Tribute to Rodney Dangerfield, the Prince of the One-Liners
Tribute to 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.
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.
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 90s 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.”.
74 One-Liner Jokes
These will never go out of date!
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.