• Comedian Joey Adams appeared many times on The Ed Sullivan Show, which was famous for scheduling a wide variety of acts—musical, comic, juggling, animal, whatever. For one appearance, Mr. Adams had to share his dressing room with a performing chimpanzee. However, Mr. Sullivan stopped by the dressing room to apologize: “I’m sorry we had to put you two together.” Mr. Adams replied, “That’s all right,” and Mr. Sullivan joked, “I wasn’t talking to you.”
• Comedian Joan Rivers tells a true story about the worst date in her life. Years before she became famous, she had a blind date with a student who was attending Yale. The blind date arrived, looked at Joan, turned to the person who had arranged the blind date, and said, “Why didn’t you tell me?” Then he walked away, leaving Joan and her friend behind.
• Groucho Marx got on an elevator that was carrying actress Greta Garbo, who was wearing a hat. Playfully, he lifted up the back of her hat and tilted it over her face. This made Ms. Garbo angry, and she said, “How dare you!” Groucho apologized: “I beg your pardon. I thought you were a fellow I knew from Kansas City.”
• W.C. Fields had many famous friends, including Will Rogers, a comedian from Oklahoma who was known for his folksy accent and humor. However, Mr. Fields occasionally made jokes at his friends’ expense. One day, after Will Rogers had visited him in the hospital, and the nurse was raving about how wonderful Will Rogers was, Mr. Fields said, “The son of a bitch is a fake. I’ll bet a hundred dollars he talks just like everybody else when he gets home.”
• Tim Allen, popular star of the TV sitcom Home Improvement, spent time in prison for drug dealing. (He admits that dealing drugs was “stupid.”) Today, he tells about a Colombian drug dealer who was put in a prison cell with an American bank robber. The Colombian couldn’t speak English, so the bank robber taught him English, starting with the sentences “Don’t touch the alarm” and “Put the money in the bag.”
• When Quaker humorist Tom Mullen and his wife, Nancy, toured Japan, a Japanese airline steward told them not to stay at a certain hotel, saying, “This hotel is a sort of rest house for an instant couple.” And Mr. Mullen once saw a detour sign written in both Japanese and English. The English said, “Danger. Drive sideways.”
• In vaudeville and on TV, the comic material of Red Skelton was kept scrupulously clean. When Mr. Skelton was in Nashville, Tennessee, he was asked why no four-letter words were in his performances. Mr. Skelton replied, “Why should people pay me to say words they can read for free on the bathroom wall?”
• Comedian Lisa Geduldig is both Jewish and a lesbian. For her, family interaction is important. While doing her act, she sometimes reads a letter from her parents. In it, they express sympathy about a recent breakup of her romantic relationship—and they try to set her up with a nice Jewish woman. However, to be honest, her parents didn’t write the letter. Ms. Geduldig grew tired of receiving emotionless letters from her parents, so whenever she writes them, she also writes the reply she would like to receive from them. She sends her parents the emotion-filled reply along with her letter and asks them to sign it and mail it back to her.
• Some people can’t distinguish between a comic persona and a real person. According to his radio show, comedian Jack Benny paid his valet Rochester only $12 a week. This upset a lawyer in Cleveland so much that he wrote several letters to Mr. Benny, complaining about his cheapness. In real life, of course, Mr. Benny was very generous, and Eddie “Rochester” Anderson was paid thousands of dollars per week for his performance in Mr. Benny’s half-hour radio program. Mr. Benny was finally forced to write the lawyer and ask him to stop sending those foolish letters.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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