David Bruce: The Funniest People in Comedy — Animals, Audiences, Bombing


• Of course, the real star of the television sitcom Mr. Ed was Mr. Ed, the horse—not Alan Young, who played Wilbur Post. Because of this, Mr. Young had to do his best in every shot—if the horse was perfect in doing what he was supposed to do, that was the shot that was used. Mr. Young also says that when the horse was tired, that was the end of shooting for the day.

• The family of Quaker humorist Tom Mullen adopted a stray dog, which they named Terry. Terry was so well fed that she was overweight, and because she was overweight, her legs bowed. In addition, her tail wagged so much that one of the Mullen children called her “a story with a happy ending.”

• Although many people don’t realize it, much wildlife lives in New York City. Comedian (and birder) Bob Smith was watching a motionless Great Blue Heron in a Central Park lily pond when an astonished tourist asked him, “Is it real?”

• While working at WING radio in Dayton, Ohio, comedian Jonathan Winters brought a horse in to be his surprise guest, even though he had to bring it up three flights of stairs.


• Harry Houdini used to perform his famous needles-and-thread illusion, during which he seemed to swallow first thread, then sewing needles. After allowing a member of the audience to look into his mouth and verify that no thread and needles were there, Houdini would pull the thread from his mouth, showing the audience that all the needles had been strung on the thread, supposedly while they were in his stomach. During one performance, Groucho Marx was in the audience. When Houdini asked for a volunteer from the audience, Groucho stepped forward and peered into Houdini’s mouth. After Houdini asked Groucho what he saw there, Groucho replied, “Gum disease.”

• On a horribly cold night in Cleveland, stand-up comedian Judy Carter came out to perform in front of an audience of only two people. She ended up sitting at their table and telling a few jokes. After the “show” was over, the couple invited her to their home for breakfast. She accepted.

• Weird comedian Andy Kaufman once came out on stage and started singing “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” The audience hated it, but when Mr. Kaufman left the stage after getting down to “2 Bottles of Beer,” the audience wanted him to finish the song.

• Much of Richard Lewis’ comedy is about the pain of being alive. One day, some UCLA students—the image of health and happiness—recognized him when he was in his car and shouted to him, “We’re in pain, too.”


• Very early in her career as a stand-up comedian, Carol Siskind bombed horribly in a club in which her brother was a member of the audience. She refused to let him not see her succeed, so she dragged him to another club, where she also bombed. Still refusing to let him go home, she dragged her brother to yet another club, where finally, at 2 a.m., she had a good set. Only after her brother had finally seen her succeed would she let him go home.

• Very early in her career, Phyllis Diller did what all beginning comedians do—bomb. To get into show business, she called the Red Cross and volunteered her services as a comedian. They sent her to a veterans’ hospital, where she performed in front of four guys who yelled at her, “Leave us alone—we’re already in pain.”

• The very dignified Greer Garson guested on Jimmy Durante’s program. She didn’t know anything about comedy and asked Mr. Durante what would happen if the show wasn’t funny. Mr. Durante replied, “Then, Miss Garson, we’re all gonna be in the toilet together.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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