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- Jul 2021
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.
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.