365 AMERICAN JOY-GIVERS for 2021: The Borscht Belt Comedy Birthday Party

(Photo from Delish.com)

Ladies and germs, STOP ME if you’ve heard this joke. “Three Jewish mothers are sitting on a bench, arguing over which one’s son loves her the most. The first one says, “You know, my son sends me flowers every week.” The second mother says, “You call that love? My son calls me each and every day.” As the stakes are raised, the third mother says, “Oy, that’s nothing. My son is in therapy five days a week. AND, the whole time, he talks about me.” 

BA-DA-BING!! For “The Borscht Belt Comedy Birthday Party,” we’re at Grossinger’s Catskill Resort Hotel in the mountains near Liberty, New York. This fancy schmancy place is one of the largest “Borscht Belt” resorts, those “kosher” havens that catered primarily to Jewish guests from New York City. 


Get ready to nosh on some great food, schmooze with your tablemates and plotz with laughter. HURRAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! (Note: The comments attributed to these famous joy-givers come from words they have written or said.) 


June 5—PAT GARRETT (lawman) is actually more associated with New Mexico and the western mountains than New York and the Catskills. The Old West lawman and bartender became legendary for killing “Billy the Kid,” a New York City born outlaw thug and serial killer.  

Since Sheriff Garrett was known as a man of few words, we’re saluting him with some great quotes from others in the Old West: 

“They say I killed six or seven men just for snoring. It ain’t true. I only killed one man for snoring.”—John Wesley Hardin 

“I love it. It is wild with adventure.”—Henry Starr describing his “bandit life” just before he was shot dead in a gunfight 

“But you won’t be here to see any of them, not by a damn sight, because it’s the order of this court that you be took to the nearest tree and hanged by the neck ‘til you’re DEAD, DEAD, DEAD; you olive-colored son of a billy goat.”—Judge Roy Bean 

“They saw me, those reckless seekers of beauty, and in a night I was famous.”—Lillie Langtry, saloon performer 

“I’m not afraid to die like a man fighting, but I would not like to be killed like an unarmed dog.”—Billy the Kid 

“Leave me alone and let me go to hell by my own route.”—Calamity Jane 

“I have vision and rest of the world has bifocals.”—Butch Cassidy 

“Perhaps I may yet die with my boots on.”—Wild Bill Hickok 

“You damned, dirty cow thief, if you’re anxious to fight, I’ll meet you.”—Wyatt Earp 

“You’re the sickest-looking lot of sheriffs I ever seen.”—Tom Horn yelled from the gallows 

June 6—HARVEY FIERSTEIN is an actor and playwright. He is best known in theater work in “HAIRSPRAY” and “TORCH SONG TRILOGY.” In film he received rave reviews in “MRS. DOUBTFIRE,” and as the voice of Yao in “MULAN” and “MULAN II.” He has won multiple Tony awards and was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2007. 

June 7—DEAN MARTIN (born Dino Paul Crocetti) was a singer, actor and comedian. Nicknamed “The King of Cool,” he was one of the most popular and enduring entertainers of mid-20th century. He was a Las Vegas headliner, host of television’s “The Dean Martin Show” and Roastmaster of “Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roast.” His most iconic songs as a recording singer were: “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head,” “You’re Nobody ‘til Somebody Loves You,” “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime,” “That’s Amore,” “Volare” and “Memories Are Made of This.” He has three stars of the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was posthumously given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. 

June 8—JOAN RIVERS (born Joan Alexandra Wolinsky) was a comedian, actor, writer, producer and television host. Her style was acerbic, sometimes controversial and often self-deprecating. She was a pioneer for women in comedy. “New York Times” television critic Jack Gould called Rivers “quite possibly the most intuitively funny woman alive,” and “Rolling Stone Magazine” ranked her sixth on its list of the 50 best stand-up comics of all time. She won numerous awards for her work in television and in 2017, she was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. 

June 9—JACKIE MASON (born Yacov Moshe Maza in Sheboygan, Wisconsin) is a “Borscht Belt” comedy legend and television/film actor. He is known for his delivery and voice. (The voice-over of “Rabbi Hyman Krustofski” on television’s “The Simpsons” won Mason his third Emmy.) A “Time Magazine” arts critic wrote that Mason spoke to audiences “with the Yiddish locutions of an immigrant who just completed a course in English. By mail.” 

June 10—JUDY GARLAND (born Frances Ethel Gumm) was an actress, singer, vaudevillian and dancer. Renowned for her versatility, she received an Academy Juvenile Award, a Golden Globe Award and a special Tony Award. She was the first woman to win Grammy Album of the Year, which was for a live recording titled “Judy at Carnegie Hall” (1961). The American Film Institute ranked her as the eighth-greatest female screen legend of classic Hollywood cinema. 

June 11—PETER DINKLAGE is an American actor and producer. He won renown as the character, Tyrion Lannister, on the HBO Television series, “Games of Thrones” (2011-2019). He studied acting at Bennington College while working in a guitar shop. His film-acting breakthrough came in the comedy-drama, “The Station Agent” in 2003. Dinklage has won four Emmy awards, a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award.” 


“A thing of beauty is a joy until sunrise.”—Harvey Fierstein 

“If you drink, don’t drive. Don’t even putt.”—Dean Martin 

“I said to my husband, ‘Why don’t you call out my name when we’re making love?’ He said, “I don’t want to wake you up.’”—Joan Rivers 

“Did you know Jews invented sushi? That’s right, two Jews bought a restaurant with no kitchen.”—Jackie Mason 

“Give the audience what they want…and then go have a hamburger.”—Judy Garland 

“I dress and eat like a fifth-grader, basically. I like sandwiches and cereal and hooded sweatshirts.”—Peter Dinklage 

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life. Define yourself.”—Harvey Fierstein 

“If this is just the beginning, my life is gonna be beautiful.”—Dean Martin 

“I wish I could tell you it gets better. It doesn’t get better, YOU get better.”—Joan Rivers 

“I have enough money to last me the rest of my life…unless I buy something.”—Jackie Mason 

“I can live without money, but I cannot live without love.”—Judy Garland 

“I hate that word—‘lucky.’ It cheapens a lot of hard work.”—Peter Dinklage 

“Change your mind as often as possible. Just because you thought something yesterday doesn’t mean you have to think it today. Don’t ever become a prisoner of your own opinion.”—Harvey Fierstein 

“I’ve got seven kids. The words heard most around my house are: ‘Hello,’ ‘goodbye’ and ‘I’m pregnant.’”—Dean Martin 

“I hate housework! You make the beds, you do the dishes and six months later, you have to start all over again.”—Joan Rivers 

“Eighty percent of married men cheat in America. The rest cheat in Europe.”—Jackie Mason 

“Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.”—Judy Garland 

“Don’t bother telling the world you are ready. Shot it. Do it.”—Peter Dinklage 

“Always admit when you’re wrong. You’ll save thousands in therapy…and a few friendships, too.”—Harvey Fierstein 

“I don’t drink anymore; I freeze it and eat it as Popsicles.”—Dean Martin 

“Keep moving. It’s hard for old age to hit a moving target.”—Joan Rivers 

“Honesty is nothing compared to decency.”—Jackie Mason 

“The greatest treasures are those invisible to the eye but found in the heart.”—Judy Garland 

“When people are infected by my charm, they don’t see my size. My piercing blue eyes are distracting.”—Peter Dinklage 


APPETIZER—Jackie Mason Kosher Sushi Rolls (24six.net) 

SALAD—Judy Garland Rainbow Pasta Salad (allrecipes.com) 

ENTRÉE—Peter Dinklage Game of Thrones Pigeon Pie (bonappetit.com) 

SIDE DISH—Pat Garrett New Mexico Cabbage Tamales (allrecipes.com) 

BREAD—Joan Rivers Homemade Glitz Crackers (servedfromscratch.com) 

BEVERAGE—Dean Martin Prosecco Popsicles (see below) 

DESSERT—Harvey Fierstein “It’s To Die For” Mint Chocolate Soup (yummly.com) 

ONE TO GROW ON—Why schlep to the “Borscht Belt” when the “King of the Borscht Belt Comics,” Jackie Mason can bring his hilarious schtick–at the ridiculously low price of FREE–for an hour of his Broadway comedy show on the YouTube. I just watched his one-man show, “THE WORLD ACCORDING TO ME,” and laughed out loud more than I should be wanting to tell ya. 

“The Borscht Belt Comedy Birthday Party” had jokes written by all these joy-givers: Woody Allen, Morey Amsterdam, Milton Berle, Mel Brooks, Lenny Bruce, George Burns, Rodney Dangerfield, Joan Rivers, Jackie Mason, Phyllis Diller, Buddy Hackett, Danny Kaye, Jerry Lewis, Don Rickles, Jonathan Winters—so much schmooze and spiel you thought you’d plotz. 

STOP ME if you’ve heard this one: “An elderly Jewish man faints and is rushed to the nearest hospital. A nurse tucks him into bed and says, “Mr. Schwartzman, are you comfortable?” Schmartzman replies, “I make a living…” 

MAZEL TOV!! We’re here all week, folks. Say “Goodnight, Gracie.” Goodnight, Gracie…BA-DA-BOOM!! 


                           (source: Delish.com) 


½ cup strawberries, sliced 

½ cup blueberries 

½ cup raspberries 

1 bottle Prosecco 



  1. Divide fruit between two Popsicle molds. Fill each Popsicle mold three-quarters full with Prosecco. 
  1. Fill molds to top with lemonade of your choice and insert Popsicle stick. 
  1. Freeze for 6 hours, or until frozen. 
  1. Before serving, run the molds under warm water to loosen the Popsicles. Slurp and savor every lazy, hazy, crazy day this summer. 

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Ben South