Take My Album — Please ! (Varese Vintage) revives the late Henny Youngman (hey, death isn’t a career impediment; just ask Elvis or Tupac), not to mention the silliness and artistry of the maligned one-liner.
Youngman — who loved to work, maybe even lived to work until dying at age 91 in 1998 — did not invent the simplest of joke forms, but if he had applied for a patent, it probably would have been granted without challenge.
If listening to this CD in the car, know this: The two sets move much faster than traffic does, so listen carefully but not so intently that you bump the possibly deranged dude cursing in the SUV ahead of you.
The album is worth the price for two reasons: It’s almost always hilarious, and it’s cost-effective, especially on a per-joke basis.
For more than an hour, the human joke machine chugs nonstop, burying the audience in an avalanche of generally inoffensive old-time club comedy from a politically incorrect era when comics took good-natured potshots at everybody without fear of physical reprisal or the sort of injurious out-of-context exposure on, say, TMZ.com than could maim or even kill a comedy career nowadays.
Students of comedy will appreciate the USDA-approved 100% lean language and the history of humor lesson (Youngman began his career in New York City speakeasies in the 1930s, though he always seemed old enough to have told jokes at Caesars Palace — the original one in ancient Rome, not the gaudy Las Vegas knockoff).
The average listener will chortle at the everyday grievances (“A doctor called a lady and said, ‘Mrs. Cohen, your check came back. She said, So did my arthritis.’”) that Youngman could convert into memorable gags dipped in farm-fresh corn but delivered with a citified edge that belied Youngman’s violin-toting, tuxedo-wearing persona.