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Irving Cohen was a character that Martin Short used on SCTV, and brought with him to SNL. Known for his admiration of Al Jolson, Cohen was a caricature of old Tin Pan Alley songsmiths, and the running gag in any sketch where he appeared was that he would claim that he could "write a song about anyt'ing," at which point Irving would call to a pianist off camera, "Give me a 'C', a bouncy, 'C'", and then he would ad-lib lyrics, ending with, "Da-da-da-da-dee, da-da-da-da-dah, ah, whatever da hell else ya wanna put in da t'ing!" This off camera pianist seemed to follow Cohen everywhere, even bursting into song in the middle of a HUAC hearing. Cohen started his interviews by reminiscing about the old days, starting off with, "In the old days, we had a t'ing, called, 'Vau-de-ville'..."
Cohen's age could only be guessed at, but he appeared to be in his nineties, and Short wore heavy age makeup to portray the character.
On SCTV, he was featured on "The William B. Williams Show", a spinoff of the "Sammy Maudlin Show", which was SCTV's running parody of "The Tonight Show".
On SNL, he was included in a sketch featuring other old Yiddish Vaudevillian characters portrayed by other cast members including Billy Crystal, Rich Hall and Christopher Guest, and guest host Eddie Murphy playing his Gumby character, whom he played as an old Yiddish Vaudeville actor. The sketch took place in a deli off Broadway, and featured a joke in which everyone tried to remember the ingredients of a Morey Amsterdam sandwich. Cohen used his trademark "Give me a 'C', a bouncy, 'C' " and listed ingredients, followed by, "Da-da-da-da-dee, da-da-da-da-dah, ah, whatever da hell else ya wanna put in da sammich". The sketch ended when a waiter refused to serve Gumby, who had done a dine-and-dash years before.
The character also appeared in Short's 2012 comedy special I, Martin Short, Goes Home.
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