Reality is Fabulous: 250 Anecdotes and Stories


  • In 1993, members of the Barbie Liberation Organisation fought against the gender stereotyping of such dolls as Barbie and GI Joe. They bought Barbie and GI Joe dolls and switched their voice boxes and then returned the dolls to the stores. Barbie now said such things as “Troops, attack that Cobra tank at the command post” and “Vengeance is mine,” while GI Joe now said such things as “Want to go shopping?” and “I love school, don’t you?” and “Will we ever have enough clothes?” Unsuspecting customers bought combat-ready Barbie dolls or effeminate GI Joes. In a comment posted to the Barbie Liberation Organisation YouTube video, AnimePRFury wrote, “Man, I wish I had gotten a fixed Barbie! All mine sounded stupid and stereotyped.” The Barbie Liberation Organisation believes that Barbie wants to learn math and science and wants equal opportunity.[1]
  • When British American Tobacco New Zealand set up an official Twitter account, some anti-tobacco New Zealanders asked tough questions: 1) “Do you consider that the thriving marijuana industry poses a threat to cigarettes?” 2) “WHEW! Huf. Huf. I have to go and catch my breath with one of your delicious products. Gasp. Huf. BRB. [Be right back.] Cough.” 3) “I quit smoking cos my kids cried that I’d die (like my dad did). How can I smoke without them finding out?” 4) “So, your product is natural, organic and low-fat. You recommend it as a health supplement?” 5) “Do men at tobacco companies have beards — or can they look at themselves in the mirror long enough to shave?”[2]
  • Lori Garbacz, a professional golfer, disliked slow play. She once brought a folding chair and a newspaper to the Mazda LPGA Championship to protest the slow play (and to catch up on the news while waiting for her turn to play). At the 1991 U.S. Women’s Open, she was so annoyed by the slow play that she went to a pay phone, ordered pizza for herself and her group, and had a pizza party during the tournament.[3]

Actors and Acting

  • Michael Caine’s shortest audition occurred for a movie that starred Alan Ladd, who was short for a leading man. Mr. Caine walked into the audition and immediately heard “Next!” He asked, “Can’t I audition or do something?” The casting agent said, “No, look at your left.” To Mr. Caine’s left was a mark on the doorway. Anyone who was taller than that mark was immediately rejected for the role. Mr. Caine says, “It was my shortest audition. You had to be shorter than Alan Ladd.” Mr. Caine knows what it’s like when two actors are mismatched in height. He says, “I did a picture with Elizabeth Taylor, and she stood on a box for the whole movie to be level with me, and for three years everybody thought I was 5-feet-6 because everybody knew how short Elizabeth was.” Movie critic Roger Ebert says, “Alan Ladd spent his whole career on a box.” When Mr. Ladd made Boy on a Dolphin with Sophia Loren, one scene showed them walking on the beach. A trench was dug in the beach, and Ms. Loren had to walk in the trench during the filming of the scene so that she and Mr. Ladd were matched in height.[4]
  • At a schools’ matinee in 1974, actor Nicol Williamson gave an impressive performance in Macbeth. Unfortunately, the chattering of the schoolchildren in the audience annoyed him, so he stepped out of character and told them, “Shut up!” He then said that he could be making a fortune as a motion picture star in America, but that he had chosen to act in a great play by a great playwright in a great theater — so they could d*mn well be quiet while he acted. Furthermore, if the noise continued, he said he would start the play again from the beginning, and he would keep on starting the play from the beginning until he had gotten through it in absolute silence. The schoolchildren kept quiet after his outburst.[5]
  • Over 100 years ago, Charles Fechter asked fellow actor Samuel Phelps to appear in Hamlet. Mr. Fechter wanted Mr. Phelps to play the Ghost, but he did not make that immediately clear. Mr. Phelps asked, “Who is to play the Prince?” Mr. Fechter replied, “Myself.” Mr. Phelps wanted that role for himself, and so he roared at Mr. Fechter, “D*mn your impudence!” The two actors did not appear together in Hamlet.[6]
  • Jim Backus acted with movie tough guy and star George Raft. He says that Mr. Raft was always a gentleman, always showed up on time, and always knew his lines — and everyone else’s. Mr. Backus asked why he was always so professional and why he didn’t show up late like a lot of other movie stars and why he memorized the entire script. Mr. Raft explained, “I have to. I don’t have any talent.”[7]
  • When comedian Jack Oakie (who played the Mussolini character in Charlie Chaplin’s Great Dictator) was pleased with his acting in a movie scene, he used to say, “That was some pretty good pretendin’.” By the way, Mr. Oakie once saw actor Fredric March wearing the Mr. Hyde makeup for his movie Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Mr. Oakie asked, “What part are you playing today? I never read the book.”[8]


  • Monty Python member Graham Chapman was an alcoholic, but for a while even the other members of Monty Python didn’t know how bad his problem was because for the most part he was a gentlemanly drunk. However, they learned of the extent of his alcoholism while shooting the sketch “Upper Class Twit of the Year.” The Monty Python members needed to check something in a script, but no scripts were readily available, so Michael Palin opened Mr. Chapman’s briefcase in search of one. He found a half-empty bottle of vodka and looked stunned. Someone asked him what was the matter, and he replied, “That was full this morning.” Mr. Palin found the half-empty bottle at 10:15 a.m. Remarkably, Mr. Chapman quit drinking without the aid of Alcoholics Anonymous, and within six months he was in better shape than any of the other members of Monty Python. Before he quit drinking, Mr. Chapman fought alcoholism for a few years. This is an undesirable habit for a comedian, because he kept forgetting his lines. Once, it took him 24 takes to get his lines right. When he finally succeeded, the studio audience cheered. However, the cheer was unfortunate, because the audience watching the filmed product hears the studio audience cheering, but doesn’t know what it is cheering for.[9]
  • Currently, many people don’t want to be thought of as tourists, so if they hear that something is just for tourists, they don’t go there. Henry Morgan, however, advises that if you hear that something is just for tourists, then you should definitely go there. Once, Mr. Morgan ran into comedian Eddie Cantor in Paris, and Mr. Cantor asked him what he had done all day. As it turned out, Mr. Morgan had gone to the flea market, taken a trip on the river, lunched in a wine cellar, dined at the Table du Roi, and seen lots of naked chorus girls. This caused Mr. Cantor to sorrowfully admit that he had been to Paris 11 times and all he had seen were “three restaurants and this hotel.” By the way, while traveling in France, Mr. Morgan went to a vineyard where he saw a workman whose job was to grasp bottles of wine and give them a quarter of a turn. This was the workman’s entire job, and he had done it for 31 years.[10]

[1] Source: “Barbie Liberation Organisation.” YouTube. 15 September 2010 <>.

[2] Source: Ana Samways, “April 27: The hot tub.” Sideswipe. New Zealand Herald. 27 April 2012 <>.

[3] Source: Don Wade, “And Then Arnie Told Chi Chi…,” p. 68.

[4] Source: Roger Ebert, “Michael Caine’s Just Eating It Up.” Chicago Sun-Times. 6 December 1998. <;.

[6] Source: John Rankin Towse, Sixty Years of the Theater: An Old Critic’s Memories, p. 79.

[7] Source: Jim and Henny Backus, Forgive Us Our Digressions, p. 145.

[8] Source: Victoria Horne Oakie, compiler and editor, “Dear Jack, pp. 34, 130.

[9] Source: David Morgan, Monty Python Speaks, p. 87-90.

[10] Source: Henry Morgan, Here’s Morgan!, pp. 177-179.

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