David Bruce: The Coolest People in Comedy — Fame

Fame

• After movie shorts made by the Three Stooges — Moe, Larry, and Curly — started being shown on TV, the Three Stooges made many, many fans among the kids who saw them on TV. One day, Moe’s daughter asked him to pick up his grandchildren — Mike and Jeff — from school. Moe agreed, and when school let out, here came Mike and Jeff — and a couple of hundred other kids. Mike and Jeff had told their friends that one of the Three Stooges was coming to pick them up, and their friends had told their friends, who had told their friends. Things were chaotic for a while, and finally a teacher asked Moe to leave because of the near-riot conditions. By the way, Moe once received a telephone call from his daughter, who told him good news. She had bought a copy of the World Book Encyclopedia, and a photograph of the Three Stooges was in it! Later, Moe looked up “Comedy” in the World Book Encyclopedia, and he saw a photograph of himself and Larry wrapping an “iron” bar around the neck of Curly.

• In 1959, Mel Brooks, before he became really famous, attended a wrap party at a restaurant for the movie Happy Anniversary, in which his friend Carl Reiner appeared. Also eating at the restaurant, across the room, was playwright Moss Hart, whom Mr. Brooks recognized. Mr. Brooks approached Mr. Hart, loudly saying, “Hello. You don’t know who I am. My name is Mel Brooks. Do you know who you are? Your name is Moss Hart. Do you know what you’ve written? You wrote Once in a Lifetimewith George Kaufman and You Can’t Take It with Youand The Man Who Came to Dinner. You wrote Lady in the Darkand you directedMy Fair Lady.” Mr. Brooks continued naming all the things that Mr. Hart had accomplished during his life. Then he grew louder, “You should be arrogant! You have earned the right to be supercilious! WHYARE YOU LETTING METALK TO YOU?”

• Charlie Chaplin was widely imitated. One day, he was watching one of his imitators on a street in New York when a small boy pushed him. Mr. Chaplin asked him, “What’s the matter?” The small boy said, “Oh, git outa me way. I wanta see Charlie Chaplin. Whada you care about seein’ him? Youse guys always gets in a kid’s way.” On another occasion, Mr. Chaplin had finished shooting a scene in an alley. The people he was working with left, but Mr. Chaplin stayed because he wanted to watch some crap-shooting newsboys. A police officer came by and wanted to run Mr. Chaplin off, but Mr. Chaplin protested, “I’m Charlie Chaplin, and I’ve been working here!” The police officer replied, “You Charlie Chaplin! Huh, I guess I know Charlie Chaplin when I see him. You’re just one of his bum imitators. Get out!”

• As a young comedian, Jim Carrey made out a $10 million check to himself “for acting services rendered,” and carried it around in his wallet as a physical symbol of an important goal. Later, he received $10 million for starring in The Mask 2— and $20 million for starring in Liar, Liar. Along the way to mega-success, he achieved success as an actor in the TV comedy series In Living Color. Unfortunately, his fame did have a downside when he took his daughter out for trick-or-treating on Halloween. Perhaps exaggerating a little, Mr. Carrey says that people would say, “It’s the dude from In Living Color! Here’s an extra candy! Do something [funny]!”

• Terry Gilliam considers himself fortunate because he is the least recognized of the members of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. He is recognized just enough to keep his ego happy, but he realizes how much of a hassle it would be to be recognized everywhere he went. He says, “Thank God I’m not John. It’s an awful job to walk down the street and be John Cleese because you can’t escape from it!”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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THE COOLEST PEOPLE IN COMEDY

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