Famous Comedy Shticks
- Jack Benny's character on his radio program was notoriously both stingy and a bad violin player, as well as being perpetually 39 years old. In real life, Benny was known as an expert violinist and lavish tipper, and kept celebrating his 39th birthday each year publicly because "there's nothing funny about 40".
- Three of The Marx Brothers, Groucho, Chico and Harpo, all had well-honed shticks by the time they started making movies.
- Groucho, with his stooped walk, greasepaint mustache, lascivious eyebrow raising, and his cigar;
- Chico, with his fake Italian accent, his "shooting the keys" style of piano playing, and borderline moronic behavior; and
- Harpo, with his pantomime routines, the seemingly bottomless pockets of his trench coat, and his ability to play the harp.
- The fourth performing brother, Zeppo, never developed a shtick and thus was a straight man in their movies - though some have argued that his blandness and "normality" was indeed his shtick.
- W.C. Fields nurtured a character that was not far from himself in real life, being misanthropic, misogynistic, and a hard drinker, as well as lovingly massaging the English language through the utterly unique bellow of his voice and his famous bulbous nose.
- Many of the performers over the course of Saturday Night Live's long broadcast history have developed shticks that were popular enough to be developed into feature films. The earliest of these was the Blues Brothers, the dark-suited alter egos of Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, which spawned two movies and an actual blues record. Of the movies that followed in later years, some met with similar success (such as Mike Myers' Wayne's World), while others are regarded as critical and commercial disasters (Julia Sweeney's It's Pat!).
- Henny Youngman's standard line "Take my wife — please" was part of his schtick. It consisted of several one-liners delivered in rapid-fire sequence.
- Johnny Carson's many shticks include his role as "Carnac the Magnificent", an Indian fortune teller who could divine answers to questions sealed in envelopes and "kept in a hermetically sealed mayonnaise jar on the front porch of Funk & Wagnalls since noon today". His signature imaginary golf swing at the end of his monologue would also qualify.
- Chris Berman's shtick in his ESPN commentary was his tendency to give additional nicknames to players based on their last names (often intended as puns or pop culture references). Berman was also known to often say a football player "could — go — all — the — way" on long touchdown plays (parodying Howard Cosell's delivery).
- Andrew Dice Clay's shtick in his comedy routines is his crude, misogynist themed humor, and sometimes vulgar reinterpretations of nursery rhymes.
- Rodney Dangerfield's shtick was centered around his famous catchphrase, "I don't get no respect," accompanied by his characteristic facial gesture and yanking or straightening his scarlet necktie.
- Sacha Baron Cohen's Ali G, Borat and Brüno alter-egos can be considered shticks.
- Stephen Colbert has referred to his character as a shtick.
- Andy Kaufman was a particularly rigorous practitioner of shtick. Kaufman almost never appeared in public, other than as one of his shtick characters, such as "Foreign Man" or Tony Clifton. When he did appear as himself, he still acted out some shtick routine.
- The Rubberbandits are Irish comedians who wear plastic bags over their faces as Shtick.
- Yakov Smirnoff's shtick is the Russian Reversal, a joke which is better known than the actual comedian.
- Lewis Black's shtick is his amazingly uncontrollable fits of rage; another is his comments on his blood pressure due to the aforementioned fits.
- Bob Newhart's shtick is his long phone calls with imaginary or historical persons. Hearing only Newhart's deadpan comments, the audience is left to infer what the other person is saying.
- Jeff Fatt's shtick on The Wiggles is falling asleep at odd times, leading the other Wiggles and the audience to call out the catchphrase "Wake Up Jeff!" where he wakes up with a blubbering noise and sometimes performs a series of entertaining antics once awake.
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Famous quotes containing the words famous and/or comedy:
“Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks;
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.”
—Anonymous. Late 19th century ballad.
The quatrain refers to the famous case of Lizzie Borden, tried for the murder of her father and stepmother on Aug. 4, 1892, in Fall River, Massachusetts. Though she was found innocent, there were many who contested the verdict, occasioning a prodigious output of articles and books, including, most recently, Frank Spierings Lizzie (1985)
“Unless comedy touches me as well as amuses me, it leaves me with a sense of having wasted my evening. I go to the theatre to be moved to laughter, not to be tickled or bustled into it.”
—George Bernard Shaw (18561950)