ing has to be perfect. My thing was that no self-deprecating humor to be therapeutic on Diller and Hope were frequent partners on
matter how big the room, you work to the some levels? stage and screen. Whether entertaining the
last row. They’re the ones that are going to PD: When I first started out in the business I troops (left) or filmgoers worldwide, as in
fall away. That’s what brings them all in. was ugly. I had crooked teeth, I had a Boy, Did I Get A Wrong Number! (center),
Because if you’re any good at all—as I crooked nose. And I’ve got the pictures to their work together meant twice the laughs.
am [pause for laughter]—they think that prove it. But it worked for me. They didn’t
you’re making eye contact with them, if you hate me because I was beautiful. They had
work it right. If you do it right, every person to love me because I was honest. It was a But I had no place else to go. By then,
in the audience, at least one time during the big start. I pity a good-looking girl who’s we were a homeless family of seven. And I
act, will think you’re looking directly at them. trying to do stand-up comedy. What’s she was supposed to be the breadwinner.
CC: Did you ever improvise to account for, going to bitch about? CC: That was a lot of pressure placed on
say, hecklers? CC: Talk about your relationship with Bob your shoulders.
PD: Honey, when you’re a pro, people in the Hope. PD: Oh, terrible pressure. But this was my
audience don’t yell. If you are good, if you PD: We had chemistry from the moment that dream. I knew what I wanted. That’s what
are a star, it’s you and them. But if you we met. We had all kinds of mental, comic made me go back every night.
aren’t strong enough to keep them where chemistry. He put me in a whole different CC: Let’s talk about your laugh.
they belong, in their seats, listening, laugh- bracket. That’s like giving you the seal of PD: It’s natural. That’s the way I laugh. It’s
ing and attentive, you shouldn’t be up there. approval. He gave me equal billing in all the healthiest thing in the world. Children
That’s your job. You’re the leader. Take three movies. He didn’t have to do that. laugh 400 times a day, older people maybe
them where you want them to go. You must That’s the kind of respect he had for me. only 15. Every cell in your body is happy
believe in your act. The first time he saw my act, he told me when you’re laughing. If sickness is one cell
If there is a heckler, you just ignore the I was great. And that just changed my whole at a time, wow, I’m Dr. Diller, I’ve got every
person and move on. It’s lowbrow to even attitude about myself. cell laughing [everyone laughing loudly].
acknowledge it. If you sink to that level, you CC: Talk about the first time Bob Hope saw See, I just cured you. That’ll be $60.
give up your leadership. your stand-up act. You said that you didn’t Consider it a house call.
CC: Quick, tell us one of your favorite jokes. do very well that night. CC: What do you do in your spare time?
PD: [brief pause] The best contraceptive for PD: I knew I didn’t. So did he. I bombed. I PD: I’ve started a flaming social life. When
old people is nudity [long laughter]. That’s a was working to hookers and salesmen in a you’re on the road, you have no friends. I’ve
10, isn’t it? I love my lines. I was in love dive. I shouldn’t have been there. There was had some beaus. Rich, handsome, attentive
with my act to the very end. no way they were going to laugh at my iron- beaus. Roll over, baby!
But I started with the corniest crap ing jokes. I go to many parties. It’s wonderful not
you’ve ever heard. I don’t know how I lived But he saw past that. He saw brilliant being out on the road. I sleep in my own
through it. material, a pro at work. He walked up to me bed. Every night I know where it is. I know
CC: When did you realize you were funny? afterward and told me I was great. where the toilet is.
PD: When I was a teenager and the other I had just signed with a new agency, and CC: What was the secret to your success?
girls were getting pretty, I was getting uglier. they sent me to the wrong place. I wasn’t PD: I’m a salesman. I’m selling comedy.
I protected myself by being terribly funny, even the opening act. The opening act was CC: Why were people buying it?
terribly witty and I’d get them before they six girls with big boobs, and all they did was PD: Cause I made ’em laugh. If they didn’t
got me. They couldn’t get me because I’d bow. Then they were supposed to mingle. laugh, they didn’t buy. Their laugh is the
already got me. Mingle. Mingle. Then I came out and buy. It’s money on the counter. C
I’d always memorize a bunch of jokes bombed every night for 10 nights. And I
before every date. would go home and think, “Can I do that
CC: Was it truly an act, or did you find your again? Can I take it?”