There are good prop comics, and there are malaprop comics. And when it comes to malaprops, Norm Crosby cracks audiences up as being the best.
His prop? The English language, which he twists and turns like it was a silly putty of puns and persiflage.
Indeed, Crosby is also proud to have been one of the foremost of Jewish activists in the '70s. "And I'm still saving Soviet jewelry," he insists.
He saves the best for … now. The former commercial artist who long ago turned to painting words into a corner has broadened his canvas to include DVD designer. And he has designs, these days, on making his "The World's Greatest Stand-Up Comedy Collection" the standout release of the summer.
The host of TV's "The Comedy Shop" offers one-stop comedy shopping here with top selections of comedy breakouts from his long-running series: early if not debut performances from Brad Garrett, Garry Shandling, Howie Mandel, Richard Belzer, Don Rickles, Jackie Mason and more than a gaggle of established comics than you can shake a schtick at.
Five discs of more than 300 comics? Take my delivery - please!
Seems impossible, but Crosby knows from the impossible: "Did you ever notice," he says, savoring some personal memories, "that at Bar Mitzvahs, 47 relatives come up to light 13 candles?"
And what kind of drinks do they serve at a Bar Mitzvah anyway?
Humor him, humor us. "Comedy is the greatest weapon - without stealing, of course - to combat misery."
Ever the good soldier, Crosby has been crisscrossing the world - crossing up words in the process - for decades.
And he's not alone. "Jews always keep their sense of humor; it's a way to keep their sanity."
Punchlines as Prozac? "Yeah, it's therapeutic," claims Crosby.
Check-out his check-ups: The comic who claims that "all women need is love and affliction" has received so many awards for his AWOL words he thought he'd have to hire a Mickey Mantle to hold them all.
"Words are playmates," says Crosby of a great career that's been more than a day at the beach. But he really didn't start playing with them "until later in life." Artist, ad game participant, salesman … "I went from the shoe business to show business, although I had always thought of comedy as an avocation."
The savvy satirist saves time for philanthropic endeavors, too. A co-host of Jerry Lewis' Muscular Dystrophy telethon, Crosby has been saluted with a medal of honor by the Chapel of the Four Chaplains of Philadelphia. He was the first national chair of the Council for Better Hearing - a special interest since Crosby developed his own hearing problems while serving on anti-submarine patrol as a member of the Coast Guard years ago.
All of which doesn't prevent him from hearing gales of laughter in response to his quips and quotes - and now, from a five-disc collection of comedy.
But the DVD isn't the only thing getting released these days. "My son is getting married in October," says Crosby, who is hoping to give more than the toast. "I'm hoping for some food, too."