I want you all to know just how honored... and humble... I feel right here and now. In the presence of my elders.
I have to be careful with that line: one day, Mark Spitz will be as old as my writers.
But of course, we all need to move on, and make room for the next generations. Just as Nature abhors a vacuum, so does the Industry. For every Frank Sinatra, there will come a John Lennon. For every Dean Martin, there will come a Cheech and Chong. For every Phyllis Diller, there will come a Flip Wilson.
There's a proverb that comedy is tragedy plus time. Yes, there are certain recent deaths that are particularly painful, if only for the fact that they were so ironically counterproductive for the very idiots who perpetrated them. The problem with assassination is that once you kill someone, that person can no longer make mistakes.
The victims are fixed in the framework of our history, and humanity willing, students will come back and bite the perps in the ass.
Now I realize I'm being a bit too serious right here, but the luxury of a pre-recorded show is that most of my crap can be edited right out. So I'm completely free to go on saying that those who would rely upon violence, or exploitation thereof, to solve their personal or financial issues, are ripe to have their balls bitten off and chewed very, very slowly. Mine have been twitching for years.
People talk about how Don Rickles, here, can alienate anyone on the planet. He's a baby, just a baby. I'm the only person in existence who has had a restraining order slapped on him by the organizers of a national peace and brotherhood march.
As I said, this show is edited. All you folks at home only have to put up with the final regurgitation. The true unsung heroes in this epic are the studio audience, who have to witness this entire thing. Unpaid.
Sometimes over and over. I'm just kidding, Greg [Garrison, offstage]: I don't believe you've ever done a second take. And it shows.
Yes, the role of the studio audience is a thankless one. Almost as thankless as that of Mrs. George Wallace: she has to hang out his sheets to dry. Nipsey [Russell], am I reading your cue cards by mistake?
So rather than dwell on recent unfortunate events, I'd like to milk the more distant past. Namely, the careers of most of the people on this dais.
I've said before that I was deeply humbled by the presence here of some of the truly great giants of Comedy. George [Burns], you may not know this, but during World War Two, a great scare came over this country, but it wasn't the Battle of the Bulge.
I'm not going to touch that one.
Omar [Bradley], you can verify this. The great fear was that Burns and Allen would retire, and nobody else could fill their shoes. Bob Hope was with the troops, of course, but he belonged there: he was expendable.
Actually, I'm wrong about that. If you recall, General, he genuinely made a valuable contribution to the war effort. Bob, I'm sure you remember the moment: everyone was so worried about loose lips sinking a ship, and you pointed out that everyone was handling this whole situation the wrong way. The only reason secrets get out is because you mark them TOP SECRET, which attracts everyone's attention.
If you really want to keep a secret, you place it where it can't possibly attract anyone's attention. Such as one of the "Road" movies.
So getting back to George and Gracie, here our beloved government were valiantly struggling to find the next generation. Abbott and Costello were able to pitch in.
That flew right over their heads. You can tell it's a studio audience because you can hear the crickets.
You know, I just have to say this, but it's such a shame that Mae West couldn't show up tonight, but as you can see here we have Flip Wilson's Geraldine, who could teach us a lesson about stolen hearts. And stolen hubcaps.
Seriously, folks, the hubcap must surely be the second most ludicrous invention in human history. They serve no practical purpose, they're so incredibly easy to steal, and yet they actually have resale value. And any fool who sports locked hubcaps is just asking to be keyed. Nipsey, are you sure these aren't your cue cards?
Of course, the single most ludicrous invention in human history is the Confederacy. Dreamed up by a solemn committee of fine, Southern Cra- -aftsmen.
[Nipsey:] I'm not touching that one.
Indeed, forbidden material is a genuine headache for Comedy: somebody has to do it. Thank God for Mel Brooks.
Well, you know, the North had plenty to contribute to the problem. Without the collaboration of the North, there would never have been the Rum Triangle, which just perked Dean right up.
Now I really need to wrap up the genetic manipulation joke, because I keep ignoring the cue cards. Actually, that's one thing I have a hard time figuring out. People! I mean everyone here on stage! Why do you even need cue cards? Can't you remember your freaking lines?
Oh, that's right. Here I am, humbled in the presence of my elders.
Now did I mention genetic manipulation? Well, here's how it happened. Cell samples were taken from George and Gracie. A few mistakes were made, but eventually we had a pair of bright, bouncing babies. As a service to our country, Jack Benny adopted them.
[Jack:] I was paid.
Raised them on formula...
And what finally emerged... Everyone up here just realized what my joke is.
What finally emerged is the most successful of all the generational successors: Rowan and Martin.
Thank you, everybody, and good night.
April 1, 2018