalness between people.”
Norm speaks from his “diagram” and drinks “decapitated” coffee.
“farbaytn” (to substitute)
Crosby can substitute similar-sounding words to create a phrase that ultimately makes little sense. No, he didn’t invent the word “feelawful”—Indigestion from eating Israeli street food. (Source: “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Learning Yiddish” by Rabbi Benjamin Blech.)
Crosby has been a guest on The Merv Griffin Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Dean Martin Comedy House, and the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. He has co-hosted and contributed to The Jerry Lewis MDA telethon.
“televisye” series (TV series)
From 1978 to 1983, Crosby hosted the TV series, “The Comedy Shop,” a showcase for stand-up comics.
Crosby describes teenagers: “Teenagers don’t know what love is. They go for a drive, the boy runs out of gas, they smooch little, and the girl says she loves him. That isn’t love. Love is when you’re married twenty-five years. smooching in your living room, and he runs out of gas and she still says she loves him—that’s love!”
“tsetumlen” (to bewilder)
To lend greater credence to his malapropisms, Crosby created a stage persona who seems perpetually bewildered.
Engelbert Humperdinck lives in Beverly Hills. His palatial home had 13 bathrooms. [When he was a kid he lived in a dumpy place with one bathroom for half a dozen families.] Norm Crosby said, “Same thing with me. I swore I’d have a house with lots of bathrooms. Today I have a house with eleven bathrooms. Today I can’t go!”
Z. Z. Zorn said that she met Norm Crosby many times and there is no nicer guy.”
“When you go into court you are putting your fate into the hands of twelve people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty.” (Crosby quote)
Crosby toured with Robert Goulet for three years and with Tom Jones for four years.