• Wikipedia is completely written by its users — volunteers all. Of course, as you may expect, some users try to post incorrect information. Often, this is funny misinformation. For example, in late October 2006, this information appeared in the entry for Essex High School: “At EHS students are free to do whatever they wish in their time after school. This policy has led to the creation of the Zombie Killing Squad, the Pro-Zombie Acceptance Committee, the Zombie Hate Club and the Debate Team.” Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), this misinformation was quickly noticed and quickly deleted.
• Back in the Vietnam War era, comedian Jackie Mason made fun of reports that we were winning the war. For example, to make fun of reports that we were bombing 500 bridges a week in Vietnam, he would say that he had recently returned from Vietnam, and there weren’t but eight bridges in the whole country. Does that mean that we should disbelieve military reports? Not necessarily. Mr. Mason said that apparently the military first airdropped the bridges in Vietnam, then destroyed them.
• David Letterman is known for his wit. As a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, he once talked a fellow fraternity member into shaving his head and painting it blue. Mr. Letterman then pointed out the fraternity member to other people and said that he was the world’s biggest ballpoint pen. And as a weather broadcaster in Indiana (early in his career), he once announced the temperatures of two cities — “Muncie, 42; Anderson, 44” — then said, “Always a close game.”
• Groucho Marx, master of insults, once toasted a socialite in this way: “I drink to your charm, your beauty, and your brains — which will give you a rough idea of how hard up I am for a drink.” Brother Chico was a master of chasing skirts. When his wife caught him kissing another woman, he explained, “I wasn’t kissing her. I was whispering in her mouth.”
• Chris Rock became a comedian almost as a fluke. In 1983, he wanted to see in person Eddie Murphy — a comedian whom he “totally idolized.” While standing in line at Radio City Music Hall to buy a ticket, he read a local paper that included information about comedy clubs. Mr. Rock says, “I don’t know what it was, but something in my head said [to] walk away, so I did.” He walked to the comedy club Catch a Rising Star. Fortunately, it was audition night, and fortunately he drew a lottery number that allowed him to be one of the people who auditioned that night. While waiting to go on stage, he wrote some jokes, and he succeeded so well that he was offered work at the club. This was fortunate. Mr. Rock says, “I knew nothing. If he hadn’t told me to come back, I never would have.” Of course, Mr. Rock rose in the comedy ranks, and a big break came when Eddie Murphy saw his act and hired him to play the role of a valet in Beverly Hills Cop II. What would Mr. Rock be doing now if he had not listened to the voice in his head telling him to walk away? He says, “I don’t know, driving a truck, something like that. But happy. I’d be a happy guy doing that.”
• Some people are, quite simply, competent. In 1929, Laurel and Hardy made the short comedy film “Liberty,” for which a three-story building was constructed. At one point, the comedy team was working 200 feet above ground, but a wooden platform below them was supposed to provide them safety. Mr. Laurel expressed concern about the height the comedy team was in, so to prove that they were safe Mr. Hardy jumped down on the wooden platform. However, the wood was made of flimsy sugar pine, and he fell through the platform. Fortunately, a competent crewmember named Thomas Benton Roberts, who had unsuccessfully complained about the flimsiness of the safety platform, had gone to the trouble of putting up a safety net below the safety platform — something he was not required to do. Instead of falling 200 feet, Mr. Hardy fell only 20 feet. He was shaken by the fall, but he quickly went back to work.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
THE COOLEST PEOPLE IN COMEDY
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