Anyone who’s anyone comes from Brooklyn: actors, singers, musicians and the best comedians of all time. Let’s take a look at the most incredible, old school Brooklyn comics and some of their experiences growing up in the borough.
Joan Rivers was born in Brooklyn and raised in Prospect Heights and Crown Heights, where she attended Brooklyn Ethical Culture School and the Adelphi Academy. “We were right off Eastern Parkway, which was all leafy and green. Everybody knew everybody, and everybody was a doctor. It was a great place to get sick.”
Mel Brooks grew up at 365 South 3rd Street in Williamsburg. “I had the best childhood. I loved life. I thought life was the most wonderful thing ever created. For three cents, you could get a small egg cream—they were called egg creams for some reason, there was never an egg in it. For a nickel, you could get a regular—a Coke glass, a jumbo glass. They put in a spoon of chocolate—Fox’s U-Bet from a jar. Then they would put in a little bit of milk, still from a bottle of milk—it was glass and cold from the icebox. Then they’d hit it from the fountain with a thin, powerful, high stream of seltzer. Shhhhhhhh! It would explode the chocolate syrup in the milk. It was not nonfat milk—it was milk, real milk. And then the soft flow of seltzer to bring it to the top, and a deep, long spoon stirred mightily until there was a beautiful foam top of milk and chocolate bubbles. It was the nectar of the gods. I compare it now to my Château Mouton Rothschild ’82.”
The Three Stooges
Before becoming part of one of the most famous comedy acts of all time, Moe, Shemp and “Curly” Howard grew up in Bensonhurst. Moe graduated from P.S. 163 in Brooklyn, then attended Erasmus High School for only two months and never completed his high school education. In 1909 he earned his entry into film making by running errands for the performers at the Vitagraph Studios in Brooklyn. The rest is history!
Stiller and Meara
Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara are one of the most famous comedy duo’s of all time, so of course, they were both born in Brooklyn. Stiller was born at Unity Hospital and lived in Williamsburg and East New York. The two met in an agents office where Jerry asked Anne out for coffee.
Comedian Pat Cooper dropped out of Manual Training High School twice, was a sixth-generation bricklayer and also had an extremely short career as a furrier in Manhattan’s Garment District. Cooper is known for his stand-up, where he references his Italian heritage!
Jackie Gleason lived at 364 Chauncey Street in Bushwick. He grew up nearby, at 328 Chauncey St. and attended elementary school at P.S. 73 in Brooklyn and John Adams High School in Queens and Bushwick High School in Brooklyn. When he conceived The Honeymooners, Jackie Gleason insisted that the Kramden apartment be modeled after one of his boyhood homes in the Bushwick: 328 Chauncey Street, apartment 3-A. “The place was dull. The bulbs weren’t very bright. The surroundings were very bare.” Gleason said of the tenement apartment. Ralph Kramden’s address is also 328 Chauncey St., though for the show they said it was in Bensonhurst. Which of these classic Brooklyn comedians is your favorite?