Growing up on New York’s Lower East Side, Simon Goldstein, 83, aka “Simon the Bald,” loved the humor of comedian Myron Cohen.
As he got older, he became a fan of edgier comics, such as Rodney Dangerfield and George Carlin.
A former actor, he decided to try his luck on the comedy circuit when he moved to Tucson 10 years ago. He’s had a recurring gig at Laffs Comedy Cafe as a “very special guest” – that means he doesn’t get paid, he explains. Simon began acting when he was about 30 years old, and appeared in more than 70 plays, including a 1969 Broadway run of Shakespeare’s “Henry V,” which earned him an Actors’ Equity card.
As a card-carrying union member, “now I can tell people what kind of work I’m out of,” he jokes.
Simon attended Stuyvesant High School and Hunter College, but dropped out to start working. Forty-five years later, he got a bachelor’s degree in theater and language arts from Western Carolina University.
Now, along with guest spots every six weeks as part of Laff’s professional weekend shows, he’s a regular at the club’s Thursday night open mics.
While his material for Laffs uses adult language and themes, Simon still has a soft spot for Myron Cohen jokes.
“A little girl walks into a bakery and tells the owner, ‘My mommy found a fly in the raisin bread,’” he relates.
“The owner says, ‘Bring back the fly, I’ll give you a raisin,” he concludes, with a Yiddish accent.
Simon often uses that joke as an opener for his routine. “I’ll tell the audience I like doing that dialect. It’s a nostalgic reminder of the neighborhood I grew up in as a kid … Puerto Rican.”