January 29, 1998 in Features

Borge’s Act Hasn’t Lost Its Appeal

William Berry Correspondent
 

After a short delay, the man who has combined classical music with standup comedy more successfully than anyone in history is coming to Spokane.

Victor Borge canceled his Nov. 9 appearance in Spokane in order to stay with his hospitalized wife.

That performance has been rescheduled for Friday, and Spokane’s Opera House is serving as the kickoff concert for his 90th birthday tour. Borge turned 89 earlier this month, but the tour is booked for more than a year of performances.

Borge has been an icon of musical humor for four generations, and there is a very good reason for that. Many people find him funny. His material is timeless; if you laughed at one of his gags 20 years ago, you will probably laugh at it again, even if you’ve seen it a dozen times.

Phonetic punctuation and inflationary language are two of his trademark bits. And he keeps the simple one-liners coming, which must keep his audience coming back.

Borge seemed very sharp in a phone interview last week from New York. In our conversation, I asked Borge if he originally modeled his act on anyone. He replied, “No, it just came out of the air. And it’s still up in the air. I have always had a sense of humor and a light mind. I can laugh at little things. I don’t mean that I go around all day laughing like an idiot.

“I was trained as a classical pianist and found humor in that. It was a surprise to many that classical music could be funny, even though it is unfamiliar to the average audience.”

When asked if his work has created more appreciation for classical music, Borge said, “Absolutely. I have received letters, people constantly tell me this at receptions. I think it is because I have something to offer.

“Audiences have not changed all that much over the years. They have always liked the same things, but in different formats. There are just more people of all kinds everywhere. More pianists, more interest in music, more understanding of good music, and people require more value from everything. But we are still human and we laugh at the same things.”

Borge has just finished an autobiography, which he jokingly called “375 pages of my life.” It is out now in his native Denmark, and is currently being translated to “German, Swedish, English, Turkish …”

He says the English edition ought to be released in the United States by November. The title is one of his aphorisms, “The Smile is the Shortest Distance.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story:

ON STAGE

Victor Borge performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Spokane Opera House. Tickets are $35, $25, $20 and $15, available at G&B; Select-a-Seat outlets or call (800) 325-SEAT. Tickets for the November performance will be honored.

This sidebar appeared with the story: ON STAGE Victor Borge performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Spokane Opera House. Tickets are $35, $25, $20 and $15, available at G&B; Select-a-Seat outlets or call (800) 325-SEAT. Tickets for the November performance will be honored.

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