The Funniest People in Television and Radio: 250 Anecdotes


  • Star Trek: The Experience can be seen at the Las Vegas Hilton. Among other attractions are actors portraying characters from the various Star Trek series. Many of the actors are very good, and they stay in character. For example, a famous Ferengi is Quark. When a fan yelled “Quark!” at an actor in a Ferengi costume, the actor sighed and said, “Billions of Ferengi in the Universe, and they [Hu-Mans] all think we are Quark!” The Ferengi are a notoriously acquisitive species, and Star Trek fan Kevin Wagner was shocked that an actor playing a Ferengi agreed to pose for free for a photograph with a fan. Therefore, Kevin quoted the 13th Rule of Acquisition to the Ferengi: “Anything worth doing is worth doing for money.” However, the actor playing the Ferengi knew his stuff: “Don’t quote the Rules of Acquisition to me, Hu-Man. Free publicity!”[1]
  • Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer were shocked in Season 2 when Angel, a bad vampire turned good, then bad again, killed the interesting and important character Jenny Calendar in the episode titled “Passion.” According to an interview with series creator Josh Whedon, the killing of an interesting and important character served many purposes, including being a message to the actors: “Be very good or I’ll kill you.” (Mr. Whedon was joking. Robia LaMorte, the actress who played Jenny Calendar, was very, very good.)[2]
  • Jack Riley played the character of the insulting, misanthropic Mr. Elliot Carlin on The Bob Newhart Show. One of his favorite episodes was “You’re Fired, Mr. Chips,” in which the great actor Ralph Bellamy co-starred. A consummate professional, Mr. Bellamy came to work the first day with all of his lines memorized. Mr. Riley asked Mr. Bellamy how he had learned his lines, and Mr. Bellamy replied, “The way I always did it. I keep the play in my back pocket. I’m standing in line at the supermarket, I got it out.”[3]
  • Panamanian actor Rubén Blades avoids jobs that involve his playing stereotypical Hispanic roles. Once, the people behind Miami Vice offered him the role of a Hispanic drug dealer. He turned them down. In one six-month period, he was offered 15 roles. Approximately half of the roles were Columbian drug dealers; the remaining roles were Cuban drug dealers. Mr. Blades, who has a degree in International Law from Harvard, asks, “Doesn’t anybody want me to play a lawyer?”[4]
  • In the days before women commonly became pregnant first, then got married, actress Paula Winslowe read a commercial over the radio that caused the studio audience to laugh. She read, “I am a June bride. My silverware pattern is International Silver’s exquisite ‘First Love.’” The audience began laughing after the first sentence because they could see that Ms. Winslowe’s pregnancy was far too advanced for her to be a conventionally moral June bride.[5]
  • Comedian Phil Foster (who played Laverne’s father in Laverne and Shirley) and his wife knew an actress before she became famous, but when the actress got a TV series, she ignored the Fosters. But after the TV series was cancelled, she became friendly with them again. A few years later, the actress won a Supporting Actress Academy Award. Mr. Foster sent her this telegram: “CONGRATULATIONS — AND GOODBYE AGAIN.”[6]
  • Dick Gautier played Hymie the Robot in the 1960s TV series Get Smart. This was an unusual role, because Hymie spoke in a monotone and showed no emotion — the opposite of what an actor usually does. After Hymie had performed in a scene with Don Adams, who played Maxwell Smart, Mr. Adams would sometimes say, “Dick, that was absolutely one-dimensional,” then give him a thumbs-up sign.[7]
  • During the Avengers episode “Mandrake,” Honor Blackman, who played Mrs. Cathy Gale, accidentally knocked out pro wrestler Jackie Pallo during a fight scene, kicking him in the face and knocking him backward into an open grave. He remained unconscious for six or seven minutes, and the newspapers had a field day with the story. For a while, Ms. Blackman was afraid that she had ruined his career.[8]
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar, star of TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in which she regularly killed vampires with a combination of karate moves and stakes to the heart, really got into the role. She once visited an amusement park where an actor dressed as a vampire jumped out to scare the amusement park visitors — Sarah gave the “vampire” a karate chop.[9]
  • For a while, Ray Engle was the voice of old-time radio hero Sky King. He carried a gun and acted like a character out of the Old West. One day, when a director criticized his performance, Mr. Engle drew his gun, shouted, “You can’t talk to Sky King like that!” — and shot a hole in a wall of the radio studio.[10]

[1] Source: Nikki Stafford, editor, Trekkers: True Stories by Fans for Fans, pp. 153-154.

[2] Source: Josh Whedon Interview, “Passion,” Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Second Season on DVD.

[3] Source: Joey Green, Hi Bob!, pp. 184, 186.

[4] Source: Barbara C. Cruz, Rubén Blades: Salsa Singer and Social Activist, p. 79.

[5] Source: Glenhall Taylor, Before Television, pp. 67-68.

[6] Source: Joe Franklin, Joe Franklin’s Encyclopedia of Comedians, p. 134.

[7] Source: Joey Green, The Get Smart Handbook, p. 237.

[8] Source: Patrick Macnee, The Avengers and Me, pp. 48-49.

[9] Source: Marilyn D. Anderson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, p. 36.

[10] Source: Jim Harmon, The Great Radio Heroes, pp. 191-192.

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