Here Come Duh Judge
February 3, 2011 8:21 AM   Subscribe

A profile of legendary Black comedian Pigmeat Markham by Kliph Nesteroff (prev prev)

Dewey "Pigmeat" Markham is credited with the phrases "here comes the judge," "sock it to me," and "boogie woogie," among others.

He wore blackface until 1943 and is almost certainly the inspiration for one of the most beloved entertainers of the 1990s.

Other recent articles by Kliph include profiles on Rusty Warren, Al "Grandpa Munster" Smith, Jack Paar, and the comedy writer who elected Nixon.

The most recent profile, on Car 54 Where Are You?'s Joe E. Ross, contains this bonus link to Mr. Ross' comedic stylings on the LP Should Lesbians Be Allowed To Play "Pro" Football?
posted by jtron (12 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for this! We listen to Blues Before Sunrise nearly every week, and they've played Pigmeat pretty frequently. Great to learn more.
posted by Madamina at 9:08 AM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Truckin'" and "here come da judge" and "sock it to me"? Dude was busy.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:13 AM on February 3, 2011

If I knew it was going to be that kind of FPP, I'd've stuck my dick in the mashed potatoes.
posted by Eideteker at 9:32 AM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

Ahh...gots me some OG Pigmeat on vinyl. Nice post.
posted by timsteil at 10:11 AM on February 3, 2011

How long until that bedbugs thing makes it to This American Life?
posted by Old Man Wilson at 10:29 AM on February 3, 2011

Great post! I've learned a lot... not long ago TCM ran an old short starring Bill Robinson, the centerpiece of which was an extended vaudeville routine in which many of the male stars, who were black, performed in blackface. This addressed the issue nicely. Also, I've read more than once that W.C. Fields was an admirer of Bert Williams, and Fields did not speak admiringly of many other comedians.

Slightly off-topic, but it seems we lost something important with the death of vaudeville, that being a venue where performances could be honed and perfected through multiple repetitions before a live audience. Will we ever see routines as sharp as, say, the Marx Brothers', without vaudeville in which to incubate and grow them?

I've got to find some Pigmeat recordings... amazing person, and more influential than I imagined. I remember Sammy Davis Jr. doing that bit on Laugh-In and just how big the catchphrase became; everyone at my all-white elementary school threw it around like mad. It was fun to say--still is! Thanks, Pigmeat.
posted by kinnakeet at 10:46 AM on February 3, 2011

On Pigmeat's first show as a cast member of Laugh-In, they paid very nice tribute to him by gathering the entire cast on stage to do the "Here Come de Judge" chant in unison. As I understand the story, Sammy had introduced them to the bit the previous year, but they had Roddy Maude Roxby as the judge until they discovered Pigmeat and brought him on as a regular.

(That was the second season premiere. Anyone unfamiliar with Laugh-In would be well-advised to see just that one show -- the definitive episode, IMO.)
posted by evilcolonel at 12:10 PM on February 3, 2011

Markham's "Who Got the Number" is one of my favorite songs of all time.
posted by The Lamplighter at 1:42 PM on February 3, 2011

Mine too, and thanks for posting its YouTube linkage!
posted by Rash at 3:09 PM on February 3, 2011

Ralph Cooper Jr. put out a great book about the Apollo Amateur Nights. Pigmeat figures prominently as an Apollo fixture.
posted by dr_dank at 6:24 PM on February 3, 2011

I'm sure I found this Pigmeat/BAD II video on MeFi....
posted by popechunk at 7:11 PM on February 3, 2011

There were some fascinating bits in Pigmeat Markham's story, although the style of much of the profile seemed excessively didactic (I understand wanting to put things in perspective, but still).

The profile that really reeled me in, though, was Joe E. Ross'. I'd only seen very brief bits of Car 54, Where Are You? over the years, and if you'd asked me to come up with some conjecture about Ross' private life based on the little I'd seen, I would have imagined him as some minor character actor that happened to luck into this co-starring role, and that would be kind of avuncular if a little rough around the edges, depending on the company that he was in; if he did stand-up, he might have a blue act, although not as blue as Buddy Hackett's. Instead, he seemed to have been a perfectly awful human being who enjoyed a lifestyle that would make Charlie Sheen's look restrained, if not monkish. Fascinating stuff.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:08 PM on February 3, 2011

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