Rodney agonistes

At age 82, Rodney Dangerfield has produced an autobiography: It’s Not Easy Bein’ Me: A Lifetime of No Respect but Plenty of Sex and Drugs. The Standard Online has posted Duncan Currie’s entertaining summary of the book: “It’s not easy bein’ Rodney.”
Currie notes that Dangerfield’s success as a comedian came in his second stab at it and was immediately preceded by an interval of 12 years as an aluminum siding salesman. He began his career in comedy over again at age 40, reborn as Rodney Dangerfield:

“I was out of show business,” he explains, “but show business wasn’t out of me, so I did the only thing that made sense–I created a character based on my feeling that nothing goes right.” At age 40, he made a comeback.
It was at this point that he inadvertently changed his name to “Rodney Dangerfield.” Early on in his comeback, he was booked to a work a club he’d played to great acclaim years before under the name “Jack Roy.” Uncertain of how he’d perform after such a long layoff, he asked the club owner to introduce him under a different name. When, the night of his gig, the emcee announced “Here’s Rodney Dangerfield,” a somewhat nonplussed audience looked at him with confusion. To break the ice, Dangerfield explained: “Hey–if you’re gonna change your name, change it!” After the show, he asked the club owner where he’d gotten the new name. “I don’t know,” the owner replied. “I made it up, just like that.”

It’s a great American life, punctuated by the gift of laughter.


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