Rodney Dangerfield was an American stand-up comedian, actor, producer and screenwriter known for the catchphrase “I get no respect!” and his monologues with that theme….who is also remembered for his 1980’s film roles….especially in Easy Money, Caddyshack, and Back to School.
At the age of 15, Jack Roy (Dangerfield’s legal name at the time) began to write for stand-up comedians while performing at a resort in Ellenville, New York. He struggled financially for nine years….and at one point performing as a singing waiter until he was fired. He also performed as an acrobatic diver before taking a job selling aluminum siding to support his wife and family. He later said that he was so little known when he gave up show business that, “at the time I quit, I was the only one who knew I quit!”
He took the name Rodney Dangerfield, which had been used as the comical name of a faux cowboy star by Jack Benny on his radio program at least as early as the December 21, 1941, broadcast, and later as a pseudonym by Ricky Nelson on the TV program The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. The Benny character, who also received little or no respect from the outside world….would serve as a great inspiration to Dangerfield while he was developing his own comedy character. The “Biography” program also tells of the time Benny visited Dangerfield backstage after one of his performances. During this visit Benny complimented him on developing such a wonderful comedy character and style. However, Jack Roy remained Dangerfield’s legal name….as he mentioned in several interviews…..when during a question-and-answer session with the audience on the album No Respect, Dangerfield joked that his real name was Percival Swetwater.
On Sunday, March 5, 1967, The Ed Sullivan Show needed a last-minute replacement for another act, and Dangerfield became the surprise hit of the show. Dangerfield began headlining shows in Las Vegas and continued making frequent appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show…..when he also became a regular on The Dean Martin Show….while appearing on The Tonight Show a total of 35 times. One of his quips as a stand-up comedian was, “I walked into a bar the other day and ordered a drink. The bartender says, ‘I can’t serve you.’ I said, ‘Why not? I’m over 21!’ He said, ‘You’re just too ugly.’ I said as always, ‘Boy I tell you, I get no respect around here’.”….and the “no respect” phrase was born and would come to define his act in the years that followed.
In 1969, Rodney Dangerfield teamed up with longtime friend Anthony Bevacqua to build the Dangerfield’s comedy club in New York City….which was a venue he could now perform in on a regular basis without having to constantly travel. The club became a huge success, and has been in continuous operation for nearly 50 years…..which has served as a venue for several HBO shows which helped popularize many stand-up comics….such as Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Carrey, Tim Allen, Roseanne Barr, Robert Townsend, Jeff Foxworthy, Sam Kinison, Bill Hicks, Rita Rudner, Andrew Dice Clay, Louie Anderson, Dom Irrera and Bob Saget.
His 1980 comedy album, No Respect, won a Grammy Award….and one of his TV specials featured the musical number “Rappin’ Rodney”…..which would appear on his 1983 follow-up album, Rappin’ Rodney. In December 1983….as the single by the same name became one of the first Hot 100 rap records….and the associated video was an early MTV hit…..which featured cameo appearances by Don Novello (aka Father Guido Sarducci) as a last rites priest munching on Rodney’s last meal of fast food in a styrofoam container….while Pat Benatar was a masked executioner pulling a hangman’s knot. The two appear in a dream sequence where Dangerfield is condemned to die and doesn’t get any respect….even in Heaven…. as the gates close without his being permitted to enter.
Rodney Dangerfield was a comedic genius….as I recall conversations with Bone Daddy…..who saw him live in Austin, Texas on several occasions….and I remember him saying that Dangerfield was so proficient at delivering “punch lines” that made you think for a few seconds and then experience “uncontrolled delayed laughing”…..so, as BD puts it….the audience was always one punch line behind throughout his performance.
Anyway, we at ImaSportsphile cherish this Rodney Dangerfield skit with Bill Murray and Aretha Franklin…. as it brings a smile to us every time we watch it….so, ENJOY!!!