March 16

1906 Birth of Henny Youngman

Henry “Henny” Youngman was born to a family of Russian Jews in England but moved to New York as a child. Working with a jazzband called the Swanee Syncopaters, he began to tell jokes between numbers and developed a reputation as a comedian. Working in radio from the late 1930s he developed a style of rapid-fire one-liners with an occasional riff on the violin he always carried as a prop. He worked in nightclubs, on television, and in the movies – in fact, anywhere people would pay him. Only his death in 1998 ended his performing career. Here are some of Youngman’s innumerable jokes, amny at the expense of his wife Sadie, to whom he was actually devoted:

My wife said to me, ‘For our anniversary I want to go somewhere I’ve never been before.’ I said, ‘Try the kitchen!’

I take my wife everywhere, but she keeps finding her way back.

My wife will buy anything marked down. Last year she bought an escalator.

We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops.

My wife told me the car wasn’t running well. There was water in the carburetor. I asked where the car was, and she told me it was in the lake.

My wife and I went to a hotel where we got a waterbed. My wife called it the Dead Sea.

My wife is on a new diet. Coconuts and bananas. She hasn’t lost weight, but can she climb a tree.

Last night my wife said the weather outside was fit for neither man nor beast, so we both stayed home.

 I was so ugly when I was born, the doctor slapped my mother.

If you’re going to do something tonight that you’ll be sorry for tomorrow morning, sleep late.

I told the doctor I broke my leg in two places. He told me to quit going to those places.

My son complains about headaches. I tell him all the time: ‘When you get out of bed, it’s feet first!’

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