The recent passing of comedian Phyllis Diller gave me much food for thought. First, because we shared a first name, and second because it made me wonder if funny people live longer than others. The list below is of those who lived longer than most Americans. This is by no means a scientific study. I chose only those comedians whose names I found by Googling American comics and I used the World Health Organization chart from 2010 which gave all Americans a life expectancy of 77-80 years. So those who didn’t get to 80 were excluded.
Bob Hope, 100, George Burns, 100, Phyllis Diller, 95, Milton Berle, 94, Imogene Coca, 92, Henny Youngman, 91. But the list of 80-100 year-olds who are still alive is even longer: Betty White, Sid Caesar, and Carl Reiner are all 91, Mel Brooks and Don Rickles are both 86, Mort Sahl is 85, Gene Wilder and Joan Rivers are both 80. Maybe you can come up with more.
Of course, like most people who, when asked, claim they have a good sense of humor, I got to wondering if I might be funny enough to live to 100. For evidence, I thought of the humor I put in some of my books. Examples:
NORTH BY NORTHEAST: “I hate cruise ships.... Once they start moving, you can’t get off. They’re prisons with a chance of drowning.”
THE ITALIAN JOB: “I called my cooking efforts ‘Cordon Noir,’ because I burned a lot of dinners.”
Also: “Travel is wonderful, but home is where your clean clothes are.”
STRANGER IN PARADISE:
“Would you like a lei?” Before the man had time to do anything but give her a slow-spreading grin, she added, “That didn’t come out the way I planned. Why don’t I start again?”
“It sounded fine to me, but if you think you can improve on it, I’m game.”
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“Swimming. I was under the impression the state of Hawaii encourages people to swim in its ocean.”
“I’ll send a bulletin to the Hawaii Visitors’ Bureau.”
“But no national media, please.”
Well, I guess, like beauty, humor is in the eye of the beholder. I thought they were clever, but will they get me into the Centenarians Club? Just to be on the safe side, I’ve written more like them in my cozy mysteries, yet to be published, and a romantic suspense novel currently sitting on an editor’s desk.
Here’s an excerpt from my book that might tickle your funny bone:
“Naturally the funeral is in London, and I think you ought to go, not mope around feeling sorry for yourself.”
“I last visited when I was nine. I wish I hadn’t waited so long.” As usual, time had done a bang-up job of standing still.
“You haven’t had a vacation in two years. Visit your cousins in England, go sightseeing. Look at this trip as a chance to renew your own life.”
“You‘re right, of course. I’ll go.” Better than lying awake listening to mice chatting to one another in the walls.