This is one crazy blog. Coming out of amnesia is very bizarre.
I think about the comedy people I’ve worked with over the years. The first one was Groucho Marx. He had a show called “People Are Funny.” I got called in to see if I could liven up the show a bit, because as Groucho said, “Turns out – people aren’t funny.” Groucho got his name honestly. He was really kind of rude and nasty to me, he was upset because I was so little. Thinking back, I think I was about five years old and I was always brought in on a set in the middle of the night, because I was brought there by my nightmare people. Groucho was right, really, who was I to tell a seasoned professional how to be funny. It was Zeppo who wrote the scripts for the Marx Brothers and Zeppo wasn’t hired to help Groucho’s show.
I thought the show could have a secret word, and have a duck come down from the ceiling when people said it. (In honor of Duck Soup) I thought of something else too, but I can’t remember now what it was. It’s hard to think of something funny, when people aren’t nice to you. It’s hard to do someone a favor when you’re five years old and brought out in the middle of the night and expected to perform. After I thought of the second funny thing for the show, Groucho apologized. He said, “Kid, I’m sorry for the way I treated you, but I’m upset, and it’s late. My daughter applied to a club and she was turned away because she’s Jewish.” I had Groucho explain, and he said his daughter had applied for membership in a swim club that Jewish people were not allowed into. And then kind of over the shoulder he said to one of his aids, “And she’s only half Jewish.”
I said quietly to one of my nightmare people, “If she’s half Jewish, she should apply to go into the pool up to her waist.”
My handler told me that was very funny; did I know that was funny? I looked at him askew and said, “Of course I know that’s funny, that’s why I said it.” So my nightmare person repeated it to Groucho.
Groucho said to me, “That’s funny kid. You’re – you are funny.”
We brought out the couples for the show People Are Funny and ran through the bit to see if Groucho could get them to say the secret word.
It took some doing and it got to be pretty funny. I told Groucho to play it as though he were Groucho. Turns out he just didn’t know how to play being a game show host, so I told him to, “Just be Groucho, that’s what everybody thought was funny, so just do that.”
When that was all over, and things got straightened out, and everyone was pretty sure the show would be a lot funnier; I asked Groucho, “Why would your daughter want to be a member of any club that didn’t want her as a member?”
He said it was a beautiful club, I should see it.
I said I didn’t understand why his daughter couldn’t become a member because she’s half Jewish.
Groucho said, “That’s because you’re young. You’ll understand. You’re smart, it’s all around you. You’ll get it soon enough.”
I said, “I don’t want to get it. I want you to change it, so when I get older I won’t have to get it.”
“Change it? You want me to change it? How could I possibly change it?” He said angrily.
“You could do it with humor. You’ve got two funny lines. You could tell the press that you’re unhappy that your daughter couldn’t get into the club because she’s half Jewish. Why doesn’t the club let her in up to her waist? Then you could say the other line, the one that comes from you, ‘I wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that would have me as a member.’ It’s funny and it makes a point. Maybe, people just don’t think about it?”
“How would that change anything?” Groucho asked.
“I think just by people knowing what’s going on – I think that would change things,” I told him. “If you won’t do it for me, do it for your daughter.”
Groucho didn’t agree, but, guess what, he said that to the press the very next day. I don’t know whether his daughter got into the club, but things did change. I never did have to know or understand the way things were between Christian and Jews. It’s better now, I think. I did get to know how things were between whites and blacks. That’s not much better now, I think.
I named the Rolling Stones and met John Lennon when I was 8 or 9. John Lennon said I was an old soul. I think he may have been right.
A few dozen years after Groucho’s comments, Mel Brooks became a very famous Jewish comedian. I’ve worked with Mel a few times.
Latter, I worked for Seinfeld. I believe Jerry Seinfeld’s Jewish. That memory was erased. I feel so cheated. He was later told I wasn’t “normal.” Sorry Jerry! I think you’re terrific. I’m normal – the rest of the cult is not. And after that, Jon Stewart is the most popular, funniest late-night host on TV. Fuck Neilson. Neilson is one big fat lie. Now, Jon Stewart can say he’s Jewish, out loud and on TV, without shame. Well maybe not without shame, because, since when can a Jew say anything without shame? Maybe before Moses? No, Maybe before Abraham? Oh, Hell, I don’t know. (I never worked with Jon.)
Thanks to Groucho, Cheeko, Harpo (Nice Guy), Zeppo Marx.
That’s what this whole blog is about. Changing the world one person at a time. The world’s not that big anymore.
We’re all brothers. We’re all black, check out the results of the genome project.
So you see, I proved the point I’ve been trying to make with these fifty past blog entries – the world can change one person at a time, all we have to do is – point out the foibles.
Think Pease! We can do it!