• To make money when he was growing up, comedian Joe E. Brown used to shine shoes. However, one day he had to apologize and turn down a chance to shine a man’s shoes for money. The man’s shoes were tan and Joe E. Brown was so poverty-stricken that he had only one can of shoe polish—black.
• Comedians and comic actors need confidence to do their jobs, but they recognize that this confidence may be misinterpreted as arrogance. Belfast, Ireland, comic Leila Webster was once asked, “What is it about a comic character that makes it funny?” She replied, “This may sound really dreadful—me.”
• As a boy and as a young man, Will Rogers constantly practiced his roping. While at home, he roped calves. While at school, he roped girls. Eventually, he performed his trick roping—and comedy—for audiences attending the Ziegfeld Follies.
• When comedian Jonathan Winters quit his job at a television station in Columbus, Ohio, and announced that he was going to New York, people asked him, “Who do you know in New York?” Mr. Winters replied, “King Kong.”
• Jack Benny took pride in his Jewish heritage, although his brand of comedy seldom made his Jewishness evident. Once, he prepared for a program to be broadcast live just before Yom Kippur, which would begin at sundown. In LA, where the program originated, the program would end before sundown, but Mr. Benny realized that back East, the sun would have already set, and people might think that he was working on Yom Kippur and thus desecrating the holy day. Someone pointed out that the Jews would be in synagogue and so would not even see the program, but Mr. Benny replied, “I wasn’t thinking of the Jews. I wouldn’t like the Gentiles to think I didn’t respect my religion.”
• In some South American countries, people who are critical of the government disappear — agents of the government kidnap and kill them. Some relatives and friends of the desapariciones have attracted international attention to the problem by unusual protests — going on hunger strikes, sewing quilts, and dancing alone to show that they miss the disappeared
• African-American choreographer Alvin Ailey, Jr., created Masekela Langage to protest apartheid in South Africa. In the dance’s climax, a bloodied black man staggers into a party and dies. The program note for Masekela Langage states, “Looks like it’s safer to be in jail.”
• Ballerina Alice Patelson’s mother was a former Radio City Rockette who taught ballet to neighborhood children in a studio built into her home. Whenever Alice’s mother came downstairs dressed in her leotard to begin teaching a ballet class, the family pet springer spaniel, Lady, went upstairs. When Lady thought the family was busy, she would take a flying leap into the middle of Alice’s parents’ bed, which was forbidden to her. However, the family knew what Lady was doing. After ballet class was over, Alice’s mother used to noisily climb upstairs, giving Lady plenty of warning to get off the bed before being caught.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
The Funniest People in Comedy — Buy
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