A Remembrance of Irwin Corey

The Los Angeles Times obituary of the unique comedian Irwin Corey stated,

“Over a career that spanned more than 70 years, Corey performed in vaudeville, radio, television, films, Broadway, nightclubs and Las Vegas showrooms.”

In 1983, I was fortunate to be booked as the opening act for Corey in a four-day run at the Julia Morgan Theater in Berkeley. He revealed his dark side in a room backstage, where we smoked a joint, and he told me how he used to read Nazi hate literature to get him in the mood to perform. And there was a certain sense of continuity on his deathbed. The night before he died, Corey said to a close friend, James Drougas, “Trump will be assassinated soon.”

“Professor” Corey also had a humanitarian streak. In 1996, in my magazine, The Realist, I published a photo of him, from a video by his son Richard, presenting Fidel Castro a bag of California-grown pistachio nuts (Castro said, “California, hmmmm, good climate there for nuts”), a book on the Rosenberg controversy, and a credit-card-size calculator (Castro said, “I’ll have to use my little pinky to push the buttons”). Dave Channon reported that Corey went there on a diplomatic mission to lift the embargo on health supplies to Cuba, and he visited a hospital that was providing sophisticated treatment for the survivors of Chernobyl. Cuba  provided health care for more radiation victims than than did the US.

Paul Krassner is the editor of The Realist