A Reboot of Comedy Classics

Host, Dave Schwensen, and his friends Kelly, Tom, and Logan have chosen some of their favorite comedians from the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. They take a look at how these comedians got started, their most successful comedy albums, and their lasting influence today!


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The One and Only Mr. Warmth, Don Rickles

The One and Only Mr. Warmth, Don Rickles

Don Rickles wanted to be an actor, but as a way to make a buck he took up comedy, and not just any comedy, insult comedy. Nicknamed Mr. Warmth, no one was safe from his comedy antics including Frank Sinatra. Rickles and Sinatra became instant friends like they say 'that's amore!' There's much more to Don though and he even became a great actor. Listen in as Dave, Tom, and Logan introduce us to Don Rickles!

*Although he had a long career, he only recorded 2 full albums. “Hello Dummy” (listen HERE) in 1968, and “Don Rickles Speaks” (listen HERE) in 1969

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Dave Schwensen:
Hi, welcome to What's So Funny. I'm Dave Schwensen and this week I'm joined by, oh, let me think. Who could this be? Curly and Moe? No, it's Logan Rishaw and Tom Megalis.

Tom Megalis:
Wow.

Logan Rishaw:
Hi, Dave.

Dave Schwensen:
What's up, gentlemen?

Logan Rishaw:
Good to be back.

Tom Megalis:
It is good to be back.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah, Tom, it's good to be together again. What's going on? Logan, I'm going to start with you, Mr. Comedy Festival comedian, all over the place going on. What's happening?

Logan Rishaw:
I haven't done too much since the last time I talked to you.

Dave Schwensen:
Okay, next. Tom?

Logan Rishaw:
But, Dave, I do have one thing. I just picked up Winters' Tales by Jonathan Winters which is a book of his short stories. I don't think we talked about it when we covered him in an episode, I want to give a shout out to it because it's a really good book.

Dave Schwensen:
Oh, okay.

Logan Rishaw:
So if anyone listened to our podcast about Jonathan Winters, pick up Winters' Tales. It's a different side of him that's still really funny.

Dave Schwensen:
Very nice.

Tom Megalis:
Are there drawings in it?

Logan Rishaw:
There are a couple between the segments, but not a lot. There's maybe five or six, so it's not an art book.

Tom Megalis:
Well, I'm going to have to pick it up. I'm a fan.

Dave Schwensen:
We'll have to have you do an oral book report on that sometime.

Logan Rishaw:
An extra episode.

Tom Megalis:
There'll be a test. There'll be a test.

Dave Schwensen:
Tom. Talking about tests, tell us what you've been up to.

Tom Megalis:
Well, always doing the art. I'm doing a weird project for a place called Skidmark Garage in Cleveland. It's [crosstalk 00:01:20].

Logan Rishaw:
I love Skidmark.

Tom Megalis:
Do you know the garage?

Logan Rishaw:
They did comedy shows there for a little while. It's got a nice clubhouse in it and the bikes there are amazing.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah. It's like a club/motorcycle shop where you can work on your own bikes and, man, there's some great people. I'm doing a big sculpture piece on the wall that's made out of motorcycle parts and there may actually be, if there's ever live shows again, but it may be featured in a live show coming up. So if people or humans, are getting back together, it'll be at Skidmark. I'll tell you when.

Logan Rishaw:
Awesome.

Dave Schwensen:
Our topic of today, our comedian, our legendary comedian that we're going to talk about today, Mr., what'd he call himself? Mr. Warmth?

Tom Megalis:
Mr. Warmth.

Logan Rishaw:
Mr. Warmth, the one and only.

Dave Schwensen:
Don Rickles.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah. Johnny Carson gave him that nickname.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah?

Tom Megalis:
Yeah. That's a good nickname, isn't it?

Dave Schwensen:
It does. It does. It's a good nickname. He was also the Merchant of Venom. I think he was called that a couple of times and different things. But, yeah, Don Rickles. That's the topic today. It's the first time I think ever on this show we've featured what they would call an insult comic.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah.

Logan Rishaw:
I think so.

Tom Megalis:
I don't think he liked that term, though.

Dave Schwensen:
No, I don't think he did. He thought himself more of someone who has attitude, if I remember that correctly.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah. He said he didn't write jokes. He said, "I don't write jokes to tell jokes. I tell attitude."

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah. The interesting thing about Don Rickles, if you go back, I mean, we will go back. We'll talk about his life a little bit and his career, but I think he really considered himself to be more of an actor, at least in the beginning of his career.

Logan Rishaw:
Even as a comedian, he didn't put out a lot of material. There's just two albums, and we'll cover them, but he did quite a bit of acting, probably more than most of the other comic actors that we've talked about.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah. I think that's how he came to prominence or whatever, how people might've first heard of him. He started doing movies. I think the fifties, what was that called? Run Silent Run Deep? I think it was a World War II submarine movie.

Tom Megalis:
He studied acting. I mean, that's kind of how he began. I think he wanted to be a legitimate actor. In some ways, I don't know how you guys see him, but I see it as acting. I see that he's doing a lot of that in there, that he's this character, this improv-based character who was likable. That's why the insult thing doesn't doesn't even work for me. I never saw him as being insulting.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah. I know. It's people have jumped on that bandwagon, let's call it that, afterwards. But I don't remember... Looking back at his history and everything, as far as being an insult comic, I don't think he was called that right from the beginning. And, again, he broke out as an actor. He graduated from... Now, where did he go? The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, New York City?

Tom Megalis:
Yeah, man.

Dave Schwensen:
He was very, very proud of that.

Tom Megalis:
Legit.

Dave Schwensen:
Yes. He talked about that his entire career. He seemed very proud that he did that, studied acting. He was an accomplished, trained actor, is what he was.

Logan Rishaw:
And he was a big Milton Berle fan, and that's what made him want to get into show business and comedy.

Dave Schwensen:
In New York City, the comics used to hang around at a drug store waiting for their agents to call. They had a payphone in the back and they used to call their agents. Am I working this week? What's going on? It was called Hanson's.

Tom Megalis:
Hanson's. Okay.

Dave Schwensen:
Hanson's. And Don Rickles, trying to make it as an actor, started hanging out in Hanson's. I think that's where he met Milton Berle and some of the comics who were real big at that time. We're talking the 1950s, and that's what inspired him to try stand up comedy.

Tom Megalis:
Oh, interesting, because he was doing the acting thing and he thought, "Well, I need to get on stage somehow," and he didn't really write material.

Logan Rishaw:
It sounds like he took to it quickly. He took to being an improviser, just crowd-working the whole time.

Dave Schwensen:
Well, let me back up on that because I think he did write material and he was not popular. The audiences did not like him.

Tom Megalis:
Initially.

Dave Schwensen:
Initially. Yeah. He got an agent who kind of felt sorry for him. I think he booked the lesser acts, whatever you might want to call it. So they sent him around to like places like Philadelphia, Cleveland, Detroit, this is in the '50s, and he was bombing.

Tom Megalis:
Oh, man.

Dave Schwensen:
The thing is the audiences would heckle him, and what happened was he started heckling back the hecklers. He started picking on them and it turned out to be really funny. That's what they liked. So he started picking on the audience. He started calling the hecklers, the ones who were really unruly, he started calling them hockey pucks.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah. Right, right.

Dave Schwensen:
And that stuck with him, I mean, his entire career. I mean, Don Rickles later in his life would be walking down the street. People would come up and say, "Hey, hockey puck."

Logan Rishaw:
I think that's a good lesson about comics, too, is if you want to be good at comedy you have to use your own personality. So him trying to write materi when really he's just this funny guy who likes to bust chops, as soon as he could do that on stage, it worked for him.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah. And comics today try to do that, you know, deal with hecklers. How do you deal with a heckler? I've seen some comics were very good at it. Matter of fact, I know some that will tell the club management before they go on stage, if someone shouts something out, if someone starts yelling at me, don't stop them because I'll tear their heads off. I'll make it great. There's some comics really good at that. There are others who cannot do that at all.

Logan Rishaw:
Oh yeah. I've seen some almost fights break out at clubs just because they couldn't make it funny. They turned off the entire crowd, and it just became two people yelling at each other.

Dave Schwensen:
Yes.

Tom Megalis:
Oh yeah.

Dave Schwensen:
It really is like an art to do this. A talent. It takes crowd work and practice and everything else. But Don Rickles, that was his thing.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah. In some cases, I mean, they looked down upon that, right? It's like, you just do material, have material. If you're playing with the crowd, it's not material, right?

Logan Rishaw:
It depends on the space, but a lot of clubs don't like when you're just doing crowd work or dealing with hecklers because it's kind of like a liability for them in a lot of ways.

Dave Schwensen:
It depends on the club. It depends on the comics. The one thing I always thought was funny and I booked all these clubs and managed to these clubs, and there would be someone in the audience yelling out. They're always a problem. Okay? And some comedians could really handle it. They make it part of the show. It's funny. And other comedians I've seen stop the show. They'll stop the show and say, "I'm not going on until they throw him out of here.

Dave Schwensen:
But the thing is talking to these hecklers, this is what always amazes me, is we're throwing them out or we're taking them out of the club, or if they make it through to the end of the show, they always think they're helping the show. They always think, "Oh yeah, I did that to help him out. I thought I was helping the show. It was like part of the show." They go, like, "No. You're an idiot."

Logan Rishaw:
I've seen a few headliners who they would spend the show watching the crowd to see who they were going to pick on or see who was being a problem. They're like, "That guy back there, don't say anything. Just let him mumble in the back. When I go on stage, I'm going after him."

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah. I've watched in the bigger clubs, the comedians that do specialize in that, a lot of them will walk around the back of the room. When the opening act or the feature act is on stage and the crowd is paying attention to who's on stage, the headlining comedian will be walking around the back of the audience.

Tom Megalis:
Picking them out.

Logan Rishaw:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dave Schwensen:
I've stood in the back with them.They say, "Oh, look at that guy with that striped shirt on. He reminds me of Gilligan. I'll pick on him." They find some of these people before they go on stage. So it's really interesting.

Tom Megalis:
At least it makes it in the moment, and people asked Rickles how much of that is improv. Surprisingly, not a lot. I mean, he had like a material base for what he was going to do, always. So I think at one point he said it was like 5%.

Dave Schwensen:
Yes. I'm glad you brought that up, Tom, because I have watched a lot of Don Rickles, and really, he only had two albums. What was it? Don Rickles Speaks and Hello Dummy!.

Logan Rishaw:
And Hello Dummy!.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah.

Dave Schwensen:
The rest of his stuff, you really have to go on YouTube and look around for for the old performance videos.

Tom Megalis:
His roasts and things, yeah.

Dave Schwensen:
His roasts roast but even back to the 1960s, early '60s, and in the Carson Show and everything, I got news for listeners that might be surprised about this. He was doing a lot of the same stuff. I mean, he did have an act, and I can think of specific examples. He'll find someone in the front row and say, "Is that your wife?" And the guy goes, "Yeah," and he makes a face, like, "Oh, she's really ugly." And then he'll come back and say, "Seriously," you know, it was common in a lot of his shows.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah, you do hear it. Yeah.

Dave Schwensen:
Also calling someone a hockey puck. That was his thing.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah. Is he coming up to me?

Logan Rishaw:
Yeah. Is he coming after me?

Tom Megalis:
Or my wife, listen, everything's in her name. You've heard that a bunch of times. So 5% he would add to that. I thought that was kind of interesting.

Dave Schwensen:
People go... I'm serious. When you go to see, whether it's a comedy show, it could be a music concert or something, you go to see their act, and you knew what you were getting at a Don Rickles show. Even if you've seen it before, you're seeing it live, and people love that.

Logan Rishaw:
Yeah. People went there because they wanted to be picked on too.

Dave Schwensen:
Yes.

Logan Rishaw:
It wasn't because the jokes are going to be new or necessarily the smartest jokes, but they wanted to be part of it. They wanted him to point at them and make fun of them.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah.

Dave Schwensen:
It's like having a badge of honor when Don Rickles picked on you.

Tom Megalis:
Early on, he was compared to Jack E. Leonard who was kind of an insult comic, and he was nothing like him, if you look at Jack E. Leonard stuff. I think Don Rickles was very likable. I mean he was this cute little guy, kind of small, round with a little smile. And it never seemed, even on the one album, which is the one that's the material.

Dave Schwensen:
Hello Dummy!.

Logan Rishaw:
Hello Dummy!.

Dave Schwensen:
Hello Dummy!. Yeah That one. You can cringe at some of that stuff. You're like, "Oh man, he's really going after black people, Chinese people gay people, everybody." But I never felt like any of it was negative. I mean, sure, we don't do it now as much.

Dave Schwensen:
Of course not.

Tom Megalis:
But I didn't feel that it was mean spirited at all.

Dave Schwensen:
Well, you know, I don't know, Tom, about that.

Tom Megalis:
He's not angry. Is he angry? He didn't seem angry to me in that.

Dave Schwensen:
Well, he acts that way, like he's angry. He's got an attitude. He seems mad. I mean, really, I'll be honest with you. I mean, I like Don Rickles. Everybody does. I mean, when he come on the tonight show or something, you knew it was going to be [crosstalk 00:11:40]

Tom Megalis:
It's an event. It's going to [crosstalk 00:11:41]. Yeah.

Dave Schwensen:
And even said, I mean, the ratings for The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson or the other shows, the ratings went up when Don Rickles was going to be on.

Tom Megalis:
He was such a great straight man. He'd set him up. Johnny Carson was so good at that.

Logan Rishaw:
Oh, yeah.

Dave Schwensen:
And they all knew it was an act. They were all friends. I'm sure they hung around off stage. I mean, my gosh, he was best friends with Frank Sinatra. Jeez. Dean Martin and Johnny Carson. I mean, these are some private people who are big stars, and Don Rickles was right there with them.

Dave Schwensen:
But you listen to his stuff, I'm serious, like I listened to Hello Dummy!, the 1968 album, not too long ago. I won't say which one of my family members walked in a room when I was listening to it, but my wife said, "Oh my gosh, how can you get away with something like that?" Well, you could, I think in a 1960s, '70s, but Don Rickles could get away with it. He had such a reputation. He was a likable guy.

Dave Schwensen:
From what I understand off stage, he was mild mannered. They liked him. They were friends with the stars and everybody, and it's that kind of personality that allowed him to get away with some of that material. But I will say, I do not think you can get away with that today. Now I'm not saying it won't come back in the future because comedy and everything, you know, those are big cycles, so sooner or later-

Tom Megalis:
He was a little different off stage, was he not? I mean, I keep thinking that it was this persona that was developed, a bit of a character. Since he was an actor, I keep thinking that that was part of it, that he finally landed on a character that worked and he did it, and that was, and he was committed to it because he was a good actor.

Tom Megalis:
You were talking earlier about Sinatra, and their relationship is one of the most fascinating things to me because Frank is this big kind of thug guy from Jersey City tied to the mob.

Dave Schwensen:
He was a little short guy. He had big thugs hanging out with him.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah. And people were terrified of Frank. They really were. And if, jeez, you didn't know. I think Don said at one point, you never knew if you got the nice Frank or the Frank that was not so nice. There was no middle Frank.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah.

Logan Rishaw:
Yeah.

Tom Megalis:
Interestingly enough, people would say, well, you know, Don Rickles opened for him. He never opened for Frank.

Dave Schwensen:
No.

Tom Megalis:
It was equal billing.

Dave Schwensen:
Right. Frank always gave him equal billing. I thought that was so cool.

Tom Megalis:
So cool.

Dave Schwensen:
You know how they met in the first place?

Tom Megalis:
I'm not sure because he was never in the Rat Pack. He wasn't part of that.

Dave Schwensen:
He was a fringe member. He was [crosstalk 00:14:14]

Logan Rishaw:
He was always around.

Dave Schwensen:
He was always around.

Tom Megalis:
He was around but he wasn't really part of it, right? I mean consider Sammy or Joey Bishop.

Dave Schwensen:
Those were the core members, but even Johnny Carson or Don Rickles, they could walk on stage when the Brat Pack was up there, and they could riff with them and do all this stuff. But the thing is Don Rickles was playing in Las Vegas, I think some smaller club. And of course Sinatra was headlining, I don't know, the Sahara or whatever. This was back in the fifties, right? '57, '58, and Don Rickles mom... If you've ever heard him describe his mom she was this real Jewish mother.

Tom Megalis:
That's right, yeah.

Dave Schwensen:
Very talkative. My son, my son, do this, my son, my son, and anyway.

Tom Megalis:
She encouraged him. She encouraged him.

Dave Schwensen:
She called him. Well, yeah, she encouraged Don Rickles, yes, but she found out Frank Sinatra was at the Sarah. She found out Frank Sinatra's mom was with Frank, so she called up Frank's mom.

Tom Megalis:
That's awesome.

Dave Schwensen:
This is my son, should get together with your son, and they hit it off, Dolly Sinatra, and next thing you know she told Frank, go see this woman's son. And so Frank Sinatra showed up, and everybody was like, "Oh my gosh, Sinatra is in the crowd," and of course his first joke, when he saw Frank Sinatra on stage, he goes. "Frank, Sinatra. Frank, stand up. Go ahead. Punch somebody. Feel at home."

Tom Megalis:
Yeah, man.

Dave Schwensen:
He was waiting for Sinatra, for these guys to take him out and instead Sinatra laughed.

Tom Megalis:
The mob stuff, man.

Dave Schwensen:
They became best friends.

Logan Rishaw:
What a gamble to pick on the one person you're not allowed to make fun of. That could have gone really bad.

Dave Schwensen:
It could. Well, one time, you know, it did go bad for Rickles. I've read this too, once, because all these clubs back in the fifties, you know, there was all mob.

Tom Megalis:
They called them joints. They didn't call them clubs, too. They said joints. Joints, not comedy clubs.

Dave Schwensen:
But this was before they, whatever. I mean, back in New York and Cleveland, Detroit, every entertainment world was controlled by the mob, whatever the local mob was. And they were all out in Las Vegas.

Tom Megalis:
Allegedly.

Dave Schwensen:
Allegedly. Definitely allegedly. Things have changed.

Tom Megalis:
We got to protect ourselves.

Dave Schwensen:
But anyway, there was one show Rickles did out there, and it there was a mobster sitting there with his girlfriend in the front. And, of course, Don went after her and said, "Oh my gosh, she's so ugly," you know, she got hit by a train, blah, blah, blah. This and that. And the guy came backstage afterwards, said, you know, with his bent nose and everything, says, "You know, that wasn't too funny. I think we're going to come back and visit you tomorrow." And Don's like, "Oh my gosh," so he called somebody in New York and the guy in New York made a call.

Dave Schwensen:
I don't know if Frank Sinatra is involved in this. I'm not starting any rumors. Anyway, the guy came back to the show the next night, sat through Rickles show, laughed the entire time, came backstage afterwards and said, "Oh, I'm sorry if there was a misunderstanding. We really enjoyed your show," and Don was like, okay. The guy in New York called this guy and set him straight.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah. All those mobs. I mean, you think about the show business back then. That's kind of scary.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah. Well, and Sinatra, Don Rickles said that his one of his greatest achievements or something closest to his heart was doing the second inaugural, Reagan's second inaugural, the show, I guess, or whatever. What do they call it?

Dave Schwensen:
The Inaugural Ball or whatever they call it.

Tom Megalis:
The Inaugural Ball. Yeah. Whatever. And Sinatra said, "I got Rickles coming." They went, "Oh no, no, no. No Rickles. No Rickles," And Sinatra said, "You don't have Rickles, you don't have me." He said that that's the kind of stuff Sinatra did for him. He just thought he wanted him to be part of that, and he goes, "This was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me.

Dave Schwensen:
I think he called that a career highlight.

Logan Rishaw:
It's a good performance.

Tom Megalis:
It is a good performance.

Logan Rishaw:
I think it's definitely worth watching.

Tom Megalis:
Doesn't he start saying right off the bat, like, you know, for the money you're paying me for this, you know you can't complain. That's so great, man. Just to be able to do that. I guess he thought, man, here's a comedian, little guy from New York, I'm at the White House with Reagan, with Bush, I think he did a few of them. That's really great.

Dave Schwensen:
He went to England to Buckingham Palace where Princess Margaret came to see him for some big show. She was sitting there and he went after her. You didn't do that in England. I mean, that's the Queen's sister. Okay? I mean off in his head. She had a blast. She liked him. She called him over to her table afterwards.

Tom Megalis:
I don't think she could understand him, quite. She said, "You talk very fast. I can't understand half of what you're saying." Didn't they talk about their mothers being in a nursing home together or something?

Dave Schwensen:
Something like that.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah. They said your mother is old.

Dave Schwensen:
Assisted living. She talked about the Queen mother.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah. And so is my mother. Your mother lives in Florida. My mother likes pie. So does your... he said it was the weirdest thing. Yeah. They're the same. Oh, except he said, I think the joke was, you know, the only difference between your mother and my mother is your mother has a flag on her building.

Dave Schwensen:
Yes.

Tom Megalis:
Do you ever see that clip where he's on the Bob Newhart Show? He plays a show host.

Dave Schwensen:
I don't think I've seen that.

Tom Megalis:
Bob Newhart is coming on and Bob is polar opposite of Don Rickles. They were good friends.

Dave Schwensen:
They were like best friends.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah. And Bob Newhart is this very even, low droll. His delivery is very dry and he just insults him on his show. Don Rickles plays a show host and Bob Newhart's a sidekick in a way. Ed McMahon's on it. He insults him and insults him and finally Bob Newhart cracks and says, you know, you're short and you're bald, you're fat and you're bald. And he breaks down. He goes, Oh my God, why'd you call me that.

Tom Megalis:
And then at the end of it, he says, I've been waiting. Now I can get out of my contract. He goes, jeez, I've been insulting you for weeks. Finally, you crack. Now I can get out of my contract. It was really weird, but it was funny, You're bald and you're short and you're fat. And he's like, why'd you say? You hurt my feelings. Unbelievable. You know? So it's a funny episode because you knew these guys were really good friends.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah. Yeah.

Logan Rishaw:
Now there's an episode of The Tonight Show where Bob Newhart was guest hosting. It's a famous episode. Rickles is his guest and they're going back and forth on some story and Rickles starts slamming things on Carson's table, and he breaks Johnny Carson's cigarette box. Newhart is the guest host.

Logan Rishaw:
The next night Carson on, does his show, and realizes the boxes broken while they're taping, and the audience and his guests tell him what had happened while he was gone. So he goes across the hall in the studio to where Don Rickles is filming C.P.O. Sharkey and interrupts the live taping to scold him for breaking his cigarette box.

Tom Megalis:
That's awesome. I think I've seen that, but it was right next door, huh? He walked over.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah. Yeah.

Logan Rishaw:
The camera follows him as he walks from one studio to the other.

Tom Megalis:
Wow. That's like Letterman in later years did similar things. But you know.

Logan Rishaw:
Well, you didn't really see this from Carson.

Dave Schwensen:
No.

Logan Rishaw:
It was very subversive.

Tom Megalis:
Well, Rickles always said Carson was incredibly a quiet, very, isolated man. They would do dinners, but it's interesting to see how these guys are real different off camera. Dean Martin, he said, was reclusive. We'd go to dinner. They never talked much. He didn't want to be out, you know? And on camera, Dean Martin was this drunk guy.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah. But they all had their backs.

Logan Rishaw:
Very social.

Tom Megalis:
Very social drunk looking guy, but it's interesting. It kind of shows you the professionalism of these guys back then. I don't know. In some ways. I think that they'd develop these acts and they stuck with it, and they knew that that was their bread and butter.

Logan Rishaw:
Right.

Dave Schwensen:
You know, you mentioned that clip with Johnny Carson going across the hall to where they were filming Don Rickles sit-com. What was that called? C.P.O. Sharkey?

Tom Megalis:
C.P.O. Sharkey. Yeah.

Dave Schwensen:
I mean, Carson never did that stuff. So I mean, that's how much respect he had for Don Rickles or how friendly they were. Again, you talk about Letterman doing his stuff. He did that stuff all the time.

Logan Rishaw:
What stood out to me was-

Dave Schwensen:
Carson never did this stuff. Johnny Carson was [crosstalk 00:22:33]

Logan Rishaw:
When he goes into that studio, Rickles seems so bashful and out of character. It really shows what a sweet person he is when he's not on to perform.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah. The other thing too, I'll say about Rickles, there's also another famous clip, and we should probably talk about Johnny Carson, whether he [inaudible 00:22:51] by the way.

Tom Megalis:
Definitely.

Dave Schwensen:
Because he was a master at what he did, and what he brought out of other comics as far as being a straight man.

Tom Megalis:
Absolutely.

Dave Schwensen:
And a comedian himself. But there's a very, very famous clip where... and Johnny used to do these things on stage, but he was getting a massage. Do you remember this clip. He's got just a bathing suit on or something and he's laid down, he's getting a massage by these girls. Okay?

Tom Megalis:
I've seen that, yeah.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah. And Don Rickles comes out and starts giving Johnny the massage instead of the girls. He's like, no, get away, get away. Rickles is hugging him and doing all this stuff. Anyway, there was a bathtub or a hot tub or something that was next to it. It's supposed to be part of the act. Anyway, Johnny gets up and throws Don Rickles in the tub full of water.

Tom Megalis:
Oh, yeah. I remember that. Yeah. That's awesome.

Dave Schwensen:
He's got a suit and a tie on and Johnny Carson throws him in.

Tom Megalis:
See, didn't seem like they were all having a great time. That's what it seemed. It seemed more that they were doing comedy or, I mean, you know, Don Rickles was not even doing comedy clubs much anymore. Right? He was just doing with Sinatra.

Logan Rishaw:
Appearances, yeah.

Tom Megalis:
Appearances. Same with Jonathan Winters. That's where we saw them and I think, Dave, you mentioned one of the last episodes. Yeah. But on television, they were seen by more people than they ever would be seen.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah. Millions of people. But Don Rickles still toured. I mean, he still was co-headlining with Frank Sinatra. He loved Las Vegas. He liked that nightlife.

Tom Megalis:
He fed off of that. Yeah.

Dave Schwensen:
I've also seen serious interviews with him. They say, "What's your day like," and he says he gets up and he and his wife will go out and maybe they'll play... I don't know if he said play golf or they'll go shopping. They'll do The plate. I don't know if he said played golf with, they'll go shopping. They'll do regular stuff.

Tom Megalis:
In Vegas?

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah. In Vegas. Takes a nap, gets up and does the first show. Then he goes on, does the second show. Then afterwards his wife tells him, all right. You know, it was an okay show, but I'm hungry. They go out to have dinner. They have a couple drinks with friends. Next thing you know, three, four, five o'clock in the morning, that's when they go to bed. Then they do the same thing the next day.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah. Not a bad thing.

Dave Schwensen:
If our listeners want to listen to that album. Hello Dummy!, I mean, it really is vintage 1960s Rickles, but you're talking about the pace. Logan, you mentioned his energy and his buildup and stuff and his pacing. He just gets all excited. He gets all worked up, and there's a part in the album where he brings two guys up on stage. It's just hysterical. He's like, I'll do the jokes here. Just say it. You dummy. Say this. Oh my gosh. He's out of control.

Tom Megalis:
They're playing Indians, right?

Dave Schwensen:
It's all politically incorrect, yeah.

Tom Megalis:
Politically incorrect. Yeah.

Dave Schwensen:
They're talking about Arabs and Jews and Indians, the whole thing, black people and Asians. Oh my gosh. It's just so far politically incorrect. I think kids today, the younger generation who heard this, their ears would melt.

Tom Megalis:
Yeah. He's insulting everybody on that album. It's no doubt about it. I mean, it's just everybody. I even think my people, the Greeks, I think he slams Greeks too. I think it's everybody because he was friends with Savalas. I have no problem with it. You know, I always say you can insult me all you want. Just mention the Greeks. Good. We don't care about it. It's like, I don't get offended.

Dave Schwensen:
Well, I hope nobody got offended by our conversation today about Don Rickles because he's such a comedy legend.

Tom Megalis:
Oh my God.

Dave Schwensen:
I mean, really, there's only one Don Rickles. I know there's other comics out there that I just love that do insult comedy, but Don Rickles did more of what we call attitude comedy, old school whatever you call it. That generation.

Dave Schwensen:
But the thing is, I do want to say this because at the end of that, Hello Dummy! album, the little speech he gives at the end and says, you know, we're all one, you know, we're all in this together. And yes, we have our differences. He said something like, I'm not a priest. I'm not a rabbi, but I'm going to talk about religion. He does all this.

Tom Megalis:
It's amazing.

Logan Rishaw:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dave Schwensen:
I mean, you listen to that speech at the end of that album.

Tom Megalis:
You know, one thing is at the end of his life... I mean not to be a downer or anything like that, but as he was 88 and he was getting older, and he lost his son who was only like 41. Some people said he just never... that was it. It was like he wound down so fast after that because he loved his son, only son. His daughter is still alive doing, I guess, some comedy and acting, but he just said it just wrecked him. It wrecked him.

Dave Schwensen:
Well, of course. Something like that would, and I did read about that.

Tom Megalis:
And so at the end, but on an up-note, I mean he said he felt he was going to be reunited with his son. I mean, it was this real spiritual side came out. And I think that he was looking forward to that. He said that that'll be a good thing about this whole thing.

Tom Megalis:
I think he asked his wife Barbara to keep his name alive, just keep it alive. I think she's doing that. I think she's doing that.

Dave Schwensen:
Well, Tom, thank you for bringing us on such an up-note towards the end of our show here.

Tom Megalis:
You know what it says.

Dave Schwensen:
You're a real hockey puck here, my friend.

Tom Megalis:
The only thing I'm trying to say, the only thing, possibly, I'm trying to say here at the end is that the guy was a really well rounded and a very sweet guy, and that act he did, that's why I think it worked because he was sweet. I got the sweetness even when he was going after people.

Dave Schwensen:
Yes. Like I said, he was not mean. He wasn't angry. He was not really an insult comic as far as we were concerned.

Tom Megalis:
I don't think so.

Dave Schwensen:
It was attitude, and he was just saying things to be funny. And in a way... he expressed this... It was a way to bring everyone together.

Tom Megalis:
Beautiful.

Dave Schwensen:
Yeah. Make fun of white, including himself. The good comics do that. They'll make fun of themselves as well as making fun of other people, and it brings them together. Don Rickles really did. The guy is a legend.

Tom Megalis:
Well, people who don't know Don Rickles, shame on you who's listening to this and doesn't know Don. You better go search him out, watch his stuff.

Logan Rishaw:
He's one of the best. Everyone should at least try to listen to Hello Dummy!, and if they are too offended to get through it they should, like you said, listen to the last five minutes. If you know nothing else about Don Rickles but the last five minutes of that, you know a pretty good amount about Don Rickles.

Dave Schwensen:
Logan, I love it. What a great way to wrap up our show here. You did it.

Logan Rishaw:
All right.

Tom Megalis:
Thanks Logan.

Dave Schwensen:
Tom, you're still a hockey puck.

Tom Megalis:
And I'm proud to be a Greek hockey puck.

Dave Schwensen:
I thought you would be. All right, gentlemen, we're going to bring this show to an end here. I want to thank you again. I had a blast. Logan Rishaw, thank you so much.

Logan Rishaw:
It's always a good time.

Dave Schwensen:
And Tom Megalis.

Tom Megalis:
Thanks for inviting me.

Dave Schwensen:
Hey, man, it was always good to talk with you guys, have some fun, and we have to do it again soon, okay?

Tom Megalis:
Absolutely.

Logan Rishaw:
Yup.

Dave Schwensen:
I'm Dave Schwensen. Thank you for listening to What's So Funny and until next time, keep laughing.

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