borscht belt


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.

borscht belt

The resort area of the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York once predominately patronized by American Jews. Borscht is a type of soup that originated in Eastern Europe. A lot of Jewish comedians got their start playing the Borscht Belt in upstate New York.
See also: belt
References in periodicals archive ?
In her entertaining chapter on the Borscht Belt, Nahshon cites Mel Brooks's experience as a lowly "pool tummler." Every day in summer Brooks would enter the pool area wearing a heavy alpaca coat and derby and carrying two suitcases filled with rocks.
The root of the word "belt" probably does not originate from the Borscht Belt, that concentration of hotels in the Catskill Mountains of New York State, however charming that derivation would be.
The impact of Yiddish on American English goes far beyond the "Borscht Belt" words and expressions I grew up with related to the physicality of life such as bupkes, drishke, greps, grob, kishkes, knish, kvetch, pupik, and various words not to be mentioned in polite society.
During the first half of the 20th century, the Catskill Mountain region of New York State was such a popular destination for Ashkenazi vacationers, it became known as the "Borscht Belt."
With Jackie Mason's Famous Broadway Cheesecake, you get not only a dairy- and cholesterol-free dessert that's Kosher-Parve, but several samples of the comedian's timeless Borscht Belt humor.
The last section of the book continues the poet's search for belief and for the right of speech, with poems such as "Slim Fantasia on a Few Words from Hosea" and its injunction to "return to God." Perhaps my favorite poem In the collection is "Hearing News from the Temple Mount in Salt Lake City," in which Osherow addresses the difficulty of Jewish exile and faith, using a voice that combines Borscht Belt humor with Biblical narrative:
Lansky's efforts are described anecdotally as his quest takes him all over the world from Boston, the Bronx and the Borscht Belt to the Baltics and beyond, wherever large communities of Jews once resided.
Woody refurbishes some of his old Borscht Belt jokes while playing card tricks for the Lyman family, "I was of the Hebrew persuasion," he tells them, "but converted to narcissism." Sondra continues to look for clues to the tarot killings in Lyman's home, and the story moves to its climax with Woody rushing to save her, driving a ridiculously small car on the American (that is, the wrong) side of the road, leading of course to off-stage disaster.
"If you start to tell it as some kind of Borscht Belt gag ...
Edwards's gestures are an exaggerated parody of Borscht Belt shtick and he speaks in a comic "Stage Jewish" accent.
The Brooklyn-born son of Russian immigrants was one of the so-called Borscht Belt comics who in trademark acerbic delivery, cigar in hand, would gripe about the trials of everyday life.
These Borscht Belt characters are perhaps a little too broad, but they're charming in their cluelessness.
Of Bobby Kennedy's wiretaps, he said: "Little brother is watching." He had the Borscht belt sexism and made it modern-day: "There are no women in the beat generation," he said, "just girls who have broken with their parents for the evening." Asked by Eddie Fisher on TV to say something funny, Sahl replied: "John Foster Dulles." His trademark sweater and loafers were considered shocking, and NBC forced him to wear a suit and tie on the "Wolgate Comedy Hour" before later relenting.
Examining a complicated fertility statue on a cruise ship en route to New Guinea, he remarks dryly, "I don't know what's going on, but it's something erotic." At such moments, he could be Myron Cohen in some borscht belt deconstruction of Heart of Darkness.