• In 1928, when comedian Henry Morgan was thirteen years old, he and a few friends went to Palisades Park on the first day the amusement park opened for the season. While they were there, a man offered them a free ride on the roller coaster. Afterward, young Henry, who admits that he was a nosy kid, asked the man why he had let them ride free on the roller coaster. “Oh, it’s the beginning of the season,” the man explained. “We wanted to see if it’s still safe.”
• Groucho Marx was dragged to see a medium by his wife. He was reluctant to go because he didn’t believe the medium could communicate with the dead, but he perked up when he heard that the medium would answer any question asked of her. Groucho’s question was, “What’s the capital of North Dakota?” The medium didn’t know the answer, and two of her muscular male confederates threw Groucho out of the séance.
• Marie Dressler was a silent movie comedian who worked with Charlie Chaplin. During World War I, she was so famous that some American G.I.s stationed in France named a cow after her. When the cow was killed during the war, newspaper headlines stated, “‘MARIE DRESSLER’ KILLED IN LINE OF DUTY,” and the real Marie Dressler had a hard time convincing other people that she hadn’t died.
• During World War I, French silent film comedian Max Linder fought against the Germans. At the First Battle of the Aisne, Mr. Linder was machine-gunned. The Germans thought he was dead, and they sent a message of condolence to Mr. Linder’s film company. Fortunately, Mr. Linder survived.
• When comedy writer Barney Dean was in a hospital dying of cancer, Bob Hope visited him. Mr. Hope wondered whether Mr. Dean knew that he was going to die, just as Al “Jolie” Jolsen had died a few weeks earlier. When Mr. Hope walked into Mr. Dean’s hospital room, Mr. Dean asked, “Got any messages for Jolie?”
• Monty Python member Graham Chapman was always late for everything. After Mr. Chapman died, fellow Python member Michael Palin joked at the funeral, “I’d like to think he’s with us now—well, at least he will be in 20 minutes.”
• Henny Youngman’s most famous one-liner was, “Take my wife—please!” At his funeral, Rabbi Noach Valley of the Actors’ Temple in New York prayed, “Dear God, take Henny Youngman—please.”
• As a comedian with cerebral palsy, which affects her control of her muscles, Geri Jewell has been in some interesting situations. When she showed up to take her driving test, the examiner refused to allow her to take it on the grounds that she was drunk! And when she went on a field trip to a psychiatric hospital with her college psychology class, one of the attendants thought she belonged there. When she tried to leave with the rest of the class, the attendant told her, “Come on now, honey. You can’t go with those people. This is your home here.” Ms. Jewell had to yell for help so her professor could tell the attendant that she was a student—the attendant was shocked and muttered, “I guess they’re letting everybody into college nowadays.”
• When his two sons were attending UCLA, comedian Joe E. Brown was invited to join his sons’ fraternity—provided that he become an undergraduate. Mr. Brown paid the tuition and even attended a physics class, where he challenged the professor’s statements and even asserted that Albert Einstein had called him for advice. (This was a somewhat true statement, but of course Mr. Einstein hadn’t called Mr. Brown for advice about physics.) After the class was over, the professor told Mr. Brown, “Stay away from my class, and I’ll give you an A, but if you ever show your face in here again, I’ll flunk you.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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