Joey Adams: From Gags to Riches

It is beyond bizarre that I seem not to have done a post yet on Joey Adams (Joseph Abramowitz, 1911-1999). I feel like perhaps I had done one here years ago and now it seems to be missing. At any rate today we redress the wrong.

Brooklyn native Adams was a night club and vaudeville comic who launched his career circa 1930. His 1973 book Borscht Belt chronicles some of those days. He began appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show from its very earliest days (1948), and was a frequent fixture on television talk and variety shows after that. He had a role in the 1949 boxing picture Ringside; he produced and acted in the crime drama Singing After Dark (1956); and he had a bit part in Morey Amsterdam’s solo vehicle Don’t Worry, We’ll Think of a Title (1966).

For years, he was a local NYC radio personality and a joke columnist for the New York Post. He was still doing that for the entirety of my first decade in the Big Apple! He wrote nearly two books, most with titles like Joey Adams’ Joke Book, and From Gags to Riches. 

In 1952 he married the lovely Cindy Adams, and over time she became the dominant one, and a powerful New York Post columnist in her own right (a gossip columnist as opposed to a joke columnist like Joey. She knew what side her bread was buttered on. In that capacity I talked to her on the phone once. La, me!)

In his last years, Joey was a staple of The Howard Stern Show, because, well, New York. He perished on the eve of the 21st century, which was only right, as that was one 20th-century kind of guy — newspapers! radio! vaudeville!

To find out more about vaudeville and performers like Joey Adamsconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous