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Do You Remember The Best Of Rodney Dangerfield?

Rodney Dangerfield got “no respect” (that was his claim-to-fame comedic line), but he did get the laughs. His decades-long career earned him a place in comedy history as a master of one-liners, an everyman storyteller, and a stand-up extraordinaire who poked fun at himself to entertain his audience. His style was all his own: the down-to-earth, regular guy from Long Island, with bulging eyes, a rumpled style, and a sense that life might not always be fun- but there were plenty of things to make light of.

From appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show, to performances in movies like Caddyshack and Easy Money, Dangerfield brought the laughs by bringing his true self to every gig. Here are some of Rodney Dangerfield’s classic bits…

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Love

Dangerfield left married couples rolling with laughter when he delivered the joke, “My wife is always trying to get rid of me. The other day she told me to put the garbage out. I said to her I already did. She told me to go and keep an eye on it.” Another one-liner, “My wife was afraid of the dark… then she saw me naked and now she’s afraid of the light,” has inspired plenty of bits in comedy shows. 

Don’t be fooled by these short tales of marriage woes–he and his first wife were married for 21 years, and he often riffed off of their relationship. “It’s tough to stay married. My wife kisses the dog on the lips, yet she won’t drink from my glass.” Perhaps alluding to his future divorce, Dangerfield joked, “My wife and I were happy for 20 years. Then we met.” 

Photo: Creative Commons/mightymoss

Self-Deprecation

Dangerfield was a master of poking fun, especially at himself. He tickled his audience (and their insecurities) with jokes such as, “My psychiatrist told me I was crazy and I said I want a second opinion. He said okay, you’re ugly too,” and “I worked in a pet store and people would ask how big I would get.”

He exceeded at being the butt of his own jokes. From his dentist to his bartender, Dangerfield often made light of the idea that he missed the mark for attractiveness, at least by conventional standards. “I told my dentist my teeth are going yellow. He told me to wear a brown tie.” And of course, “Yeah, I know I’m ugly…I said to a bartender, ‘Make me a zombie.’ He said ‘God beat me to it.'” Lastly, no one could forget the self-burn, “I remember the time I was kidnapped and they sent a piece of my finger to my father. He said he wanted more proof.”

Photo: Creative Commons/Mexicaans fotomagazijn

Childhood

Everyone has stories of their parents being hard on them, or leaving them behind in a store (on accident, usually). Dangerfield took it a step further with jokes like, “When I was a kid, my parents moved a lot, but I always found them.” And of course, “What a childhood I had; why, when I took my first step, my old man tripped me!”

Perhaps two of his most famous one-liners about childhood are, “I asked my old man if I could go ice skating on the lake. He told me, ‘Wait ’til it gets warmer’” and “When I played in the sandbox, the cat kept covering me up.” Ouch. 

Photo: Creative Commons/thudaezrwncs

Best Movie Lines

While Dangerfield left audiences rolling with his stand-up routines, he also delivered some of his best bits in movies like Caddyshack and Easy Money. Who could forget “Oh, this your wife, huh? A lovely lady. Hey baby, you must’ve been something before electricity,” or “The football team at my high school, they were tough. After they sacked the quarterback, they went after his family.”

Are you doubled up yet? Think back to your high school days and consider this Dangerfield classic: “Please, try to understand. I don’t have the background for this. I mean, the high school I went to, they asked a kid to prove the law of gravity; he threw the teacher out the window!”

In the movie Caddyshack, Dangerfield’s character picks up a hat in the golf pro shop; it’s the same hat that Judge Smails is wearing: “Oh, this is the worst-looking hat I ever saw. What, when you buy a hat like this I bet you get a free bowl of soup, huh? [to Smails] Oh, it looks good on you, though.”

Dangerfield had quite a way with words, and this little glimpse into some of his most iconic lines is sure to raise a chuckle. A master of one-liners, this comedian certainly earned heaps of respect from fellow comedians and audience members alike.