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Played the Catskills

Posted by Bob on May 21, 2005

In Reply to: Played the Catskills posted by ab on May 21, 2005

: Anyone familar with the phrase "played the Catskills." I feel pretty sure it's strictly an American phrase. I can't seem to figure out the meaning within any context.

There were resort hotels in New York's Catskill Mountains that catered to New York's Jewish population during the summer months. (They still exist, but they flourished one to three generations ago.) Grossinger's was the most famous. One feature of these summer-camp-like spas was almost continuous entertainment, especially from comedy acts and (earlier) vaudeville acts. (See the movie "Dirty Dancing" to get a little flavor. Many famous comedians got their start playing the Catskills, including the unique job of "tummeler," a sort of freelance non-stop slapstick comedian who went to the pool and other facilities to do shtick, mimicking the guests and doing broad sight gags. Think Woody Allen, Jerry Lewis, and hundreds of others.

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