34 Matching Annotations
  1. Aug 2023
    1. In the end, I numbered and scanned 52,569 individual note cards from the Phyllis Diller gag file.

      Hanna BredenbeckCorp numbered and scanned 52,569 index cards from Phyllis Diller's gag file. Prior to this archival effort most estimates for the numbers of cards were in the 40-50,000 range.

      Spanning the 1960s to the 1990s roughly. The index was donated in 2003, so there were certainly no

      Exact dating on the cards may give a better range, particularly if the text can be searched or if there's a database that can be sorted by date.

      Via https://hypothes.is/a/UbW8nERrEe6xjEseEEEy1w we can use the rough dates: 1955-2002 which are the bookends of her career.

      This gives us a rough estimate of:<br /> 2002-1955 = 48 years (inclusive) or 17,520 days (at 365 days per year ignoring leap years)

      52,569/17520 days gives 3.000513698630137 or almost exactly 3 cards (jokes) per day.

      Going further if she was getting 12 laughs (jokes) per minute (her record, see: https://hypothes.is/a/MTLukkRpEe635oPT5lr7qg), then if continuously told, it would have taken her 52,569 jokes/12 jokes/minute = 4,380.75 minutes = 73.0125 hours or 3.0421875 days to tell every joke in her file.

    1. Oliar, Dotan; Sprigman, Christopher (2008). "There's No Free Laugh (Anymore): The Emergence of Intellectual Property Norms and the Transformation of Stand-Up Comedy". Virginia Law Review. 94 (8): 1848. JSTOR 25470605. Retrieved September 16, 2020. There is also evidence in the [Diller archive…at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.] file suggesting that Diller appropriated from other sources [apart from self-creation or using her writing team], including newspaper comic strips and comedy books. For example, a number of Diller's jokes about her dysfunctional marriage to her fictional husband 'Fang' appear to have been inspired by a comic strip, 'The Lockhorns,' that Diller followed obsessively over the course of nearly a decade. The Diller joke files contain hundreds of 'Lockhorns' panels cut out of newspapers and mounted on index cards.
    1. Fang, her onstage pet-name for her husband, Sherwood.

      "Fang" was the onstage pet-name Phyllis Diller used for her husband Sherwood.

    2. Diller says that she always let the audience do the editing of her material for her. If people didn't laugh, or get it right away, the joke didn't survive. "You never blame the audience," she says. Thus, her advice to aspiring comics: "Go out and try it, and if you find out from the audience that you're not funny, quit."
    3. "The [joke] file is like a tree," says Diller. "Leaves drop off, and new leaves are added—the new stuff pushes out the old." Along with this cache—Diller refers to it as "my life in one-liners"
    4. There was a time, she once quipped, when she had worked for an editor "who was so mean that he used to eat thumbtacks for breakfast with skimmed water."
    1. Py-Lieberman, Beth. “Comic Phyllis Diller, the Betty Friedan of Comedy, Dies at 95.” Online magazine. Smithsonian Magazine (blog), August 20, 2012. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/comic-phyllis-diller-the-betty-friedan-of-comedy-dies-at-95-28360980/.

    2. “I think the most important thing I can say about Phyllis Diller,” says Bowers, “is that she was like Betty Friedan and the Feminine Mystique. Just like Friedan, Phyllis Diller chronicled the daily lives of woman. But she did it with laughs.”
    3. Bowers remembers arriving at Diller’s home in 2006 to arrange for the donation. “She was the most organized donor I’d ever met.” “She had a rack of her costumes that she wished to donate. Each costume came with a plastic bag attached to it and inside the bag, she had carefully included not only the props—her cigarette holder, the head-dress, the gloves, the shoes—but also a photograph of her wearing the entire ensemble. She was better at curation than I was,” Bowers jokes.

      Curator Dwight Blocker Bowers on Phyllis Diller's organization.

    4. “The file is like a tree,” Diller told the magazine’s Owen Edwards in 2007. “Leaves drop off, and new leaves are added—the new stuff pushes out the old.”

      Phyllis Diller analogizing her index card file to a tree.

    1. https://collections.si.edu/search/detail/ead_component:sova-sia-fa13-194-refidd1e6139?q=phyllis+diller+gag+file&record=12&hlterm=phyllis%2Bdiller%2Bgag%2Bfile

      Phyllis Diller Joke File, 2010

      In addition to her larger indexed gag file, it appears that Phyllis Diller donated a separate joke file (box 6 of 8) to the National Museum of American History which contains archival materials and has been restricted for 15 years until 2027-01-01.

      ARCHIVAL REPOSITORY: Smithsonian Institution Archives EDAN-URL: ead_component:sova-sia-fa13-194-refidd1e6139

    1. Although Diller generated a lot of her own material, she elicited some gags from other writers. One of her top contributors was Mary MacBride, a Wisconsin housewife with five children. A joke obtained from another writer includes the contributor’s name on the index card with the gag.

      Not all of the jokes in Phyllis Diller's collection were written by her. Many include comic strips she collected as well as jokes written by others and sent in to her.

      One of the biggest contributors to her collection of jokes was Wisconsin housewife Mary MacBride, the mother of five children. Jokes contributed by others include their names on the individual cards.

    1. In 1970 Diller starred as Dolly Gallagher Levi in Hello, Dolly! for three months at the St. James Theatre on Broadway. Diller followed Carol Channing, Ginger Rogers, Martha Raye, Pearl Bailey (in a version with an all-black cast) and Betty Grable in the role and was replaced by Ethel Merman, who closed out the show in December 1970.
    1. In addition to Phyllis Diller’s gag file, the Division of Culture and the Arts at the National Museum of American History holds costumes, props, television scripts, photographs, books, and audio recordings illustrating Diller’s diverse career that spanned almost half of a century.

      Brief description of items donated to the Smithsonian by Phyllis Diller.

    1. Diller’s most iconic costume pieces—an unkempt wig, wrist-length gloves, cloth-covered ankle boots and a bejeweled cigarette holder, all of which became synonymous with her comedic persona.

      Costume items donated by Phyllis Diller to the Smithsonian Institution.

    1. DILLER: And, you know, of course they always say to Californians that we don't have seasons. Of course, that is not true. We have fire, flood, mud and drought.

      Was this originally hers? I've used a variation of it for decades myself....

    2. Light travels faster than sound. That's why some people seem bright until they speak.
    3. an imaginary husband she called Fang.

      Phyllis Diller had an imaginary husband she called "Fang".

    1. Liebenson, Donald. “Classic Hollywood: Remembering Phyllis Diller (and 52,569 of Her Jokes) at the Smithsonian.” Los Angeles Times, May 12, 2017, sec. Television. https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/la-ca-st-phyllis-diller-smithsonian-20170512-story.html.

    2. “I admire her ability for organization too. My jokes are still mostly in my head. She got hers on paper in alphabetical order.

      Quote from Roseanne Barr on Phyllis Diller's card index gag file.

    3. Later, she’s was doing jokes about racism, like, ‘The word bigot is a contraction for big idiot.’”

      Joke quoted from Phyllis Diller's card index.

      Actual origin?

    4. “I really admired that she had everything so organized on catalog cards,” she said.
      • Susan Wever, a retired librarian from Indianapolis, on Phyllis Diller's card index of jokes.
    5. Heidi Rotbart, owner of Heidi Rotbart Management who in the 1980s became Diller’s traveling secretary,
    6. In 1958, she made her television debut opposite Groucho Marx on the game show, “You Bet Your Life.”
  2. May 2022
    1. Direct access to the list box: table of contents , directly to ZK I: List 1 or ZK 2: List 1 – or to the "Jokerzettel" ?

      Niklas Luhmann kept a portion of his note taking system (ZK II Note 9/8j) specifically for joke related slips. It has been referred to as his jokerzettel.

      This would seem to be in keeping with other examples kept in America by Bob Hope, Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers, George Carlin, and a wide variety of comics like Adam Sandler et al. who have moved to using notebooks.

      This is the first time I've seen the word/phrase jokerzettel in print.

  3. Jul 2021
    1. While Phyllis Diller created much of her own material, she also used jokes from other writers. Sometimes she purchased several jokes at a time from one writer, while in other circumstances fans mailed her jokes. Many of these contributors were wives and mothers from across the country who had similar experiences to share with Diller. When a gag was contributed by a writer other than Diller, the index card with the gag notes the name of the writer and often how many jokes were obtained and at what price.
    2. Phyllis Diller’s groundbreaking career as a stand-up comic spanned almost 50 years. Throughout her career she used a gag file to organize her material. Diller’s gag file consists of a steel cabinet with 48 drawers (along with a 3 drawer expansion) containing over 52,000 3-by-5 inch index cards, each holding a typewritten joke or gag. These index cards are organized alphabetically by subject, ranging from accessories to world affairs and covering almost everything in between.

      Comedian Phyllis Diller collected over 52,000 3x5" index cards in a gag file. Each card contained a typewritten joke or gag of some sort which she organized alphabetically by subject.