David Bruce: The Funniest People in Comedy — Practical Jokes

Practical Jokes

• Tim Conway used to hang out with some friends in a projection room at a television station in Cleveland, Ohio. At night, the telephone switchboard was closed, so the calls were routed into the projection room. Mr. Conway sometimes pretended to be an answering machine. He would answer the phone and say, “When you hear the tone, leave your name, number, and message.” But then he would beep before the caller had finished talking and say, “No, you didn’t say it fast enough. You have to get your message in between the tones. Now try it again.” Again, he would beep before the caller had finished talking. Callers would try to talk faster and faster until they finally realized that they were the victims of a practical joke.

• Mark Twain was at the races outside London, where he met a friend who had lost all his pocket money gambling and who asked if Mr. Twain would buy him a ticket back to London. “I’m nearly broke myself, but I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” Mr. Twain replied. “You can ride under my seat, and I’ll hide you with my legs.” The friend agreed, but unknown to the friend, Mr. Twain bought two train tickets. When the train inspector came by to collect the tickets, Mr. Twain handed him the two tickets, then said, “My friend is a little eccentric and likes to ride under the seat.”

• As a teenager growing up in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Letterman worked in a grocery store. One day, he was ordered to stack up cans in a display. He did stack the cans—all the way to the ceiling, using an arrangement in which if a customer removed one can, the entire stack of cans would fall down. On another occasion, he got on the intercom and announced a fire drill. The customers left the store, and not all the customers laughed when they discovered that the fire drill was a hoax.

• When Sheldon Leonard co-starred with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man, a dialogue coach made his life miserable, insisting that he was performing the dialogue incorrectly no matter how he said it. After some time, when Mr. Leonard was ready to kill the dialogue coach, Mr. Costello revealed that it was a practical joke—the dialogue coach was just an actor he and his partner had hired to plague him.

• Humorist Robert Benchley invited Frank Case, the manager of the Algonquin Hotel, to dinner, and when Mr. Case arrived, he discovered that almost everything in Mr. Benchley’s home had come from the Algonquin Hotel—the towels, the soap, the tableware, the napkins, everything bore the insignia of the Algonquin Hotel. (Mr. Benchley had secretly arranged with Mr. Case’s staff to borrow a bunch of Algonquin stuff for the dinner.)

• When famous movie stars Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford were walking together in Hollywood, they would occasionally be recognized and crowds of fans would follow them. Because the movies back then were silent, none of these fans had ever heard them speak. To amuse themselves and astonish the fans, Mr. Chaplin and Ms. Pickford sometimes spoke to each other using high, squeaky voices.

• Practical joker Hugh Troy used to give dinner parties at which he served oysters on the half shell. Frequently, one of the guests found a pearl and Mr. Troy congratulated the guest. Unfortunately, when the guest visited the jewelry store the next day to get the pearl appraised, the guest would discover that the “pearl” had been purchased at a five- and ten-cent store.

• David Brenner is funny in real life. Once, he was riding on a crowded subway. The only available seat was stained, so he put his newspaper on the seat, then sat down. A man asked, “Are you reading that newspaper?” Mr. Brenner replied, “Yes,” then stood up, turned the page, and sat down on the newspaper again.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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Music Recommendation: Pony Death Ride — “Cuddle Party!”


Music: “Cuddle Party!”


Artist: Pony Death Ride

Artist Location: Formerly San Diego, California; now Vermont


“Pony Death Ride is a comedy / cabaret / punk rock duo from San Diego, Ca. Songs range from piano and ukulele ditties you may find at a burlesque or variety show to punk-rockish stuff all wrapped in a neat comedic bow.”

“If you’re here to f*** then you’re outta luck! This accordion heavy song by musical comedy duo Pony Death Ride explores the dark world of cuddle parties. So many rules!”

Price: $1 (USD) for track; $7 (USD) for 14-track album

Genre: Comedy. Rock.




Pony Death Ride


Pony Death Ride Official Site


A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin — HappymessHappiness

A Dance with Dragons is so far the last published book in the series of A Song of Ice and Fire. The sixth book, The Winds of Winter, is set to be released in 2021. I hope George R.R. Martin has something far, far better than the TV series. I enjoyed this fifth book in […]

A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin — HappymessHappiness

David Bruce: The Funniest People in Comedy — Police, Politics, Practical Jokes


• Ellen DeGeneres says that being pulled over by the police makes her nervous, so she tries to lessen the tension by making jokes. One day, she was pulled over for speeding. When the police officer asked if she knew why she had been pulled over, she replied, “Because of the dead bodies in the trunk?” (The police officer was not amused.)

• Comedy writer Barney Dean was taking a walk in Beverly Hills—a place where people almost never walk, preferring instead to have their chauffeur drive them wherever they want to go. Suspicious, a motorcycle police officer stopped him, and Mr. Dean asked, “How fast was I going, officer?”


• Harpo Marx had a servant who did many kinds of work for him, including serving as his chauffeur. This man did not wear a uniform, and he wandered freely around the grounds, pausing to watch Harpo’s guests play croquet or tennis. One day, one of Harpo’s guests was Herbert Bayard Swope, who as a politician prided himself on being able to remember names and faces. Mr. Swope looked at Harpo’s servant, knew that he had seen him somewhere before, but could not remember his name or where he had seen him. After a long struggle with his memory, Mr. Swope finally gave up, went over to the man, and said, “Good afternoon. I’m Herbert Bayard Swope.” The reply came back, “Pleased to meet you. I’m Benny Murphy, Harpo’s chauffeur.”

• Comedian Joy Behar once announced on her radio show that next time she would read “a list of 10 reasons why Rush Limbaugh couldn’t get laid.” Her bosses advised her not to read the list on her radio show, so it became a First Amendment issue. She didn’t read the list on the air, but she explained that she was being censored, thus creating more controversy than if she had read the list. Of course, the next time she performed at a club, fans called for the list, and she read it to them. What about her radio show? Ratings went up, but she was fired anyway.

• Comedian Kate Clinton lives in Provincetown, Rhode Island. In 1992, her next-door neighbor, Peter, asked if she had heard the terrible fight the night before. She hadn’t, so Peter told her how bad the fight had been, with people yelling “f—ing liar and f—ing this and that” at each other. Suddenly, Ms. Clinton realized what had happened, and she said, “Oh, Peter! We were watching the Republican convention, screaming at George Bush in his speech. We had the windows open. Sorry.” Peter replied, “I agree, dahlin’.”

Practical Jokes

• Impressionist Rich Little played a practical joke on Bette Davis. At the urging of a friend, he called her up, imitated the voice of her friend Jimmy Stewart, and succeeded in fooling her for a while, until she asked a question that Mr. Little did not know the answer to, but Mr. Stewart would have. Ms. Davis did not take the joke well. She demanded to speak to the person who had put Mr. Little up to the joke, and she told that person, “I’ll never have anything to do with you or Rich Little again!” Later that evening, Mr. Little saw both Jimmy Stewart and President Ronald Reagan, and he told them the story of the practical joke. President Reagan knew Ms. Davis, and he offered to call her to patch things up. He called her, said, “Hello, Bette. This is Ronald Reagan,” then a moment later, he hung up the telephone. Asked what had happened, President Reagan related, “She said, ‘F—k you, Rich Little!’ and hung up.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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Music Recommendation: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard — “Cousin Eddie”


Music: “Cousin Eddie”


Artist: King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard

Artist Location: Melbourne, Australia

Info: This is one of two albums they released on Christmas Day 2020. The other is LIVE IN LONDON ’19.

NucaCola, a fan, wrote, “Finally an official collection of King Gizzard’s early EP works! If you’re a fan of ‘Willoughby’s Beach’ and ‘12 Bar Bruise,’ then you’ll love this! Favorite track: ‘Eddie Cousin.’”

dustytrails, “Short, punchy, and fun, King Gizz gives a more matured take on their early surf rock sound.” 

Price: $1 (AUS) for track; $10 (AUS) for 10-track album

Genre: Alternative. Rock.




King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard


David Bruce: The Funniest People in Comedy — Mothers, Music, Names, people with Handicaps, Police


• When Nancy Cartwright, the voice of TV’s Bart Simpson, was pregnant with her first child, she kept telling her midsection, “Please don’t be Bart! Please don’t be Bart!”


• Country comedian Jerry Clower sometimes toured with country singer Mel Tillis, and they had a wonderful relationship. Mr. Clower would come out first to start the show, then Mr. Tillis would come out with his act. Always, Mr. Tillis would say before the last song of the night, “Ladies and gentlemen, let’s get the nation’s number-one country comic back out here on stage and let you applaud him again.” Then Mr. Tillis would invite Mr. Clower to stay on stage and sing the last song with the band.

• The comedy team of Laurel and Hardy was greatly loved throughout the world. In 1953, after Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy had stopped making movies, they went on tour in the British Isles. When their boat came to Cobh, Ireland, the pier was lined with hundreds of Laurel and Hardy fans. As the boat docked, all the church bells in the city started ringing out Laurel and Hardy’s movie theme song. Both Laurel and Hardy cried.

• Entertaining in the days of radio could be interesting. English comic singer Anna Russell had an Aunt Bena who invited her neighbors over to listen to opera on the radio. All of her guests dressed up in formal evening clothes, and they sat in chairs arranged in rows just like they were at the opera. During intermission, they drank champagne.


• In Beverly Hills, Terry-Thomas was walking (something not often done in Beverly Hills) and noticed that each street was lined with a different variety of tree. Wondering about the name of an unfamiliar species, he stopped and asked a Mexican gardener, “I wonder if you could tell me what this is?” The gardener stopped working, stared at Terry-Thomas, then answered scornfully, “It’s a tree.”

• Robert Benchley invited writer J. Bryan III, who was from Virginia, to dinner, saying that he had invited a female companion for him. At the dinner, he introduced Mr. Bryan to a Chinese woman. “This is Miss Ching Lee,” Mr. Benchley said. “I invited her for you because you’re from Virginia, and everybody from Virginia is related to the Lees.”

People with Handicaps

• When comedian Geri Jewell, whose muscle control is affected by her cerebral palsy, tried to get into a college psychology class with a door that was locked because the class was already filled with students, she first knocked on the door and then accidentally fell down some stairs. The students inside the classroom had been watching, and one informed the professor, “There’s some drunk girl out there who just fell down the stairs.” After a quick trip to the nurse’s office, Ms. Jewell again approached the psychology professor. He opened the door, looked her over, then said, “If you kids are going to take every drug on earth, why bother to come to school at all?” (After he understood the real situation, the professor became one of Ms. Jewell’s friends.)

• Jonathan Winters is a very funny comedian who has suffered from mental illness. Once, he parked in a handicapped parking space, and a woman protested, “You’re not handicapped.” Mr. Winters looked at her and said, “Lady, can you see into my mind?”


• Shortly before he had to go on stage, Groucho Marx took his new car out for a spin. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize that the traffic at that time of day would be so heavy, and he found it difficult to make it back to the theater on time for his cue. In desperation, he made an illegal turn and was stopped by a policeman. Groucho attempted to explain the situation, but the policeman didn’t believe him and said, “If you’re one of the Marx Brothers, let’s hear you say something funny.” Groucho snapped back, “If you’re a policeman, let’s see you arrest somebody.” The policeman laughed, then gave Groucho an escort to the theater.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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Music Recommendation: The Beatersband — “She Talks to Rainbow”


Music: “She Talks to Rainbow”

Album: This track is a single.

Artist: The Beatersband

Artist Location: Italy

Info: Vintage Punkrock ’n’ Roll

“The Italian band has as its goal the modernization of vocal music of the 50’s and 60’s. They do this by giving the songs new life with a Punk Rock sound while maintaining their classic soul.”

This is a cover of the Ramones song “She Talks to Rainbows.” Yes, this Italian band’s title is “She Talks to Rainbow.”

Price: €1 for track

Genre: Pop


The Beatersband on Bandcamp


“She Talks to Rainbow”