On Tuesday, October 5, 2004, comedian Rodney Dangerfield passed away. He was 82.
I always liked Rodney on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. He would do his schtick on stage and then when he sat down with Johnny; you couldn’t help but laugh at Johnny, laughing at Rodney.
As an aspiring comedian I never looked at Rodney’s style as something I would emulate, but he did make me laugh.
When Rodney was admitted to the hospital for surgery, I decided to go to his website and see what was there. His biography immediately caught my attention. Rodney began his comedy career at about the same age as I did.
And for the same reasons almost, he decided to leave comedy and raise a family. He returned to comedy in his 40s and became a hit. This gives me a lot of hope.
From his website; www.rodney.com
“Dangerfield had a strange career in show business. At 19 he started as a standup comedian. He made only a fair living, traveling a great deal and appearing in rundown joints. Married at 27, he decided he couldn’t support a family on his meager earnings.
He returned to comedy at 42 and began to attract notice. He appeared on the Ed Sullivan show seven times and on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson more than 70 times.
“It was like a need. I had to work. I had to tell jokes. I had to write them and tell them. It was like a fix. I had the habit.”
Despite his good reviews, Dangerfield claimed he didn’t like movies or TV series: “Too much waiting around, too much memorizing; I need that immediate feedback of people laughing.”
He spent his days in a business office and his nights working in New York clubs. Not satisfied, Rodney opened his own club, the now famous Dangerfield’s on First Avenue in Manhattan. The club was a huge success and so was Rodney. Rodney introduced many of today’s comedy stars to television for the first time on his HBO shows which emanated from Dangerfield’s, such as Tim Allen, Roseanne Barr, Jim Carrey, Jeff Foxworthy, Sam Kinison, Bob Saget, Jerry Seinfeld, Rita Rudner, Robert Townsend, Louie Anderson and others.
Pioneering new territory in cyberspace, Rodney was the first entertainer to personally own a Website on the Internet. Launched in February 1995, his state-of-the-art site has won numerous awards and distinctions as one of the most popular destinations on the World Wide Web and can be found at http://www.rodney.com/.
Rodney’s famous trademark white shirt and red tie are on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C……Aaahhh….respect at last.
For those that miss Rodney, Here are what one person considers Rodney’s 20 best one-liners. You don’t have to laugh at all of them, but just for today; show a little respect.
1. A girl phoned me the other day and said, “Come on over; nobody’s home.” I went over. Nobody was home.
2. During sex, my girlfriend always wants to talk to me. Just the other night she called me from a hotel.
3. One day I came home early from work … I saw a guy jogging naked. I said to the guy, “Hey buddy, why are you doing that?” He said “Because you came home early.
4. Its been a rough day I got up this morning … put a shirt on and a button fell off. I picked up my briefcase, and the handle came off. I’m afraid to go to the bathroom.
5. I was such an ugly kid…When I played in the sandbox, the cat kept covering me up.
6. I could tell my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and radio.
7. I was such an ugly baby…My mother never breast fed me. She told me that she only liked me as a friend.
8. I’m so ugly…My father carries around a picture of the kid who came with his wallet.
9. When I was born, the doctor came into the waiting room and said to my father, “I’m sorry. We did everything we could, but he pulled through.”
10. “I’m so ugly…My mother had morning sickness…AFTER I was born.”
11. “I remember the time that I was kidnapped and they sent a piece of my finger to my father He said he wanted more proof.”
12. “Once when I was lost, I saw a policeman, and asked him to help me find my parents. I said to him, “Do you think we’ll ever find them?” He said, “I don’t know kid. There’s so many places they can hide.”
13. “My wife made me join a bridge club. I jump off next Tuesday.”
14. “I’m so ugly…I worked in a pet shop, and people kept asking how big I’d get.”
15. ” I went to see my doctor. “Doctor, every morning when I get up and I look in the mirror…I feel like throwing up; What’s wrong with me?” He said…”I don’t know but your eyesight is perfect.”
16. “I went to the doctor because I’d swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills. My doctor told me to have a few drinks and get some rest.”
17.”With my old man I got no respect. I asked him, “How can I get my kite in the air?” He told me to run off a cliff”
18. “Some dog I got. We call him Egypt because in every room he leaves a pyramid. His favorite bone is in my arm. Last night he went on the paper four times- -three of those times I was reading it.”
19.”One year they wanted to make me poster boy- – for birth control.”
20. “My uncle’s dying wish was to have me sitting in his lap; he was in the electric chair.”