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“Even A Child Knows That”
Bai Juyi went to Zen master Daolin of the Tang Dynasty and asked what one must do in order to live in accord with the Tao. Daolin answered, “One must avoid doing evil, and one must do as much good as possible.” Bai Juyi was surprised at the simplicity of this answer and said, “Even a child knows that.” “True,” replied Daolin, “even a child of three knows this but even a man of 80 fails to live up to it.”
“How Much Does He Need?”
Long ago, Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski decided to go to medical school despite having a wife and two children (and a third child on its way). He managed to pay the bills, including tuition, for a while, but in the middle of his third year, he was no longer able to do so. In addition, he was deep in debt. However, his wife called him and told him that comedian Danny Thomas had pledged $4,000 to help him finish medical school. Mr. Thomas had met with officials from Marquette University, and they had told him about a Rabbi who needed financial help to get through medical school. Mr. Thomas asked, “How much money does he need?” Hearing the answer—$4,000—he said, “Tell your Rabbi he’s got it.” Mr. Thomas is a Christian, but he generously helped a Jew. Rabbi Abraham says, “Who would think of a less likely combination: a Lebanese Christian and a Chassidic Rabbi?”
“If You Can’t Take Him, You Can’t Take Me”
Eddie Hunter, a black comedian, worked in vaudeville. Once he and a white entertainer went to a rooming house seeking shelter. The manager of the boarding house saw the two men and said, “I’ll take the white. Won’t take the colored.” The white entertainer spoke up and said, “If you can’t take him, you can’t take me.” Mr. Hunter said, “Don’t do that because of me. No sense in you suffering,” but the white entertainer replied, “No, I meant that. If he can’t take you, he can’t take me.”
Who Helped Him?
Satiric comedian Lenny Bruce got his start by doing imitations of such famous actors as Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney, and Humphrey Bogart—with a German accent. In his later act, Mr. Bruce sometimes made fun of old-time entertainers. But guess who helped him when he was unable to get work and needed money? Old-time entertainers. Milton Berle helped him, Buddy Hackett helped him, Jackie Gayle helped him, and Sammy Davis Jr. helped him.
Avoiding Potters’ Field
Comedian Jackie Gleason grew up poor. When his mother died, it looked as if she would be buried in a potters’ field due to lack of money for a proper funeral. Fortunately, her fellow workers at the BMT—she worked in the subway as a token clerk—took up a collection and came up with enough money so that she could receive a proper funeral. Jackie’s Aunt Maggie also gave him $5 so that he could buy flowers. Jackie had 36 cents, and he headed to the subway after the funeral so that he could go to Times Square and make a career for himself in show business. Despite his lack of money, he did not jump over the turnstile. Instead, he paid the five cents. He said, “All the other guys in our block used to play a game jumping over the turnstile to beat the BMT out of a nickel. I couldn’t do it, knowing what my mom went through on that job.”
An Advertisement with Humor
When Paul Dver was a high-school student, he met comedian Soupy Sales, became friends with him, and even occasionally talked to him on the telephone. Paul would tell his fellow high-school students that he was friends with Soupy Sales, and of course they didn’t believe him. One day, Paul asked Soupy for a favor. Paul and a friend were appearing in a play, and Paul asked Soupy to record an advertisement for them because if it were recorded in Soupy’s voice the local radio station would play it. Soupy did more than just record the advertisement as written. He threw in some ad-libs and made it funny. Of course, Paul’s high-school friends were amazed to hear Soupy’s voice on the radio advertising Paul and his friend’s play.
Pass It On
While performing live, Whoopi Goldberg played the part of a little girl who was dying. In the character of the little girl, Ms. Goldberg stepped off the stage, walked up to a man in the front row of the theater, gave him a hug and a kiss, and asked him to pass it on. The hug and the kiss traveled down the front row as each audience member passed the hug and the kiss on to the next audience member.
Popov: A Clown with Wisdom
During the Cold War, Popov was a clown who was very popular in Russia. In one of his acts, a scale with two weighing pans is seen on the stage. A man dressed as a New York tycoon walks on stage carrying a huge Atom Bomb and puts it in one of the weighing pans—of course, the pan with the Atom Bomb is heavier than the other, empty weighing pan, and it sinks down. Popov then walks on stage, takes off his hat, and reveals a small white dove, the symbol of peace. Popov puts the small dove in the other weighing pan—which sinks down, showing that Peace outweighs War. Soviet audiences loved this act.
The Poor of the Parish
When English comedian Spike Milligan was young and living at home, he played trumpet in a band. Each time he got paid, he gave most of the money to his mother, who then gave most of it to the church to help the Poor of the Parish. This surprised young Spike, because he felt that he and his family were the Poor of the Parish.
An Embarrassed Waitress
Country comedian Jerry Clower once heard a story about a Christian businessman in a restaurant. When a waitress accidentally poured hot soup all over the businessman’s suit, he didn’t get angry and yell. Instead, he said to her, “Young lady, I’m so sorry this happened to you. I know it embarrasses you.”
 Source: Chih-Chung Tsai (editor and illustrator) and Kok Kok Kiang (translator), The Book of Zen, p. 107.
 Source: Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D., Do Unto Others: How Good Deeds Can Change Your Life, pp. 23-25.
 Source: Jim Haskins and N.R. Mitgang, Mr. Bojangles, pp. 104-105.
 Source: Gerald Nachman, Seriously Funny, pp. 6, 425.
 Source: James Bacon, How Sweet It Is: The Jackie Gleason Story, pp. 9, 22-23.
 Source: Soupy Sales, Soupy Sez! My Zany Life and Times, pp. 198, 200.
 Source: William Caper, Whoopi Goldberg: Comedian and Movie Star, p. 101.
 Source: Sam Norkin, Drawings, Stories, p. 198.
 Source: Spike Milligan, Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall, p. 22.
 Source: Jerry Clower, Life Everlaughter, pp. 59-60.