Abdul Basit Hashmi
Sammy Shore: One of the Most Underrated Comedian to Have Ever Graced the Stage
With over 70 years in the comedy industry, Sammy Shore was a legend. Having opened for everyone from Barbra Streisand, Ann-Margret, Tony Bennett, and even the late great Elvis. Sammy Shore was a seriously funny man. His jokes ranged from his religion to his saggy ass in old age, and even ripping into his famous son, Pauly Shore. Sammy Shore was a master of comedic timing. Watching Sammy on stage was a true experience as his stand-up comedy matched his physical comedy. Having said every word in the book and having said it with a straight face, nothing stopped Sammy.
Sammy Shore was born in 1932 at the start of the depression, which couldn’t have made life easy. Growing up in New York in a traditional Jewish household led to some of Sammy’s greatest inspirations. Starting in the Catskills mountains in New York, Sammy met his partner in crime, Shecky Greene. The area was well known as the “Borscht Belt” and served as a starting ground for new and rising stand-up comedy stars. There, Sammy started to get a foothold into his well-known comedic timing. He met his first wife, Mitzi, and they had their four children, Pauly Shore, Scott Shore, Peter Shore and Sandy Shore. While visiting Los Angeles with his wife, Mitzi, he had a stroke of luck. He happened to be with a musical group that was going to be on the Bob Crosby Show. There, he happened to be asked to do a few minutes to warm up the live audience and killed it. Network executives asked him to perform on the Jack Benny Show right after the show.
Moving onwards and upwards into success, Sammy started the well-known “The Comedy Store” in Los Angeles. It wasn’t long before a messy divorce ended with Sammy’s ex-wife taking ownership of the club. Rumor had it that it had been a plot meant to lower the amount of alimony he needed to pay.
With Mitzi’s passing in 2018 her son Peter took over and has been credited with the revival of The Comedy Store.
Moving from stand-up comedy and away from The Comedy Store led Sammy to the next big step. Movies! Having earned appearances in films like “The Bellboy”, “Fake-Out”, “Thunder Alley”, and “Life Stinks”. Sammy then began to land roles with Mel Brooks in “History of the World: Part I”. Sammy’s IMBd profile is impressive. Mentioning 32 roles and 28 credits for playing himself, watching his career play out over the 70 years is staggering. His IMBd also lists some singing credits – which I’m not even going to mention as they never made the cut anyways.
As any good Jewish son, Sammy had to continue to strive to do more; nothing was ever good enough. So, he tried his hand at writing. His debut novel “The man who made Elvis laugh” was well received and started a writing career by giving him another outlet for all of his creativity. He had been working on his latest novel about the later years of his career.
Kind of like a treasure hunt; if you want to see Sammy Shore performing his stand-up comedy videos on the internet while there, it is hard to find. But when you see Sammy in action, it is well worth any time you may have spent searching. Watch his face, watch his eyes, follow his jerky motions as he brings you into the routine, even though it’s probably been decades since it was recorded. Sammy has been known to recollect the first time he went on stage before Elvis. Elvis had set up this winding staircase, and as Sammy came down it for the first time for a show, he tripped and fell on stage. The crowd loved it. They thought it was a part of the act. Producers of the show also thought it was a part of the act and praised Sammy for how real it had looked. Sammy recounts that he only did it that first time, never again.
The career of Sammy Shore will stand the test of time. Not only was he a successful stand-up comedian, but his son Pauly Shore also continues the family legacy. For over 20 years, the two toured together in “A Family Affair” worldwide. Touting a “true father-son duo” was their shtick, and they loved doing it. Sammy also loved putting in a few pot shots at Pauly whenever possible. Pauly doesn’t hold back and, after Sammy’s passing, goes on to tell a story about how his dad wore a headpiece that looked so good that no one ever knew it was fake. He laughs as he says he, his sister, and his dad would go to the park, and Sammy would take off the toupee and toss it around like a frisbee.
Not only was Sammy not one to take himself too seriously, but he also had a love of dogs that rivaled Betty White’s. Starting and starring in “Funny Bones,” a charity event in New Orleans yearly to raise funds for dogs in need of surgery. He had often been quoted saying that “he likes dogs better than he likes people”.
From working in TV to movies, writing, and continuing with stand-up, there was no end to the creativity and hilarity of Sammy Shore. As he once said, he “started as a ventriloquist; he’s been in the biz for so long that even his puppet died before him.
At 92 years old, Sammy Shore passed of natural causes in Las Vegas. A true showman until the end.
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