David Bruce: The Funniest People in Families, Volume 3 — Mothers, Music

Mothers

• Margaret “Peg” Cohn, Dean Emerita of the Ohio University Honors College, remembers carpooling with other mothers. On one occasion, she had a carload of children when they came across an intersection in which someone had written in large letters a four-letter word beginning with “F” and ending with “K.” Ms. Cohn’s seven-year-old carefully said each letter aloud and then asked, “Mom?” Ms. Cohn braced herself, afraid that she would have to give a sex education lesson to a carload of children, but fortunately her seven-year-old asked merely, “How did they do that without getting run over?” Ms. Cohn answered that question, happy that she had remembered “a cardinal rule for parents: Be sure what the question is before you give the answer.”

• When Ralph Nader’s mother, Rose, was in her eighties, he and she took a five-hour plane ride to San Francisco. Sitting in the row behind them was a young man who kept talking for the entire five hours, with brief breaks only to quickly eat a meal or to visit the restroom. After the plane had landed, his mother told Ralph, “He didn’t learn much in the last five hours, did he?” Her advice to her children while they were growing up — and after — was this: “The more you talk, the less you’ll have to say. The more you listen, the more sensible will be what you say.”

• Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter, a lesbian named Mary, gave birth to a son: Samuel David Cheney. Mary Cheney and her significant other, Heather Poe, will raise the boy. Such a situation makes some religious people uneasy, but not others. A church-going woman living in a conservative part of Houston thinks that the situation has its advantages. This woman is happily married with two little sons and a baby daughter, but she says, “Boy, wouldn’t it be great to let Mommy No. 2 take over while I get my hair done?”

• The parents of comedian Chris Rock greatly encouraged him and their other children. One day, Andre, his brother, had an assignment that required him to complete this sentence: “My Mom says I’m….” The other schoolchildren wrote sentences such as “My Mom says I’m a slob” or “My Mom says I’m late to dinner.” Andre, however, wrote, “My Mom says I’m the best thing that ever happened.” His and Chris’ mother, Rose, is especially proud of that and has never forgotten it.

• Comedian Don Knotts grew up in Morgantown, West Virginia, during the Great Depression. He got his first experience as a comedian making his mother laugh as he reenacted scenes from the Abbott and Costello movies and the Laurel and Hardy movies he watched. After he became famous, he was asked how an impoverished kid from West Virginia ever came to think that he could become a famous entertainer. Mr. Knotts replied, “My mother told me I could.”

• The family of stand-up comedian Margaret Cho ended up very proud of her, although early in her career they thought that she should earn her money doing something else. In fact, Margaret’s mother was so proud that when she attended one of Margaret’s performances, she would go into the ladies’ restroom and say, “Hi, I’m Margaret’s mother. I’m so happy. Thank you for coming to see my daughter.”

• Joyce Grenfell’s mother was quite a beauty and had good legs all her life. When she was 65, an American sailor saw her from behind and gave a wolf whistle. Pleased by the whistle, she turned around and said, “I’m afraid you’re about 50 years too late.” The sailor replied, “No, ma’am, it’s never too late with legs like those.”

• Dora, comedian Sam Levenson’s sister, once wanted their mother to go to a PTA meeting, but their mother said she was too busy. Dora pleaded, “There’s going to be an important speaker. She’s going to talk about sex appeal.” Mrs. Levenson — the mother of seven boys and one girl — replied, “I already gave.”

Music

• In 1956, Elvis Presley was a recording phenomenon, turning out hit after hit, and songwriters — including friends and colleagues Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, writers of “Hound Dog” — really, really wanted him to record their songs. Mr. Stoller was on the Italian ocean liner Andrea Doria when it collided with another ship at sea, and he was one of the fortunate people who managed to survive. When Mr. Stoller arrived back home, safe and sound, meeting him was Mr. Leiber. However, rather than talking about Mr. Stoller’s recent escape from death, Mr. Leiber wanted to talk about a more pressing matter: “Elvis Presley’s recorded ‘Hound Dog’! Elvis Presley’s recorded ‘Hound Dog’!”

 

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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