Tribute to Henny Youngman - King of the One-Liners
Tribute to Henny Youngman
includes 99 jokes that are as funny today as they were 70 years ago!
Henry “Henny” Youngman was a famous stand-up comedian who Walter Winchell, a famous New York columnist, named as the “king of the one-liners.” This title was later inherited by Rodney Dangerfield but I call Rodney the “prince of the one-liners” because Henny Youngman was first. One-liners are short, snappy jokes, usually with a twist at the end, delivered rapidly one after the other. Like three of Henny”s most famous lines: “Take my wife . . . . . . please!” Or, “I was so ugly when I was born, the doctor slapped my mother.” Or, “I take my wife everywhere I go. She always finds her way back.”
Henny grew up in Brooklyn, New York on the lower East Side. Most people are not aware that he was born in Liverpool, England and his family brought him to New York when he was a toddler. As a child, he learned to play the violin and his first show business job was violinist in an orchestra. He soon formed his own jazz band, the Swanee Syncopators. Between sets, Henny often told jokes to the audience. He had a quick wit and was always fast with a funny line, so he decided to become a comedian and polished his skills on the Borscht Belt circuit – the resort nightclubs in the Catskill Mountains.
By the mid-1930s, he had worked both in nightclubs and vaudeville. He became a featured comedian on singer Kate Smith’s radio program. His act always consisted of standing still before an audience clutching his violin and rapidly delivering, one after the other, time-tested funny one-liner gags. He could deliver up to eight or more jokes a minute, 50 or more jokes in an eight-minute routine. Sometimes he would start playing a screechy “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” on his violin only to stop to knock ‘en dead with some more quick jokes.
Henny appeared in a comic cameo as the fly-in-the-soup man in Silent Movie (1976) by Mel Brooks. He also made cameo appearances in the movies, History of the World, Part 1 and Goodfellas. His last film part in Eyes Beyond Seeing was that of a mental patient claiming to be Henny Youngman.
Throughout his career, he was a popular TV guest and co-starred in the 1955 variety series, The “Henny and Rocky Show,” with boxer Rocky Graziano, and the TV show, “Joey (Heatherton) and Dad” in 1975. He also made numerous appearances on “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.”
Henny had a close working relationship with Milton Berle who liked to say about his friend: “The only thing funnier than Henny’s jokes is his violin playing.” He was also the author of ten books. The first was titled – can you guess the name? – “Take My Wife … Please.” His autobiography written in 1991 is titled, “Take My Life, Please!”
Henny developed pneumonia and died February 24, 1998 at the age of 91.
Funny Books by a Funny Man
Youngman's wife, Sadie Cohen, was often the butt of his jokes but in reality she often toured with him, the two were very close and were married for over 60 years.
I miss my wife's cooking - as often as possible.
My wife said to me, “For our anniversary, I want to go somewhere I've never been before.” I said, “Try the kitchen!'"
My wife and I went to a hotel where we got a waterbed. My wife called it the Dead Sea.
My wife is an earth sign. I’m a water sign. Together we make mud.
When my wife asked me to start a garden, the first thing I dug up was an excuse.
My wife will buy anything marked down. She brought home two dresses and an escalator.
I haven't talked to my wife in three days. I didn't want to interrupt her.
I took my wife to a wife-swapping party. I had to throw in some cash.
A woman wrapped herself in Saran Wrap to take off some weight. Her husband comes home, sees her, and says, "Leftovers again."
My wife was at the beauty shop for two hours, and that was only for the estimate.
My wife’s cooking is fit for a king. "Here, King!"
I wanted to do something nice so I bought my mother-in-law a chair. Now they won't let me plug it in.
I just got back from a pleasure trip. I took my mother-in-law to the airport.
A man goes to a psychiatrist. The doctor says, "You're crazy. "The man says, "I want a second opinion."
The doctor says, "OK, you're ugly, too."
A doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn't pay his bill, so he gave him another six months.
The Doctor called Mrs. Cohen saying, "Mrs. Cohen, your check came back." Mrs. Cohen answered, "So did my arthritis!"
The Doctor says, "You'll live to be 60!" "I AM 60!" "See, what did I tell you?"
The patient says, "Doctor, it hurts when I do this." Doctor: "Then don't do that!"
The doctor says to the patient, "Take your clothes off and stick your tongue out the window". "What will that do?" asks the patient. The doctor says, "I'm mad at my neighbor!"
A doctor has a stethoscope up to a man's chest. The man asks, "Doc, how do I stand?" The doctor says, "That's what puzzles me!"
"Doctor, my leg hurts. What can I do?" The doctor says, "Limp!"
Doctor says to a man, "You're pregnant!" The man says, "How does a man get pregnant?" The doctor says, "The usual way - a little wine, a little dinner..."
A man goes to a psychiatrist. "Nobody listens to me!" he says. The doctor says, "Next!"
"Doctor, I have a ringing in my ears." "Don't answer!"
Nurse: "Doctor, the man you just gave a clean bill of health to dropped dead right as he was leaving the office." Doctor: "Turn him around, make it look like he was walking in."
I know a guy whose doctor told him, "Take some weight off; go to a health club." The man lost 20 pounds in one week! The machine tore his leg off!
Horse Race Jokes
I played a great horse yesterday! It took seven horses to beat him.
The horse I bet on was so slow, the jockey kept a diary of the trip.
My horse's jockey was hitting the horse. The horse turns around and says "Why are you hitting me, there is nobody behind us!"
My horse was so late getting home, he tiptoed into the stable.
I don't mind when my horse is left at the post. I don't mind when my horse comes up to me in the stands and asks, "Which way do I go?" But when the horse I bet on is at the $2 window betting on another horse in the same race . . .
Hollywood called me, asking me, "How much to do a movie with Farrah Fawcett?" I said, "$50,000." They called back, "How about $20,000?" I said, "I'll pay it!"
Farrah's dressing room was next to mine. There was a little hole in the wall. I let her look.
I'm now making a Jewish porno film. 10% sex, 90% guilt.
A drunk was in front of a judge. The judge says, "You've been brought here for drinking." The drunk says, "Okay, let's get started."
Another drunk goes up to a parking meter, puts in a quarter, the dial goes to 60. The drunk says, "Huh. I lost 100 pounds!"
I was playing golf. I swung, missed the ball, and got a big chunk of dirt. I swung again, missed the ball, and got another big chunk of dirt. Just then, two ants climbed on the ball saying, "Let's get up here fast before we get killed!"
Homeless Guys Jokes
A bum asked me, "Give me $10 till payday." I asked, "When's payday?" He said, "I don't know, you're the one who is working!"
A bum came up to me saying, "I haven't eaten in two days!" I said, "You should force yourself!"
Another bum told me, "I haven't tasted food all week." I told him, "Don't worry, it still tastes the same!"
I was walking down the street, and I found a man's hand in my pocket. I asked, "What do you want?" He said, "A match" "Why didn't you ask me?" "I don't talk to strangers."
The hotel I'm in has a lovely closet. A nail.
There was a girl knocking on my hotel room door all night! Finally, I let her out.
I have a lovely room and bath in the hotel. It's a little inconvenient; they're in two separate buildings!
This is an elegant hotel! Room service has an unlisted number.
My room is so small, the mice are hunchbacked.
The room is so small, when I put the key in, I broke the window!
That's a nice suit you're wearing. When did the clown die?
Did you have that suit made to order? Where were you at the time?
I like the suit you're wearing. Who shines it for you?
Was that suit made to order? The guy who ordered it didn't pick it up, huh?
I'd like to help you out; which way did you come in?
"What's the latest dope on Wall Street?" "My son!"
You have the Midas touch. Everything you touch turns to a muffler.
You have a nice personality, but not for a human being.
If you had your life to live over again, do it overseas.
She's been married so many times she has rice marks on her face.
She has a wash and wear bridal gown.
You have a ready wit. Let me know when it's ready.
You look like a talent scout for a cemetery.
The more I think of you, the less I think of you.
Where did you get your haircut, the pet shop?
It's good to see you. It means you're not behind my back.
Those two are a fastidious couple. She's fast and he's hideous.
You're one of the main reasons for twin beds.
He's a real pain in the neck; of course, some people have a lower opinion of him.
If there's never been a suicide in your family, why don't you break the monotony?
Look, I'm not going to engage in a battle of wits with you. I never attack anyone who is unarmed.
Your presence makes me long for your absence.
Some people bring happiness wherever they go. You bring happiness whenever you go.
He willed his body to science. Science is contesting the will.
A man drives his car up to the curb and asks a policeman, “Can I park here?” The cop says no. “What about all these other cars parked here?” Cop - “They didn’t ask.”
I went to the bank and reviewed my savings. I found out I have all the money I’ll ever need . . . if I die tomorrow.
When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.
I was such an ugly baby my mother never breast-fed me. She told me she liked me only as a friend.
A man says to another man, “Can you tell me how to get to Central Park?” The guy says no. “All right,” says the first, “I'll mug you here.”
Two guys are in a gym, and one is putting on a girdle. “Since when have you been wearing a girdle?” says his friend. “Since my wife found it in the glove compartment of our car.”
Getting on a plane, I told the ticket lady, "Send one of my bags to New York, send one to Los Angeles, and send one to Miami." She said, "We can't do that!" I told her, "You did it last week.”
A car hit a Jewish man. The paramedic puts a blanket over him and says, "Are you comfortable?" The man says, "I make a good living."
A woman says to a man, "I haven't seen you around here before." "Yes, I just got out of jail for killing my wife." "So, you're single…."
A girl phoned me the other day and said, "Come on over; nobody's home." I went over. Nobody was home.
I was such an ugly kid ... When I played in the sandbox, the cat kept covering me up. *
The other day I broke 70. That's a lot of clubs. *
* Note: The two one-liners above are often attributed to comedian Rodney Dangerfield, but Henny Youngman delivered them first!
All men are not homeless, but some men are home less than others.
You can't buy love, but you can pay heavily for it.
If you’re going to do something tonight that you'll be sorry for in the morning, sleep late.
Here are a few of Henny’s one-liners that comedian Alan King repeated in his eulogy at Henny Youngman’s funeral:
Why do Jewish divorces cost so much? They're worth it.
Why do Jewish men die before their wives? They want to.
Why don't Jewish men drink? It interferes with their suffering.
He's frank and earnest with women. In Fresno, he's Frank and in Chicago, he's Ernest.
What do you get for a man who has everything? Penicillin.
A priest is sent to Alaska. A Bishop goes up to visit him a year later. The Bishop asks, "How do you like it up here?"
The priest says. "If it wasn't for my Rosary and two martinis a day, I'd be lost. Would you like a martini, Bishop?"
"Yes, I would," says the Bishop
The priest says, "Rosary, bring the bishop a martini."
A guy says to a doctor, "I'm having trouble with my love life at home." The doctor says, "Take off 20 pounds and run 10 miles a day for two weeks."
Two weeks later the guy calls the doctor, "Doctor, I took of the 20 pounds and I have been running the 10 miles a day."
"Okay, so how is your love life now?"
"I don't know; I'm 140 miles from home!"
The convict was about to go to the electric chair. He called his lawyer for advice. The lawyer said, "Don't sit down."
My father was never home. He was always away drinking booze. He saw a sign saying, "Drink Canada Dry" so he went up there.
My mother was 88 years old, and she never used glasses. Drank right out of the bottle.
"A person who can bring the spirit of laughter into a room is indeed blessed." – Bennett Cerf
Henny - that quote describes you!
© Copyright BJ Rakow 2011. All rights reserved
B. J. Rakow, Ph.D., Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So." Enlightening information about interviewing, networking, writing resumes and cover letters and negotiating. But fun to read.