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Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Rodney Dangerfield’s Widow Tells the Story of How Rodney Crafted the World’s First Viagra Joke

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November twenty second would have been Rodney’s 102nd birthday, and to mark the event, we turned to Joan Dangerfield, Rodney’s widow, to share a narrative about one thing Rodney thought was his present to the world: Viagra. On March 27, 1998, the FDA authorised the use of Viagra to deal with erectile dysfunction, with newspapers nationwide breaking the story the next morning. Among the many thousands and thousands of readers was Dangerfield, who was so excited by the information that he instantly obtained to writing.

Inside minutes, he crafted what was very doubtless the world’s first Viagra joke, which he proceeded to inform that evening on the Chuckle Manufacturing unit and simply two days afterward The Tonight Present with Jay Leno. Though that Tonight Present clip has but to search out its means on-line, Joan nonetheless remembers the joke, its creation and its debut prefer it was yesterday.

Viagra: A Reward for the World (and for Comedy)

Again in 1998, Rodney and I lived on this huge high-rise. Each morning, I might get up first and make espresso, then Rodney would get up and go down for his morning swim. However due to Rodney’s schedule within the comedy world, we’d be doing good if that was earlier than midday. 

Whereas Rodney took his swim, I might preview the Los Angeles Occasions for him and circled the articles I assumed he’d wish to learn — he’d at all times go straight to the obituaries, however there’s extra to life than that. On the morning of March 28, 1998, which might have been a Saturday, I circled this one story on the entrance web page with a huge purple coronary heart drawn in magic marker. I knew that might get his consideration straight away. 

The story I circled was that the FDA had authorised this oral treatment for impotence, and I couldn’t look forward to him to come back again from swimming. I used to be so excited to see his response. I usually wouldn’t look forward to him to come back by means of the door and sit right down to learn the paper, however that morning, I did. I simply knew he was going to react

When Rodney was finished along with his swim and sat down with the paper, he mentioned, “Holy shit!” I used to be thrilled to see that response. He additionally mentioned, “I can’t consider a boner capsule was created throughout my lifetime!” He was excited as a result of it was a brand new topic for him to put in writing jokes about. Usually, he’d do “My spouse,” “My canine,” “My physician” — all these regular life issues, however this was like, “Wow!” 

In Rodney’s thoughts, he noticed Viagra as a present to the world. Good for love, well being, happiness, and, after all, humor.

The very first thing he requested me was, “How many individuals learn about this?” So I checked the web, which was my little wifely obligation, and noticed that the story was rolling out actually quick. There have been over 2,000 information tales on it by that time within the day, which was about midday. After I instructed him that, he was actually pleased as a result of that meant all people knew about it. I began studying among the tales out loud. The capsule wasn’t computerized, as Rodney assumed it might be; it required sexual arousal to work. I additionally learn that it was confirmed efficient in medical trials, to which Rodney mentioned, “Why wasn’t I part of that?”

As I saved scrolling by means of the studies on our laptop in the lounge, Rodney went to the eating room desk, and I might hear his slippered toes shuffling underneath the desk. When he was in joke-writing mode, he would shuffle his toes. He truly wore out the hardwood ground beneath the place he sat. I needed to substitute it each few years as a result of he’d shuffle his toes forwards and backwards as he was writing jokes. 

I used to be nonetheless studying articles and studying what I might, and moments later, he instructed me his first Viagra joke: “I began a brand new weight loss plan — Viagra and prune juice. Solely hassle is, I don’t know if I’m coming or going.”

I cracked up, however he and I knew that he needed to strive it out. After that, the objective of the day was to go to the Chuckle Manufacturing unit that evening. We’d often go at 9 p.m., after the gang had crammed up a bit, however it might need been earlier this time. He was raring to go, dressed earlier than I used to be, and I consider he referred to as forward to allow them to know he was coming in.

When Rodney did his set, he didn’t lead with the Viagra joke. He was very specific about that type of factor — concerning the placement of jokes. He in contrast it to a necklace, the place he would place the jokes — it was all about the place it leads your thoughts. He most likely started with girlfriend jokes or well being jokes or dropping pounds jokes; then he instructed the “Viagra and prune juice” joke, and it killed. He was so pleased. I’d recorded it for him so we might pay attention again later, and there was laughter and applause.

On Monday, Rodney referred to as Tracie Fiss at The Tonight Present with Jay Leno to e book himself that evening, which they might at all times let him do. Tracie was the expertise booker and had a very good humorousness, too. He wished to run the joke by her and ensure he was capable of inform it on the present. He instructed it to her, she laughed, and we rapidly heard again that he might inform the joke on the present. 

So far as I do know, he was the primary particular person to inform a Viagra joke on tv as a result of I saved checking on-line afterward and didn’t see something aside from his prune juice joke circulating. After perhaps per week or so, I noticed different issues pop up, however by then, Rodney already had a couple of extra. These two particularly:

  • “I inform ya, what I like is these Viagra drugs. Oh, they’re actually robust. I keep in mind the primary time I attempted Viagra, I sprained my wrist.”
  • “I’m not a child anymore; I’m getting outdated. I let you know what I like, although: Viagra drugs. They’re nice. They actually work. One time, I used to be having intercourse with a woman, I used to be on Viagra, she chipped a tooth.”

For that second one, I nonetheless have the paper written in his personal handwriting, although I’m undecided you’ll be capable of learn it. Rodney would at all times write the setup to the joke in cursive; typically, he would abbreviate phrases, however he’d at all times write the punchline in capital letters. Even earlier than he was Rodney Dangerfield, that’s how he did it.

A Reward for Bob Saget

Later that 12 months, Pfizer introduced the very severe and respectable Bob Dole because the spokesperson for Viagra. At first, Rodney was stung that they didn’t name him, however someday afterward, we discovered that Bob Dole had truly suffered from erectile dysfunction. Dole had tried that treatment, obtained the promised end result after which provided to unfold the phrase. After listening to that, Rodney felt it was honest and even felt a bit dangerous for being jealous. As a result of think about how significant it’s for individuals who actually wanted it, which, between you and me, Rodney didn’t. 

Now, Rodney obtained one prescription of Viagra as a result of he wished to see what it might do — he noticed it as leisure — however I keep in mind, when Rodney died, there have been solely two drugs lacking. In any other case, the bottle was full. 

After Rodney handed, I gave that bottle to Bob Saget, who was at all times the dirtiest comic of all of Rodney’s associates. For some cause, I considered him for that exact present. It’s not like Rodney glided by a code identify or something, and it was a prescription, so the bottle mentioned “Rodney Dangerfield” and “Viagra” proper on it. Bob even talked about it on his podcast, however he instructed one lie

He claimed the reverse — that there have been perhaps just one or two drugs left, implying that Rodney had taken all of them. However once more, that’s not true! It wasn’t like I used to be going to name him up about it; I understand how comedians work, and typically, to make a narrative work, they embellish a bit. It’s a part of the artwork. I nonetheless wish to set that straight, although.



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