David Bruce: The Funniest People in Theater: 250 Anecdotes — Telegrams, Tickets, Travel


• Theatrical producer Florenz “Flo” Ziegfeld sent many long, expensive telegrams to the people who worked for him, people he wanted to work for him, and people in general. Sometimes, a telegram would be five pages long! Despite the excessive length of many of his telegrams, Mr. Ziegfeld often ended them with this note: “DETAILS WILL FOLLOW LATER.”

• Comedian Beatrice Lillie became good friends with a young woman named Ellen Graham. One day, the two said a very long goodbye on the telephone. Two hours later as Ms. Graham boarded her plane, the stewardess gave her a telegram from Ms. Lillie. It said: “WHY HAVEN’T YOU WRITTEN?”

• An accident on stage resulted in the amputation of one of Sarah Bernhardt’s legs. Shortly after the amputation, she received a telegram offering her $100,000 if she would allow her leg to be put on display at the Pan-American Exhibition in San Francisco. She sent back this telegram: “WHICH LEG?”

• Playwright Rachel Crothers once received this telegram from a producer: “SEND SCRIPT AND IF GOOD WILL SEND CHECK.” She telegraphed this message in reply: “SEND CHECK AND IF GOOD WILL SEND SCRIPT.


• One day, Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnár and a friend attended a play as a guest of the management. Unfortunately, the play was very bad, and so Mr. Molnár stood up to leave. But his friend stopped him, reminding him that as guests, they were obligated to stay until the end of the performance. Mr. Molnár sat down for a little while, then stood up again. His friend asked, “Where are you going?” Mr. Molnár replied, “I’m going to the box office to buy two tickets so we can leave.”

• Playwright John Mortimer once stopped for gasoline at a station near Covent Garden. The attendant pumping his gas recognized him, saying that he had sat near Mr. Mortimer at a performance of the opera Aida. This surprised Mr. Mortimer, as those seats were very expensive, so he asked the gas station attendant how he could afford the tickets. The attendant explained that he hadn’t spent any more for the tickets than any other pump man would spend getting drunk Friday night.


• Declan Donnellan, co-director of Cheek by Jowl, has directed Shakespeare around the world. In Uruguay, he directed the balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet in a real orange grove with a real balcony. In Sri Lanka, Romeo and Juliet came from different backgrounds: he spoke Sinhalese and she spoke Tamil. In Katmandu, he held a workshop on the deus ex machina in Pericles and realized that the king’s son — who was himself regarded as a god — was present. In Warsaw, he wasn’t able to do a workshop on Shakespeare because the photocopier was confiscated on the basis of its being an illegal press.

• Fanny Brice showed she could take care of herself in her early attempts at show business. Many vaudeville comedians used to tell stories of traveling with shows whose managers skipped with the funds, leaving the comedians stranded far from home. Fanny’s story is somewhat different. When her show’s manager tried to skip with the funds, Fanny followed the manager to the train station and forced the manager to buy her a ticket home. Fanny’s response to this unfortunate closing of her show? “Now — I’ll find another show.”

• While traveling in the Soviet Union in 1939, Noël Coward stayed at a Leningrad hotel where he turned on the tap and was shocked to discover tadpoles coming out along with the water. He complained to the hotel’s management, saying, “In England, when we want hot water, we turn on the tap marked ‘Hot.’ When we want cold water, we turn on the tap marked ‘Cold.’ And when we want tadpoles, we turn on the tap marked ‘Tadpoles.’”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


The Funniest People in Theater: 250 Anecdotes — Buy

The Funniest People in Theater: 250 Anecdotes — Buy The Paperback

The Funniest People in Theater: 250 Anecdotes — Buy Kindle

The Funniest People in Theater: 250 Anecdotes — Buy Apple

The Funniest People in Theater: 250 Anecdotes — Buy Barnes and Noble

The Funniest People in Theater: 250 Anecdotes — Buy Kobo

The Funniest People in Theater: 250 Anecdotes — Buy Smashwords: Many Formats, Including PDF

Music Recommendation: Kid Gulliver — “Stupid Little Girl”


Music: “Stupid Little Girl”


Artist: Kid Gulliver

Artist Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Record Company: Red on Red Records

Record Company Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Info: “We have a new full-length record out called KISMET, which is a collection of songs from 2014 until now. ‘Stupid Little Girl’ is the single that is out now.” — Simone Berk, vocalist

All songs written by David Armillotti 
All songs performed by Kid Gulliver 
All songs produced, mixed and mastered 
with Brian Charles at Zippah Studios, Brighton, MA 

Kid Gulliver is: 

David Armillotti- guitar, back-up vocals 

Simone Berk-vocals, guitar 

Sandy Summer- drums 

kidgulliver.com kidgulliver1@bandcamp.com 

Price: $1 (USD) for track; $10 (USD) for 11-track album 

Genre: Pop




Kid Gulliver on Bandcamp


Kid Gulliver on YouTube


Red on Red Records on Bandcamp


Red on Red Records on YouTube


Sugar Snow (Simone’s other project)


Open-Mic Night at Ohio University’s Front Room: 8 October 2021

Bruce Dazell, emcee
Riley James
Dan Canterbury
Rilee Bapst
Joshua Corbett

David Bruce

David Bruce’s Spoken Word (More or Less)

8 October 2021

I used to write for The Athens News in Athens, Ohio, partly to make extra money and partly to show my composition students that I am a competent writer. I once wrote a preview story for an Ohio University School of Dance performance. The only place for interviews during a rehearsal was in a closet, so Ohio University dance teacher Michele Geller told the dance students, “This is David Bruce. He is going to interview you for a story he is writing for The Athens News, so don’t be shocked if he asks you to go into a closet with him.” 

I remember the first article that I wrote for The Athens News. It was about the OU women’s basketball team and appeared just after Thanksgiving in 1983. I was standing in line at a bank just behind a man who was reading a copy of The Athens News. He came to my article, read the headline, and then started to turn the page. I tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Sir, I wrote that article. Please read it.”