- Birth nameIrwin Eli Cohen
- The World's Foremost Authority
- Height5′ 4½″ (1.64 m)
- Professor Irwin Corey, "The World's Foremost Authority," was born on July 29, 1914, in Brooklyn, New York. He and his five siblings were wards of the Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum, and during the Great Depression, he worked for the Civilian Conservation Corp. Possessing brawn as well as brains, Professor Irwin Corey is proud to tell anyone who will listen that he was the C.C.C.'s boxing champ in the 112-pound weight class.
Before becoming certified (as a professor purveying the surreal), the young Irwin caught the performing bug by appearing in a borscht belt show, "Pots and Pans," in a bit part. He made his debut in a musical comedy in a U.S.O. presentation of "Oklahoma" in Europe, in which he played the part of the Arab peddler Ali Hakim.
Perfecting his crazy professor shtick, who always appeared in an old-fashioned tuxedo with tails like Groucho Marx, Corey broke through as a stand-up comic at San Francisco's "hungry i" and New York City's Copacabana and Village Vanguard nightclubs. His lectures, characterized by a constant barrage of non-sequitur and double-talk, were rooted in the word-play epitomized by Groucho Marx and Chico Marx in such classic routines as "Why a Duck?" However, whatever "logic" The Marx Brothers might display (at least in exasperated double takes by Groucho) was missing in the Professor's shtick. Before the Talking Heads ever sang about it, Professor Irwin Corey made an art form out of "Stop Making Sense."
Theater critic Kenneth Tynan said of the Professor, "[Corey is] a cultural clown, a parody of literacy, a travesty of all that our civilization holds dear and one of the funniest grotesques in America. He is Chaplin's clown with a college education."
Corey thrived on the radio, memorably appearing on Edgar Bergen's radio show as a tutor to Charlie McCarthy. Television was another natural medium for the professor, and he appeared as a regular on The Jackie Gleason Show (1952) and also made the rounds of the talk show circuit of the 1950s, '60s and '70s, appearing with 'Steve Allen', Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett, Merv Griffin, and Mike Douglas. He also was on "The Ed Sullivan Show" (aka The Ed Sullivan Show (1948)) as well as appeared with the new lessor of the Ed Sullivan Theater, David Letterman.
Irwin Corey also has appeared on Broadway, in "Heaven on Earth," "Happy as Larry," "Fla-hooley," and "Mrs. McThing," as well as recent productions of "The Taming of the Shrew" and "Hamlet." Off-Broadway, he appeared as the eponymous lead in "The Good Soldier Schweik" and as Marlo Thomas' father in Herb Gardner's play "Thieves," reprising the role in the film (Thieves (1977)). He also appeared 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).
The Professor's last film was Woody Allen's The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (2001). At 91, and still going strong, Professor Irwin Corey truly is the dean of stand-up comedians, if not quite at the head of his class.- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood
- SpouseFrances Berman(October 30, 1940 - May 25, 2011) (her death, 2 children)
- Standup comic and occasional character actor (most notably in Car Wash (1976) and I'm Not Rappaport (1996)) who got his big break at San Francisco's legendary "hungry i" nightclub. His comic specialty was as a crazy professor delivering double-talk lectures.
- Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith, pg. 119-120. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
- Lenny Bruce described Corey as "one of the most brilliant comedians of all time.".
- He was of Hungarian Jewish ancestry.
- He was an American stand-up comic, film actor and activist, often billed as "The World's Foremost Authority".
- You can get more with a kind word and a gun than with just a kind word.
- [on Ed Sullivan] Ed Sullivan was an anti-Semite and a very dull person in reality. No fucking talent at all! If you didn't do his show he would bad-mouth you in his column.
- [on Woody Allen] Woody Allen used some of my material. He was no good at the . . . he died at the Hungry i and at the Blue Angel. He's not as great a performer as he thinks he is.
- [on Milton Berle] I don't know how people thought he was so funny. Compared to others he was, so far as I was concerned, a lightweight.
- [on Jackie Mason] Jackie Mason was very good in the beginning, but when he became rich he became a Republican.
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