The comedy and musicianship displayed by comic/actor Dave Konig and music director Elliot Finkel in Don’t Tell Mama last night was reminiscent of the glory days of Borscht Belt Hotels. The Night Clubs in those upstate New York hotels had an abundance of magnificent musicians, comics, composers, and writers on their stages who created groundbreaking original music and comedy. Many of these performers became the super stars of my generation…Danny Kaye, Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, Alan King, Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, George Burns, Jan Peerce, Jack Benny, Jerry Lewis, Woody Allen, Tony Bennett , Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, Sammy Davis Jr., Rodney Dangerfield, Barbra Streisand, Richard Pryor, Jerry Seinfeld, Julie Budd and so many others. They all toured and worked in “The Mountains”.
Back in the day the seats in those entertainment rooms were filled with tough audiences. They were very dissimilar to the audiences in today’s cabaret rooms that are usually packed with cabaret devotees who are always supportive of entertainers and whose only sign of displeasure of a performance is an expression of softhearted appreciation and encouragement. Those Catskill Mountain hotel reviewers were not as generous as today’s chroniclers. I so remember the “hot off the press” critiques by hotel guests lounging poolside the day after a show complaining by saying, “He wasn’t funny, I heard those jokes before” or “Tony Bennett has a better voice than that guy”. Milton Berle was so concerned about crowd reaction that he used to have his manager give out small wooden mallets to the audience before his show (“knockers”) so that they could bang on the tables to create a thunderous ovation. He was afraid people wouldn’t clap loud enough. Well, the folks who came to hear Dave Konig couldn’t stop laughing at his jokes & tirades, delivered with perfect comedic timing in Dave’s indignant Alan King type style. Elliot Finkel his music director displayed an awesome piano technique with some creative Gershiwn-isk type piano solos that thrilled the music lovers in the room. These two have the professionalism, talent, and charisma possessed by the legendary performers of the Borscht Belt era. When that ability is combined with their contemporary material it produces a rip-roaring show. It was also a reminder to an audience that filled Don’t Tell Mama of what the word “entertainment” really means.
DAVE KONIG has guest starred on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Louie, and Crashing, and many others. On Broadway he played the fast-talking deejay Vince Fontaine in the Tommy Tune revival of Grease. He wrote and performed the Off-Broadway solo shows, Addicted to Show Business and Hebrew School Dropout, which the New York Times called “lightning fast, charming, insightful, and very, very funny”. In the fall, his new stand up special will be released by Drybar Comedy.clusive: Broadway Guys Tour
Elliot Finkel has appeared at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Hollywood Bowl, and White House; as well as with such orchestras as Los Angeles, National Dallas, and many others. He and his brother Ian co-starred on Broadway with Michael Feinstein, Sid Caesar, and their beloved father, Emmy Award winner Fyvush Finkel. He has toured with such diverse artists as Ginger Rogers, Milton Berle, Theodore Bikel, Roberta Peters and Jan Peerce. His shows The Finkel Follies, and Fyvush Finkel Live both received Drama Desk nominations