Monday, January 06, 2014

Miscellaneous: Youngman with a Horn

It’s a side effect of being obsessed with show business. Every time I meet someone who shares the same last name as somebody famous, I think, “Maybe they’re related!” Just a way to make my humdrum life more exciting. It never turns out to be true.

Until my first day in the video game business. I was introduced to the project’s lead designer Jim Youngman and thought, “Maybe he’s the grandson of Henny Youngman, the legendary comedian! The King of the One Liners! The featured attraction at the end of that spectacular tracking shot through the Copacabana in Goodfellas!” Not that I asked him about it. I knew how ridiculous the idea was.

But over the next few weeks, Jim would say things that kept me wondering. The clincher was when he mentioned that his father had edited The Horror of Party Beach, which had turned up on Mystery Science Theater 3000. I did some research and came to our next meeting flabbergasted. “You are Henny Youngman’s grandson!”

Jim happily acknowledged the connection. “Not a lot of people my age know Henny,” he said. But Jim and his father Gary, an accomplished editor and documentarian, are trying to change that.

They’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign to finish a documentary about one of the all-time great comics. Take My Life ... Please! features classic Henny Youngman performances, new interviews with contemporaries like Milton Berle, Jan Murray and Stiller & Meara, and exclusive footage of Henny shot late in the comedian’s life. I’m backing it. So is Mark Evanier, your one-stop shop for all things showbiz. And so should you.