"Professor" Irwin Corey is one of the most brilliant stand-up comedians of all time, an American comic, film actor and left-wing political activist. He introduced his unscripted, improvisational style of stand-up comedy at Enrico Banducci's San Francisco club the hungry i.
The stand-up comedian, "The World's Foremost Authority," was born on July 29, 1914, in Brooklyn, New York. Due to his parents’ poverty, the stand-up comedian and his five siblings were wards of the Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum. During the Great Depression, the stand-up comedian worked for the Civilian Conservation Corp. Possessing brawn as well as brains, Professor Irwin Corey is proud to affirm that he was the champion in the 112-pound weight class of the Civilian Conservation Corpsboxing.
During World War II, the stand-up comedian was drafted in the Army but was discharged after six months, when the comedian convinced an Army psychiatrist that he was a homosexual.
The stand-up comedian has been married since circa 1940 to his wife, Fran. They have one son, Richard, a painter, and a grandson named Amadeo. The stand-up comedian resides in the Murray Hill neighborhood of New York City with his family.
The stand-up comedian is the product of the night clubs, bistros and radio, where he has been practicing his special style of stand-up comedy The stand-up comedian started his career performing in the comedy show, "Pots and Pans," in a very small part. This led to his appearance in a musical comedy in a U.S.O. presentation of "Oklahoma" in Europe, in which the stand-up comedian played the part of the Arab peddler Ali Hakim.
In 1938, the stand-up comedian obtained a job writing and performing in Pins and Needles, a musical comedy about a union organizer in the garment trade in New York. He was fired from this job and five years later, the stand-up comedian was working on another revue, New Faces of 1943 and appearing at the Village Vanguard, doing his stand-up comedy routine.
But the stand-up comedian is definitely famous thanks to his crazy professor shtick, who always appeared in a formal wear and sneakers, with his bushy hair sprouting in all directions. The “professor” would amble on stage in a preoccupied manner, then begin his monologue with "However ..." The stand-up comedian created a new style of doublespeak comedy and instead of making up nonsense words, the Professor would season his speech with many long and florid, but authentic, words. The stand-up comedian in the role of the professor would then launch into nonsensical observations about anything under the sun, but seldom actually making sense.
In 1951, the stand-up comedian appeared as Abou Ben Atom the Genie in the cult classic flop Broadway musical Flahooley along with Yma Sumac, the Bil and Cora Baird Marionettes and Barbara Cook (in her Broadway debut).
The stand-up comedian had many TV appearances. He performed on Steve Allen’s late night comedy show (1962-1964) where he would often end his stand-up routine with Allen literally chasing him off the stage. The comedian was also the quest on the syndicated talk show version of The Donald O'Connor Show. The stand-up comedian had a memorably radio appearing on Edgar Bergen's radio show.
“Professor” Corey had occasionally appearances in 1950s television as a character comic actor. He appeared in an episode of The Phil Silvers Show titled "Bilko's Grand Hotel", as a regular on "The Jackie Gleason Show" (1952). The stand-up comedian was a frequent guest comic on numerous comedy shows during the 1960s and 1970s, appearing with big names in stand-up comedy, such as: Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett, Merv Griffin, and Mike Douglas.
The stand-up comedian appeared in "The Good Soldier Schweik" and as Marlo Thomas' father in Herb Gardner's play "Thieves"(1977). He also acted in numerous episodes of series television, including "The Andy Griffith Show" (1960), "Doc" (with Barnard Hughes), "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" (1967), and "Pat Paulsen's Half a Comedy Hour" (1970).
Theater is not a strange domain for our “professor”. The stand-up comedian has appeared in Shakespearean theater; he was one of the gravediggers in a production of Hamlet. The comic actor is seldom seen on stage today.
The stand-up comedian’s biography is not complete without mention the roles he had in some comedy films such as: Jack (1996), I'm Not Rappaport(1996), Stuck on You! (1983), Fairy Tales (1978), Thieves (1977) (reprising his stage role), Car Wash (1976), Fore Play (1975), How to Commit Marriage (1969), The Professor's last film was Woody Allen's The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001). At 97, and still going strong, the stand-up comedian truly is the dean of stand-up comedians, if not quite at the head of his class.