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December 18, 2011 1:54 am

Victor Borge: The Man Who Mocked Hitler

avatar by Malcolm Thomson

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Victor Borge. Photo: Reid Bacon.

At first I didn’t think he belonged; he was definitely out-of-place among the cocktail-conversant. The gathering – a tinsel glittering holiday party on Byram Shore Road, the kind often held at this time of the year in Byram, a narrow strip of road on Greenwich harbor. He looked ill at ease until, uninvited, he sat down at the piano to play. There was no mistaking that this was the Clown Prince of Denmark, the man that The Washington Post called, ‘the funniest man on Earth;’ The Times called him, ‘The funniest man in the world.’

Borge Rosenbaum was born in Copenhagen the son of Bernhard and Frederikke Rosenbaum. Educated at the Royal Danish Academy of Music, he made his debut at the age of 17 and was recognized as a great talent.

The talent for making people laugh garnered great attention and started him on the course developing his unique blend of humor and music.

Borge Rosenbaum derided Adolf Hitler in his native Denmark. When the Germans invaded Denmark, he managed to escape because he was married to an American and was able to get a visa.  Adapting to his new country, with non-existent English, he performed for the first time on the Bing Crosby Radio Show in 1941. Borge toured the world for decades with a popular one-man show, which mixed classical piano performance with laughs and pratfalls. Borge’s dour Scandinavian (Jewish sadness) face and formal dress, set the stage for his sly hijinks. He could comically mangle classical tunes, reviewing the works and his performance with facial distortions. Suddenly he would stop to tell jokes, non-sequitors.

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He was well known for his ‘phonic punctuation’–reading each punctuation mark aloud’ –a period became a ‘phwwt.’ During the period of hyper inflation he created his inflationary language. Tomorrow became threemorrow. What for? became What five. Lieutenant was lieuelevenant; gesticulate was gesticunine.

Borge performed as soloist and conductor with the world’s leading orchestras. On December 5, 1999, he was the recipient of the 22nd Annual Kennedy Center Honors for lifetime contribution to arts and culture.

Borge was knighted in his native Denmark and in each of the four Scandinavian countries, he quipped. “After I was knighted five times, I became a week-end.

Borge’s humor:

A woman complimenting me on my act one night, told me she hadn’t laughed so much since her husband died.

He was well known for this comment:

I wish to remind you that the smile is the shortest distance between people and the more we smile, the less we fight.

Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.

Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people once a year.

I wish to thank my parent  for making this all possible… and my children for making it necessary.

The difference between a violin and a viola is that a viola burns longer.

When an opera singer sings her head off, she usually improves her appearance.

About Mozart: He was happily married –but his wife wasn’t.

Humor is something that thrives between man’s aspirations and his limitations. There is more logic in humor than in anything else. Because, you see, humor is truth.

If I have caused just one person to wipe away a tear of laughter, that’s my reward.

The best way to see and hear Borge unique comedy is on Youtube.

At the evening end, the dapper Borge put on his white silk scarf and overcoat, tipped his hat slightly to the side,  and  proceeded to walk a few hundred  feet, in the blowing snow, to his home down the road.

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