a borscht-belt comedian

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Yujan Chou

Senior Member
I came across a brief commentary of the 2003 movie The Cat in the Hat in the Christian Science Monitor:

"Dismal adaptation of Dr. Seuss's classic book, about a magical cat who coaxes two kids into having mischievous fun while their mom's away. Myers plays the title feline as if he were a borscht-belt comedian without a speck of talent, and Welch's frenetic style is more like a Freudian fever dream than a children's amusement."

I knew that "a borscht-belt comedian" referred to the characteristic of the comic entertainers or shows popular in the area of the borscht belt. But I am not sure what exactly the characteristic is. Is a borscht-belt comedian a synonym for a amateur comedian?
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  • Borscht belt was an area, and indicates a particular style. No, not amateur, but not subtle either. Appealing to upper-middle-class Jewish (American) families.

    From the Wiki Borscht Belt:

    Borscht Belt, or Jewish Alps, is a colloquial term for the (now mostly defunct) summer resorts of the Catskill Mountains in parts of Sullivan, Orange and Ulster counties in upstate New York.

    Some famous Jewish comedians started there.

    Jewish Vacations: The Catskills
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    Senior Member
    English - United States
    Is a borscht-belt comedian a synonym for a amateur comedian?
    No, no, a thousand times no! Comedians who got their start on the Borscht Belt include Woody Allen, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Mel Brooks, Lenny Bruce, Sid Ceasar, Billy Cristal, Rodney Dangerfield, Phyllis Diller, Buddy Hacket, Danny Kaye, Carl Reiner, Don Rickels, Joan Rivers - in short (well...) some of the most talented and popular American comedians of the 20th century.

    Myers performed like "a borscht-belt comedian without a speck of talent." His performance was similar to an early to mid-20th century Jewish comedian's, but wasn't any good - or else, it was similar to how a no-good Jewish comedian would have performed.
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