Posts Tagged ‘Comedy’

The Legendary Comedy And Longevity Of Don Rickles

October 11, 2015

Mister_Hockey_PuckDon Rickles is regarded as a living legend of comedy. An icon of a time when the “Rat Pack” (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford) ruled Las Vegas.

The only reason he is considered with such reverence is because he has lived so long. It’s amazing that he is 89-years-old and still performs on stage. He has future gigs scheduled as far ahead as May 2016 if he is lucky enough to be alive to attend.

I mean no disrespect. I adore the man. I just don’t think he would be so exalted had he passed away, say, in the 1980s. He was the Howard Stern of his day. He insulted everybody. He was politically incorrect before the term “politically incorrect” came into existence.

His acting skills were marginal at best. He had his own sit-com in 1972 which lasted only thirteen episodes. He later starred in C.P.O. Sharkey that ran two seasons. He made guest appearances on many classic TV shows such as The Addams Family, Gilligan’s Island, Get Smart, The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show and I Dream Of Jeannie but none which would be considered notable.

His best television appearances, in my opinion, occurred on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. One in particular was when Rickles was on while Bob Newhart was filling in for Johnny as guest host. Rickles accidentally broke a cigarette case on the desk and, the next night, Johnny noticed the damaged container. He was told by band leader Doc Severinsen that Rickles did it the night before so Johnny took off to the adjacent studio, where Rickles was taping an episode of C.P.O. Sharkey, and confronted the surprised Rickles about it.

He appeared in movies (Kelly’s Heroes, Beach Blanket Bingo, Casino) but without Academy Award recognition. His own grandchildren know him more for being the voice of Toy Story’s Mr. Potato Head than for anything else in his career.

It’s remarkable that here he is nowadays with his own web site featuring his own mobile app, his own twitter feed and selling DVDs of his Sharkey program as well as listings of upcoming performance locations.

To see an interview of a subdued Don Rickles, without all of the yelling and insulting of his known “shtick” act, catch him on his 2007 book-tour guest appearance on The Charlie Rose show. He speaks openly and honestly about his mother, about Johnny Carson, about Frank Sinatra and his friendship with colleague Bob Newhart.

The 2007 HBO special, “Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project” helps to celebrate his notable life and celebrity by showing what it’s like behind the scenes of his performances.

His 2014 “One Night Only” tribute on Spike TV at the Apollo in Harlem was a delightful broadcast in his honor.

He has outlasted so many comedians who came after him: Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, John Belushi, Sam Kinison, John Candy, Robin Williams.

Rickles married late in life, at age 39, in 1965. He and his wife Barbara had two children. His son, Larry, died in 2011 from pneumonia.

He loves baseball and especially the Los Angeles Dodgers. He used to poke fun mercilessly at former Dodger Don Zimmer who once said that his most sweetest revenge was, as he and Rickles got older, they began to resemble one another.


Red Skelton Loved To Paint Clowns

October 5, 2015

Canvas, 11x14"

Comedian Red Skelton (1913-1997) always considered himself a clown rather than a comic. He believed his life’s work was to make people laugh so he wanted to be known as a clown because he defined it as being able to do everything.

In 1943, Skelton began producing artwork but did it privately for many years. He said he was inspired to try his hand at painting after visiting a large Chicago department store that had various paintings on display.

Skelton’s artwork of clowns remained a hobby until 1964 when his second wife Georgia, a former art student, persuaded him to have his first public showing of his work at the Sands hotel in Las Vegas where he was performing.

Skelton believed painting was an asset to his comedy work as it helped him to better visualize the imaginary props he used in his pantomime routines.

When asked why his artwork focused on clowns, he first said, “I don’t know why it’s always clowns.” After thinking a moment he continued by saying. “No, that’s not true. I do know why. I just don’t feel like thinking about it.”

Jayne Mansfield Almost Was Ginger On Gilligan’s Island

September 30, 2015


With her acting career on the decline, blonde bombshell movie actress Jayne Mansfield was offered the part of Ginger Grant on Gilligan’s Island but turned it down at the advice of her third husband.

She continued taking bit parts in small B-rated films with an occasional appearance in a respectable production. She also worked in nightclubs.

A couple of years later, Mansfield would be tragically killed along with two other adults in an automobile accident in Louisiana while headed for a television interview. Her three young children with her in the rear of the car survived the crash, one of which was future actress Mariska Hargitay.

Jayne Mansfield was dead at 34 years of age. Had she been a castaway member of an iconic situation comedy filmed in California, she might have lived.

What If Eleanor Roosevelt Could Fly?

September 30, 2015

I am fairly certain that that counterfactual did not mean by way of the airplane.

During a late 1970’s Saturday Night Live skit moderated by Jane Curtin, this question was raised amongst a panel of distinguished guests commenting on the ridiculousness of the former First Lady sprouting wings and leading an air raid attack of military bombers against Japan and Germany during World War II.

Gotta love comedy writers. Must have been one heckuva brainstorming session on that one.

Was There More Than One Tony-The-Wonder Horse?

September 13, 2015


Cowboy actor Tom Mix did all of his own tricks and rode Tony The Wonder Horse while making over 180 westerns together.

Mix was sadly killed in an automobile accident in 1940. His horse lived an additional two years and was put down in 1942.

Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Joe Besser of the Three Stooges made two episodes of comedy about having a sister named Birdie who was reincarnated as a horse. Both featured Tony The Wonder Horse.

These episodes were filmed, however, in the late 1950’s.

There must have been another Tony The Wonder Horse, I wonder.

Just 3 Three Stooges? Guess Again. Try 23!

September 12, 2015


1) Moe Howard

2) Shemp Howard

3) Kenneth Lackey – Healy Replacement Stooge in 1925 “Earl Carroll Vanities”

4) Dave Chasen – Healy Replacement Stooge in 1925 “Earl Carroll Vanities”

5) Larry Fine

6) Curly Howard

7) Fred Sanborn – 1930 “Soup To Nuts”

8) Eddie Moran – Healy Replacement Stooge

9) Sammy (Glasser) Wolfe – Healy Replacement Stooge in 1931 “Crazy Quilt”

10) Paul “Mousie” Garner – Healy Replacement Stooge in 1931 “Crazy Quilt”

11) Dick Hakins – Healy Replacement Stooge in 1931 “Crazy Quilt”

12) Jack Wolf – Healy Replacement Stooge

13) Sam “Moody” Braun – Healy Replacement Stooge

14) Lou Warren – Healy Replacement Stooge

15) Bobby Pinkus – Healy Replacement Stooge

16) Jimmy Brewster – Healy Replacement Stooge in 1936 “San Francisco”

17) John “Red” Pearson – Healy Replacement Stooge in 1936 “San Francisco”

18) Frank Mitchell – performed live with Curly Joe and Mousie Garner

19) Joe Palma – fake Shemp double after his death

20) Mantan Moreland – Black comedian considered to replace Shemp

21) Joe Besser

22) Curly Joe DeRita

23) Emil Sitka – Considered to replace Larry after he suffered a stroke

The Man Who Made The Three Stooges

September 12, 2015


He was a comedian from Texas born in 1896. He didn’t seem very funny. He appeared in vaudeville, on Broadway and in movies. He is best known for creating the Three Stooges. He was an alcoholic. He was a mean drunk. He earned a hefty weekly salary yet underpaid his zany sidekicks. He saved no money. His favorite reading material were racing programs. After his son was born in 1937, he was beaten up outside a nightclub in Hollywood. He died from his injuries. He is quoted as saying “Never treat an audience as customers – always treat them as partners.” He was Ted Healy.


The Three Stooges Should Have Their Own Cable Network

August 16, 2015


Why isn’t there a Three Stooges cable channel?

Is it because that Comedy III Productions, Inc. is the registered owner of all rights to the former comedy act and cost of licensing is too expensive?

The 190 two-reel episodes that the trio (actually it was six comics in total) created in twenty-five years at Columbia Pictures should be showing somewhere besides YouTube, Hulu or on DVD.

Hey, Curly. Wouldn’t you like your own cable channel of 24/7 All Stooges All The Time programming? “Why, Soitenly! Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.” would be his response.

A Character Actress With Character

August 11, 2015


Mary Wickes (1910 – 1995) was an actress on stage, screen and television. She had numerous roles over six decades: I Love Lucy, Here’s Lucy, MASH, Dennis The Menace, The Jackie Robinson Story, Sister Act, My Three Sons, F Troop, The Music Man, Bonanza, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Trouble With Angels among many other gigs.

Altogether she was a veteran of 50 feature films, 27 major Broadway productions and 10 television series. She also did voice-over for animated characters to boot.

She and Lucille Ball were neighbors in Los Angeles and very close friends.

She is described as being a loud and lanky scene-stealer. Her lack of good looks made comedic acting seem natural. Her real name was Mary Isabelle Wickenhauser and she was originally from St. Louis.

She never married.

At her funeral, Lucie Arnaz (daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz) asked the congregation to pay tribute to Wickes by giving her one last standing ovation.

This Just In: Sarah Silverman Is A Comedic Genius

August 10, 2015


The first time I noticed the comedy of Sarah Silverman, she played a writer on Gary Shandling’s “The Larry Sanders Show.”

Then I enjoyed her performance as Jack Black’s roommate’s girlfriend in “School Of Rock.”

Her short-lived “Sarah Silverman Show” where she lived next door to a gay couple was also quite entertaining.

She appears as the very first guest on the late Joan River’s internet talk show called “In Bed With Joan” where the set was made up as a bedroom. Different.

One movie that didn’t quite appeal to me was her role as Jeff Garvin’s love interest in “I Want Someone To Eat Cheese With.” The entire movie was kinda weak actually. Sorry, Jeff.

Lately, she’s been turning up on with Jash-produced videos that are funny. Not ha-ha funny but cognitive funny.

She played a detective along with Seth Rogen and they got shrunk in size to enter a dog’s butt.

She sang a whimsical duet with Jeff Goldblum and one commenter posted that they should burn CDs and call themselves “Gold and Silver.” Cute.

Another funnybone tickler is her “Diva” song where she plays the guitar solo in front of a rainbow and reaches the one-word chorus.

No doubt about it. She is a bonafide genius.