Harpooning The Harpooner



It was a very special evening at Greenwich Country Club for the Harpoon Club, an organization known for its mission to preserve the sense of humor of the residents of Greenwich. This time, however, the tables were turned: The Fall Guy, as the roastee is labeled, was none other than Ted Yudain Jr., the chief Harpooner whose act is eagerly anticipated each year by as many as 200 attending members and guests. Setting the tone for these occasions, Ted strums his guitar and sings a medley of ditties with his original lyrics before launching into the “Irish Washerwoman,” a patter song that miraculously includes the names of everyone in attendance. A lawyer by profession and a contributing thespian to Stamford’s Curtain Call, Ted appeared appropriately decked out as a Shakespearian actor.

The role of chief harpooner comes naturally to him. Ted Jr.’s father, Ted Sr., a former editor of Greenwich Time and Stamford Advocate, was one of the founders of the organization. He inherited his mantle from his uncle, the late beloved Bernie Yudain, a cofounder with his older brother Ted. Bernie was everyone’s favorite humorist with his well-read column in Greenwich Time, and he was the Harpoon Club’s head roaster for nearly forty of its fifty-seven years. But, if the club thought it had enough Yudains, who should deliver the most lethal, yet good-natured, assault on Ted Jr. but his own son, Ted III, third-generation pretender to the throne. 

Now, if all this sounds a bit incestuous, we hasten to point out the wide range of famous (and occasionally infamous) personalities chosen over the years by the selection committee, known as the Dirty Eleven, in which this writer has the dubious honor of being a member. There were three state and three U.S. senators; five governors, including one with a hot tub problem, two police chiefs and a volunteer fire chief all named Robbins with two “bs” (there’s that incest problem again); three judges; and at last count, seven first selectmen, including John Margenot, who hogged five terms. Add to this a variety of corporate heads, a Catholic priest, a half-dozen publishers and editors, and several entertainers (politicians not included).

Speaking of entertainers, it’s safe to say that the most hilarious roast in recent years was the roasting of Victor Borge, or should we say Victor Borge’s spearing of the Harpoon Club. The comic concert pianist’s quick wit and incredible timing made a shambles of the committee’s well-prepared program, so we just tore up the script. We should have known. When Bernie Yudain went to Borge’s Belle Haven home to ask him if he would agree to be our next Fall Guy, he heard piano music as he waited at the front door. When Borge finally appeared and Bernie timorously introduced himself, Borge shook his hand vigorously and declared, “Yu Dane? Me Dane Too!”

Then there was Malcolm Pray, self-made auto mogul, philanthropist, Republican stalwart, car collector and one-time bon vivant. Malcolm was not known for a raucous sense of humor, so before asking him if he would agree to be our Fall Guy, we asked if it was true that he had no sense of humor. “Oh, I have a sense of humor,” said he, “it’s just that I don’t find many things funny.” As it turned out, he immediately got into the spirit and was well- prepared. He made his grand entrance in top hat, white tie and tails, driving a Styrofoam cutout of his trademark Delahaye Roadster he’d created for the event. To top off the evening, he even arranged a surprise visit by three gorgeous USO gals clad in red, white and blue miniskirts who led the Harpooners in service songs. If there were objections to this first-ever introduction of women to our all-male Hall of Infamy, they were greatly muted.

Members of the Dirty Eleven are not immune to being chosen as targets. Former First Selectman Tom Ragland, a native West Virginian, came in a hillbilly costume. “The town I grew up in,” he said, “was so small the town hooker was still a virgin.” There were other lines that brought down the house, but most are not totally suitable for publication.

The Harpoon Club is all about having fun and laughing at ourselves. Most of all, it adheres to the original vision of its founders in preserving a membership representing a true cross section of Greenwich people who look forward enthusiastically to each year’s harpooning.

 

Greenwich Agenda

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     @ Val's Putnam Wine And Liquors

    We will feature an array of new and different International wines that are selected by our staff as “Staff Picks Favorites” in...

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    2014.08.31
     @ Greenwich Polo Club

    For the second year in a row, Virginia's House of Hope is having a fundraiser at the Greenwich Polo Club! Join us on Sunday, August...

  • SM&NC Farm Market

    2014.06.15
     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

    Sundays, June 15 – October 5, 10am – 2pm We're thrilled to bring back the SM&NC Farm Market — now on Sundays!...

  • Animal Meet and Greet

    2014.06.22
     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

    Sundays, June 22 - August 31, 3:30 - 4:00pm Stop by for a chance to meet one of our Overbrook Nature Center or Heckscher Farm animals up...

  • Bar: Live Music | Greenwich, CT

    2014.03.09
     @ Barcelona Greenwich

    Join us in Greenwich every Sunday for live music and half-priced bottles of wine!

  • Greenwich Harbor Sunset Wine Cruise | Greenwich, CT

    2014.06.05
     @ Delamar Hotel Dock

    The boat "Prudence" departs from the Delamar Hotel Dock on 500 Steamboat Rd. All the wine is sponsored through VALS with food...

  • Exclusive Tour of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Yale University Art Gallery

    2014.09.09
     @ Yale University Art Gallery

    Join JCC Greenwich for an exclusive tour with museum curator Elizabeth Manekin. The collection is noteworthy for exemplary works from the...

  • Understanding the Gaza War: Strategic & Political Implications

    2014.09.09
     @ Greenwich Library, Cole Auditorium

    Dr. Efraim Inbar is a Professor in Political Studies at Bar-Ilan University and Director of its renowned Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic...

  • Bruce Museum: Look and See - Into the Deep

    2014.09.10
     @ Bruce Museum

    A program especially designed for children ages 3-5 years and their adult caregivers, who will explore the Museum’s exhibition through...

  • College Admissions Boot Camp | Greenwich, CT

    2014.09.13

    College Prep 360 will be offering two college admissions “boot camps” in their Greenwich office over the summer. The first workshop...

  • Nigh Season: New Paintings By David Konigsberg

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM  Public Invited   NIGH...

  • Undulate: Paintings By Julie Gross and Margaret Neill

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY II Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM Public Invited...

  • Greenwich Area Newcomers Annual Lobster Fest

    2014.09.14
     @ Tod's Point Clambake Area

    This is our kickoff event each year-held at Tod's Point Clambake area. The event is scheduled for Sunday September 14th starting...

  • Information Fair

    2014.09.16
     @ YMCA

    Our Annual Information Fair - This event showcases non profits , community businesses, schools and  services in the Greenwich...


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