David Bruce: The Funniest People in Comedy — Money, Mothers,

Money

• Comedian Bill Dana grew up in poverty. Often, he, his siblings, and his parents were forced to hide from bill collectors. While the family sat in a room with drawn curtains and a locked door, the bill collector would bang on the door and shout, “I know you’re in there.” Someone in the family would always softly say, “We know we’re in here, too.”

• Perhaps the wealthiest Monty Python member is hard-working John Cleese. A British newspaper once called several celebrities to see what they would do if they won £1 million in a competition. Among the celebrities they called was Python member Graham Chapman, who said, “I would give it to John Cleese so he could take the afternoon off.”

• Back when magicians Penn Jillette and Teller (this single name is now his legal name) were performing on the streets, Penn very effectively convinced members of the audience to give generously after a show by telling them, “Remember: I’m six-six, I have three very sharp knives, and I have an excellent memory.”

• As a young comedian, Lily Tomlin created a sensation at the Improv by arriving in a chauffeur-driven limousine. Actually, she didn’t have much money. The chauffeur had been parked in the theater district, waiting until a play was over. Lily paid him $5 to take her to the Improv.

• Fanny Brice was a huge star who made thousands of dollars a week. George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart told her that they would write a play for her if she would agree to be paid $1,000 a week. She declined, saying, “If I take $1,000 a week, everybody in America will be writing plays for me.”

• Wilson Mizner came from a good family who supplied many diplomats to America, but he hung around with lowlifes. One day, a friend who was a burglar asked him for a loan of $50. Mr. Mizner gave it to him, but asked, “What’s the matter—doesn’t it get dark anymore?” 

• In the 1960s TV series Get Smart, enemy agents continually tried to assassinate Control agent Maxwell Smart. The constant bombings, shootings, and knife attacks on Max perplexed Max’s landlord—until Max told him that he worked for the Internal Revenue Service.

• Ben Turpin was a silent-film comedian who was amazed at his own success, including financial success; he often walked into public places and introduced himself by saying, “Ben Turpin! Three thousand dollars a week!”

• Some charity benefits don’t make money. Comedian Eddie Cantor once showed a committee how to save $500—by not holding the benefit at all!

Mothers

• Jewish comedian Sam Levenson grew up in a very poor household. Gas was expensive and definitely not to be wasted. Therefore, before leaving the house en masse for any length of time, the family always turned the gas off. One day, they forgot. After the family returned home from a visit, Mr. Levenson’s Mama noticed that the boiler was steaming. Immediately, she barked two orders: “Somebody shut off the gas!” and “Everybody into the bathtub!”

• In the late 1880s, a young woman had her fortune told by a gypsy, who said to her, “You will marry and have a son known all over the world.” The young woman did marry, and one of her sons was Larry Fine, who became a member of the world-famous comedy team known as the Three Stooges. Whenever Larry’s mother went to see a Three Stooges short comedy film at the cinema, she would shout, “That’s my son!”

• Country comedian Jerry Clower grew up in an impoverished family in rural Mississippi. When he was a youngster, his mother used to fix fried chicken, then tell her children to save the chicken back and neck and feet for her, as they were her favorite parts. When he grew up, of course, Mr. Clower realized that his mother loved her children and she wanted them to eat the best parts of the chicken.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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David Bruce: The Beatersband — “Tous les Garçons Et Les Filles” [“All the Boys and Girls”]

BRUCE’S RECOMMENDATION OF BANDCAMP MUSIC 

Music: “Tous les Garçons Et Les Filles” [“All the Boys and Girls”]

EP: LOVE SONGS

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.”

Price: €1 for track; €3 for three-track EP

Genre: Pop

Links: 

The Beatersband on Bandcamp

https://thebeatersbandvintagepunkrocknroll.bandcamp.com

LOVE SONGS

https://thebeatersbandvintagepunkrocknroll.bandcamp.com/album/love-songs

David Bruce: The Funniest People in Comedy — Money

Money

• When comic singer Anna Russell decided to sell her house in Australia and move back to the United States, she decided to get rid of many of her possessions. Many items were auctioned off, but an assortment of odds and ends were dumped into her living room, where she held a farewell party and rummage sale. Her maid looked at the stuff, then asked, “Why don’t you give the garbageman an extra $10 to cart it away?” Fortunately, Ms. Russell did not listen to the advice, because at the rummage sale she made over $900.

• Early in her career, stand-up comedian Judy Tenuta used to make money on the side insulting people at parties. For example, a woman would pay Ms. Tenuta to go to her house and insult her husband on his birthday. At the birthday party, Ms. Tenuta would say such things as, “Hi, it’s your birthday, pig. Come, let me play my accordion in your face.” A fringe benefit of these performances was free food. Ms. Tenuta would always ask that food be brought to her so she could eat as she insulted the guest of honor.

• The Marx Brothers flopped in London with a vaudeville skit called “On the Mezzanine.” During the skit, the Londoners began to throw pennies on the stage—a deadly insult. Groucho went to the front of the stage, raised his hand for silence, then said, “If you people are going to throw coins, I wish to hell you’d throw something more substantial—like shillings or guineas.” This joke was quoted throughout London, and the Marx Brothers became successful in London with a different skit titled “Home Again.”

• To gain experience as a comedian very early in his stand-up career, Jay Leno used to go into a bar and ask the manager if he could do his act. If the manager said, “Get out of here,” Mr. Leno would whip out a $50 bill and say, “Just let me tell some jokes, and if people leave or I embarrass the customers, you can keep the fifty.” All the managers returned his money to him, and a few invited him back to perform again—and next time they let him pass the hat.

• Comedian Richard Pryor grew angry at the low wages paid by Budd Friedman, owner of the Improv comedy club, so he confronted Mr. Friedman and accused him of paying him less because he was black. Mr. Friedman denied the charge, and later, he told his wife what Mr. Pryor had said. She replied, “You should have told him that you take advantage of all performers, regardless of race, color, or creed.” Despite the confrontation, the two men remained friends.

• Zero Mostel got involved in show business as a result of some gallery talks on art he gave at the Museum of Modern Art. Always a comedian, he spiced up his talks by making his audience roar with laughter. Because of the word-of-mouth reputation he received, he soon was asked to entertain at parties, where he received $3 or $5—he also asked for “all the pastrami sandwiches” he could eat.

• Very early in her career, Carol Burnett worked in the Catskill Mountains. A voice coach named Ken Welch heard her, was impressed, and wanted to teach her. Unfortunately, Ms. Burnett had very little money. Mr. Welch offered to teach her for free until she got a better-paying theater job, but Ms. Burnett gave him IOUs, which she paid off with quarters she earned as a hat-check girl.

• Stand-up comedian Judy Carter believes in rewarding the laughing members of her audience. Back when she performed in small clubs, if only a few members of the audience laughed at one of her jokes, she would take money out of her wallet, go over to the laughers, and hand them the money. This always got the audience’s attention and greatly encouraged laughter.

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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Music Recommendation: Kerry Pastine and the Crime Scene — Kerry Pastine and the Crime Scene

BRUCE’S RECOMMENDATION OF BANDCAMP MUSIC

Music: “Zou Bisou Bisou”

Album: Single.

Artist: Kerry Pastine and the Crime Scene

Artist Location: Denver, Colorado

Info:

“Another single from THE CRIME SCENE UNDERCOVER: THE QUARANTINO SESSIONS. This tune is Kerry Pastine’s tribute to one of the best television dramas of all-time, Mad Men. The song was featured in season 5, episode 1: A Little Kiss Part 1. The scene was a super groovy birthday party for Don Draper and his wife sings him the song as a birthday gift. 

The song was recorded with everyone safely in quarantine and working remotely.

Kerry Pastine – Vocals 
Paul Shellooe – Guitar 
Amy Shelley – Drums, percussion, vibraphone 
Troy Robey – Bass 

“Kerry Pastine & the Crime Scene’s songs should be in Quentin Tarantino movies. There’s a fierceness in the band’s energetic live shows; the musicians clearly feed off of each other.”
– Jon Solomon – Westword Feature Article 

“The vintage tones swing and punch – like early ’60s Wanda Jackson possessing a young Joan Jett as backed by the Stray Cats.”
– Eric Shea – Pandora Pick of the Week  

Price: $1 (USD)

Genre: Pop. French Pop.

Links:

“Zou Bisou Bisou”

https://thecrimescene.bandcamp.com/track/zou-bisou-bisou

The Crime Scene on Bandcamp

https://thecrimescene.bandcamp.com

David Bruce: The Funniest People in Comedy — Money

Money

• Many famous, rich people grew up poor, and their early poverty affected how they regarded money. Comedian Fred Allen once paid $300 to rent a cottage in Maine for the summer. (Obviously, this was a long time ago.) After the money had exchanged hands, a syndicate offered Mr. Allen $2,000 a week to write a column every other day. However, he turned it down. His friend Groucho Marx asked him why, and Mr. Allen explained, “I paid $300 for that cottage up in Maine, and if I accept this job I’ll have to stay in New York. I’d be out the $300.” So the syndicate raised its offer—to $3,000 a week. But Mr. Allen again turned the syndicate down. Groucho was incredulous, and he told Mr. Allen, “Why don’t you forget about the $300? You could take one week’s salary from the syndicate and own that cottage outright.” Mr. Allen replied, “I paid $300 to live in that cottage this summer, and that landlord is not going to get my money for nothing!”

• Walter Catlett made a good living playing eccentrics in movies of the 1930s through the 1950s. (He played the comic Sheriff in the screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby, which starred Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn.) Mr. Catlett was also an eccentric in real life. One day, he ran out of money playing roulette at Agua Caliente, a gambling house in Mexico, so he pulled out his false teeth and bet them. He won and collected the price of the dentures: $350. He was well known for his drinking ability and his propensity to spend his money on having fun. When the stock market crashed in 1929, he thought it was hilarious that everyone else was as broke as he was, without having had the fun of spending their money. Yet another reason why he was so often broke was that he gave much of his money away to charity and the needy.

• At age 15, comedian Rita Rudner wanted to be a dancer, so she moved to New York City to study dancing. However, at age 15, she did not understand the intricacies of tipping. Once, she ordered and ate a turkey sandwich, then left without tipping. The waiter came running after her on the sidewalk and told her, “You forgot to leave me a tip.” She handed him her wallet and told him, “Take what you want—just don’t hurt me.” The waiter took $5 from her wallet, saying, “That’s one dollar for serving you the turkey sandwich and four dollars for making me run down the street.” Even at age 15, Rita was a comedian, so she said, “Why don’t you take two dollars for serving me the sandwich and three dollars for running down the street?”

• Comedian Jerry Lewis once boasted about a one iron he owned that he said was the best ever made. Pro golfer Sam Snead heard the boast, and he invited Mr. Lewis to try his one iron. Mr. Lewis tried it, hit the ball further than with his own one iron, then attempted to buy the one iron from Mr. Snead. On hearing the first offer—$100—Mr. Snead said, “No, no.” On hearing the second offer—$200—Mr. Snead said, “No, losing that club would ruin my whole bag.” On hearing the third offer—$500—Mr. Snead said, “Run with it before I change my mind,” and so Mr. Lewis handed over the money and took off running across the golf course.

• Before becoming rich (but not before developing his habit of overtipping), Jackie Gleason overtipped himself into poverty at a hotel. Without enough money to pay his bill, he decided to walk out on his hotel bill. He put on every article of clothing he owned, covered himself with a robe, then walked out, telling the hotel management that he was going for a swim. A year later, he was in funds again and returned to the hotel to pay his bill. He walked up to the hotel owner at the front desk, and the owner shouted, “Oh, my God! We thought you had drowned!”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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Music Recommendation: American Werewolf Academy — “Rock Show Tonight”

BRUCE’S RECOMMENDATION OF BANDCAMP MUSIC 

Music: “Rock Show Tonight”

Album: DAMNABLY FAMNABLY 14TH BIRTHDAY FREE COMPILATION

Artist: American Werewolf Academy

Artist Location: Dallas, Texas

Record Company: Damnably

Record Company Location: London, UK

Info: 22 Tracks by Various Artists

Stratford, London-based Record Label/Publisher. Est. 2006 

Damnably Records celebrated its 14th Birthday in 2020 with a 5 + hour live streamed extravaganza featuring Otoboke Beaver, Say Sue Me, Drinking Boys and Girls Choir, Grrrl Gang, David Boring, Hazy Sour Cherry, Hiperson, American Werewolf Academy, Leggy, Wussy (duo), Dogstar’s Sunmi and Shonen Knife’s Naoko all performing live and chatting with us. Watch now on Damnably’s YouTube  bit.ly/Dmnbl14BD

Price: FREE (but you can tip if you want)

Genre: Rock.

Links: 

DAMNABLY FAMNABLY 14TH BIRTHDAY FREE COMPILATION

https://damnably.bandcamp.com/album/damnably-famnably-14th-birthday-free-compilation

Damnably

https://damnably.bandcamp.com

American Werewolf Academy

https://americanwerewolfacademy1.bandcamp.com

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=1273064555/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/transparent=true/

David Bruce: The Funniest People in Comedy — Letters, Mishaps, Money

Letters

• Jimmy Durante used to close his performances by saying, “Good night, Mrs. Calabash—wherever you are.” Frequently, people would write him letters asking who Mrs. Calabash was; Mr. Durante always wrote back, “Thank you for your letter about Mrs. Calabash. I’d like to tell you about her, but there are some things a gentleman doesn’t talk about.”

Mishaps

• Shemp Howard was a member of the Three Stooges for 10 years after Curly had a stroke in 1946. While shooting the short Brideless Groom, an actress was supposed to slap Shemp around, but she was afraid she would hurt him and so she pulled her punches way too much. Shemp pleaded with her to really let him have it—and she did, giving Shemp a long series of hard slaps and finally knocking him through a door. Afterward, she tearfully apologized to a groggy Shemp, who replied, “It’s all right, Honey. I said you should cut loose, and you did. You sure as hell did.”

• The family of Donald O’Connor performed in vaudeville and traveled in a car with all of their costumes, tumbling mats, and other stage paraphernalia. One day, a little smoke started coming from the car. Someone yelled “Fire!”—and people grabbed axes and fire extinguishers from their office buildings and, Mr. O’Connor says, “literally beat our act to death.”

• Silent-film comedian Ben Turpin, who was famous for his crossed eyes, saved his money and had a happy retirement. When he was an old man, he enjoyed directing rush-hour traffic in downtown Los Angeles. With his crossed eyes and wildly swinging arms, he always managed to royally screw up traffic.

Money

• Country comedian Jerry Clower knew a very religious general store owner named Duvall Scott who recites a Bible verse every time he opens the cash register drawer to put money in. For example, if a child buys a piece of candy, Mr. Scott will open the cash register drawer and say, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.” If a son comes in to buy something for his father, then Mr. Scott will open the cash register drawer and say, “Honor thy father and mother.” One day, a city fellow driving a big car and pulling a fancy horse trailer came in to buy a horse blanket. Mr. Scott went to the back of the store, brought back a blanket and said, “That’ll be $5.” The city fellow said, “This is a real expensive horse. I don’t put any $5 blankets on him,” so Mr. Scott went to the back of the store and looked over his stock. All he had was one kind of horse blanket in different colors, so he put the blanket down, picked up another blanket of a different color, brought it to the front of the store, and said, “That’ll be $25.” The city fellow said, “My horse is famous—too famous for a $25 blanket. Do you have anything better?” Mr. Scott went to the back of the store again, picked up yet another blanket in yet another color, brought it to the front of the store, and said, “That’ll be $50.” This time, the city fellow was satisfied, and he cheerfully handed over the $50, then walked out of the store. Of course, the other people in the store knew what was going on, and they wondered which Bible verse Mr. Scott would quote. Mr. Scott put the money in the drawer, and he said, “He was a stranger, and I took him in.”

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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