• When Bill Cosby was in school, his grandfather advised him not to play football. Bill played football anyway, and he broke his shoulder. He was lying on a sofa, in pain, when his grandfather visited. Embarrassed, young Bill waited for his grandfather to say, “See, I told you, Junior.” Instead, his grandfather gave him a quarter and told him, “Go to the corner [store] and get some ice cream. It has calcium in it.’”
• Comedian Frank Morgan said whatever was on his mind. Once, he was reading the scores of some obscure football games on his radio program when he suddenly interrupted himself and asked, “Is anybody really interested in this nonsense?”
• At Friars Club dinners, comedians take great pleasure in insulting the guest of honor, often using very vulgar language to do so. At a dinner for Jack Benny, many dignified people, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Helen Hayes, and Senator Jacob Javits, were present, so Mr. Benny told his friend and fellow comedian George Burns, “George, this is a high-class affair, so nothing risqué.” Mr. Burns joked, “Should I tell the story about Sid Gary’s *ss?” Mr. Benny joked back, “I wouldn’t if I were you, because Javits is on ahead of you, and he’s going to tell it.”
• Actor Elliott Gould was friends with comedian Groucho Marx when Groucho was old. Groucho, of course, insulted friends as well as enemies. Once, Mr. Gould replaced a burned-out light bulb over Groucho’s bed, and Groucho told him, “That’s the best acting I’ve ever seen you do.” Mr. Elliott considers that “the best review I’ve ever had and probably will ever have.” The two men really were close — Groucho even let Mr. Elliott shave him with an electric razor.
• Even good people can be distracted from what is really important. At one time, comedian Phil Silvers was accustomed to bet quite a lot of money on sports games. Once, he visited with his mother for a day, and he had her radio tuned to a game he had bet on. At the end of the day, he realized that he had spent the day with his mother, but he couldn’t remember a single thing she had said because he had been listening to the game, not to her.
• Chico Marx loved to gamble, and he gambled all of his money away. His famous brother Harpo, however, managed to save much of his earnings. Once, Chico was asked how much money he had lost gambling. He replied, “Find out how much Harpo has. That’s how much I’ve lost!”
Gays and Lesbians
• Jennie McNulty is both an out comedian and a defensive back for the California Quake women’s football team. She performs at military bases in Iraq and on Olivia cruises for lesbians and at other gay-friendly venues. While performing on military bases, she couldn’t delve deeply into gay matters when the military had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, but she found a way to make a point: “I love doing the military shows. I have to do what I call ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ shows, so I just don’t bring up anything relationship-wise, but I’m decked out in rainbow gear from head to toe — Richard Simmons would look straighter than I do performing there.” Fortunately, she comes back to gay-friendly venues, so she says that she goes “from ‘don’t ask’ to ‘tell everybody’!” She loves the Olivia cruises because of all the lesbians who are free to be themselves. Of course, in the big cities gays and lesbians can be out and about, but in small towns, doing that can be much harder. Ms. McNulty says, “On the Olivia trips, you’re dealing with people who live in the middle of the country. I had one woman tell me she and her girlfriend had to practice holding hands, because they can never hold hands when they’re home. Those crowds are so amazing because everyone’s just on cloud nine — they’re totally free to be who they are.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
THE COOLEST PEOPLE IN COMEDY
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