David Bruce: Boredom is Anti-Life — Problem-Solving, Puns and Word Play, Religion, Royalty


• Actress Madge Titheradge had a reputation for fainting unnecessarily. In Theater Royal, she fainted at the end of the second act. Actress Dame Marie Tempest saw her fall; not being in a mood to tolerate such foolishness, she raised a stick that was part of her costume and was about to hit her — but Ms. Titheradge made a sudden recovery and picked herself off the floor.

• Stand-up comedian Steve Mittleman found an original way to handle a heckler at the Comedy Store. He said, “Sir, I just want to share the fact that I really love you and care about you.” This was not the reaction the heckler had expected, so he kept quiet after that.

• While traveling overseas to perform his magic act, Harry Kellar faced the problem of how to hide his money so it would not be stolen. To solve the problem, he used to hide his gold coins in cans of sticky black material that was used to pave roads.

Puns and Word Play

• At one time, Rachel Heyhoe Flint was the captain of the England women’s cricket team. In a store, she saw a package of frozen custard bearing the label, “Makes a pie for four people, or 12 little tarts.” She said, “I hadn’t realized that it would be such a good opportunity to invite the current England women’s cricket team.”

• Thomas De Quincey once attended a dinner party where an old woman talked on and on. His hostess apologized to him later, saying of the old woman, “She’s practically in her dotage.” Mr. De Quincey replied, “I would call it anecdotage.”


• Ted Shawn was thinking about creating a solo dance using as inspiration the Hindu god Siva, the destroyer. Thinking that he had taken on a huge task, he told a disciple of the Vedanta cult, named Boshi Sen, “What an awful fool I’ve been. Who am I that I should dare this task that’s beyond human doing?” Boshi Sen replied, “You don’t have to do it. Make your body an instrument and remove your petty self from it, and Siva will use your body to dance through. You will not be dancing, you, the little personal Ted Shawn, but Siva will dance — if you ask him to.” Mr. Shawn did precisely that — after he had choreographed the dance, each time he performed it he asked Siva to take over his body and use it to express Siva’s own being. Mr. Shawn said, “The dance never failed to reach its audience with its power.”

• Some people have a gift for discovering the fossils of dinosaurs. One group of fossil hunters at a quarry were having very little luck finding fossils, but when Robert Bakker arrived there, he quickly discovered a jawbone and other fossils. Mr. Bakker said, “They thought I belonged to a secret religion.”


• Following a concert in Manchester, Sir Thomas Beecham saw a woman he realized that he had met before, although he couldn’t remember where and he couldn’t remember who she was. Unable to get past her without her seeing him, he remembered that she had a brother, and so he went to the woman and asked about her brother and whether or not he still had the same job. The woman replied, “He is very well — and he is still King.”

• A ruler pretended to dislike flattery, but one of his subordinates knew that the ruler really liked flattery, so he told the ruler, “All of the other rulers like flattery — you are the only ruler who dislikes it.” The ruler, pleased, asked, “How did you know that I dislike flattery?”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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