Part III: Borsht Beltway Scandal Rocks Catskills
“I’ve been around the world 50 times, and let me tell you, I know when I’m in a good hotel — like when the towels are so fluffy, you can barely get your suitcase closed…” — Joey Adams, “Strictly For Laughs” column, page 49, New York Post, Monday, February 22, 1999.
“What a hotel: the towels were so big and fluffy you could hardly close your suitcase.” — Henny Youngman, 500 All-Time Greatest One-Liners, Pinnacle Books, 1981.
“[Referring to Trump’s new International Hotel on Columbus Circle] It’s so swanky, room service has an unlisted number…” Adams, IBID.
“A very exclusive hotel. Room service has an unlisted number.” Youngman, page102.
Here’s one hot item you won’t find on Page Six (which, we hear, isn’t even always on Page Six, by the way): Joey Adams, veteran New York Post columnist, is a serial (congenital?) plagiarist. Adams, who bears no relation to the shrill-voiced “Chasing Amy” actress who shares his name but is married to E! Gossip Show yenta/syndicated columnist Cindy Adams, has been caught stealing from his late colleague Henny Youngman’s routine less than a year after the dead, and thus defenseless, Youngman passed on to the Catskills in the sky at the age of 91.
Evidence uncovered by the McSweeney’s investigative sting reveals that Adams has been grave-robbing for material, exhuming famous lines or “bits” of the late comedian Youngman and presenting the material in his daily “Strictly For Laughs” column without attribution.
Though the Rupert Murdoch-owned Post was quick to condemn disgraced journalist Mike Barnicle in a similar scandal (its sister paper, The Boston Herald, even broke the story of then- Boston Globe columnist Barnicle cribbing lines from comedian George Carlin’s best-seller Braindroppings), the tabloid has been oddly quiet about Henny-gate, leading critics (us) to charge that there is a conspiracy of cronyism in the gossip community. The comedic community, notoriously possessive of individual comic’s rights to “material” was unavailable for comment, as funnyman David Brenner was touring, or something. The hip-hop community, however, was available for comment. “He [Adams] bit another MC [Youngman],” said rapper DMX , “Now he gots ta get shook.”
This probably isn’t the first time that Adams has pilfered punchlines. Charges that Adams also used Youngman’s line “My wife got plastic surgery — I cut up her credit cards!” are also pending. Fortunately, Youngman’s wife, Sadie, died in 1987 at the age of 82, so there’s no chance of Joey “taking” her as well (it was, after all, only a joke).
We understand that it’s hard to meet a daily deadline with fresh insights. But this, Joey, the stealing of lines from departed colleagues, is wrong. This is a crime, and a time when punishment by Friar’s Club roast is simply not enough. The fact that your column resides right above Frank Stewart’s purely ethical bridge column, and right next to the genuinely original wit of “Garfield” and “Mallard Fillmore” is an irony not lost on us. Rather than taint your more reputable peers by association, we ask you to do the right thing.
Give yourself up. Resign. For the children. For they are the future.