David Bruce: Comedy Anecdotes

• Mel Blanc, the voice of such cartoon characters as Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, and Daffy Duck, once was caught speeding. He was not speeding on purpose. He liked good cars, and he explains, “The car, a brand-new Rolls Royce, handled so smoothly I hadn’t even realized I was speeding.” Of course, the police officer asked for his driver license, and recognizing the name, asked, “Are you the Mel Blanc?” Mr. Blanc replied—using Bugs Bunny’s voice—that yes, he was. The police officer grinned and said, “Well, I guess I’m going to have to let you off with a warning. My kids would never forgive me if I gave a ticket to Bugs Bunny.” Bugs also saved Mr. Blanc in a much more serious situation. On 24 January 1961 he was involved in a very bad two-car accident—the fault of the other driver—and was in a coma for three weeks. People kept saying his name to him, but he never responded. On Valentine’s Day, a cartoon starring Bugs Bunny was playing on the TV, and his doctor, Louis Conway, said to him, “How are you feeling today, Bugs?” Mr. Blanc has no memory of this, but witnesses say that he came out of the coma and replied in Bugs’ voice, very weakly, “Eh, just fine, Doc. How’re you?” One of the people who kept Mr. Blanc laughing during the months of recovery was one of his employers, Jack Benny, a comedian who got laughs by pretending to be a cheapskate. In the hospital Mr. Benny once gave Mr. Blanc one-half of a candy bar, saying, “I didn’t think you were in shape to eat the whole thing, so why waste it?” (By the way, Noel got his name in honor of his grandfather, Grandpa Nachum, who had been renamed Nolan when he came to the United States. Because someone else had recently been named Nolan in the grandfather’s honor, the Blancs searched for a name variant they liked, deciding on Noel in part because of Noel Coward. Afterward, they realized that Noel Blanc means “White Christmas” in French, which is a strange name for a Jewish kid.) Mr. Blanc also received another gift, this one from Warner’s: a 3-foot-high card depicting 14 of the cartoon characters he voiced. Their doctor was saying to a nurse, “It’s a baffling case, nurse. They all seem to have temporarily lost their voices.” Mr. Blanc recovered from the accident and gave voice to cartoon characters until the year 1989, when he died at age 81.

• One of the people with whom Roy Clark worked on Hee Hawwas Junior Samples, who was a country boy who made his own moonshine—for real. Junior became famous through accident. His brother had caught a big sea bass in the Gulf of Mexico and brought its head back home to Georgia. Junior showed the head of the sea bass to people, but he told them that he had caught it right there in Georgia in a fresh-water lake. People marveled at the size of the fish head and thought that it must have been the biggest fish ever caught in Georgia. Junior even went on a radio show and talked about the fish. Country comedian Archie Campbell heard a tape of the radio show, liked what he heard, wrote a script based on Junior’s story, and hunted up Junior and made a recording that became a country comedy hit. The producers who were creating Hee Hawheard about Junior, liked what they heard, and signed him up to be on TV. Shortly after joining the Hee Hawcast, Junior asked Roy, whom he had seen often on TV, how he had come to be on Hee Haw. Roy told his story of a long apprenticeship in music and many years of experience entertaining people. Junior said, “Huh! I just told a lie about a fish and here I am!” On Hee Hawand in real life, Junior always bib overalls, a tee shirt, and a baseball cap. Back in the days when Spiro Agnew was Vice President of the United States, Junior was invited to a fancy party in a penthouse in Nashville, Tennessee. For such a fancy party, Junior was expected to dress properly and he was given a tuxedo jacket—which he wore over his bib overalls and tee shirt. At the party, he was introduced to the Vice President of CBS, and as you may expect, he said, “Nice to meet you, Mr. Sparyou Agnew.”

• Early in his career, comedian Jeff Foxworthy rode a New York subway while carrying $100 he had been paid for a show. He was worried about being mugged, so he messed up his hair, pulled out his shirt, and pretended to be drunk and mentally ill as he loudly babbled. The only bad thing that happened was that when he returned to his hotel room, his wife, Gregg, was scared by the way he looked. By the way, Mr. Foxworthy has done good deeds. He once received an advance to do a TV show, but he decided not to do it because he disagreed with the producers about the format of the show. Although he was not legally obligated to do so, he refunded the advance. He then went on to do The Jeff Foxworthy Show, and when that show was cancelled, he helped many of the show’s employees to get new jobs.

• The Reverend Warren Debenham, a San Francisco-area minister, collects comedy records—many thousands of them. He says that good comedy “puts down the people in power, whereas bad comedy puts down the guy who’s powerless. For that reason, I really don’t like Andrew Dice Clay: He puts down women and gays.” He also says that many religious people have hobbies outside of their ministry. For example, he knows a clergyman who is an expert on photographing wildflowers. Reverend Debenham says that this clergyman will “fiddle for hours just getting the right light and focus. [The clergyman] said, ‘That’s how I get the urge to manipulate out of my system—so I don’t manipulate people.’”

• “If it weren’t for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are so far apart, some of us wouldn’t get any exercise at all.” — Joey Adams

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


John Ford’s The Broken Heart: A Retelling, by David Bruce


William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure: A Retelling in Prose, by David Bruce


Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist: A Retelling, by David Bruce


David Bruce’s Smashwords Bookstore: Retellings of Classic Literature, Anecdote Collections, Discussion Guides for Teachers of Literature, Collections of Good Deed Accounts, etc. Some eBooks are free.



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