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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