Comedy has been around for a few years.
Aristophanes wrote ancient comedic plays as far back as 425 BC and several of them are still around.
I believe most of us enjoy a good chuckle and that’s why comedy still exists today.
Matter-of-fact, I believe great comics get under-appreciated because their best work makes us laugh.
But in terms of unique talents, I feel great comics are as talented as great doctors or scientists.
Over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate comedy.
While stationed with the USAF in Greenland in the early 70’s, I read every book available by comics or about them and discovered they share specific traits and talents.
They’re also good at “borrowing” from one another.
So when someone asked me, “How do you think up the stuff you write about?” I boiled it down to my “funny quintet”.
Two are cartoon characters, two are classic comedians and one made his name on a TV series.
Here is my “funny quintet”, in no particular order plus some samples of their best “stuff”.
Groucho “Julius Henry” Marx
His classic tv game show, “You Bet Your Life” was pre-taped because the producers didn’t want to drive the censors batty.
Here are some samples of his wit;
“I sent the club a wire stating, ‘Please accept my resignation. I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.'”
“Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.”
“Those are my principles, and, if you don’t like them…well, I have others.”
“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.”
“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns it on, I go into the other room and read a book.”
” I didn’t like the play but I saw it under adverse conditions…the curtain was up.”
From the days when cartoons were actually clever and introduced us to a lot of classical music, Bugs was a star with an attitude.
“If it’s the Captain’s Mess, let him clean it up!”
“I bet you know my friends like Duke of Ellington, Count of Basie, Earl of Hines, Cab of Calloway, Satchmo of Armstrong.”
“I knew I should have taken a left turn at Alberquerque.”
“Stop steamin’ up my tail! What are ya’ tryin’ to do…wrinkle it?”
“Eeeeeh, watch me paste that pathetic palooka with a powerful, pachydermous, percussion pitch!”
“Well, like the Russians always say…E pluribus uranium.”
“I know this defies the law of gravity but I never studied law.”
Henry “Henny” Youngman
He used to appear on stage with a violin and bow and he was actually pretty talented on the instrument.
Henny was best-known for his one-liners, like;
“The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret.”
“My wife dresses to kill. She cooks the same way.”
“A doctor gave a man 6 months to live. The man couldn’t pay his bill so the doctor gave him another 6 months.”
“I once wanted to become an atheist but I gave it up…they have no holidays”.
“My older brother-in-law died. He was a karate expert, then joined the Army. The first time he saluted, he killed himself.”
“The horse I bet on was so slow, the jockey kept a diary.”
“When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading”.
“A man goes to a psychiatrist. ‘Nobody listens to me!’ The doctor says, ‘Next!”‘
“Some people ask the secret of our long marriage. We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes Tuesdays. I go Fridays.”
“My room’s so small, the mice are hunchbacked. ”
Homer Jay Simpson
The son of Abraham Jebediah “Abe” Simpson II is my second cartoon character who has delivered some real head-scratching, funny lines over the years, such as;
“”Weaseling out of things is important to learn; it’s what separates us from the animals…except the weasels.”
“Trying is the first step towards failure.”
“”Operator, give me the number for 911!”
“Oh yeah! What are you gonna do? Release the dogs? Or the bees? Or the dogs with bees in their mouths and when they bark, they shoot bees at you?”
“I want to share something with you. The three little sentences that will get you through life. Number 1. Cover for me. Number 2. Oh, good idea, Boss! Number 3. It was like that when I got here.”
“What are you guys laughing at. If you say Jimmy Fallon, I’ll know you’re lying!”
“I’m like the guy who single-handedly built the rocket and flew to the moon. What was his name? Apollo Creed?”
“Son, if you really want something in this life, you have to work for it. Now, quiet! They’re about to announce the lottery numbers.”
“I never apologize. I’m sorry but that’s the way I am.”
Alan “Hawkeye Pierce” Alda
The most un-military doctor in the Korean War had some wonderful zingers, like;
“I brought a book with me to the war. A dictionary. I figure it has every other book in it.”
“”Korea’s pretty much the same story; the fighting goes on, the hatred, the violence, the senseless brutality, men behaving like animals…and then there’s the war.”
“If I could yawn with my mouth closed, you’d have no idea how boring you really are.”
“I don’t know why they’re shooting at us. All we want to do is bring them democracy and white bread. Transplant the American dream. Freedom. Achievement. Affluence. Flatulence. Technology. Tension. The inalienable right to an early coronary, sitting at your desk while plotting to stab your boss in the back.”
“Ugly color, 40 years out of style, fits like a tent? It’s a class A uniform alright.”
And, when asked to wear a sidearm while serving as “Officer of the Day”, he had one of the great rants of all time;
“I will not carry a gun…I’ll carry your books. I’ll carry a torch. I’ll carry a tune, I’ll carry on, carry forward, Cary Grant, cash and carry, carry me back to old Virginia. I’ll even hari-kari if you show me how…but I will not carry a gun!”
These five characters not only make me laugh, they can also make me think.
I close with a quote from old Groucho.
“Each morning when I open my eyes, I say to myself, ‘I, not events. have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead. Tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day…today…and I’m going to be happy in it.'”
Laugh, my friend!