When I was younger, I was lucky to have been the Stage Manager and Production Manager for The Juliet Prowse Show for about six years. We toured all over the place – Las Vegas, Reno, Tahoe, Atlantic City, London, South Africa and Australia. And I got paid for it!! How great was that?
We normally had a comic or another performer as the opening act so I got to hear their routines six times a week for weeks at a time. Over the years we had a lot of different acts. Some of them were (rim shots, please!!):
Foster Brooks (who always pretended to be drunk) – “I called my wife and told her I bought a condominium. She told me she didn’t care and was going to keep taking the pill anyway.”
Freddie Roman (an old Borscht Belt comic) – “My kid was in third grade at Hebrew School but he was such a bad student they kicked him out. So we sent him to the public school but he misbehaved so much they kicked him out, too. Out of desperation we sent him to the local Catholic School. He was perfect there. After a couple weeks we went to meet with him and his teachers to find out why the change. Our son pointed to the crucifix and said ‘After I saw what they did to the last Jewish kid who came here I decided I’d better behave.’”
Joan Rivers – “I had an IUD implanted, but whenever I drove down the street and crossed my legs the garage doors would open and close.”
Roy Clark with his banjo
Norm Crosby (The Master of Malaprop) – “a cop of cuffee”
Even Bertha, the elephant act at The Nugget in Lake Tahoe
One time we opened for Bill Cosby at the Hilton in Las Vegas. On the opening night when Juliet’s show was over, the orchestra played a vamp while the scenery was changed and Bill Cosby was supposed to come on stage. I was done after Juliet’s act, but when I looked around Bill Cosby was nowhere to be seen. So I ran downstairs to his dressing room and said “Mr. Cosby, you’re on!!” to which he calmly replied “Oh yeah? How am I doing?” Then he ambled onto the stage and did his act.
Bob Newhart – On the opening night he told me to shine a flashlight at him from the wings when he had five minutes left in his act and he would know to wrap things up. Well, when I shone the flashlight at him he went into a whole routine about “Why is someone shining a flashlight at me? Who is that? Is that you, Keith? What do you want? Come on out here!” So I had to walk out onto the stage. I had never been so embarrassed in my life. Needless, to say, he only pulled that bit on me once.
Remembering all those guys still crack me up.