This morning I was at the Y doing the treadmill — dreadfully boring but now that summer’s here it’s too hot to walk outside even early in the morning. And of course at the Y they have the bank of TV screens to distract from the plodding — or even trotting — along the moving belt.
Usually the screens are full of talking heads solemnly pontificating about the meaning of the latest (fill in the blank) …, but this morning the screen in front of me was showing a Dean Martin Roast. Well, more accurately, a promo for the roasts — snippets of various stars saying funny things about the guest “roastee.” I suppose Saturday is not a big news day.
There were the cream of the crop of funny men and women — Bob Hope, George Burns, Don Rickles, Rich Little, Lucille Ball, Johnny Carson, and many others. As I plodded along, watching the numbers on the treadmill — the distance, the time elapsed, the calories — crawl slowly upward, I kept glancing at the TV.
A man on his way out paused and stood watching as Nipsey Russell (remember him?) turned the microphone over to Lily Tomlin. After a few remarks, George Burns took her place. The man smiled at some of the jokes, then came Phyllis Diller.
She stepped up to the podium looking quite spectacular. I must say these roasts bring out the best in everyone’s wardrobe. The gentlemen wear tuxedos, the ladies are decked out in evening dresses and sparking jewels. Phyllis looked quite glamorous. None of the “flat-chested, skinny-legged housewife” here.
I didn’t catch everything she said — was watching the mile-tracker sluggishly turn over another tenth of a mile — but when I looked up, she was in the middle of a joke about her face lift and a moment later she delivered the punch line and at that point, the man who had been standing watching laughed out loud. Yes!
There’s a lot of information on the internet about women comedians and what they have to do to be funny. Usually that means looking funny as well as being funny. Phyllis herself said, “Grace Kelly could never be a comedienne.”
It also has something to do with attitude and being willing to expose your shortcomings to the world.
As I watched the man watching Phyllis, I was laughing, too — not at Phyllis but at the man who was enjoying himself as she rattled off a string of one-liners. She always could make them laugh. And as he walked away chuckling, I looked down at the little numbers on the treadmill mileage gauge and discovered I had reached my goal! Wa-hoo!
Thank you, Phyllis Diller!