Some Random Good Deeds

Sort of a Good Deed

Mimicking-hiccuping wrote this:

“I got mugged once in Glasgow as a young teenager. This is how the conversation went.

“‘I’m going to need whatever money you have on you, kid.’

“‘I got a £20 note, but I need it to get the train home.’

“‘How much is your ticket?’

“‘About £8 or £9.’

“‘Oh, that’s all right. I’ve got change.’

“He took my £20 and gave me £10 back. Not a bad mugging by any means.

“I have translated from Glasweigen regional dialect to Queen’s English for all you folks not lucky enough to be born in the central belt of Scotland.”[1]

“Teachers Who’ve had a Student Who Stubbornly Believed Easily Disprovable Things (Flat-Earth, Creationism, Sovereign Citizen), How Did You Handle It?”

DanWillHor wrote this:

“TL;DR. Do anything but blindly dismiss or humiliate a student willing to sincerely talk, learn, listen, and consider. I’d be a Moon landing hoax proponent to this day if my teacher dismissed me.

“Not a teacher, but I had a teacher very calmly and beautifully help me as a teen.

“I was about 14 and in full ‘I’m the awesomest thing ever’ mode. While not an edgelord, I had opinions and beliefs like never before because of hormones and sh[*]t (ha). I had phases of conspiratorial belief and was easily swayed by the last thing I’d watched on TV. This was the 1990s, so I’m lucky that the internet/YouTube wasn’t yet ubiquitous because I’d have likely gone nuts if so. Yet, the movie JFK and a random, bootleg Moon Hoax doc VHS had me a full believer in both conspiracies. Anyway…

“I take it upon myself to interrupt class one day when the science teacher discusses gravity and how gravity is calculated to ‘slingshot’ vessels through space. He then mentions the moon landings and I speak up like a clown. Instead of shouting me down or humiliating me, he took a very professional approach and offered to hear me out. In fact, he said to make a list of points to back up my argument that the entire class would discuss that Friday (a few days away) and he wanted my list of points on Thursday in order to also prepare. So, I basically copy every point the doc made in order to try to appear as intelligent as possible and hand it to him Thursday with gusto.

“Friday comes and he starts by saying, ‘Neither of us were on the Moon, so I cannot refute your belief no more than you can prove it with absolutes. Yet, let us check the likelihoods and/or sciences of each point.’

“He spent an hour calmly, rationally disproving each point posed by the documentary. The couple points that were more based in conspiracy than science he used logic to destroy. It sounds crazy, but it was the first time I even considered the notion of ‘for this to be true there has to be an army of people in on the conspiracy, all keeping quiet.’ He beat that by simply asking how well a secret lasts between us students and how quickly rumors spread among us. He didn’t disprove the belief I had and I didn’t immediately lose my belief of a Moon landing hoax, but it planted the notion that I should test and ask questions myself before believing what sounds good, entertaining, fun, intelligent, etc.

“I felt corrected, not humiliated. I was thankful. A good portion of my later love of science came from that day.”[2]

“Redditors Who Prevented Disasters of Any Magnitude, What DIDN’T Happen and Why?”

OptimusMatrix wrote this:

“I work as a loan officer at a credit union. An older gentleman and his wife came in frantic asking for a loan. They needed 3 grand [$3,000] immediately. Like in half an hour. I sat down and started to do the loan. It was then he told me that his daughter was a drug addict and was packing up her stuff to move with her boyfriend/convicted child molester out of state with her 6-year old-daughter. They needed the money to hire a lawyer to get emergency custody of his granddaughter. I pulled his credit, and when I saw it I knew it was going to come back as an immediate decline. I asked to be excused and walked a couple cubes down. I called our underwriting department and spoke to one. I told him, ‘Look, I don’t care if we don’t ever get our money back on this loan. This is about the life of a little girl literally at stake.’ He approved the loan for me. They had their money twenty minutes later and were flying out the door. A couple of weeks later, someone told me there was a gentleman up front waiting for me. I walked up front and the same man was standing there with a little girl. He didn’t say a word; he just wrapped his arms around me and hugged me and cried. The little girl said ‘thank you’ so much. I started crying. That interaction is still the highlight of my career and probably always will be. I still see him from time to time, and I’ve checked his account and he paid back every penny of that loan even though it took him a little longer than expected. This was two years ago and he still has custody of his granddaughter and she’s doing well. So I don’t know if this story fits here, but I think I had a hand in stopping imminent disaster.”[3]

“What are Some Subtle Signs of Poverty?”

Coffeeandcolor wrote, “My husband was working at a restaurant in 2015 and they were so slow they shut down for the month. He was getting unemployment, but it wasn’t much. I was working my [*]ss off trying to cover his half of the bills and wore my shoes down to nothing. I have Peggy Hill feet, so I just started wearing his shoes. Once his restaurant opened, we arranged our schedules so we worked opposite but a couple weeks in, they overlapped and his $9 [per hour] was more important than my $8.50 so I told my supervisor I had to leave early to give him the shoes. She nodded and let me go. The next day as I was leaving she called me into the office, and I thought I was going to get reamed for leaving early yesterday, but she had told the owner about it and they pitched in together to buy each of us a new pair of shoes. The owner then told me to get in her car and took me grocery shopping. She made sure we got name-brand food for the kids and ‘luxury’ items like pizza. I’ve worn out those shoes and eaten all the food, but I braided the laces into a keychain to remind myself how blessed we are.”

Kighla wrote, “One of my coworkers at the school I teach at bought a homeless child (a student) a pair of new shoes. I have never seen a child so excited by anything before.”[4]

“What is the Saddest Meal You’ve Ever Had?”

Daddioz wrote, “The last dinner my family had before we needed to put the family dog to sleep. It was planned, I was about 16 and the dog was only 1 year younger than I was. We were getting dinner ready, and the dog was watching us cook and prepare the food, and she just looked so sad… like she knew what was coming. She was so sick and old, and she’d been having lots of complications for months leading up to the day we arranged for her to be put down. Everyone at the table was just frowning and crying because of our poor dog…

“So my mom got up from the table, opened up the food pantry drawer, and said, ‘It’s Ruby’s last meal. She needs to have a goodbye party.’ Mom started with hotdogs and buns, smothered them with ketchup, mustard, relish, the works, and let Ruby just dig in to her heart’s content. That dog could EAT, too. We fed her chips, potato salad, cereal with milk, carrots… Mom even baked a cake, complete with frosting, and let Ruby eat the whole thing. 

“Ruby looked SO happy the rest of the day, and it made the rest of the family feel a bit better too… when we brought her to the vet that night, she was panting and just in such a good mood right until the end.

“To those who have lost a dog, they’ll know like I do that it feels like you’re losing not only a close family member, but truly a best friend… so that’s why it felt like that meal may have been one of the happiest, but also the saddest.”[5]

[1] Source: wyspirit, “What’s the weirdest thing a complete stranger has said to you?” Reddit. 26 April 2017 <>.

[2] Source: Bhill68, “Teachers who’ve had a student that stubbornly believed easily disprovable things (flat-earth, creationism, sovereign citizen) how did you handle it?” Reddit. 1 April 2017 < >.

[3] Source: CONSTABEL, “Redditors who prevented disasters of any magnitude, what DIDN’T happen and why?” Reddit. 30 March 2017 <>.

[4] Source: writeandknow, “What are some subtle signs of poverty?” Reddit. 14 March 2017 <>.

[5] Source: brodymitchell, “What is the saddest meal you’ve ever had?” Reddit. March 2017 <>.

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The Funniest People in Music, Volume 2: 250 Anecdotes


  • Songwriter Steve Earle also occasionally acts. To prepare for a role as a recovering junkie in the HBO TV series The Wire, he allowed his hair to grow long and he didn’t shave. The preparation worked well. Although he was staying at a swanky hotel in London when The Times’ Stephen Dalton interviewed him in August of 2007, he looked very much like a homeless person. In fact, he said, “The other day I noticed the homeless guys that pick up the tin cans on my street, before the recycling people come, they started protecting their cans as I walked past. They thought I was competition.”[1]
  • Jazz musician Branford Marsalis is multi-talented. As an occasional actor, he was once offered the lead role in a television situation comedy! However, his manager, Anne Marie Wilkins, thought that he should turn down the role and concentrate on music, so she asked him, “Branford, what do you want to be?” He replied, “I want to do one thing well.” She asked, “And what thing is that?” Mr. Marsalis replied, “Everything.”[2]
  • Jimmy Stewart was a big fan of Duke Ellington and his music, and the two even appeared briefly together in the Otto Preminger movie Anatomy of a Murder. Mr. Stewart even started staying up late to listen to Mr. Ellington play the hotel piano — something that adversely affected his early-morning wake-up call to get ready to act. Mr. Preminger was finally forced to forbid Mr. Stewart to stay up late listening to the music.[3]
  • Musical composer Jerome Kern once worked with an actress who had the annoying habit of rolling her r’s. She asked, “You want me to crrrross the stage. How can I get acrrrross?” Mr. Kern replied, “Why don’t you roll on your r’s?”[4]


  • The Rascals, who were sometimes known as the Young Rascals, took a stand for civil rights in the 1960s. After the Rascals had played at a concert with some black musicians in a Rhythm and Blues group called the Young-Holt Trio, creators of the instrumental hit “Soulful Strut,” one of the black musicians thanked the Rascals, saying that usually the Young-Holt Trio didn’t “get a chance to play for white people.” This made Felix Cavaliere and the other members of the Rascals think, “Why not really try and contribute to this civil rights situation by having a white and black act wherever we go?” Therefore, they insisted that black groups be hired to perform at their concerts. Such an action is consistent with the message of “People Got to Be Free,” a big Rascals hit in 1968: “Shout it from the mountains on down to the sea / people everywhere just got to be free.”[5]
  • Can music be political? Yes. Dmitri Shostakovich used his music to protest the oppressive Soviet society in which he lived and worked. In the dark days of Soviet Communism, everyone had to appear to be cheerful, no matter how they really felt. (Sadness was taken as a criticism of the Communist state.) In his Fifth Symphony, Mr. Shostakovich wrote passages of great sadness, and audience members cried when they heard them. The symphony was so popular that Josef Stalin — murderer that he was — would not attack the composer.[6]
  • Even as an 11-year-old girl growing up in the South during the Jim Crow era, African-American singer Nina Simone, nee Eunice Waymon, was an activist. She was supposed to play piano at the Town Hall in Tryon, North Carolina, but she noticed that her parents, who were seated in the front row, were being asked to give up their seats to a white couple. She declined to play unless her parents were seated in the front row.[7]
  • Novelist and stand-up comedian A.L. Kennedy once witnessed a very good example of how to use comedy to defuse a tense situation. At a demonstration at which it seemed a riot could break out, the demonstrating college students made many people laugh by sitting down and singing a song to the tune of the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine”: “We all live in a terrorist regime.”[8]


  • Marshall Grant was a member of the group Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two (later, Tennessee Three). Although Mr. Cash abused drugs and alcohol, Mr. Grant never did. In his closet is a suit that he has owned for over 50 years. It was a present from his mother, who said, “Every one of my boys who can make it to 21 without a taste of alcohol, I’ll get them a suit of clothes.” Mr. Grant made it to 21 without tasting alcohol, and beyond. In 2006, he pointed out, “I’m 78 years old and strong as a bull. I don’t know the taste of beer, wine, or whiskey. I’ve never taken an illegal pill, never smoked a cigarette, and as of this past November [2006], I’ve been married for 60 years. That’s not too bad.”[9]
  • Dee Dee Ramone could be pretty crazy. When the Ramones first played in London, their record company gave them unlimited room service, and Dee Dee acted the way that he thought a rock star should act and ordered so many bottles of Scotch that in two days his room service bill was $700. The record company representatives were surprised by the size of the bill, and they told Dee Dee, “We just thought you were going to order some cheese sandwiches and Coca-Cola.”[10]

[1] Source: Stephen Dalton, “‘I would never survive 26 divorces.’ Is Steve Earle, the much-married former junkie, convict and political activist, America’s greatest living songwriter?” The Times. 24 August 2007 <>.

[2] Source: Bob Bernotas, Branford Marsalis: Jazz Musician, pp. 95-96.

[3] Source: Peter Bogdanovich, Peter Bogdanovich’s Movie of the Week, p. 30.

[4] Source: Lore and Maurice Cowan, The Wit of the Jews, p. 92.

[5] Source: Tony Sclafani, “The Cost of Freedom: The Rascals’ Struggle for Change.” 21 November 2007 <;.

[6] Source: Marc Aronson, Art Attack: A Short Cultural History of the Avant-Garde, pp. 90-91.

[7] Source: Kerry Acker, Nina Simone, pp. 30-31.

[8] Source: A.L. Kennedy, “Comedy is my self-defence.” The Guardian. 7 August 2006 <,,1838624,00.html>.

[9] Source: Chris Davis, “Man in Black.” Memphis Flyer. 21 December 2006 <>.

[10] Source: Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain, Please Kill Me, p. 230.

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The Funniest People in Music: 250 Anecdotes

These are the first 10 anecdotes from my book The Funniest People in Music: 250 Anecdotes, available for .99 CHEAP at online booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple iBookstore, Kobo, etc.


 Jazz musician Duke Ellington was active in the civil rights movement. In Baltimore, he performed at a concert. Afterward, he presented himself at a restaurant where African-American students had protested segregation. Like the students, Mr. Ellington was not permitted to eat at the restaurant, but his action succeeded in giving lots of publicity to the civil rights struggle in Baltimore. In addition, Mr. Ellington declined to perform a concert in Little Rock, Arkansas, after learning that the audience would be segregated. A short time later, he did perform in Dallas and Houston — but only after he was promised that blacks and whites in the audience could sit together.[1]

Because African-American actor/singer Paul Robeson used his right of free speech to criticize prejudice and injustice in America, the United States government revoked his passport. In 1952, he attempted to cross the border into Canada — which is normally permitted even when one doesn’t have a passport — but he was stopped at the border. It looked as if the concert he had planned to give to benefit Canadian union workers would have to be cancelled, but the workers traveled to the border, and Mr. Robeson sang to them from across the border in the United States.[2]

World-famous cellist Pablo Casals often took a stand for his beliefs. In Brussels, Belgium, he once declined to perform unless the musicians were paid for their rehearsal time. Tickets had been sold to the rehearsals, and Mr. Casals believed that the musicians ought to be paid when they performed at any event that people paid to attend. In addition, when Francisco Franco took control of Spain, Mr. Casals opposed him, and he declined to perform in countries that recognized Francisco Franco’s fascist government.[3]

On a trip to Southern Rhodesia, which was then part of the British empire but is now the self-ruled country of Zimbabwe, jazz musician Louis Armstrong insisted that he play only in front of integrated audiences. For the opening concert, 25,000 people showed up and the seats were filled with both blacks and whites. During his concert, Mr. Armstrong looked out over the audience and said, “I gotta tell y’all something — it’s very nice to see this.”[4]

Pianist Artur Rubinstein cancelled a tour in Italy because of the then-government’s anti-Semitism; he also returned a prestigious award — the Order of the Commander of the Crown. Although people talked about how much money Mr. Rubinstein would lose, he talked about how many hearts he would win. He signed the letter with which he returned the award, “Artur Rubinstein, Jewish pianist.”[5]

World-renowned conductor Pierre Monteux was once denied a room at a hotel, but when the manager discovered that Mr. Monteux was famous, he said that he could arrange a room for him because Mr. Monteux was “somebody.” Mr. Monteux refused the room and departed, saying, “Everybody is somebody.”[6]


 The aged conductor Serge Koussevitsky disliked the spiritless playing of a musician, so he told him, “Don’t play like an old man.” The musician responded, “You are an old man yourself.” Maestro Koussevitsky replied, “I know that. But when I conduct like an old man, I will give up the job.” The musician thereafter played with spirit.[7]

For decades, Sir Thomas Beecham conducted from memory. However, in his old age he sometimes used a score while conducting. When Neville Cardus asked him about this, Sir Thomas replied, “I have been going through my scores recently, and I find that they hold my interest from the first page to the last.”[8]

Latin singer Ricky Martin, famous especially for the huge hit “Livin’ la Vida Loca” (“Living the Crazy Life”), sang when he was a teenager as a member of the Latin boy band Menudo, but he left the group before he turned 18. He had to — the group’s mandatory retirement age is 17.[9]


During the early part of the 20th century, dancer Anna Pavlova toured in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which is famous for its beer. There, Ms. Pavlova’s music director, Theodore Stier, asked a traffic officer where he could find a place in Milwaukee that sold really good German beer. The traffic officer looked Mr. Stier over for a moment, then he said, “Brother, there’s a place on every block — thank God!”[10]

[1] Source: Stanley I. Mour, American Jazz Musicians, pp. 35-36.

[2] Source: David K. Wright, Paul Robeson: Actor, Singer, Political Activist, p. 94.

[3] Source: David Goodnough, Pablo Casals: Cellist for the World, pp. 65-66, 97.

[4] Source: Wendie C. Old, Louis Armstrong: King of Jazz, p. 99.

[5] Source: Lore and Maurice Cowan, The Wit of the Jews, p. 62.

[6] Source: Leslie Ayre, The Wit of Music, p. 21.

[7] Source: Laning Humphrey, compiler, The Humor of Music and Other Oddities in the Art, p. 9.

[8] Source: Humphrey Procter-Gregg, Beecham Remembered, p. 188.

[9] Source: Herón Marques, Latin Sensations, p. 39.

[10] Source: Theodore Stier, With Pavlova Around the World, pp. 113-114.


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The Funniest People in Movies: 250 Anecdotes

These are the first 10 anecdotes from my book The Funniest People in Movies: 250 Anecdotes, available for .99 CHEAP at online booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple iBookstore, Kobo, etc.

Academy Awards

Oprah Winfrey was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in her first feature film, The Color Purple, directed by Stephen Spielberg. Her father made sure that he saw the movie—it was the first time he had gone to a movie theater in 25 years. At the Academy Awards ceremony, Ms. Winfrey did not win, but she joked that she was relieved because her recently altered dress turned out to be too tight: “Perhaps God was saying to me, ‘Oprah, you are not winning because your dress is too tight for you to make it up all those steps to receive the statuette.’”[1]

In 1988, Jodie Foster won a Best Actress Oscar for her performance in The Accused. Following her acceptance speech, she joked backstage that she would immediately put the Oscar to good use: “I rented three videos last night … and they said if I brought this in I would get them free.”[2]

When a man streaked across the stage during the Academy Awards, Oscar presenter David Niven said, “Let’s not pay any attention to him. All he is doing is showing his shortcomings.”[3]


 Javier Bardem, the Spanish actor who played the very evil murderer in the Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men, had a number of other jobs before becoming an actor. In fact, for one day when he was a teenager, he was a stripper. He says, “Unfortunately, I made the mistake of talking about it years later and my mother and sister read the article. You talk about showing your *ss and then your mother reads all about it.” As a citizen of Spain, he has a perspective different from that of Americans. For example, one day he had a nude scene, and the American crew made sure that he was covered up when he was not actually working—he definitely got the idea that people did not want to see his rear end. However, when he was murdering people in a scene, the Americans on set were happy. Mr. Bardem says that “the day I was killing people they were like, ‘Yaah! That was good!’ I know I don’t have a nice *ss, but I would go for an *ss over killing people every time.” A final difference between Spain and other countries—which in the opinion of the author of the book you are reading now definitely includes the USA—is this, according to Mr. Bardem, “I like the way people behave in my country. It’s about being open to life instead of being obsessed about getting somewhere. There’s a moment when they put the worries about paying the bills to one side and just live. In some countries, it’s all about being number one and if you are second you are a failure.”[4]

Kathy Bates won the Oscar for Best Actress in Misery, co-starring James Caan and made into a movie from a book by Stephen King. Director Rob Reiner told her that she had the lead part of Annie Wilkes, and Ms. Bates, who had never had the lead in a movie before, said, “The part. I’ve got it?” Mr. Reiner nodded and said, “You’ve got it.” Unbelieving, Ms. Bates said, “The Annie part. Annie Wilkes. That part?” Mr. Reiner nodded again. Still unbelieving, Ms. Bates said, “Annie Wilkes. The lead. And I’ve got it and it’s all set and everything?” Mr. Reiner replied, “All set.” Ms. Bates said, “Let me just get this straight—I am playing Annie Wilkes, the lead, in Misery?” Again, Mr. Reiner replied affirmatively. Ms. Bates said, “It’s done and everything, I mean, I am definitely playing Annie, and that’s set and done and everything, no mistakes or anything?” Mr. Reiner said, “It is so set you wouldn’t believe it.” Ms. Bates sat silently for a moment, then asked, “Can I tell my mother?”[5]

Jack Pierce was a master of makeup, and he created the makeup for such movie monsters as Frankenstein’s Monster and the Wolf Man. When making up actor Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s Monster, Mr. Pierce made sure that the mask he had created came down only as far as Mr. Karloff’s eyebrows. That way, the actor could use his eyes and mouth to express emotion. In the three movies starring Mr. Karloff as the monster, he moves very awkwardly—the result of having a heavy rod placed along his spine, and of wearing boots that together weighed 26 pounds. Mr. Karloff’s performance as Frankenstein’s Monster was very sympathetic and thousands of children wrote him and showed compassion for the monster. Mr. Karloff remarked, “These children saw beyond the makeup and really understood.”[6]

Some people know what they like very early in their life. When Honor Blackman was 15 years old, her father let her choose which of two presents she wanted to receive: a bicycle or lessons in elocution. Young Honor, later to become the female lead in the movie Goldfinger and one of the female leads in the British TV cult classic The Avengers, chose the elocution lessons. (Another thing she likes is anecdotes. She tells about a young, overly enthusiastic director explaining the fine points of direction to actress Irene Handl, who listened patiently for a while, grew bored, and eventually told him, “Excuse me, I think you’ve mistaken me for someone who gives a f**k.”)[7]

In Quentin Tarantino’s first film, the hit Reservoir Dogs, Kirk Baltz played a rookie police officer who is tortured by the sadistic Mr. Blonde, played by Michael Madsen. To get into character, Mr. Baltz asked Mr. Madsen to put him in the trunk of his car, then drive him around for five minutes. (In the movie, the police officer is put in the trunk of Mr. Blonde’s car, then driven around.) Unfortunately for Mr. Baltz, Mr. Madsen also wanted to get into character. Acting like the sadistic Mr. Blonde, Mr. Madsen drove Mr. Baltz around for not five minutes, but for 45 minutes.[8]

In Spike Lee’s movie Jungle Fever, the beautiful Halle Berry plays a crack addict, a role she wanted because too many people assume that beautiful people don’t get addicted to crack—or so the people casting this kind of role seem to think. She worked hard to prepare for the role. She asked co-star Samuel L. Jackson to drive her around some of New York City’s poorest neighborhoods. She also visited a crack house in the presence of some police officers—who made her wear a bulletproof vest. Finally, for the 10 days before filming started, she did not take a bath.[9]

In the screwball classic movie It Happened One Night is a famous scene in which Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert are hitchhiking, but they can’t get a lift until Ms. Colbert shows her legs by the side of the road. At first, Ms. Colbert was shy and declined to show her legs in the scene, so director Frank Capra brought in a chorus girl to serve as Ms. Colbert’s body double. Ms. Colbert looked at the chorus girl’s pudgy legs, realized that movie-goers would think that the pudgy legs belonged to her, and decided to show her own thin and shapely legs in the scene.[10]

[1] Source: Sara McIntosh Wooten, Oprah Winfrey: Talk Show Legend, pp. 67-69.

[2] Source: Therese De Angelis, Jodie Foster, p. 17.

[3] Source: Kermit Schafer, The Bedside Book of Celebrity Bloopers, p. 87.

[4] Source: Martyn Palmer, “Javier Bardem is killing them softly.” The Times. 15 December 2007 <>.

[5] Source: William Goldman, The Princess Bride, p. 339.

[6] Source: Tom Powers, Movie Monsters, pp. 19, 31.

[7] Source: Stuart Jeffries, ‘I have never been a bimbo.’ The Guardian. 28 March 2007 <,,2044261,00.html>.

[8] Source: Joe Bob Briggs, Profoundly Disturbing: Shocking Movies That Changed History!, p. 222.

[9] Source: Michael A. Schuman, Halle Berry: “Beauty is Not Just Physical,” pp. 35-36.

[10] Source: Peter Guttmacher, Legendary Comedies, p. 50.


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Savannah Reach: “Proverbs 31:25” (YouTube)

Savannah Reach: “Proverbs 31:25” (YouTube)

6-Minute Dance to Vivaldi’s “Spring.”

“Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.” — King James Bible

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The Funniest People in Dance: 250 Anecdotes

These are the first 10 anecdotes from my book The Funniest People in Dance: 250 Anecdotes, available for .99 CHEAP at online booksellers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple iBookstore, Kobo, etc.


In some South American countries, people who are critical of the government disappear — agents of the government kidnap and kill them. Some relatives and friends of the desapariciones have attracted international attention to the problem by unusual protests — going on hunger strikes, sewing quilts, and dancing alone to show that they miss the disappeared.[1]

African-American choreographer Alvin Ailey, Jr., created Masekela Langage to protest apartheid in South Africa. In the dance’s climax, a bloodied black man staggers into a party and dies. The program note for Masekela Langage states, “Looks like it’s safer to be in jail.”[2]


Ballerina Alice Patelson’s mother was a former Radio City Rockette who taught ballet to neighborhood children in a studio built into her home. Whenever Alice’s mother came downstairs dressed in her leotard to begin teaching a ballet class, the family pet springer spaniel, Lady, went upstairs. When Lady thought the family was busy, she would take a flying leap into the middle of Alice’s parents’ bed, which was forbidden to her. However, the family knew what Lady was doing. After ballet class was over, Alice’s mother used to noisily climb upstairs, giving Lady plenty of warning to get off the bed before being caught.[3]

In her act, belly dancer Amaya — née Maria Elena Amaya — used a snake that ate three mice a month. Unfortunately, one month the local pet shop ran out of mice, so the pet shop owner suggested, “Three mice = six baby chicks.” However, Amaya remembered what had happened when a belly dancer friend had fed her snake baby chicks. At the conclusion of a dance in Las Vegas, the belly dancer had lifted the snake over her head, and the snake had loudly passed gas. Not only did the snake emit gas, but it also emitted a cloud of baby chick feathers!

In her act, belly dancer Amaya — née Maria Elena Amaya — used a snake that ate three mice a month. Unfortunately, one month the local pet shop ran out of mice, so the pet shop owner suggested, “Three mice = six baby chicks.” However, Amaya remembered what had happened when a belly dancer friend had fed her snake baby chicks. At the conclusion of a dance in Las Vegas, the belly dancer had lifted the snake over her head, and the snake had loudly passed gas. Not only did the snake emit gas, but it also emitted a cloud of baby chick feathers![4]

When Rudolf Nureyev was a young child growing up in Ufa, food was scarce and he was frequently hungry. One day, his mother made a long trek through the snow to another village in search of food to feed her family at home. Near nightfall, she noticed yellowish circles of light around her — circles of light that traveled in pairs. Suddenly, she realized that wolves had surrounded her. She took off the blanket she was wearing around her shoulders and set it on fire. Seeing the fire, the wolves fled.[5]

While studying black dance in Haiti, Katherine Dunham was invited to stay at the home of a friend. However, she smelled something unusual in the house and looked up to see an 8-foot python in the rafters. The snake was a “pet” often kept around Haitian homes to eat rats and mice.[6]


 Early in her career, Martha Graham was a dancer for Denishawn. Both she and Denishawn co-founder Ted Shawn had tempers. One day, while on tour, Ms. Graham called Mr. Shawn to say that she wanted to add a new dance to the tour. Mr. Shawn refused to give her permission to add the dance, so Ms. Graham angrily ripped the telephone out of the wall. On another occasion, they grew angry as they talked over lunch in a New York restaurant. Ms. Graham stood up, grabbed the tablecloth, and pulled it, the dishes, and all the food onto the floor, then she stalked out of the restaurant and into a taxi. Mr. Shawn followed her and screamed at her, “I don’t ever want to see you again in my life! And I mean it!” On both occasions, they quickly made up their differences.[7]

When Lindy Hop dancer Norma Miller was underage, she had a chance to go to Europe as a member of a dance troupe. The problem was this: How could she convince her mother to let her go? After receiving the offer, she went home and her mother, who was tired, asked her to do a favor — to wash a few things in the sink. Norma asked, “Okay, Ma, but if I wash out your underwear, will you let me go to Europe?” Thinking that Norma was joking, her mother said, “Yes, if you wash those things in the sink, I’ll let you go to Europe.” The next day Norma told her about the offer — and reminded her about her promise to let her go to Europe. After a lot of arguing, and the promise that Norma would be chaperoned, her mother let her go to Europe.[8]


 Agnes de Mille says, “I’m not a Massine fan at all.” When Léonide Massine was at Covent Garden, his fans were numerous and enthusiastic. Ms. de Mille used to attend performances of his works at Covent Garden and be very quiet. Meanwhile, members of the audience would cheer madly, be wildly extravagant in their love for Massine and his art — and glare at Ms. de Mille because she did not share their enthusiasm for all things Massine. One day, Mr. Massine was introduced at Covent Garden as “certainly the greatest choreographer we have living and probably ever have had.” Ms. de Mille immediately thought of Martha Graham and of Antony Tudor.[9]

Anita Berber, known mainly as a controversial dancer in Weimar Berlin, performed in many countries. In Fiume, a city now in Croatia, she performed in a very small club where she could hear the comments members of the audience made about her. She overheard one insulting comment and memorized where it had come from. After her dance was over, she walked over to that spot and slapped the man sitting there. Unfortunately, Ms. Berber was nearsighted and did not know that the man who had insulted her had gone and that a man who appreciated her talent had taken his place.[10]

[1] Source: Barbara C. Cruz, Rubén Blades: Salsa Singer and Social Activist, p. 60.

[2] Source: Julinda Lewis-Ferguson, Alvin Ailey, Jr., pp. 65-67.

[3] Source: Alice Patelson, Portrait of a Dancer, Memories of Balanchine: An Autobiography, pp. 1-2.

[4] Source: Rod Long, Belly Laughs, pp. 13ff.

[5] Source: Rudolf Nureyev, Nureyev: An Autobiography, pp. 33-34.

[6] Source: Barbara O’Connor, Katherine Dunham: Pioneer of Black Dance, p. 45.

[7] Source: Russell Freedman, Martha Graham: A Dancer’s Life, pp. 33-35.

[8] Source: Norma Miller, Swingin’ at the Savoy, pp. 87-88.

[9] Source: Clive Barnes, Inside American Ballet Theatre, p. 86.

[10] Source: Mel Gordon, The Seven Addictions and Five Professions of Anita Berber, pp. 112-113.


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David Bruce: “Shakespeare’s 12 Comedies: Retellings in Prose” (Amazon)

This book contains easy-to-read retellings of these 12 comedies by William Shakespeare:
All’s Well that Ends Well
As You Like It
The Comedy of Errors
Love’s Labor’s Lost
Measure for Measure
The Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
The Taming of the Shrew
Twelfth Night
The Two Gentlemen of Verona

By reading these books in modern English, you should be able to understand Shakespeare’s early English plays much better.

Price: 9.99.

Over 1300 pages.

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