Few entertainers get lucky with a catchphrase or persona that makes them a household name. Jack Benny played on his cheapness and vanity attributes. Bob Hope was Old Ski Nose, Henny Youngman, the King of One Liners and Jackie Gleason- The Great One, just to name a few.
Milton Berle milked the show business lie that he stole other acts material. In fact, he was one of the few who legitimately paid for routines rented from the originators, but not the performers. Another comic may have done a bit in Vaudeville that Berle saw and wanted to revive on his television show. The guy who performed it in Vaudeville would get incensed because he considered it his act. But Berle was smart. He knew that the performer paid a gag writer to put together the bit. The rule was that the bit’s ownership stayed with the writer, not the performer. He would seek that person out and pay him for the use. Nothing wrong with that- that’s why they called it show business.
Joey Bishop was another one who got lucky with a persona as well as catchphrase. He coined the expression “Son of a Gun” when he first used it in a cameo appearance in a movie called Pepe and received such a tremendous amount of fan mail telling him how funny the bit worked in the film. He was also known as having a dour expression, sort of like the look on the face of a headwaiter when called out to listen to the complaint of a dining customer.
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I’m what you call a â€œsecond bananaâ€ in the world of business. My job is to make the â€œtop bananaâ€ look good. The top banana is usually the controller and sometimes owner of a company. They need help maintaining the company records as accurate as possible. They want to know where they are having successes and disappointments. They want to take credit for the successes. And they are always looking for ways to improve procedures and processes to make them more efficient and less error-prone.
This is where I, Mr. Second Banana, enter the picture. A controller whose business sells products with expiration dates asks me, â€œcan you give me a list of all items that have a certain quantity of stock that is over a certain number of days old?â€ Or another will ask, â€œif I give you a spreadsheet of item codes and unit costs, can you import into the system new costs for the products we build as opposed to purchase for resale?â€ Or, â€œis there a way I can combine these four reports into one so I don’t have to run them separately?â€ Or, â€œhow can I convert this information into separate spreadsheets to be sorted by sales rep so that they can be emailed to them?â€ Or, the real clincher, â€œis there a way to make all orders get inventory immediately allocated to them by bin as well have multiple bins for each item with their own unique quantity?â€
Now that I’ve bored you with such detail, my usual answer to requests such as listed above is, â€œI can do anything for moneyâ€. In other words, if the client is willing to commit reasonable programming time to allow me to get the request done, I can do it. It’s my job to make him or her happy and look good to their bosses, creditors and/or auditors.
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By Larry Teren
Rodney King once famously said, “can’t we all just get along?” No!
Nowadays, in the world of politics, its hard to find an international enemy not to pick on, Since detente in the early 1990’s, the Russians are allegedly our friends now that they gave up that Soviet business. Even when we want to slap them for doing things we don’t cotton to, we have to look the other way. There’s no fun watching a tennis match if you cannot look side to side to see how the other player is going to respond to the first one’s volley.
There used to be a time when one could rely on a good feud to keep him amused. Where have the Hatfields and McCoys gone when you need them?
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A friend of mine is a former stand-up comic as well as a stand-up guy. A family man, low maintenance in personality and as I said, an all-around good guy. Except we disagree on one thing. He thinks Jerry Seinfeld is the greatest comedian of our time. I disagree. He may be the greatest straight man, but not comedian.
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Jack Benny was in the top five of all-time show business personalities. As a kid in the late 1950’s and early 60’s , I watched his tv show and laughed like everyone else. Jack was beloved by all his peers which is unusual in a competitive world. His stage persona was that of a vain cheapskate. This was a scriptwriter’s dream and it did him well for close to sixty years. He died in 1974 at the age of eighty after pretending to be 39 for so many years.
My father celebrated his own eightieth birthday in October, 2002 by falling down and breaking both ankles. He had just left his car and had walked up the stairs to his townhouse. Once inside, he tripped in the foyer and that was that. Somehow my mother helped him into a chair and she called me to come over. I did and it was in the late evening time. A private ambulance service brought him to the hospital of choice. We waited in the emergency area and by 11pm the doctors had done their thing. They bandaged him up as best as possible and told me to take him home.
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