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

  • 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...

  • Parties at the JCC Center

    2014.09.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • 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...

  • Laurel House Family Seminar Series

    2014.09.18
     @ Laurel House

    Thursday evenings, September 18, October 2, 16, 30, 6:30-8:00 pm Join us Thursday evenings for this four part Family Seminar Series as...

  • Isaia Fall Trunk Show

    2014.09.19
     @ Richards

  • The Many Faces of Multi Media

    2014.09.20
     @ Meli-Melo of Greenwich

    Dr. Julia Trebing, Director Creative Therapies in Stamford, CT exhibits her paintings at Meli-Melo Creperie & Juice Bar  during Sept...

  • SoulCycle GWCH for Make-A-Wish CT

    2014.09.20
     @ SoulCycle

    Make-A-Wish Connecticut is thrilled to be partnering with SoulCycle's Greenwich location for a charity ride on Saturday, September 20th!...

  • Wall Street Tennis Challenge

    2014.09.20
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    The goal of The Wall Street Tennis Challenge is to support the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation’s efforts while spreading awareness...

  • Nam Cho Trunk Show

    2014.09.20
     @ Richards

  • Arts & Crafts on Bedford

    2014.09.20
     @ Bedford Street

    Shop at over 100 craft and artisan boutiques on Bedford Street, which will be closed to traffic for the weekend. Dine in our extended sidewalk...

  • Puttin’ On The Dog Festival

    2014.09.21
     @ Roger Sherman Baldwin Park

    Puttin’ On The Dog Festival Greenwich, Connecticut the place to be on September 21st for dogs and their owners...

  • Candy Fairies Book Reading

    2014.09.21
     @ Imagine Candy

    SCARSDALE, NY, Imagine Candy brings the acclaimed children's author Helen Perelman, the writer of the wickedly sweet Candy Fairies book...

  • Chizi's Tale Book Launch Party

    2014.09.21
     @ Tudor Investment Campus

    You and your family are invited to join Diane's Books of Greenwich and TUSK USA to celebrate the launch of Chizi's Tale: The True Story...

  • Chizi's Tale Book Launch Party

    2014.09.21
     @ Tudor Investment Campus

    You and your family are invited to join Diane's Books of Greenwich and TUSK USA to celebrate the launch of Chizi's Tale: The True Story...

  • 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!...

  • "Israel and the U.S."

    2014.09.22
     @ New Canaan Library

    The public is invited to attend a World Affairs Forum Great Decisions event featuring Seth Anziska, Columbia University. Mr. Anziska will speak...

  • Holistic Health Practitioner Kevin W. Reese

    2014.09.24
     @ Meli-Melo

    Meet Holistic Health Practitioner Kevin W. Reese & Take Home a Signed Copy of His New Book! Kevin is a holistic health practitioner,...

  • Annual State of the Town Address and Luncheon | Greenwich, CT

    2014.09.25
     @ Milbrook Club

    Greenwich Chamber of Commerce Annual State of the Town Address and Luncheon will be held at Milbrook Club. Registration 11:30am; start at...


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