David Bruce Anecdotes
• Parties can be innovative. Etiquette expert Grace Fox knows a woman who gave a boiled lobster dinner party shortly after moving. Since she still hadn’t unpacked everything, her guests sat on crates. Spread around the room were candles in wine and beer bottles — the candlesticks were still packed away. In addition, the paper napkins — which had been purchased shortly before the dinner, were for a children’s party. Everyone was amused by the party and had a great time.
• Andrew Tobias and his significant other, Charles Nolan, gave good parties. Music mogul David Geffen once told Mr. Tobias, “You know what I like about your parties? Everyone’s employed.”
• Before Charles M. Schulz created the comic strip Peanuts, a friend and co-worker at the correspondence art school Art Instruction Schools, Inc., tried to play a practical joke on him. He created and placed a fake parking ticket on Mr. Schulz’s car, then pointed it out to him through one of the windows at work. Mr. Schulz was upset, but the joke backfired on his friend. The friend was going to tell him at lunch that the parking ticket was fake, but by then a real meter maid had been by and given the friend a real parking ticket. Mr. Schulz did not get a parking ticket because the meter maid saw the fake ticket on his car and thought that it was real.
• While attending Harvard, Robert Benchley and a friend pulled a notable practical joke. At Louisburg Square, they knocked on the door of an elegant house and when the maid answered, Mr. Benchley said, “We’re here for the davenport.” The maid asked, “Which one?” Looking past her, Mr. Benchley pointed and replied, “That one.” They then removed the davenport, carried it across the square, and knocked on the door of another elegant house. When the maid answered, they said, “We’re here to deliver the davenport. Where do you want it?” The maid pointed to the sitting room, and Mr. Benchley and his friend left it there.
• While Steve Wozniak was attending the University of Colorado at Boulder, he enjoyed playing practical jokes. For example, he built a frequency jammer that looked like an ordinary ink pen. He would go into the television room where a lot of students were watching something exciting like the Kentucky Derby, then at an exciting point in the program — as when the horses were crossing the finish line — he would disrupt the program so that the TV screen went blank.
• A high school student had a habit of walking into his first class of the day and throwing his books on top of his desk. As a prank, a couple of his friends stayed after class one day and removed all the screws from his desk. It was still standing upright, but of course as soon as the student walked into the room the next morning and threw his books on the desk, it collapsed.
• This is one of the best practical jokes I have ever heard about: There is (or used to be) a restaurant in Denver, Colorado, where a statue of a naked man wearing nothing but a fig leaf is placed in the ladies room. Beside the statue is a sign saying, “Caution: Do not touch figleaf.” Whenever a lady touches the figleaf, a bell rings inside the restaurant.
• As a boy, Isaac Newton played a practical joke when he flew a kite at night with a paper lantern, illuminated by a lit candle, tied to its tail. Neighbors were “wonderfully affrighted” by the strange light.
• Anne Jackson was offered a role in a movie titled The Journey. She pointed out that she was newly pregnant, but director Anatole Litvak replied, “Exactly what we want for the character. You’ll play E.G. Marshall’s pregnant wife.” Of course, they knew that Ms. Jackson’s small pregnant stomach would grow into a big pregnant stomach as time passed, so early in the filming of the movie Ms. Jackson wore an inflatable belt so that her stomach would be the same size throughout the movie. Eventually, Mr. Litvak told her that her stomach was too big. Ms. Jackson smiled and replied, “That’s me.” Then she added about the inflatable belt, “I’m not wearing the d*mn thing.”
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