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Tribute to Rodney Dangerfield, the Prince of the One-Liners

DRBJ is a professional writer who worked as a psychologist before turning to writing full time.

Rodney Dangerfield 1921 - 2004

Rodney Dangerfield 1921 - 2004

Comedy Legend Rodney Dangerfield

You may remember Rodney Dangerfield – the nervous, twitching comedian with bulging eyeballs, a trademark red tie he was constantly adjusting, and the punchline – “I don’t get no respect!” I call him prince of the one-liners because Henny Youngman was the king of one-liners; he came first.

Rodney was born as Jacob Cohen in Deer Park, New York in 1921. He changed his name twice. First, he adopted the stage name of Jack Roy and later he became Rodney Dangerfield. His father was a vaudeville comedian who used the stage name of Phil Roy. Rodney said his father was never home – “he was out looking to make other kids.” Rodney didn’t have kind words for his mother either. She “brought him up all wrong” and in an interview with Newsday said “she was cruel, mean and sinister.”

To cope with that unhappy environment, Rodney began writing jokes when he was only fifteen and started performing as a comedian when he was still in his teens. As Jack Roy, he took his act on the road and worked in B-level clubs. To augment his income – I had to struggle to picture this – he worked as a singing waiter. After ten years of moderate success, he gave up comedy and began selling and installing aluminum siding in New Jersey. He married Joyce Indig in 1949 and had two children. They were divorced in 1961.

Return to Comedy

Rodney returned to comedy, his first love, in 1962 and adopted the name, Rodney Dangerfield. Where did that unusual name come from? Jacob alias Jack alias Rodney remembered it from a comedy routine on Jack Benny’s radio program in the 40s. He began to cultivate the image of a lovable but laughable “everyman” who gets no respect and became a nightclub hit in the 60s.

He appeared in numerous television guest spots on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson where he appeared more than seventy times, The Dean Martin Show, and Toast of the Town hosted by Ed Sullivan. Very few entertainers ever provoked an observable reaction when they performed for the legendary but stone-faced Ed Sullivan, but Rodney made Ed actually laugh. Rodney credited Carson by saying, “Johnny made me a name!”

in the 70s, he found an even wider audience on Saturday Night Live. He began a film career by appearing in a supporting role in the movie, The Projectionist (1971). In 1980, Dangerfield became a cornerstone of American comedy with the classic film, Caddyshack. He played the part of a very wealthy golfer who was basically nice despite being obnoxious. The movie was panned by the critics but became a cult phenomenon that is often aired on TV today. That year Rodney produced a popular comedy album, Rappin Rodney. The album earned him a Grammy for best comedy album.

I don't get no respect.

I don't get no respect.


Other Film and TV Roles

Rodney became the leading man in two more films, Easy Money (1983), and Back to School (1986) which was one of the first comedies to gross over $100 million. His first dramatic role was that of the abusive father in Oliver Stone’s successful film, Natural Born Killers (1994). He made several more films – twenty in all – but most of them went directly to video.

In 1993, he married Joan Child, a woman thirty years younger. In 1995, he became the first entertainer to have a website. In the 1990s, he also made appearances on a number of TV shows including The Simpsons, In Living Color, Home Improvement and Suddenly Susan. He discovered many new comedians including Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Carrey, Roseanne Barr, Robert Townsend, Tim Allen and Sam Kinison.

Rodney was a dynamic, frenetic performer in front of an audience but in 1997, he admitted to a lifelong struggle with depression that often provoked suicidal thoughts. He wrote a book, It’s Not Easy Being Me, to help others with depression which reached the best-seller list of the New York Times.

He died on October 5, 2004, after falling into a coma following heart surgery. In keeping with his “I don’t get no respect” persona, his headstone reads, “Rodney Dangerfield – There goes the neighborhood.”

Dangerfield's 74 One-Liner Jokes

These will never go out of date!

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Read More From Reelrundown

When I was a kid, my parents moved a lot. But I always found them.

I was an ugly kid when I was born. After the doctor cut the cord … he hung himself.

In my life I've been through plenty. When I was three years old, my parents got a dog. I was jealous of the dog, so they got rid of me.

I could tell that my parents hated me. My bath toys were a toaster and a radio.

What a childhood I had. Once on my birthday my old man gave me a bat. The first day I played with it, it flew away.

When I was a kid, I never went to Disneyland. My old man told me Mickey Mouse died in a cancer experiment.

When I was a kid I got no respect. When my parents got divorced there was a custody fight over me ... and no one showed up.

I was so ugly my mother used to feed me with a sling shot.

My old man never liked me. He gave me my allowance in traveler's checks.

I remember the time I was kidnapped and they sent a piece of my finger to my father. He said he wanted more proof.

I had plenty of pimples as a kid. One day I fell asleep in the library. When I woke up, a blind man was reading my face.

My father carries around the picture of the kid who came with his wallet.

I tell ya, my family was always big drinkers. When I was a kid, I was missing. They put my picture on a bottle of Scotch.

My uncle's dying wish - he wanted me on his lap. He was in the electric chair.

My mother had morning sickness after I was born.

I came from a real tough neighborhood. In the library, the sign says "Shut the f*** up."

In the school I went to, they asked a kid to prove the law of gravity so he threw the teacher out of the window.

I told my wife the truth. I told her I was seeing a psychiatrist. Then she told me the truth: that she was seeing a psychiatrist, two plumbers, and a bartender.

I tell ya, my wife's a lousy cook. After dinner, I don't brush my teeth. I count them.

It's tough to stay married. My wife kisses the dog on the lips, yet she won't drink from my glass.

I tell ya, my wife likes to talk during sex. Last night, she called me from a motel.

I have good looking kids. Thank goodness my wife cheats on me.

I haven't spoken to my wife in years. I didn't want to interrupt her.

My marriage is on the rocks again, yeah, my wife just broke up with her boyfriend.

My wife and I were happy for 20 years. Then we met.

My wife is always trying to get rid of me. The other day she told me to put the garbage out. I said to her I already did. She told me to go and keep an eye on it.

My wife met me at the door the other night in a sexy negligee. Unfortunately, she was just coming home.

My wife wants sex in the back of the car and she wants me to drive.

My wife was afraid of the dark ... then she saw me naked and now she's afraid of the light.

My wife's jealousy is getting ridiculous. The other day she looked at my calendar and wanted to know who May was.

We sleep in separate rooms, we have dinner apart, we take separate vacations - we're doing everything we can to keep our marriage together.

One time I went into a hotel, I asked the bellhop to handle my bag - he felt up my wife.

With me, nothing goes right. My psychiatrist said my wife and I should have sex every night. Now, we'll never see each other!

With my wife I don't get no respect. I made a toast on her birthday “to the best woman a man ever had.” The waiter joined me.

What a kid I got, I told him about the birds and the bees and he told me about the butcher and my wife.

It's tough to stay married. My wife says no because she's tired, then stays up and reads a book.

I went to a bar for a few drinks. The bartender asked what I wanted, "Surprise me," I said, so he showed me a naked picture of my wife.

My wife has to be the worst cook. In my house, we pray after we eat.

Boy, is my wife stupid. It takes her an hour and a half to watch 60 Minutes.

What a dog I got, his favorite bone is in my arm.

Some dog I got. We call him Egypt. Because in every room, he leaves a pyramid.

What a dog I got. Last night he went on the paper four times - three while I was reading it.

I looked up my family tree and found three dogs using it.

I met the surgeon general - he offered me a cigarette.

I told my dentist my teeth are going yellow. He told me to wear a brown tie.

I drink too much. The last time I gave a urine sample it had an olive in it.

I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous - everyone hasn't met me yet.

I told my doctor I broke my arm in two places. He told me to keep out of those places.

I'm at the age where food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact, I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table.

I'm taking Viagra and drinking prune juice - I don't know if I'm coming or going.

If it wasn't for pick-pockets I'd have no sex life at all.

One year they asked me to be poster boy - for birth control.

I went to a gay bar, they wanted proof of sex so I showed them. They said it wasn't enough.

When my old man wanted sex, my mother would show him a picture of me.

I saved a girl from being attacked last night. I controlled myself.

A hooker once told me she had a headache.

She was so fat that when guys have sex with her they ask for directions.

She was so ugly that she was known as a two bagger, one for you in case her bag breaks.

I found there was only one way to look thin, hang out with fat people.

I like to date schoolteachers. If you do something wrong, they make you do it over again.

I live in a tough neighborhood. They got a children's zoo. Last week, four kids escaped.

I came from a real tough neighborhood. I put my hand in some cement and felt another hand.

A homeless guy came up to me on the street, said he hadn't eaten in four days. I told him, "Man, I wish I had your willpower."

I grew up in a tough neighborhood. The other night a guy pulled a knife on me. I could see it wasn't a real professional job. There was butter on it.

I get no respect. The way my luck is running, if I was a politician I would be honest.

I looked up my family tree and found out I was the sap.

I went to a fight the other night, and a hockey game broke out.

I worked in a pet store and people would ask how big I would get.

My cousin is gay; he went to London only to find out that Big Ben was a clock.

On Halloween, the parents sent their kids out looking like me.

The way my luck is running, if I was a politician I would be honest.

This morning when I put on my underwear I could hear the fruit-of-the-loom guys laughing at me.

I come from a stupid family. During the civil war my great uncle fought for the west.

"Yeah, I know I'm ugly." I said to a bartender, “Make me a zombie.” He said, “God beat me to it.”

Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our irritation and resentments slip away, and a sunny spirit takes their place.

— Mark Twain

Ronald / Jack / Jacob — You were our sunny spirit and you do have my respect.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 drbj and sherry


drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on November 29, 2012:

You are so right, DWS. Rodney was a remarkable comedian and we often don't appreciate what we have until we lose it. He may not have had all the respect he deserved in Hollywood but audiences in nightclubs in Las Vegas and other big cities would laugh non-stop when he was on stage with his hilarious one-liners. I miss him, too.

DWS on November 29, 2012:


drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on April 10, 2012:

Can you hear me, DJRW? I'm laughing out loud. I remember that oneliner and it still has 'appeal.' Thanks for finding Rodney and reminding me of that joke.

DJRazorWhite on April 10, 2012:

"I came from a rough neighborhood, I tell ya. I remember as a kid my english teacher asked me what comes after a sentence. I told her an appeal." (one of my faves from Rodney)

Rachael C. from That little rambunctious spot in the back of your mind :) on December 04, 2011:

Nice to meet you, too! I agree, Rodney was amazing, and I will check that out A.S.A.P Thanks!

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on December 03, 2011:

Hi, toys... It's nice to meet you. Rodney was hilarious and he had the talent to recite those one-liners one after the other from memory. Not an easy eask. Delighted you enjoyed this and the pleasure is entirely mine.

You might also like to take a look at his mentor:

"Tribute to Henny Youngman."

Rachael C. from That little rambunctious spot in the back of your mind :) on December 03, 2011:

This was hilarious!! Haven't heard of Rod in forever, but this was a great reminder... I definitely enjoyed this... Thanks!

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on August 22, 2011:

Thanks for your loyalty, Ed. It's always a treat for me to have you drop by any of my hubs. This new sub-domain arrangement of Hubpages makes it more difficult for many hubbers to find the writers they like to follow.

You stay happy, too, my friend.

Ed Kassner on August 22, 2011:

I still follow your GREAT STUFF I Have been moved to a sub hub of some kind. Im going to try an get off. I do not play often anyways. Stay happy ED,

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on July 30, 2011:

Thank you, Ed, for enjoying Rodney and Henny as much as I do. Many comics today would be lost without their cue cards and teleprompters . . . and a few prominent politicians as well. The King and Prince of Oneliners had an amazing funny repertoire as well as memory.

You are spot on with the Mayo Clinic remark. A show with those two together would put the audience in stitches . . . literally!

Thanks for the visit. ;)

Ed Kassner on July 29, 2011:

WOW==ANOTHER WINNER (drbj) TURMOIL IS BETTER THAN NO OIL''' IF [RODNEY AND YOUNGMAN] had done a double "for the safty of the audience, it would have been stipulated that it be held at the mayo clinic with pierodic staff rotations.STAY HAPPY) Thanks again.ED.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on May 23, 2011:

Come to Florida, Wesman. Everyone here is from somewhere else. There's much less chance of playing that old family game . . . . . . incest!

Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on May 22, 2011:

LOL! I knew that was coming - I tell that same joke sometimes.

Here's the sad thing, in my little Texas community. . .I'm practically related to everyone. I gotta move out of here.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on May 21, 2011:

Thanks for stopping by, Wesman, and the 'great tribute' comment. The film, "Back to School" with Rodney was in the same league as "Caddyshack." Hilarious.

Good luck on your marriage plans - Kentucky or West Virginia would probably be fertile stamping grounds. You gave me an opening, you know, for one of my favorite 'hill-William" jokes.

Seems this bridegroom comes home to his daddy crying that his bride is a virgin and he wants to annul the marriage. His father consoles him saying, "You're absolutely right, son. If she wasn't good enough for her folks then she isn't good enough for you."

Wesman Todd Shaw from Kaufman, Texas on May 21, 2011:

Great tribute, Sir!

I think that "Caddyshack" . . . is just so classic, I'd imagine that it was my first exposure to Rodney Dangerfield - has there been another comedy film on the level of "Caddyshack" since?

Hey, it's my goal to marry a woman thirty years younger than me, so I'd have to move to somewhere like Kentucky, and wait another nine years. . . .for the soonest possible arrangement.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on May 03, 2011:

What a treat, Ghost, to be able to supply some of Rodney's one-liners that may be new to you. He was one of the greatest at ad-libbing these gems in front of a live audience. I saw him once in Vegas.

He followed in the footsteps of one of the other greats when it came to ad hoc one-liners - see "Tribute to Henny Youngman," and tell me if you agree.

Ghost32 on May 03, 2011:

Heh! Would've sworn I'd heard every RD one-liner he ever uttered, but no! Not the gettin' fed with a slingshot one OR the children's zoo.

I'm a lifetime fan of standup comedy, and Rodney's stuff was part of the pack of CDs I used to carry in the cab with me as a long haul truck driver working impossible hours (as all such drivers do). Kept me awake and therefore alive for many a mile.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on March 06, 2011:

Hi, Micky. With three funny one-liners in quick succession like that, you're a natural. You ought to go on the stage. Do I hear Vegas calling?

I guarantee you WILL get respect! Thanks for the visit.

Micky Dee on March 06, 2011:

I get no respect drbj! "I was so ugly my mother used to feed me with a sling shot. If I was a politician I would be honest. My wife wants sex in the back of the car and she wants me to drive."

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on January 08, 2011:

Thank you, afan, that's typical Dangerfield and very funny. Here's another one for you:

"My wife got a mudpack and looked great for two days. Then the mud fell off!"

afan on January 07, 2011:

Another classic: "My wife and I wanted to quit smoking.

We decided to only smoke after sex. I'm still on my

first pack. She's up to 3 packs a day"

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on December 30, 2010:

Thank you, Dr JMR, I'm delighted these one-liners made you laugh. Rodney was one funny fellow. And you are right on the mark - laughing relieves stress and it IS healthy for you. No thanks necessary. It is my pleasure to share.

Here's hoping that 2011 is stress-free for you and you have a very Happy, Healthy New Year! :)

Dr JMR on December 30, 2010:

Excellent hub on Rodney. Made me laugh. Laughing is heathy for you. Thank you for sharring with us.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on November 04, 2010:

Thank you, luabu, for discovering this tribute to Rodney - he was one of my favorites, too. His timing was superb and his supply of one-liners unlimited.

Delighted you enjoyed his jokes - the pleasure is all mine.

luabu on November 04, 2010:

love this hub

love this comedian/timing is everything with him

love the civil war joke /great laugh thanks

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on October 06, 2010:

Hi, attemptedhumour, nice to meet you. Delighted you found me and my Rodney hub. Since you appear to have a fine sense of humor, take a look at my Tribute to Henny Youngman - he was also a master of the one-liner, and you will appreciate his quips, too. Cheers backatcha, mate.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on October 06, 2010:

You are right on the mark, Alex - clever like your dad. Rodney was a great talent both as an actor and a rapid-fire, one-liner comedian. Thank you for the thanks - it was entirely my pleasure.

attemptedhumour from Australia on October 06, 2010:

Being English and now living in Australia i don't really know Rodney Dangerfield Anyone with a sense of humour would love those one liners though and i enjoyed finding out about him Cheers mate

alexmita from London on October 06, 2010:

Rodney's performance in Natural Born killers was incredible. Great talent. Thanks for a great hub :)

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on September 22, 2010:

Thank you, datahound. for stopping by. I knew you would appreciate this hub because we share an admiration for Rodney. One of the reasons he was so funny with Johnny Carson is they were both very witty and creative and didn't need written material or teleprompters to be funny!

And you are very welcome!

datahound from USA on September 21, 2010:

Another great hub. Rodney was just about the best out there. I loved him on the Tonight Show with Carson. He would do his monologue, then sit next to Johnny and that's when things would really start getting funny. A real talent he is missed. Thanks for the reminder.

lmmartin from Alberta and Florida on July 29, 2010:

How about: "My family was so poor my little brother wore my grandad's old pants -- had to unzip his fly to blow his nose." Another Dangerfield classic. Thanks for the laugh.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on July 13, 2010:

Thank you, katie, for stopping by. Happy to know you are also a Rodney fan. His one-liners are priceless and never fail to make me laugh when I re-read them.

Delighted that you had some great laughs, too.

Katie McMurray from Ohio on July 12, 2010:

What a delight, thanks for bringing Rodney Dangerfield the prince of one liners to us. I enjoyed him and all the great laughs. :)

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on June 30, 2010:

Hey, cm, you are a true fan. I miss him and his rapid-fire jokes, too. He was a very special comic. Thanks for the rerun.

carolina muscle from Charlotte, North Carolina on June 30, 2010:

I thought I'd drop in and reread this post. I miss ole Rodney.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on June 17, 2010:

Backatcha, Petra. Thank you!!! Those were lovely comments and I shall treasure them.

Delighted you appreciated Rodney, too. He was one of the funniest. And if you ever had seen him in person, you would marvel at the way he fired off those one-liners, one after the other. Each one funnier than the last. Thanks for the visit.

Petra Vlah from Los Angeles on June 16, 2010:

I cryed laughing; he was more than funny, but for you to write this hub and put together all those jokes (loved the Viagra one and the praying after eating dinner the best)- you are just as great.

Poor guy may not have gotten much respect, but you diserve a lot of respect. Thank you!!!!

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on June 03, 2010:

Rodney said that? Wow!

I saw him once in a nightclub and the audience wouldn't let him off the stage - we all had stomach aches from laughing so much and so hard.

Thank you epi-man, for the "hubtastic." That's now my new favorite word.

epigramman on June 03, 2010:

your writing and research -as always - is hubtastic!!

I met Rodney Dangerfield in person back in 1978 on the set of NBC's Saturday Night Live.

He told me that he was looking forward to being honored by this tribute hub of yours.....

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on May 31, 2010:

Thanks, sgfr. May I call you "schoolgirl" for short? Delighted you enjoyed this hub - I enjoyed doing the research and the writing as well. May one day do a tribute to Carlin, too. His wit is unmatched.

schoolgirlforreal on May 31, 2010:

I really like this hub, nice job! It really appeals to me! My fav comedian of all time is George CArlin LOL

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on March 21, 2010:

Thank you, Charles, for the visit and the kind comment.

Rodney was always complaining about not getting any "respect" but truth was, millions of people who saw his films and nightclub act loved his brand of humor.

Glad you agree.

Charles Molar on March 21, 2010:

Jame! I agree with you "I very much enjoyed this hilarious Hub. I was long a fan of Dangerfield and Caddyshack is still one of my favorite films. Thank you very mcuh for this pleasure."

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on February 07, 2010:

You are most welcome, Ivorwen. Thanks for the visit. Happy I could provide a laugh - something it appears we all need a lot more of these days.

Ivorwen from Hither and Yonder on February 07, 2010:

Hilarious! Thanks for the laugh.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on February 06, 2010:

Hi, niteriter. As a "tireless truth sleuth" and thanks for the alliterative kudo, I have a suggestion for you. Since the name, Jacob Cohen, may not work for you, why not change your name to Benjamin Kubelsky? Then you can put a claim on all Jack Benny's funny material.

One caveat though, you may have to learn to play a screechy "Love in Bloom" on the violin.

Niteriter from Canada on February 05, 2010:

Thanks to projects like this one, Rodney Dangerfield will never be forgotten. And thanks to tireless truth sleuths such as your dedicated self, Jacob Cohen has a chance at eternal life as well.

Which is too bad. I'd been planning to change my name to Jacob Cohen and claim all Rodney's jokes as my own.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on February 01, 2010:

We have a lot in common, James. You're a fan of Rodney and I'm a fan of yours. And the pleasure is all mine.

James A Watkins from Chicago on February 01, 2010:

I very much enjoyed this hilarious Hub. I was long a fan of Dangerfield and Caddyshack is still one of my favorite films. Thank you very mcuh for this pleasure.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on January 31, 2010:

Thank you, jsantos, for your visit and the kind words. I always look forward to your perceptive comments.

jsantos8000 from Davao City Philippines on January 31, 2010:

his jokes never get old!!! i'm still laughing right now... great article by the way... very well researched...

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on January 31, 2010:

Thanks for the visit, Marco. When it comes to funny one-liners, I think Rodney and Henny (Youngman) are among the funniest comedians who ever lived.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on January 31, 2010:

jayjay40 - thanks for the visit and the comment - it's my pleasure to share with you.

drbj and sherry (author) from south Florida on January 31, 2010:

Welcome, carolina muscle, and thanks for the accolade. Rodney was one of my favorites, too.

marcofratelli from Australia on January 30, 2010:

Classic, I love Rodney's one-liners!

jayjay40 from Bristol England on January 30, 2010:

What a lovely tribute this hub is. Thanks for sharing

carolina muscle from Charlotte, North Carolina on January 29, 2010:

I always thought Rodney was terrific, and so's this hub!!

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