On February 6, Professor Irwin Corey, otherwise known as The World’s Foremost Authority, died in New York City. Corey was 102, and had an amazing run as a comic. Depending on where you consider his starting point, he was active for around 80 years. Blacklisted for his politics in the 50s, a staple at the Playboy Clubs (Dick Gregory got one of his first big breaks replacing Corey at the Chicago club in 1961). He appeared The Steve Allen Show, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Late Night with David Letterman, and countless other shows. Robert Heinlein name-checked him. And he released a new DVD, Live at the Village Vanguard, in 2004 when he was 90.
Corey had a gift for a comic ramble, making speeches that seemed like they were going nowhere, and still ending up somewhere surprising. His presence was a mix of Jonathan Winters and Sid Caesar. He had a keen sense of character and spontaneity. (More info in the links below).
To honor the man’s memory, I asked Jeff Abraham, whom I’ve known as a publicist for years and stand-up fans might know from his “Comedy On Vinyl” podcast, about his favorite Corey clip. He chose this one from the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. “It shows that he was so much more than just a stand-up comic,” he says. “He was a comedian. He wasn’t afraid of silence; he used his body and face to get laughs in addition to the written material. Professor Irwin Corey was truly one of a kind!”
1. Irwin Corey – Official Site
2. Irwin Corey on IMDB
3. NPR – “The World’s Foremost Authority Has Died: Prof. Irwin Corey Was 102”
4. New York Times – “Irwin Corey, Comedian and ‘Foremost Authority,’ Dies at 102”