Making me laugh |

Making me laugh

While I’m not usually a fan of comedians, I accidentally stopped my television at a channel that had one of those stand-up ones who was talking about food. He mentioned that he didn’t understand why anybody would serve one of those fancy combination vegetables trays at a dinner party.

Who wouldn’t agree? He then talked about looking down at the tomatoes, celery and carrots. He then wondered why anybody would want to dip a hunk of cauliflower into a dip and then eat it? Who, he asked, wants to eat vegetables anyway? Or fruit for that matter, not when instead you could have a donut. Go to any museum and look at the paintings, he said, and you’ll see many show bowls of fruit.

The artist can go for a break and come back an hour later and that fruit bowl will still be there intact. However, try that with a canvas showing a donut. Leave, then come back but don’t expect that donut to still be there. This, he said, is why you will never see a portrait of a donut. I howled. This got me to thinking about the few old-time comedians that were always so popular.

Way back then, I wouldn’t listen to them on the radio or watch television when they were on. My family was big on Jack Benny, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Milton Berle and especially Bob Hope who later became really big on television. I couldn’t stand any of them. Later I was almost an outcast with friends when I said I wouldn’t take the time to watch Lucille Ball in “I Love Lucy.”

What kind of an American was I, anyway? Later on though, I loved Jerry Seinfeld. I was fortunate enough to meet two of my favorites years ago. The first was Bill Cosby. He was the headliner at the hotel in Disneyland in Anaheim back in the 1960s. My job, as a hostess, was to seat people, and I got to seat Bill’s wife, and then Bill himself as he waited to be introduced.

Bill and I talked, reminiscing about our both being from Philadelphia and having gone to some of the same schools. This was all before all of his current scandal. He was one good-looking young man back then. The second of my favorites was Martha Raye. My oldest son had purchased tickets to see her at the “Theater In The Round” at Valley Forge, PA in a production of “Call Me Madam.”

At the last minute, my son’s girlfriend decided she didn’t want to go. My husband Don and I didn’t want to see the tickets wasted. We hurried out the door, and, of course, we were late. At that type of theater the lights always shine down on the first two or three rows. As Don and I headed down those steep stairs to our seats on the first row, we interrupted the play, which had just started.

Martha stopped her dialogue, walked over to where we were seated and said “Where the h—have you been?” It brought down the house. What Martha didn’t know was that the entire theater was filled with people from our town, the Blue Bell Inn where I worked and Leeds and Northrop Company employees where my husband worked. It had been a special ticket sale and we knew just about everybody in that audience.

It turned out that where we were sitting was on the aisle where Martha went in and from the stage. Each time she came back and forth she took time to talk to me. That alone made the trip to Valley Forge special.

Then there was the day, back in the 1970s, when my second husband Van and I were watching a rehearsal for a horse show in Reno. At first I didn’t see him, but Van did. He mentioned that Red Skelton was sitting above us while watching his wife rehearse. It seems she was into what they call trotting horses and she was very good. I couldn’t resist it.

This gal had to go up and say something to Red who was another of my favorites.

He was so kind, and I just took a second to tell him how much I enjoyed his movies. He smiled and said that phrase he was so famous for, “Oh, thank you dear, thank you.” I was in seventh heaven just getting to see that wonderful comedian.

OK, who’s your favorite?

Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer and columnist. She may be reached at