George Burns: Straight Man

May 3, 2009


I’m George Burns… Gracie Allen’s husband.  For the benefit of those who’ve never seen me before I’m what is known in show business as a straight man.  Know what a straight man is?  I’ll tell ya.  After the comedian is through with a joke, I look at the comedian and I look at the audience like this: [turns and looks].  That is known as a pause.

If I must say so myself, I am famous for my pauses.  When I’m really rolling, this is one of my ad libs: [pauses with mouth open].

And there’s another thing a straight man must know: he must repeat everything a comedian says.  For instance if Gracie should say, “A funny thing happened on the street car today.”  I say, “A funny thing happened on the street car today?”  Naturally her answer gets a scream, then I do one of my famous pauses.

You know, I’ve been a straight man so long that from force of habit I repeat everything.  I went fishing with a fellow once and he fell overboard.  And he hollered, “Help!  Help!  Help!”  And I said, “Help?  Help?  Help?”  While I was waiting for him to get his laugh, he drowned.

So you see, to be a straight man you have to have a talent.  You have to develop this talent.  Then you got to marry her like I did.

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