“I only know two pieces; one is Clair de Lune and the other one isn’t”
Victor Borge is probably one of the most beloved comedians of the twentieth century. He was born in 1909 in Copenhagen where his father was a violist in the Royal Danish Chapel. The young and obviously talented Victor began his serious concert career at the age of seventeen. But he quickly developed a flair for comedy, which combined with his brilliant piano skills propelled him into success as a stand-up comedian touring throughout Europe. However he had a penchant for jokes targeting the Nazi movement.
Such witticisms as … “What is the difference between a dog and a Nazi? A Nazi lifts its arm.” … while delighting his audiences did not endear him to the Nazis.
As the Nazis moved towards annexing Denmark, Borge became increasingly uneasy. He was a marked man and a hasty flight to safer shores was expedient. He chose America.
Arriving with only twenty dollars in his pocket, three of which he was forced to surrender to the Customs, he spoke not a single word of English. But he was safe. ( Although he did risk returning secretly to Denmark a couple of years later, disguised as a sailor in order to visit his dying mother … an act of bravery which is yet another measure of this extraordinary man)
He apparently had exceptional linguistic talent … or was a very fast learner, because within a year he had already been featured on Bing Crosby’s “Kraft Music Hall” and according to the American press was voted “best new radio performer of the year” in 1942. Within ten years he was touring the country with his one man show, “Comedy in Music.” In 1953 he opened at the Golden Theatre in New York where his 849 performances make his the longest running solo-act on Broadway—ever.
The range of his routines is mind boggling. He veers madly from serious moments to utterly wacky bits of body comedy worthy of Jerry Lewis.
This clip is particularly charming as it features Borge’s son, Ron as the sidekick page-turner … a tidbit of background not widely known. While the film is slightly blurry and the color uneven with none of the enhancements and enticements of today’s HD films … it is a gem which shines in spite of the early technical hitches.
♥ “Negi Negi” ….. no one has a clue what this means. And many people have asked. I checked with a Danish/English dictionary and came up with nothing. Apparently it’s one of Borge’s own inventions, rather like my “bavarcations”.
♥ A sharp reader listener/reader, Rick W … has pointed out that “negi” means “onion” in Japanese and that the comment Borge made at the beginning of this clip combined a joking quip with a genuine Japanese word. Thanks for the update.