Or Maybe Not

I learned a long time ago to never start telling a story or a joke with the opening line, “This is really funny, or this is a funny story.” You have then, as they say, set yourself up for failure. Maybe it was funny to you and maybe it is funny that you just don’t know how to tell a joke or story. Save yourself public humiliation and skip that preface.

Here is an example.

In the 1970s I was attending a cable TV convention for the company that I worked for. At the time I was their most well known on-air personality. My reputation was for comedy although I never have been a stand-up comedian. So there we were attending an early morning seminar. One of our salesmen and I were standing in the back of the room — both of us extremely hungover. Please remember this was the ‘70s and that was perfectly acceptable. Another of our sales personnel was at the podium doing the usual company pitch when she announced, “Now, our very own Bill Tush is going to come up and be really funny.”

This announcement was a complete and unexpected shock to me. I was neither prepared nor in a condition to be really funny. Whether I was or not, I’ll never remember. Thinking back I must have bombed since I’m claiming memory loss for that event.

That was the day I learned to never use that line, “This is really funny.” It may be funny to you but not to another. I could go on forever about jokes that have made me laugh since childhood that you would think to be totally stupid. Or how about jokes that work for one audience and not another? “If a Chinese guy, in China, contracts Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, do they still call it Lou Gehrig’s Disease?” Now that joke gets them rolling in the aisles at medical conventions but falls flat at a nice dinner party.

This also holds true if you are taking a date or friend to a movie. “This is the funniest movie I’ve ever seen” should not be the close-the-deal line for the date. Two hours later your companion makes a B line for the exit because she just didn’t think “Schindler’s List” was all that funny.

Remember this: “A comic says funny things. A comedian says things funny.” I heard that from Milton Berle. Everybody always said he was a funny guy. I never thought so. See! There’s my point.

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Bill Tush

Bill Tush

Bill Tush is an American news journalist and humorist.
Bill Tush's career began as a radio DJ in 1965 in Latrobe, PA as a morning host for the Mid Morning Polka Party. His radio career landed him in Atlanta, GA in 1974, where he would eventually join Ted Turner at his struggling local television station, WTCG Channel 17. As WTCG changed to SuperStation WTBS, Bill became a jack of many trades at the station doing everything from commercial spokesman, movie host and reading the news at 3am, about which Turner jokingly commented, "we have a 100% share at this time". Bill would often read the news with his co-anchor Rex, a German Shepherd in shirt and tie.
Bill was given his own show in 1980 by Ted Turner simply called Tush. The cast included such newcomers as SNL's Jan Hooks and Bonnie and Terry Turner (SNL writers and co-creators of 3rd Rock from the Sun and That 70's Show) and was a one hour comedy skit show which aired at 12:05 AM Eastern time on Friday and Saturday nights. The show ceased production one year later but reruns aired thru May 28, 1983. The following week its old timeslot was filled by a six hour music video program called Night Tracks. Later that year he appeared in a Night Tracks sales presentation video playing a investigative reporter. Bill took off to Hollywood to host a new entertainment show, People Now, on the new CNN channel. Bill was made senior entertainment correspondent for CNN in 1993 and relocated to NYC to host Showbiz Today.
Bill retired from Turner Broadcasting System to pursue other interests including writing and producing in 2003.