George Burns: Straight ManMay 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.