Comic Marty Allen is 94, but who’s count­ing? He’s laugh­ing

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - By Fra­zier Moore

NEW YORK >> The baby face and bug eyes were still in place. Ditto, the fa­mous wasp’s nest of hair.

“It’s un­be­liev­able to be 94 years ago,” Marty Allen told his au­di­ence. “My wife says, ‘What do you want for your birth­day?’ I told her, ‘An an­tique.’ So she framed my birth cer­tifi­cate.”

Allen — who, more pre­cisely, is 94-and-a-half years old — is still mak­ing his au­di­ences laugh six decades af­ter hit­ting the big time tour­ing with the great jazz vo­cal­ist Sarah Vaughan. He made 44 ap­pear­ances on “The Ed Sul­li­van Show” with his com­edy part­ner Steve Rossi, and for more than 30 years has per­formed with his wife, singer-song­writer Karon Kate Black­well, an able “straight man” in her own right who was by Allen’s side Tues­day night at the cozy Metropoli­tan Room for the first of sev­eral sched­uled New York ap­pear­ances.

Allen told her he had flown to New York for the gigs — peas­ant-class.

“PEAS­ANT-class?!” ex­claimed Black­well. “I don’t know what that is.”

“A seat by the win­dow,” Allen replied, “on the wing look­ing in.”

That wasn’t all. He de­scribed an odd en­counter in an el­e­va­tor that very morn­ing.

“A wo­man keeps look­ing at me,” he re­ported to the gath­er­ing. “She says, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t be­lieve it. I saw you on “Hol­ly­wood Squares”! I saw you with the Bea­tles on “The Ed Sul­li­van Show”! I saw you with Joan Craw­ford and Nat King Cole on “The Hol­ly­wood Palace”! But I can’t re­mem­ber your name.’ “I said, ‘Brad Pitt.’” While Allen’s com­edy is still as broad as his grin, the jokes were still gen­tle and, even when of­fered up as top­i­cal, they clearly qual­i­fied for land­mark sta­tus.

Dur­ing a bit where he pre­tended to be Black­well’s ven­tril­o­quist’s dummy, she asked her hus­band, “Who would you like to see as your next pres­i­dent?” “Me,” Allen replied. “But you’re a dummy.” “I’d fit in!” Allen’s act has al­ways been fam­i­lyfriendly, some­what of a rar­ity in the Ve­gas uni­verse where he has long flour­ished. His raci­est wise­crack Tues­day: “I re­mem­ber the first time I had sex. I kept a re­ceipt!”

For the record, only once dur­ing his act did he voice his time­less catch­phrase, “Hello dere!” And then it was de­liv­ered as a sunny, earnest greet­ing when he first took the stage.

“Hello dere,” of course, has been Allen’s sig­na­ture for more than a half-cen­tury. And be­yond that, those once were house­hold words that even Mer­cury as­tro­naut Gor­don Cooper ra­dioed from space: “Hello, down dere!”

It was all a lucky ac­ci­dent for Allen, as he ex­plains in his 2014 self-pub­lished mem­oir, aptly ti­tled, “Hello Dere!”:

Dur­ing an en­gage­ment at a Philadel­phia night­club, he zoned out in mid-rou­tine while Rossi was ask­ing him a ques­tion.

Allen swiftly cov­ered for his lapse with a wide-eyed “Hello dere!”

“What did you say?” per­sisted Rossi, milk­ing the mo­ment.

DAVID F. SMITH - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

In this Dec. 10, 1965, photo, the com­edy team of Marty Allen, left, and Steve Rossi, now mak­ing their first film on the Paramount lot in Los Angeles. Allen, 94, is still mak­ing his au­di­ences laugh six decades af­ter hit­ting the big time tour­ing with the great jazz vo­cal­ist Sarah Vaughan.

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