the schmooze
REDN IZ BILLIk? (Talk is cheap?)
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

REDN IZ BILLIk? (Talk is cheap?) by Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe Syosset, New York Jackie Mason ("Love Thy Neighbor") said, "All the geniuses with computers love to tell you you can talk to people all over the world if you're on line. Who wants to? You want to talk to people all over the world? People don't talk to the guy next door." Barbara Walters wrote (in 1982) about walking into a room early one evening while her daughter was talking to a friend. She heard her say: "My Mummy can't drive a car, you know. My Mummy can't fix a fuse. My Mummy burns the meat loaf. Come to think of it, my Mummy really can't do anything but talk."

Whoever said, "talk is cheap" never saw my "telefon khezhbn" (telephone bill!) And we've all met someone known as a "Pisk-Malokheh"-- a big talker who does little. He's an expert only with his mouth--someone who talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk.

"Gib a kik" at these statistics:

2006 Starting Jan. 1, Howard Stern will get $500 "milyon" over the next five years. "Sakh dolaren" (a lot of money)!

The Learning Annex reached a deal with Donald Trump to present three classes this year titled, "How to Succeed in Real Estate." Trump's fee: $1 "milyon" for each 1-hour class. That's more than $16,000 a "minut."

Manhattan Democratic Assemblyman, Adriano Espaillat, drafted a bill that would pay a "komiker" (comic) $120 for every 20 minutes they work on "der sof-vokh" (weekend). For weekday gigs, the minimum "tsolung" (payment) would be $28 - $46 for each 20 minutes they spend trying to get us to "lakhn" (laugh).

A talking "shtern termometer" (forehead thermometer) at Hammacher Schlemmer sells for $29.95.

Nicole Kidman is offered $435,000 to speak to a Forbes conference in Australia, which would make her the highest-paid public speaker of all time. "Oy, is dus a meydl." (Oy, what a girl!)

A talking "retsept" (prescription) bottle from" sells for $19.99. The Talking Rx is programmed to tell you "punkt" (exactly) how many pills to take, at what time, and what they are for. Push the red button and you'll have the recorded "yedie" (message). "zayt gezunt!" (You should be healthy.)

A $92 Royce talking "vog" (scale) is good for those on a "diete."

A $7.95 talking key chain thermometer will tell you how "heys" (hot) or "kalt" (cold) it is "haynt" (today). Put on a "sveter"--just in case!

Talkers "zhurnal" (magazine) costs $75 a year ($100 outside of the U.S.A.)

2004 "The Art of Schmooze" (Volune 1) by Beth Mende Conny, sold for $10.95 in the U. S. "Schmoozen/shmuessen" means to discuss or converse idly or pleasantly. Ex-President Bill Clinton earned $875,000 on the lecture circuit. During his first two years out of office he raked in almost $14 "milyon." Due to his bypass surgery in 2004, his income was considerably less.
2003 Bill Clinton gets $100,000 - plus per speech...and he doesn't "funfer!"

Peter Schwartz, who runs the Global Business Network, charges corporate clients $2,000 an hour. He also receives as much as $75,000 for speeches to groups eager to tap his knowledge. 2001 Chris Matthews ("Hardball") received $20,000 for speaking at the "Long Island 2001: The Leading Challenge," held at Molloy College.

Colin Powell received about $59,500 per speaking engagement after he decided to "tsuriktsien zikh" (stop working/retire) from miliary service in 1993.

Talk magazine pays $2 a word to some writers and $4 a word to people who have the juice to argue for it.

Houston reimbursed its mayor $2,900 for a course he took in public speaking.

According to, Art Buchwald's speaking fee is $20,000 plus first-class travel expenses. (In 1968 he wrote, "The United States is suffering from its worst shortage of radio and TV talk-show guests in twenty years. The reason for this is that while talk shows have been multiplying by the thousands, the people who have been appearing on them have become worn out. In 1960 there were 250 guests available for each talk show. Ten years later, there were 250 talk shows fighting over the same guests.")

Bill Clinton's speaking fees ranged up to $350,000 a speech.

2000 Colin Powell gave an average of 10 speeches per month.

Robert Hendickson publishes, "New Yawk Talk." He defines "New Yorkitis" as a disease that some outlanders think people with a New York accent suffer from.

Microsoft offers any computer-science "profesor" who mentions its program in an academic presentation $200.

In Los Angeles, the going rate for voice actors is $350 a session.

Rep. Linda Smith spent $1,497.01 on cell-phone calls over 90 days.

The meetings industry spent $120 billion on professional speakers, according to the National Speakers Assoc.


The voices behind Gateway's 24-hour customer service lines, after passing a test that assesses their telephone demeanor, earn $9 an hour.

Newt Gingich joined the lecture circuit at $50,000 a speech.

Bob Heck, Clinton impersonator, receives $1,500 an appearance at Naomi's World of Entertainment.


"Schmoozing - The Private Conversations of American Jews," by Joshua Halberstam, sold for $13. "Schmooseoisie" is a noun meaning "the expanding class of people who make a living by talk, as in radio and TV." Oprah is a member of the schmouseoisie (borrowed from Yiddish and French), and "high schmooze" is a Hollywood event with a high proportion of "players" in attendance (film and TV term).


David Gergen, the former White House aide, earned $83,250 from speaking appearances through June. (He earned $239,460 for 50 speeches he gave in the first five months of 1993.)

A panhandler's sign at Grand Central Station (NY) said, "Can't speak. Bad cold. Please contribute $1 for cough medicine. Thank you."


"Der advokat" (the attorney), Marcia Clark's asking price for speaking engagements was $50,000.


Chrysler "makher," Lee Iacocca, earned $60,000 a pop for a half hour talk. He's Baaaack! In 2005, he's appearing in a series of TV commercials with his new sidekick, Jason Alexander. Don Imus, radio talk-show host, earned $6 "milyon."

The fine for verbal abuse by a NYC "taksi" driver is $50 - $350.

Bob Dole, out of work, picked up an easy $200 by chatting on the David Letterman show.

Some topics to be pontificated this year: Corns Dressing Down (the opposite of "oysgeputst") Genius ("der goen") Accent ("aksent") reduction Affluence ("raykh") Stupidity ("narishkeit") Doubtful medical devices ("cupping")?


Convention planners will pay $70,000 to get George Bush to speak; Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf charge about $60,000.

Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Cosby are paid "in the six figures" for one speech.

Other celebrities:

Larry King $50,000 Jack Kemp35,000 Dan Quayle 25,000 Mark Russell 20,000 "Az me redt a sakh, redt men fun zikh." (If you talk a lot, you talk about yourself.)

Bernard Lentz, an economics "profesor" at Ursinus College, figures that if only one in 10 Americans' 15 million workers squanders just 10 minutes a day watching, listening to or gossiping about the Simpson case on the job, that could cost business about $10 billion this year.

The Learning Annex in NYC offered a course titled, "How to Sell On the Phone." Cost: $39 for members; $49 nonmembers. Another course was titled, "How to Talk to Anyone About Anything." $39 for nonmembers; $29 for members.

According to "The Rule Book" by Pavelek & Feinman, one of the rules for being funny is #12: Learn a few Yiddish words.


Bernard De Koven, director of the Institute of Better Meetings, devised a $39.95 "kompyuter" (computer) program, called "Meeting Meter" to dramatize the monetary value of business gatherings. At the start of a meeting, participants type in their hourly pay. As the meeting drags on, the meter adds up the labor costs. Consider this: Did you spend $500 to talk about a $50 purchase? It helps put things in perspective. "Es iz nit geshtoygn un nit gefloygn." (It just doesn't make sense.)

Jim Mullen's "Index" reports that the average salesman spends 21% of his day on the "telefonirn" (telephone).

1990 A new Japanese telephone designed to deter unwanted callers sells for $165. At the push of a button, a "broygez" (angry) male voice shouts, "Stop it!"
1988 Former anti-war activist, Abbie Hoffman, earns $150,000 a year giving speeches to "universitet" (college) kids.
1983 Barbara Walters published, "How to talk with practically anybody about practically anything." (Price: $6.95)

Marjorie Gottleb Wolfe remembers when "The Goldbergs" (Gertrude Berg as Molly) had a telephone installed. She said, "Ken you emagine, you put your mout here and you give a talk, 'Hulloh'' And right away it henswers you beck! Such a breains vat pippe got!"

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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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