• When Billy Crystal was attending Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, he hosted a jazz show on the campus radio station, but he ran into a problem: a severe lack of jazz records. According to Mr. Crystal, in West Virginia Roy Clark is considered a jazz musician. (Keep in mind that Mr. Crystal is a professional comedian.) To solve his problem, he wrote a letter to John Hammond, the head of Columbia Records, a music company that has recorded many great jazz records. In the letter, Mr. Crystal mentioned his father and uncle, who had both been involved in a major way in jazz. (He says that he also mentioned Roy Clark and what West Virginians thought of him.) In response, Mr. Hammond sent Mr. Crystal 50 classic Columbia jazz albums along with a catalog and an offer for Mr. Crystal to buy more jazz albums at the low price of $1 each.
• Bill Cosby sometimes does favors for friends. One of the kids he grew up with is Bootsie Barnes, who became a professional saxophone player. He played mostly in small clubs for little money, but Mr. Cosby invited him to open for him at the Jones Beach Theater on Open Island, where Bootsie was able to play for 10,000 appreciative people. In Reno, Nevada, one of Bill Cosby’s friends from before he became really famous opened up a McDonald’s. To help make the opening a success, Mr. Cosby showed up, wearing a red jogging outfit, and signed autographs. One little girl saw his red jogging outfit and asked, “Is that Santa Claus?” Her mother replied, “No, dear, that’s Bill Cosby. He’s betterthan Santa Claus.”
• When comedian Margaret Cho was just starting out, she often was too timid to go into the green room (the place where entertainers hang out as they wait to perform — and after their performances); therefore, she would hang around outside the door. One day, the green room was empty, so Ms. Cho and some of the other newby entertainers she had met standing outside the door went in and had a seat. When she became a star, Ms. Cho invited into the green room any newby entertainers she saw timidly hanging around the door.
• While entertaining the Desert Storm troops, comedian Jay Leno used to eat military food in mess halls and tease the troops by exclaiming, “Boy! This stuff is delicious! What is this — Thanksgiving dinner? I can’t believeyou guys are complaining!” The soldiers responded by throwing spoons at him. They also gave him a list of people — spouses, parents, other family members, boyfriends or girlfriends — to call when he returned to the United States. Mr. Leno personally made all the calls they requested.
• As a child actor, Hector Gray had a chance to work with comedian Stan Laurel, of Laurel and Hardy fame, in England. He remembers that Mr. Laurel was very kind to the children, and he often took them — a few at a time — on trips to see sights. He was also very generous and bought them many children’s books as gifts.
• While working at Darmstadt, Rudolf Bing knew a comedian who was completely bald, but had three wigs with different lengths of hair. The comedian would wear the short-haired wig for a while, then the medium-haired wig. When he finally put on the long-haired wig, he would tell everyone he needed a haircut. Whenever the comedian began to wear the short-haired wig again, everyone complimented him on his haircut.
• When he was a youngster, Billy Crystal loved the Beatles, and he wanted to grow his hair long like the Beatles wore their hair. Therefore, when he went to the barbershop, he always asked his barber to leave his hair long in back. Unfortunately, every time he went to the barbershop, the barber cut his hair short everywhere, including in back. When Billy complained, the barber would explain, “Your mother called.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
THE COOLEST PEOPLE IN COMEDY