Illnesses and Injuries
• On April 19, 2005, George Lopez received a new kidney that was transplanted from his wife’s body into his. After the operation, he joked, “Some people say that my wife and I are joined at the hip, but we’re really joined at the kidneys!” His wife, Ann, denies that she is a hero because she gave one of her kidneys to her husband. Instead, she says that someone who gives a kidney to a person he or she does not even know is the real hero. Of course, Mr. Lopez, the star of the TV sitcom The George Lopez Show, is a very famous person. Even though he checked into the hospital under a pseudonym, Tom Ace, he was recognized. When someone called him by his pseudonym, the janitor said, “Hey, loco, that’s George Lopez.” Actually, Mr. Lopez himself was fooled by his own pseudonym. After the operation, the nurses were yelling, “Mr. Ace, wake up!” Mr. Lopez thought at first that they were yelling at someone else to wake up.
• In January 1960, Zero Mostel nearly lost his left leg after an accident in which a city bus skidded into him. Doctors wanted to amputate, but Dr. Joseph Walker, Chief of Surgery for Joint Diseases at Knickerbocker Hospital, managed to save the leg. Later, Dr. Wilder gave a presentation to a group of surgeons and Mr. Mostel was present to show the results of the surgery. Wilder asked Mr. Mostel, “Please show the leg,” and Mr. Mostel promptly pulled up his right pajama leg, showing a perfect leg. The surgeons had begun a standing ovation, when Dr. Wilder said to Mr. Mostel, “I’ll kill you.” Mr. Mostel then raised the left pajama leg, revealing a leg covered with scars. Dr. Wilder then received only light applause.
• Nightclub comedian Joe E. Lewis got sick, was rushed to the hospital, and had to have an operation. His friend Frank Sinatra was there as Mr. Lewis was being wheeled into the operating room. Mr. Lewis asked him, “What’s the prognosis? Don’t b*llsh*t me.” Mr. Sinatra replied, “You’ve got about a 50-50 chance.” Mr. Lewis yelled, “Get me out of here! I want better odds than that!” Everyone laughed.
• Steve Moore is an HIV-positive gay comic who laughs at the dark side of life. Once, a woman friend had a mastectomy. Of course, after her operation she was surrounded by very sorrowful and excessively solicitous friends, so it was a relief when Mr. Moore walked in to visit her and said, “Hey, Nancy — nice tit.” She laughed.
• Comedian Lenny Bruce took comedy into controversial areas it had never ventured into before. He was concerned about language, and he once asked a nightclub audience, “Are there any niggers here tonight?” Of course, the crowd was shocked, but Mr. Bruce argued that such words as “nigger” were shocking and insulting because they had been suppressed. According to Mr. Bruce, “If President Kennedy said, ‘I’m considering appointing two or three of the top niggers in the country to the cabinet,’” the n-word would soon lose both its shock value and its ability to insult. (In the audience was a shocked African-American comedian named Dick Gregory, who later titled his own autobiography Nigger. He also told Mr. Bruce’s publicist, “This guy is the eighth wonder of the world. You have to go back to Mark Twain to find anything remotely like him. And if they don’t kill him or throw him in jail, he’s liable to shake up the country.”)
• Between 1935 and 1940, Buster Keaton was making films in foreign countries. Movies had sound then, so he recorded the movies in various languages, learning a sentence in one language and recording it, and then learning that sentence in another language and recording it, and so on. For one movie, he recorded the dialogue in French and in Spanish, and he did OK. But his German language instructor noticed a problem with his German: “Oh, I understand him very well, only he’s speaking with a French-Spanish accent.”
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