MEN’S CLUB Photos Courtesy of Arnie Rabinowitz
Tribute to Brooks
BY HOWARD ARKIN
At the Thursday, October 18,
NST Men’s Club meeting,
the large card room filled
with members and their guests, all
anticipating an informative and enjoyable
evening. Guest speaker Sal
St. George shared his stories and
knowledge of the funny and talented
Mel Brooks. Hearing the laughter
and comments of the attendees
was quite rewarding for St. George
and the audience, many of whom
had almost as much knowledge of
Mel’s life, making the evening even
Brooks was born in Brooklyn
in 1926, celebrating a 92nd birthday
this year. Many of us in the
audience could identify with celebrating
birthdays of a similar age,
albeit not doing standup routines
but still standing up and enjoying
life at NST. Sal St. George spoke
about the comedian’s early years in
Williamsburg, where his being short
was an easy target for local bullies.
He turned to comedy in defusing his
tormentors by making them laugh.
It worked! I, too, suffered personal
abuse from bullies and tried humor.
Alas, it did not always work for me
as it did for Mel Brooks.
Later, Brooks learned to play
the drums and became known as
a ‘tummler.’ Little used and all but
forgotten today, a tummler’s job was
to get an audience in a good mood
before a show, usually for another
performer. Many talented comics
got their start as tummlers. Brooks’s
interactions with guests at hotels in
the Borsht Belt, also known as the
Catskills Mountains, encouraged
his career. The hotels in that era
were known for good food and
St. George described the early
days of TV. He spoke about the
popular “Your Show of Shows,”
on which Brooks served as a writer.
Originally, the aspiring comic
was refused by the producers.
Fortunately for Brooks, he was a
good friend of the program’s star,
Sid Caesar, who intervened. hiring
Brooks and paying him $50 a week
out of his own pocket.
Brooks had a habit of being late
and would show up quite late for
the writers’ meetings, but he diffused
his tardiness by doing what
he does best: funny “shtick.” The
laughter he produced diffused any
annoyance his peers might have
had and melted away every frown.
Brooks’s breakthrough came
about when he and his friend, the
talented Carl Reiner, goofed at parties
about the 2000-year-old man.
Speaker Sal St. George on Mel Brooks
This interaction between the two
elicited hysterical laughter at parties
and gatherings, and the comic pair
were urged to put the routine into a
skit. It remains a classic to this day.
St. George showed many film
clips. The laughter from one,
showing Brooks telling Reiner
how applause came about was a
masterpiece. Brooks explained how
in the old days, people showed
appreciation for being entertained
by slapping their faces, vigorously
slapping their checks until the pain
became unbearable. A caveman
named Murray solved the problem.
“How, how did Murray solve it?”
Reiner asked Brooks.
According to Brooks, Murray
showed his people by tilting his
head backwards and moving his
hands forward, the checks were no
longer involved. Thus, the modern
day clapping of hands emerged.
Laughter echoed across the room.
We continued listening and learning
about the talented Mel Brooks,
the successful movies he wrote,
produced and in many, starred. The
legend’s equally legendary late wife,
Anne Bancroft, was often asked
why she married Brooks. “He made
me laugh,” was always her answer.
And he continues to do so and we
certainly appreciate him for it.
In closing, the refreshments—coffee,
tea, pastries—were superb. I
heard one complaint: more cherry
rugelach. I’m looking forward to
our next monthly meeting. Thanks
to our president, Arnie Rabinowitz,
program chairperson Jerry Siegel
and the Board members for their
diligent efforts in making the Men’s
Club a huge success. See you at the
breakfasts, luncheons, dinners,
paid-up membership brunches,
bingo, meetings, trips, etc. We are
truly “A Brotherhood of Men,” and
welcome new members and guests.
BY STEVE AUERBACH
On the 2nd and 4th Mondays
of the month, it’s
current events time at the
Coldridge Lounge where members
solve all the problems of the world.
From Global Warming, to the trade
war with China, and of course, the
new Supreme Court Justice, Brett
Kavanaugh, not to mention the
draining of the swamp… Unfortunately,
With about 20 exciting news
stories, such as North Korea, the
stock market, interest rates, unemployment,
the administration’s new
budget and many other important
events to discuss, in approximately
two hours of conversation, we end
up doing the usual: we impeach
Trump! Actually, that IS fake news,
because many of our members
think Trump is doing a great job.
Did I say many? I meant a few.
So, if you are home alone,
lonely or looking for something
to do which borders on pure
excitement… Come on down and
join Lee, Gary and/or myself for
a morning you won’t soon forget.
We’ll leave the light on for you…
Can Motel 6 bring suit against me?
34 NORTH SHORE TOWERS COURIER ¢ November 2018