Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Favorite Top 10 Comedy Movie Scenes

Now this is definitely a tough one. I really don't even know why I am attempting this at all but I think it needs to be done. There have been so many amazingly, funny scenes and I think I would be remiss if I at least didn't try to mention the ones that made me laugh the hardest during my lifetime. I would also like to add that just because I may love a scene in a movie, doesn't preclude that I would put the movie itself in my Top 10 list of all time. So, I will just mention some of the many scenes that I have loved and then try to put them in my order of preference. Wish me luck!!

The Marx Brothers have had so many scenes that have cracked me up over the years and still do till this day. The famous stateroom scene from Monkey Business which took place on a ship was a visual delight. They were stowaways on the ship so they couldn't let the people in charge know they were there. They had repairmen, maids, food service and everyone else you could think of in the room at the same time. By the end of the scene there had to be at least 20 or more people all squeezed into that tiny room and it was one of the classic scenes in any comedy movie. Then you had the contract scene in A Night At The Opera that was brilliantly written and delivered by Groucho and Chico. "You can't fool me, there ain't no sanity clause". A Day At The Races had a few of my favorite Marx Brothers scenes in it. The race itself at the end, the examination of Margaret Dumont's character by Doctor Hackenbush and the boys and the phone scene with Groucho driving Mr. Whitmore crazy by using misdirection.
In the movie Bruce Almighty there is a scene in which Jim Carrey is making Steve Carell, who got the job that he wanted as anchorman, screw up during the news. He uses his new found powers to make him babble for what seemed about 5 minutes. When I saw that scene in the movies I laughed so hard that I literally fell out of my seat. I was dying.
In the movie It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World there were an endless amount of terrific scenes but the one that killed me the most was the scene in which Jonathan Winters destroys the gas station. The reason being, the two attendants had tied him up with duct tape because Phil Silvers had convinced them that he was crazy and it would be for their own protection. The truth was he wanted Winter's character out of the way while he went for the money that everyone was searching for in the movie. One of the best comedies of all time. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and buy it or rent it and then watch it. You will laugh your fool head off. I know that I did and still do every time I see it. Plus the cast of comedy stars in the movie were a list of who's who in the comedy business. If you weren't in the movie back then, then you weren't considered relevant in the comedy world.
My favorite scene in the movie There's Something About Mary was the scene with the dog and Matt Dillon. He accidentally killed the dog and tries to bring him back to life by using the lamp electric chord and jump starting him. That was hysterical and I laughed until I hurt at that one. The movie was very funny and had many, many funny scenes. I still cringe everytime I watch the scene where Ben gets his genitalia stuck in his zipper...OUCH!! A great Ben Stiller vehicle that I thought was also unique.
The dinner scene in the remake of The Nutty Professor with Eddie Murphy was sidesplitting. He played 4 different characters in that scene and the result was superb. A truly great acting feat and fantastic makeup for the characters. If you didn't know in advance that they were all Eddie, you never would have suspected it. "Hercules, Hercules, Hercules!"
In Monty Python's, The Holy Grail, the sword fight scene with the Black Knight and Sir Arthur at the bridge (None Shall Pass) was definitely funny. He slowly cuts off the limbs one by one of the Black Knight but it doesn't seem to faze him at all. Instead he challenges him even more and keeps egging Sir Arthur on. "It's just a flesh wound. Come back here and I'll bite your kneecap off".
The country club party scene in Caddyshack was funny, especially if you were a Rodney Dangerfield fan. He had so many funny one liners and wouldn't stop taunting Ted Knight's character. That movie gave Rodney a whole second career and a new generation of fans. "Hey, who stepped on a duck?"
In Jerry Lewis's movie The Big Mouth, there is a scene in which Charlie Callas is in a phone booth talking with his boss and he sees Jerry Lewis' character, whom he though he killed, run by him and he snaps during the call. His facial expressions were so rubbery and the sounds effects that came out of his mouth were so uniquely funny. No one else would ever be able to do that with such ease.
Peter Sellers was a brilliant comedic actor and I simply loved his Inspector Clouseau character as the bumbling detective that always seemed to land on his feet and solve the case. The scene in Return Of the Pink Panther where he disguises himself as a dentist so that he can spy on Inspector Dreyfus at the castle is hysterical. He administers laughing gas to Herbert Lom's character and they both get into a laughing fit as Clouseau tries to pull his bad tooth. As a viewer, it is really contagious to watch without laughing out loud yourself. Plus his disguise is melting during the scene. Funny, funny, funny.
My favorite comedy movie of all time was Mel Brook's The Producers and the scene I loved the most in it was during the Broadway play of 'Springtime for Hitler'. Kenneth Mars' character of the playwright German soldier, Franz, gets really upset that everyone is laughing at a play he wrote as a tribute for Hitler. He goes up on stage and starts to tell everyone to stop laughing. As he starts, you hear someone clunk him on the head from behind the curtain and you hear a loud clang because he was still wearing his helmet. That doesn't stop him. He carries on with his proclamation. "What is this baby. The Fuhrer never said baby. The Fuhrer was kind. The Fuhrer was nice and gentle. Many times the Fuhrer would say to me, Franz...OW!" He collapses and they drag him away from under the curtain. The delayed reaction of being hit on the head and him saying Ow is funny as hell. I love that movie so much and Mr. Brooks won an Oscar for Best Screenplay for that one.
Woody Allen has had so many masterpiece comedies during his illustrious career but one of my favorite scenes was in one of his earliest endeavors, Sleeper. His character had been frozen cryogenically for many years and is thawed out sometime in the future but he is still not acclimated to the new environment yet and is still kind of out of it, so to speak. He is in a wheelchair and is rolling around the lab with a funny face on that is priceless to watch and rolling over people's feet and banging into things. Also the scene in the same movie where he disguises himself as a robot and at a party the people are feeling this orb, which gets you high, and he is handing it around for them and getting high himself. That is terrific.
A somewhat recent movie, Borat, had a scene that I laughed at very hard when I saw it. The scene when he is fighting and wrestling, while naked, with this man, and they end up in the conference center of the hotel where a convention is being held. Oh my God, that was so hysterical to see. Watching the people at the convention's faces as the fight ensued was so great. Very funny movie and very different than any other comedy before it. Another unique comedy movie.
Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor were so great together and had great chemistry. In the movie Stir Crazy, all the scenes in the prison were very funny. The warden is trying to break them and puts them in awful situations to try and persuade Wilder to ride for him at the rodeo competition between his prison and his friend's prison. When he puts them in a tiny cell with a giant mass murderer, I laughed until I cried watching their reaction to their predicament.
In Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, the scene in the castle where Dracula, Frankenstein and The Wolfman are all chasing them from room to room was one of my favorite funny scenes when I was a kid. To watch the monsters that used to scare us all as kids, act in a comedy with the funny comedy team, was so great and thrilling at the same time. I could only imagine the blast they must have had making that movie.

I can't really write all of my honorable mentions here because it would be too hard without going into detail on each one so I will just give you my Top list the best I can and you can think about yours.

So, after much deliberation here is the best I could do:
My Favorite Top 10 Comedy Movie Scenes
1. The gas station scene from It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
2. The dog reviving scene from There's Something About Mary
3. The babbling broadcast scene from Bruce Almighty
4. The phone booth scene from The Big Mouth
5. The laughing gas scene from Return Of The Pink Panther
6. The wrestling scene from Borat
7. The examination scene from A Day At The Races
8. The play scene from The Producers
9. The black knight scene from The Holy Grail
10. The dinner scene from The Nutty Professor

I hope one of your favorites was on my list. Believe me, that was really hard to do because there have been so many funny scenes and I am sure that I am forgetting a lot of them but I tried to put the ones up that made me laugh the hardest over the years. Good luck trying to narrow your favorites down to a Top 10 and as always, thanks for reading from, THE COMEDY TORNADO!!

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Monday, April 6, 2009

What's Been Going On?

Where the heck do I start? I have been so busy lately, there just isn't enough hours in the day anymore. The book has been doing well, I am currently working on my second CD of my serious music, touring all over the northeast and have been appearing on a comedy internet show called 'The Bob Gonzo Show', which can be seen at www.comedymondays.com. Just click on the archives section and you can watch past shows or watch it live at 8 PM every other monday. The show is a ball to do and it is a lot of fun writing sketches and acting in them with a very fun cast of friends and characters. We really have a great time together performing the skits and hope that the show makes it to television eventually.
As far as live comedy appearances go, I have been back to Syracuse, Pittsburgh, New Haven, Long Island, Maryland and all over New Jersey and as always, have had a great time and have met some very nice people to boot. Plus it is always nice to see the friends I have made over the years again when I return to those places. There are some really great people in this country with terrific senses of humor that love and need to laugh. To tell you the truth, I don't know sometimes who enjoys the shows more, me or them. It is a very symbiotic relationship and I wouldn't trade the feeling for anything in the world.
On the personal front, one of my children got her driver's license recently and so that is another whole chapter in the life of this parent. To tell you the truth though, she already drives better than my wife...lol.
Sorry I haven't been blogging much lately but I will be back on here very shortly writing more of my Top 10 lists, since I have gotten so many great responses from people on the past ones. I enjoy doing them immensely but they do take time and that is a luxury I don't have in great abundance as of late.
I hope to see you at one of my future shows soon and I hope you get a chance to catch Comedymondays.com. Enjoy and as always, thanks for reading from, THE COMEDY TORNADO!!

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Redneck Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas
Throughout the trailer park
No sounds could be heard
Not even a bark
Empty beer cans were stacked
By the outhouse door
In hopes that Uncle Rick
Would soon bring some more
The children were nestled
In their cardboard beds
While their parents were passed out
From the booze in their heads
When out from the night
There arose such a clatter
I sprang from my sleep
To see what was the matter
I went to the window
And wiped off the crud
When out in the yard
I heard a great thud
I saw an old pickup truck
With deer on the hood
Uncle Rick had arrived
Like I knew he would
In a stupor he stumbled
And cursed in the night
Dragging a bag full of beer
An unforgettable sight
With a friggin’ and a MoFo
And a dammit to hell
He somehow slipped
And fell down the well
And though the morning came
Like a steaming hot turd
I still can remember
Uncle Ricky’s last words
“This holiday sucks
And my life is a fight,
Merry Christmas my ass
And my ass you can bite!”

'Tis The Season...AGAIN!

So here we are once again, The Holiday Season; Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. And once again we find ourselves saying, “Where the hell did the year go?” It goes by so fast and even faster as we get older. But for a brief period in time, the world is more wonderful than usual, cheerier and friendlier. We wish we could be kids again and still believed in Santa Claus and all the wonder of that feeling and still love the sight of a new snowfall. But as we get older, snowstorms are our mortal enemy, especially when you drive for a living and the only thing that really creates that sense of wonderment of Saint Nick is having children of our own and to live everything through their eyes.
My children are older now and although I still love the holidays tremendously with all of the family together it is a tad bittersweet knowing that another year has gone by. I guess I won’t have that childlike feeling again until I am a grandparent someday… but I am not quite ready for that just yet. For now, I will just enjoy the way it is, be thankful that everyone is still alive and healthy and trod outside to shovel that white stuff until my hands are frostbitten. When I am finished doing that and stand back to admire the job I did, the plow will come by and block me in once again and I will find myself saying the beautiful colorful things my dad would say in those situations or maybe even make up a few new words of my own.
Either way, be thankful, be happy and cherish the ones around you because that is what truly makes the holiday season what it is…A magic time in our lives.

Happy Holidays and thanks for reading from, THE COMEDY TORNADO!!

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What's New

Well, A lot of things have been happening so I haven't been able to blog much. So here I am to get everyone up to date. I have been working on my second CD of Original Serious Music, which will be called "Back Again" after the title track. I have added some clips to YouTube of some of my new comedy bits that have been requested by many of you. I have been working on a new place to record a new DVD of my comedy show and I just had my first book released called "Brand Spankin' New Limericks". I co-wrote it with a good friend of mine, Rob Church, and we had a ball working on it. We also have started writing a sequel to it just in case the first one sells well and the publisher asks for it. It is cuurently only available online at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and my own online store on my website but it will be in all of the stores very shortly. I am assuming that will be in a week or two from the date of this blog.
So, as you can see, I have been a very busy boy these days and that's not even counting my personal family life, in which one must have balance to remain happy and keep the loved ones around them happy.
Also, people have been asking me about my MYSPACE page and all I can say is that I hardly go to it and haven't had the time to learn about it much so far. I have it up just to have another presence on the web for people to find me. I update my own website continually and really enjoy doing things on there instead at comedytornado.com. You will also notice that I have some new technology on there now too. When you go to my website, I will appear on it and talk to you and each time you go to it, there will be different messages. I did about 8 different ones that are spread out all over my pages. I would very much like to thank Rob Perna of CameoHD for doing this for me. He is a very dear friend, great producer and director that I have had a long business relationship with. He was the Producer/Director of the comedy show "Rascal's Comedy Hour" from the 80's and 90's that I was the Musical Director, Writer and Performer for. I miss that show immensely. We had so much fun doing those shows during the comedy heydays. Plus being a headliner myself, I don't get to see other headliners unless we are doing a benefit or I go out to see their show on one of my off nights. On Rascal's Comedy Hour, being one of the principals of the show, I was able to see everyone that came through town to do the show. What a blast we used to have in the green room before and after those shows. What a great era.
I will be writing more blogs very soon so keep watching. I have so many more things to say and write about. Stay tuned and as always, thanks for reading from, THE COMEDY TORNADO!!

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Driving In New Jersey

Being an entertainer for all of my life, I have been driving for many years all over this great country and I have noticed that drivers of certain states have definite traits of their own that is individualistic to themselves. For example, everyone knows that in Florida the people drive extremely slow. That is their very own characteristic while New Yorkers drive like they are in a race. Everything is a competition on the roads there. They might not always drive fast but if you try to pass them they speed up. It becomes a game. Pennsylvania drivers absolutely drive me nuts. I love the people there dearly but they can’t drive a lick. They move slowly and they don’t move over. If you have three lanes, they spread out and all drive the same speed, thus bringing traffic to a slow crawl. Thank God I don’t have a gun in the van, that’s all I can say.
But let me write about what this article is really about…Driving In New Jersey! Oh my God, where do I start? New Jersey has the most roadways and the most cars on those roadways per square mile than any other state in the union. I love this state, especially the Jersey Shore, and the people here are fun-loving terrific citizens but whoever built the roads here should be drawn and quartered, tarred and feathered… how about just shot. What a truly screwed up system of roadways. The Garden State Parkway is one of the most beautiful roads in the country but if you are driving north there may be an exit for a major road and if you are driving south there may not be an exit for the same road. This means you either have to make an illegal turn on the Parkway or drive to the next exit and turn around and come back. That might take you about an extra half hour out of your way. Nice planning guys!
The people of this fine state also love to rubberneck. What that means, in case you don't know the term, is that mototists will slow down or even stop to look at something happening on the side of the road. This could be an accident, someone changing a tire, someone fishing off a bridge, people talking on the shoulder, deer feeding or just someone peeing in the bushes. It doesn't matter what the reason is. Suffice it to say that everyone is so nosey.
By the way, if you are in North Jersey don't count on the road signs. They are either missing completely or have been turned in the wrong direction by kids, just to make your trip a little more enjoyable!
Now let me just state that I really respect and like the older generation and I truly appreciate what they have done for our country and what they have sacrificed to give us our freedoms but when it comes to driving most of them should not be anywhere near the road. I live down in Toms River and there are a lot of older people who are on the highways that shouldn’t be. You never know what they are going to do out there and neither do they. They can be in the far left lane and suddenly decide to make a right hand turn into a strip mall. I guess at least they keep the rest of us on our toes but it is already an obstacle course out there and we don’t need any more confusion. I think after a certain age everyone should be made to take a driving test again to see if they qualify. After all, we are dealing with people’s lives here and cars are potential weapons, especially in the wrong hands.
How about those fantastic jughandles? Who invented these brilliant abominations? You can’t make a left turn in this state. If you want to go to a certain business on the other side of a road you are on you have to go to the light and go around the jughandle and then wait for the light. Then you cross over the highway and go around another jughandle and come to another light. You now are on the right side of the road of the business you originally wanted to get to but by the time you get there, it just might be closed. Sometimes it takes you about three or four lights just to get through them because the traffic gets so jammed up going around these things that you might as well pack a lunch if you intend on making this journey.
Now comes the best of the best of total screwups as far as planning Jersey Roads…The Traffic Circles. What were they thinking when they came up with these gems? I have seen so many people panic when they come in to these merry-go-rounds. No one seems to know who has the right of way in these things either. Is it the people on the right coming into them or the people already driving in them? The funny part is watching people trying to get out of these perpetual motion roundabouts! It is a virtual ‘Pin the Tail On the Donkey’ for motorists. People get spun around in these circles and then come out the other end dizzy and disoriented. In Massachusetts they call them a Rotary but they cause the same chaos. Whatever the name, they really should be called by what they are, 'HOW THE HELL DO I GET OUT OF THIS?'. I think if I had a concession stand on the side of the road I could charge money for this sort of entertainment. It might just be my next venture.
Anyway, driving around the country can be fun and very scenic but be aware of the pitfalls you may encounter. Remember, if you are in New York be ready for a contest, if you are in Florida or Pennsylvania I hope you are not in a rush because they won’t be and if you are in New Jersey be ready for the ride of your lives. Oh yes, and if you are in Connecticut be ready for construction delays. That states’ roadways have been under construction for over 30 years now and the end doesn’t seem to be anywhere in sight. Whatever company has that contract has got job security to the max.
Good luck in your travels, excursions and frustrations on America’s roadways, especially in New Jersey, and as always, thanks for reading from, THE COMEDY TORNADO!!

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Friday, March 21, 2008

My Favorite Top Comedy Songs

Since music is my background and has been since the age of 9 and that I have been a comedian since 1980, I felt it only fitting that I do a Top 10 list of my favorite comedy songs. There have been so many novelty songs on the charts and in movies over the years and I hope I can remember all the ones that I have enjoyed. I will surely do my best to cover them all. If I forget any of yours, let me know and I will update my list. I will just go through most of them and then put them in my list. With all that being said, here we go:
Monty Python has provided numerous songs that I have loved over the years; Sit On My Face, Brave Sir Robin, Look On The Bright Side Of Life and of course their infamous The Lumberjack Song. I also loved the theme song from their old television shows, Monty Python's Flying Circus. It was said by George Harrison that he had felt that when the Beatles broke up, Python had taken the baton, so to speak, and continued with the same aura and spirit. I agree totally. Their shows, movies and songs are classics and so was the play Spamalot, which I thought was absolutely hysterical and brilliant.
Mel Brooks has been terrific at supplying us with great comedy songs and theme songs. Blazing Saddles and I'm Tired from the movie Blazing Saddles, High Anxiety from the movie of the same name, Springtime For Hitler and Prisoners In Love from The Producers, and Putting On The Ritz from Young Frankenstein. Mr. Brooks never ceases to amaze me with his talent and sense of humor.
Ray Stevens has written and performed many, many great comedy songs throughout his illustrious career. Please Mr. Custer, The Streak, Ahab The Arab, Harry The Hairy Ape and one of my favorite titles of all time that they actually were able to fit on the label of the old 45's, Jeremiah Peabody's Polyunsaturated, Quick Dissolving, Fast Acting, Pleasant Tasting Green And Purple Pills. I am still amazed that the record company went for that title and agreed to print it on the cover. That's a lot of extra ink per record.
Allen Sherman, in the 50's & 60's, used to do a lot of parodies of classic songs. His most famous one was Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah. It was about the tribulations of a kid at camp. Very funny and relatable for kids and adults alike.
The Playmates did a great comedy song in the 50's that got faster and faster as the tune went along called Beep Beep (Little Nash Rambler). I loved that song as a young boy. It was very unique and was in the rotation on radio stations for many weeks.
Sheb Wooley had a great song in the 50's called Flying Purple People Eater. I remember the visuals that song conjured up as a kid. I mean, how could you possibly escape from a Purple People Eater that could fly too?
Dave Seville had loads of big hits with his famous chipmunks back then; Simon, Theodore and ALVIN! "OKAAAAAY!". The Chipmunk Song and The Witchdoctor were the first songs to use the technology of raising a person's voice mechanically and making it sound like that. Dave's real name was Ross Bagdasarian and his son eventually took over the job later on.
Spike Jones was such a great novelty act of his time and his songs were simply hysterical and unique sounding due to all of the sound effects they used and performed live, I might add. Cocktails For Two and You Always Hurt The One You Love were superb, always made me laugh and still do until this day.

It seems to me that the 50's was a very big era for comedy and novelty songs. I don't really know why they seemed to have disappeared over the years. There are still some around but not in quite abundance as before. Maybe because the world was much more innocent back then and people aren't as easily amused these days. I don't know the reason but I think it's a shame that more aren't made today. I think people need more humor in their lives in these crazy times we live in.

So, here we go:
My Top 10 Favorite Comedy Songs
1. Springtime For Hitler
2. Sit On My Face
3. You Always Hurt The One You Love
4. Brave Sir Robin
5. The Lumberjack Song
6. Please, Mr. Custer
7. Beep Beep (Little Nash Rambler)
8. High Anxiety
9. Look On The Bright Side Of Life
10. Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah

My honorable mentions are anything by Weird Al Yankovic, He Had It Coming from the Broadway play Chicago, Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer by Dr. Elmo, Hooray For Captain Spaulding from the movie Animal Crackers with the Marx Brothers and Lydia The Tatooed Lady also with the Marx Brothers from the movie At The Circus, King Tut by Steve Martin, The Chanukah Song by Adam Sandler, Rappin' Rodney by Rodney Dangerfield, Blue Christmas sung by Porky Pig, They're Coming To Take Me Away by Napoleon XIV (aka Jerry Samuels), songs by Stephen Lynch, I Can't Stop My Leg and Colonoscopy by Robert Klein, Everything by John Valby, and Whose Your Little Whosey? from The Stooge with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

If I didn't mention one of your favorites, let me know and I will add it to my honorable mentions list or update my favorite Top 10 list if I agree with it. I am sure that I have forgotten so many over the years. Until then, thanks again for reading from, THE COMEDY TORNADO!!

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

My Travels Part 4

I have been doing lots of Fundraisers as of late and I always truly enjoy doing them for many reasons. First off, everyone is in a great mood to begin with because they are there for a great cause, so the audience is always ready to laugh, which is terrific for a comedian to work with. If you can't make a fundraiser audience laugh you might as well look for another vocation. I have been in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York recently for these shows.
I almost died in a severe car accident coming home from a club called Smokey's in Stan Hope, NJ on February 9. Here is my story, but don't worry it has a kind of funny ending. I was driving from Route 206 on the ramp to 80 East, I wasn't even on the main road yet and I hit some black ice. I started to lose control and started sliding right into a massive tree head-on. I knew I couldn't let that happen because I wouldn't have survived that. So, I spun the wheel to try and hit the tree from either the side or the back, which I did. Good job Paul, I thought to myself, but when I banged into the tree with the back of my van it spun me around and sent me down a 40 foot ditch off of the ramp. On the way down so many thoughts went through my head like 1. Oh this is it. I'm gonna die now. 2. I'm gonna die the day after my twin girls birthday...how nice! 3. I just did a kick ass show and now I'm going out like this. It's amazing how much you think of in such a short amount of time. Relativity I guess, right Mr. Einstein? I finally come to a stop at the bottom of the ditch and I realize that the van is destroyed but I am perfectly sound. There is a God. I walk around the area to see what the damage is and everything is all over the place inside the van and outside I realize that most of my windows are gone and that the back of my van is completely totalled. My tires are alright and I think the truck is drivable if I can just get out of the ditch. So I call 911, my motor club and my wife. About 15 minutes later, after gathering my things and putting everything back together somewhat, I walk back up the hill to the ramp and see a trooper and I say, "That was quick" He says, "I didn't come here for you. I didn't even know you were down there. There have been 40 accidents in the last 10 minutes on I-80 due to black ice and they have closed down the road from here (Exit 25) all the way to The Delaware Water Gap." WOW! I have never seen anything like it. It wasn't even cold out but the fog made contact with the road and caused all this mess. It actually looked like a war zone. As I was talking to the trooper cars were sliding into each other and bouncing off the road and turning over all over the place. It was really scary. The trooper said that he had never seen anyone so happy after being in such a terrible accident and I told him that if he saw what I just went through he would know that I was happy just to be alive and be able to see my family and friends again. He then stated that if I was waiting for tow truck it would be about 4 hours with all the accidents going on and that I should just leave my truck down there and go home for now since I was not hurt. There was no way I was going to do that with all of my equipment in the van and no windows anymore. That was my livelihood. So I went back down and started to walk around through all of the brush and small trees and soon realized as I walked along the ditch, parallel to the road, that the slope got less and less about a 1/4 mile down. So I walked back, got in my van and drove along the bottom until I was able to get out and back on the road. I drove home somehow without any windows and with the heat on full blast. I was alive and well with no bruises or soreness whatsoever. Amazing! Anyway, here's the kicker: the next day I wake up and realize that I got poison ivy from walking through the brush that night. Only I could get poison ivy in the winter. So now I was alive and well but itchy! A good trade in my estimation. I'm a lucky man. I guess it wasn't my time to go yet. Here is another funny thing about this story too. I was talking about the incident at one of my shows one night and at the end a black gentleman yells out, "What do you mean that you hit some black guys?" I replied, "BLACK ICE, NOT BLACK GUYS, SIR!" You gotta love it.
Be careful out there my friends and remember to live each day as if it was your last because someday it will be. Love your family and friends to the max. It can all be taken away from you and them in a flash. Live Fully, Love Deeply and Laugh Often and thanks for reading from, The Comedy Tornado!!

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My Travels Part 3

Well, I have been away for a while, I know, but I have been performing all over the place and between entertaining, writing, recording, family life and the holidays, life has been a little hectic, to say the least. I have been to the great states of Texas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Iowa, New York & Pennsylvania lately and have had a great times in all. I went to San Antonio Texas this past July to perform at The River Walk Comedy Club, which was one block from The Alamo. What was so strange for me, if you have never been there, was how small The Alamo actually looked. I expected the place to be a huge fort but instead it was quite small in stature. I guess people were a lot shorter back then or something. The property was of good size though. It almost looked like a scale model of the actual place. Worth the trip just to go to a place of such history. They also have a place called the River Walk, which is miles of a river that goes alongside restaurants and stores and is below street level. It is almost like a city below the city. Very pretty and different. A one of a kind place indeed. The people of Texas and the club were very nice too. Also an unusual fact was that the people of San Antonio didn't have southern accents. No southern drawl at all, as the rest of Texas has. Hard to believe. The big plus for me on that trip was that I finally got to have Jack In The Box tacos that I have been jonesing for ever since they left the east coast. They were everywhere down there. That is the only junk food I like in this world and I finally got to taste them once again before I die...lol.
I also was in Baltimore, MD a few months back to perform at one of my favorite comedy clubs, Tracy's. It has since been changed to Magooby's. I have so many friends in the Baltimore area and it is always such an extreme pleasure for me to return there. I have played baseball for a few years with The Baltimore Oriole's Fantasy Camp, a very special thanks to my friends Alex & Mike Flanagan and Steve Freeman. They have helped me to realize a dream of mine. I played baseball right up through college and have always missed it so much ever since and when they asked me if I wanted to do some shows for them in exchange for a week of baseball, how could I possibly resist. That has been one of the best presents I have ever recieved. I got to play baseball again with umpires, hang out with pros and hall of famers like Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Earl Weaver, Jim Gentile, Rick Dempsey, Boog Powell and so many more and meet so many great people that I now call friends. Life doesn't get much better than that for a baseball lover like me. Just to sit around and hear the stories these people have to tell is so worth the price of admission. Plus, in the summer I get to play a game in Camden Yards. What a feeling to pitch on that mound, to play on that field and to hit at the plate with the big jumbotron in center field on with your picture on it.......AMAZING! I have been and still am a big Yankee fan but the Orioles are a class organization and now my second favorite team. I wouldn't trade those memories for anything.
I recently just got back from Iowa to do a corporate show for The Terex-Cranes Company. As anyone who knows me knows, I hate flying as it is and I had to take a little prop plane from Minnesota to Waterloo, Iowa for about 45 minutes. I absolutely hate little planes and this one was bumpy and loud. When we were over Iowa a man across the aisle stated how we were close to the area where Buddy Holly's plane went down. (Thanks, I needed to hear that!) Any other good news? Anyway, the people that hired me, Mike & Jolene Trujillo were two great, fun people and took me out to dinner the night before. Meeting people such as them makes trips like that so worth all of the stress I have to endure just thinking about flights. We later hung out after the show and played songs on the guitar and told jokes. What a blast.
This past Friday night I did a show at The Brookdale College Performing Arts Center in Lincroft, NJ with Dennis Malloy of NJ101.5 Radio, Steve Trevelise from WIP sports Radio of Philadelphia and fellow comedian Joseph Anthony. We had a great time, the audience was superb and the venue is beautiful. It is a theater with great acoustics and that holds around 300 people, which is nice and intimate. You know how I love intimate settings. The last time I played there, I was in the rock band, Salty Dog in 1977. (I'm showing my age now). It was nice to return there and have so much fun. There actually might a DVD video released of that show. I will keep everyone posted on that fact if it comes to light.
Saturday, I was in Bethlehem, PA to do my 4th annual show for The Northampton Community College Girls Softball team. That may not sound special to you but let me tell you something about this team, last year they broke the all-time undefeated record for any sports college team in college history. They were at 94 consecutive wins before they lost any games, a record that was held by UCLA since 1973. That is so amazing. It has to be contributed to the couching staff, led by my good friend Sam Carrodo. Not only is he a very gifted coach, obviously, but he is a tremendous human being that gives so much of his time, energy and friendhip to everyone he meets. I consider it such a priviledge to know him and to be in his presence every year. He also makes a mean Baked Ziti!
I don't know where my travels will take me in the future but I hope they are as much fun and rewarding as the last few months have been for me. I am currently working on my next CD of my serious music and all I can say is if you liked my last one, you are going to love this one even more. I really love the new songs and the way they are coming out thus far. It should be out sometime in the next 6 months.
Please, take care of yourselves and as always, thanks for reading from, THE COMEDY TORNADO!!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

What Was I Thinking?

I have noticed many things over my long years, some of little consequence and some of major consequence. I am going to tell you about a major one: renovating a room in your house. Let me start with this.......DON'T DO IT!! It is like a cancer that infests itself in the foundation of your bank account. Once you start it doesn't stop and one room leads to another and another and another...well, you get the picture. What starts out to be a little weekend project turns into a wallet bloodletting experience and excruciating ordeal that will drain you like a vampire with an insatiable appetite. I know you're saying, "Oh, Paul it can't be that bad" and "Aren't you exaggerating just a bit much?" Well, yes I am...it's really much worse than all that! Take my word for it.
My wife and I decided that we had to do the Master Bathroom over because it was now 25 years old and really in bad shape. It did have to be done and we figured it wouldn't cost too much to make it nice and contemporary. On the surface that would normally be correct but when you add this and you add that, you are suddenly over budget and overwhelmed. But you rationalize it because it is needed. Let me just say that guys don't really care too much about this sort of stuff. We generally don't like too much change and we do things to make the little woman happy and to keep the peace. (Or is that piece?) After all, if it weren't for women we'd probably be still living in caves. We would have still invented television to watch sports and porn but we'd be in caves just the same. But I digress. The bathroom came out terrifically and looked like something you'd see in 'House Beautiful'. All was right with the world again and life was good, with the exception of one minute problem; now the master bedroom looked cruddy and old in comparison. After all, that was 25 years old also. What should we do? What could be done? The answer was obvious to my wife. We should redo that room also just so that it all flowed nicely together as one. Hell, we could do it cheaply. The point was just to make it look new enough to compliment the now palatial 'Master Bath'. I say palatial because it was all marble, polished brass fixtures, crown molding and all top of the line finishing touches. I mean, how could we skimp on a room we were going to use so much and it really didn't matter that not many would ever see it. It was for 'us'...wasn't it? So, one month and many underestimated dollars later, we had a brand spanking new 'Master Bedroom'. Now we could rest in comfort in our little lap of luxury and just enjoy what we had done.
We could now finally be proud of our accomplishments...if it weren't for one last thing. The second bathroom was falling apart and time had really taken its toll on it and very soon, me, and although I saw it coming, I couldn't get out of its way. Like the eye of a hurricane, it is only calm for a little while and then all hell breaks loose. The tiles were falling off the walls and coming up off the floor and there were some water stains, mold and mildew from years of abuse. After all, it was 25 years old and we were sure it could be done pretty inexpensively and stay within a small budget. It was a pretty small bathroom so it shouldn't be too dear to fix up. Do you see where I'm going with this? How come I didn't? Well, after another two months or so, it was done and I must admit, it came out great. We were finally done. I could see the sun shining through the clouds, the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, the finish line at the end of the race.....I think you get the point. We now had an absolutely beautiful Master Suite and Guest Bathroom. NOTE: The last guest we had that stayed here was 23 years ago and so, I guess it was imperative that we be ready for our next guest.
It was a shame though that when you walked in the front door, the foyer didn't make a statement. It is, after all, the first thing you see when you walk into a home and it should reflect something about the people that live there...so said my wife. I felt that it did reflect something about the owners of this home and indeed did make a statement. It said that these people are obviously broke! But that wasn't going to stop us, was it? Not according to my wife. It just had to be done. The foyer was 25 years old too, remember? How could we live in such squalor? So, up came the old floor tile, down came the old wallpaper and oh yes, we have a little half bathroom right by the front door that couldn't be ignored. We did the other two bathrooms didn't we? We didn't want to hurt the little bathroom's feelings. How much could such a small half a bath cost anyway? A pittance, in the words of Ralph Kramden. A mere bag of shells. Plus, I didn't care anymore. I had lost my will to fight it. I already needed a transfusion anyway and I was going down for the count. (Count Dracula, that is). The foyer was tremendous when it was done, a statement was made and the half bathroom became 'the little bathroom that could'.
It was finally all over. It was a lot of work and a lot of money, but it was definitely worth all of the aggravation. The house was new and beautiful and if it weren't for the rugs, it would have been perfect. But with all of the work that was done and with all of the trampling from bringing all the junk in and out of the house during the past few months, the rugs had been ruined and just had to be replaced. You can only steam clean them so much, I was told, before they have had enough and don't forget, they were 25 years old. They were due to be changed and changed they shall be. So was the new law of the land.
Could this be it? Could this be the pinnacle? The accumulation of all we had achieved in such a short span of time? I certainly thought so. But being an entertainer, having many friends and both of us coming from such close families, we have many parties and social gatherings. And no matter how many people we have over here at one time for any such event, we inevitably all end up in the kitchen. There would sometimes be as many as 40 people huddled in the kitchen at one time, which was hard with such a small room. Thank God my wife had a solution for such a problem. We could redo the kitchen and make it bigger. After all, it was 25 years old now and its time had come. The appliances were old and archaic, the floor was the original linoleum and the counter was just not enough space for entertaining so many people at one time. Not to mention that there weren't enough seats at the table for everyone. But enough was enough. We had added a booth, garden window and new back door just the year before. I had to finally tell my wife that I was tapped out and that was that. We just weren't going to do anymore at this time. I hated to do it but I had to put my foot down and stand my ground. So, we knocked out the back wall of the house and added a large conservatory room, that became part of the new kitchen, with an ideal large granite counter that wraps around the entire room and another one with bar stools for more seating. We got all new appliances and changed the whole layout of the room altogether to make it perfect for any occasion. And I must say, that it is truly perfect and worth every penny I didn't have. The new conservatory is all windows from top to bottom and overlooks the deck and back yard. The back yard is breathtaking with gardens and an enormous built-in pool, gazebo, arbor, retaining walls, bridge and pond and a little shed that looks like a small version of our home. Did I mention that I did all of that work myself from the years 1999 to 2005? After all, the back yard was 25 years old, not very nice and just had to be redone.
The house was now complete, finally! Was it all worth it? Yes. Would I do it all again? Probably. Did I wish that I had never started this whole thing to begin with? Ask my wife. Would I rather have sold the house and let the new owners worry about all the 25 year old things? YOU BET YOUR ASS!! That's what I have been trying to say here. Don't start, don't begin and don't even entertain the idea of starting a little weekend project unless you are ready for the consequences of your actions. Sell, rent, live in a tent or go on the road. Hell, go live in the woods and commune with nature. You'll still have money in your pockets and you won't have to even think about such things. No pressure, no 'statements' and you won't have to worry about where the bathroom is or how it looks. Anyway, that's my advice. You can take it or leave it. It's entirely up to you. And so as my wife and I are now redoing the outside of the house with stucco, siding, new balconies, landscaping, pavers for the driveway and new fixtures because everything is 25 years old and just has to go, I only have one more thing to say to you.......Good freakin'luck and don't say I didn't warn you! I can see the future and it's expensive. We have twin girls and they are almost college age, but that's another story for another time and one I don't relish thinking about at the moment. Let me just end with this one last thought; looking back, I am surprised my wife has kept me around for as long as she has. After all, I've been here for 25 years now and with the frequency of things getting replaced around here, I know that I am most definitely on borrowed time.
Thanks for reading from, THE COMEDY TORNADO!!

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Sunday, April 8, 2007

My Favorite Top 10 Comedy Movies

I have always been a movie fanatic for as far back as I can remember and although I have enjoyed all genres, I especially gravitated to comedy movies for the most part. My father and I would sit watching comedy movies and laugh until it hurt and on Fridays in the summer, it was always a given that my parents would take my sister and I to the Drive-In Theater. (Does anyone remember them?) If it was a comedy, that was a double plus for us. So, for me to say that I love comedy movies would be a vast understatement and for me to make a Favorite Top 10 list is literally next to impossible. In fact, making a Top 20 would be hard enough as it is, but I am going to try anyway. I will cover groups of movies and some solo movies and then try to accomplish my feat for the evening. And although this will be my most difficult task to date, I will most definitely enjoy the memories that these movies provide to me and hopefully for you also.

The In-Laws with Peter Falk and Alan Arkin is so funny and enjoyable. The way that Falk's character slowly gets Arkin's character, Sheldon, involved with all of his CIA shenanigans is priceless. A definite must see for those who have never heard of this gem. "Serpentine Sheldon, serpentine!"
Let It Ride is one of the most unique comedies I have ever seen, in that, every character is nuts. I mean, in every comedy you have some normal people and then the funny ones. But this movie has no normal people. It takes place at the race track and everyone is a funny character. Richard Dreyfuss is great as Trotter, as he is with every character he portrays. What About Bob?, Moon Over Parador & The Goodbye Girl, to name a few, are terrific Dreyfuss movies.
Since I already mentioned it, What About Bob? is a classic with Dreyfuss and one of my favorites, Bill Murray. I love watching Murray drive Dreyfuss crazy ever so slowly during the course of the movie. 'Baby Steps'. And when you speak of Bill Murray, you have to acknowledge Stripes, Groundhog Day, Ghostbusters, Scrooged and of course, Caddyshack. What a terrific cast Caddyshack had. It was Harold Ramis' first attempt at directing and he did a fantastic job in making what is now a Golf Country Club classic that had so many memorable lines delivered by the irrepressible Rodney Dangerfield. The war between him and Ted Knight was hysterical. "Hey, who stepped on a duck?"
The Producers is a Mel Brooks masterpiece and a screenplay Oscar winner. Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder are so superb in those roles. The idea was to sell much more than 100% of a Broadway play to investors and make sure it is a flop by acquiring the worst script, 'Springtime For Hitler', the worst actors, director, music and anything else to assure a quick closing. This way they could keep the money without paying the investors back. But of course the play is a hit and there is no possible way they can pay everyone back, since they sold about 5000%. So they end up in jail and do they learn their lesson? Nope! They produce 'Prisoners In Love' and sell the warden 200%. While on the subject of Mel Brooks, how can I not list Young Frankenstein, High Anxiety, History Of The World Part 1 and another favorite, Blazing Saddles. The absolute Best Comedy Western of all time, period. Cleavon Little, Gene Wilder, Madeline Kahn, Harvey Korman, Mel Brooks, Slim Pickens and of course, Mongo (Alex Karas). What a blast!
The Pink Panther movies are some of the best works of the great Peter Sellers. Inspector Clouseau had to be one of the funniest bumbling fools to ever grace the silver screen. A Shot In The Dark, The Pink Panther Strikes Again and Revenge Of The Pink Panther were such great vehicles for Sellers. And on the topic of Peter Sellers, how about Being There, The Mouse That Roared and Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb. Peter Sellers plays 3 roles in this movie and makes them all so funny and memorable, a tribute to his comedic acting genius.
A Day At The Races with the Marx Brothers would make my Top 5 of all time no matter how long a list I had. I loved the Marx Brothers and this movie is one of my absolute favorites. They were so off the wall and this movie had so many incredible funny scenes. Then you have A Night At The Opera, Monkey Business, Duck Soup and Horse Feathers.
Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein was so great to watch as a kid. Here were the monsters of the times that used to scare us, Frankenstein, Dracula and The Wolfman, and now here they were in a comedy with one of the best Comedy Teams of all time. What a treat! That whole scene with Costello in the hotel room and Lon Chaney,Jr has already changed into the Wolfman. Lou didn't know it and is so close to getting killed. A great comedy effect of anticipation.
Sleeper is a great Woody Allen movie. The premise was he was revived 200 years after being frozen cryogenically. The results were as funny as you would expect from an early Woody Allen movie. Let me also give tribute to Bananas, Annie Hall, What's New Pussycat?, Play It Again Sam, Take The Money And Run and Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid To Ask).
Monty Python And The Holy Grail is a true classic with so many funny and out of the ordinary scenes. I especially loved the scene with the sword fight at the bridge and the loser has his limbs sliced off one by one and yet keeps insisting that he is winning the battle. Even when he is just a torso on the ground he states, "So we'll call it draw then?" Let's also throw in Monty Python's Life Of Brian and Monty Python's Meaning Of Life. On the side, I must mention that if you ever have the time to see a play on Broadway, then by all means go see Spamalot. I laughed the whole entire play and you don't even have to be a Monty Python fan to laugh your fool head off, as I did.
It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was the first comedy movie of it's kind. It was the first movie with an all star cast like that. Anyone who was anybody in comedy at that time wanted to be in that movie, even if it was just a small cameo appearance. If you weren't in that movie, you weren't on the comedy map, so to speak. One of the great comedy premises for a movie and an absolute amazing cast of actors, headed by Spencer Tracy. A must see for any generation.
The Nutty Professor and The Errand Boy are terrific comedy performances by Jerry Lewis. I know the word genius is used a lot but Mr. Lewis certainly proves that he is in those two classics. The Nutty Professor remake with Eddie Murphy was fantastic too. A virtual tour de force comedy performance by him with all of his family characters. Plus, I must mention two movies with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis together to complete his work: The Stooge and The Caddy. "Whose you're little whosie? Whose you're turtle dove?"
Now I would like to write about some comedy movies of more recent times.
There's Something About Mary is hysterical with so many unique scenes that have never been done before, and in comedy that is extremely hard to do. The scene with Matt Dillon and the dog is one of my most favorite scenes of all time. I literally fell out of my chair laughing at that one. He accidentally kills the dog and tries to resuscitate him by giving him an electric jolt with the live wire from a nearby table lamp. Ben Stiller has really made a name for himself in the business, which makes sense knowing that his parents are Jerry Stiller and Ann Meara. And when talking about Ben you must mention Meet The Parents, Meet The Fockers and Night At The Museum.
Analyze That with Billy Crystal and Robert DeNiro was great and though it was a sequel to Analyze This, I loved it even more. The scene when DeNiro comes down to the Shiva with his robe open and nothing on underneath was hysterical. "Hey, who do you have to f*#k around here to get some bacon? Not you I hope." Mr. DeNiro, as everyone knows, is a tremendous serious actor, but he delivers comedy equally as well, as he did in Midnight Run with Charles Grodin. They were supposed to make a sequel for that but never did. I wish they had. Other Billy Crystal movies I have loved are City Slickers 1 & 2, Mr. Saturday Night and When Harry Met Sally.
Liar, Liar with Jim Carrey is terrific. But of course, I love Carrey in everything. He is so animated, rubbery faced and one of my favorite comedic actors. I love the outtakes at the end of the movie also. They really show his improvisational abilities well. Then there is Bruce Almighty, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, Dumb and Dumber, Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas and Me, Myself & Irene.
My Cousin Vinny is a well written and wonderfully acted comedy movie with Joe Pesci, Fred Gwynne and Marisa Tomei. In fact, Miss Tomei won an Oscar for her role. The chemistry between the three of them on screen was terrific, as were all of the courtroom scenes. In the words of the judge, "What's a yute?"
Something's Gotta Give was very funny with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. What a great script. I think it should have won an Oscar for Best Screenplay. Of course, you can never go wrong with Jack in the movie. He has such a great face. Even in the horror flick, The Shining, he makes me laugh. The Witches Of Eastwick, Terms Of Endearment, As Good As It Gets, Batman and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and so many more are such an amazing body of work.
Stir Crazy with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor is absolutely hysterical and their chemistry together was wonderful to watch. So I am glad that they did a few more movies together that also delivered some big belly laughs, Another You, Silver Streak and See No Evil, Hear No Evil.

My honorable mentions, which would definitely make it to my list if I did a Top 100, are Used Cars, Tommy Boy, Lady In Red, Airplane, Weekend At Bernies, Hooper, Smokey and The Bandit, Animal House, Home Alone 1 & 2, Evil Roy Slade, The Naked Gun Movies, Repossessed, Fire Sale, The Road Movies with Bob Hope & Bing Crosby, Carry On Teacher, Arthur, 10, Cheech & Chong's Up In Smoke, Clifford, Meatballs, The Jerk, The Court Jester, The Inspector General, The Birdcage, Neighbors, Porky's, My Favorite Year, Night Shift, Brewster's Millions, Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Seems Like Old Times, Easy Money, Back To School, Kentucky Fried Movie, Bachelor Party, Forrest Gump, Toy Story, Chums At Oxford, Police Academy, Trading Places, 48 Hours, Cheech & Chong's Nice Dreams, Start The Revolution Without Me, Gremlins, Lost In America, Defending Your Life, Modern Romance, The Scout, Cat Ballou, Back To The Future, Clue, Beverly Hills Cop, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Fletch, The Golden Child, Crocodile Dundee, Tootsie, Soapdish, A Fish Called Wanda, Good Morning Viet Nam, Coming To America, Mrs. Doubtfire, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Edward Scissorhands & Buck Privates.

Whew! As you can see, I pretty much named almost every darn comedy movie ever made but there are so many that I love and I could write about them for a year and not make a dent. And yet, I know that somehow I still may have forgotten some.

Anyway, here it finally is:
My Favorite Top 10 Comedy Movies
1. The Producers
2. It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
3. A Day At The Races
4. Blazing Saddles
5. Monty Python's The Holy Grail
6. Liar, Liar
7. The Return Of The Pink Panther
8. There's Something About Mary
9. Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein
10. The In-Laws

Here is my next 10 if I would have made the list a Top 20:
11. The Errand Boy
12. What About Bob?
13. Analyze That
14. Dr. Strangelove
15. Stir Crazy
16. The Nutty Professor w/ Jerry Lewis
17. Sleeper
18. Caddyshack
19. Let It Ride
20. My Cousin Vinny

Well, if I left off something that you would have liked to see on this list....tough. You try to narrow down your favorite genre to a Top 10 and see how far you get. This was definitely the hardest list I ever had to write and the only good thing about it is this: any other Top 10 list I ever write will seem so easy by comparison! Once again, thanks for reading from, THE COMEDY TORNADO!!

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