“I think it’s wrong,” says comedian Steven Wright, “that only one company makes the game Monopoly.”
A friend used to work in Texas. Now and then he would fly to the western part of the state on an airline called TTA. He called it “Treetop Airlines.” That’s about they way they flew.
One day, he was on this plane headed for San Angelo from Dallas. He was sitting up near the front, the door to the cockpit was open, and the pilot got on the horn. He called the
tower and said, “I’d like a time check.”
The tower came back and said, “Tell me what airline you are, and I’ll tell you what time it is.”
The pilot said, “What difference does it make what airline it is? I want to know what time it is.”
The tower replied, “Well, it makes a lot of difference. If you’re Delta, it’s 1800 hours; if you’re American, it’s 6:00 P.M.; if you’re USAir, it’s Thursday; and if you’re TTA, the big hand’s on the twelve and the little hand’s on the six.”
“I saw a subliminal advertising executive, but only for a second.” —Steven Wright
Cecil B. De Mille was well known for his spectacular motion pictures, especially those based on the Bible. Unfortunately, he had a tendency to allow his lavish special effects to drown the simple morals of the scriptural stories. He had filmed the life of Jesus, the story of Samson and Delilah, the Exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt. Shortly before his death, he undertook the most breathtaking of all his magnificent spectacles.
He was filming the six days of creation—the coming of light, the forming of the Earth, the separation of the sea from the land, the appearance of sun, moon, and stars, and the start of life itself.
This carefully planned sequence would cost more than fifty million dollars. For this purpose a huge valley in Spain was equipped with astonishing mechanical devices. The sequence could be performed only once. To try it twice would have meant undoing all the first attempt had brought about and running up costs greater than any studio could possibly afford.
To cover all eventualities, therefore, De Mille set up four separate camera crews on four separate peaks overlooking the valley, each under instructions to film everything.
At the appointed time, De Mille waved his hand at the special effects crew, and the magnificent display began. Everything worked perfectly. The creation had been recreated.
De Mille himself was reduced to speechless tears at its magnificence. When he recovered his composure, De Mille hastened to check on the camera crews.
He lifted his walkie-talkie and contacted Camera Crew One. “How did it go?” he asked.
“Gosh, C.B.,” came back a shocked voice. “I don’t know how to tell you this, but when the creation started, we were all so fascinated by it that we actually never thought to roll the cameras.”
Under his breath, De Mille uttered a few choice curses. Then he silently praised himself for his careful preparations.After all, he had expected trouble. That was why he had four camera crews. He put in a call to Crew Two.
“Gosh, Mr. De Mille,” came back a terrified voice. “I can’t explain it. We were all set, but it turned out we just didn’t have any film. Somehow no one had ever thought to bring any. I
don’t know what to say. I’m so upset I could just die.”
“Do that,” barked De Mille, and he rang up the third crew.
“Gosh, C.B.”, came back a hysterical voice, “we were ready, we were running, we were loaded, we took everything, but C.B. —I don’t know how it happened, but we somehow never took the cap off the lens.”
Now De Mille was dazed and stupefied. With a trembling hand, he called the final film crew.
For once a cheerful voice answered, “Hello, Mr. De Mille!”
De Mille said, “Is everything all right?”
“Couldn’t be better,” said the camera operator confidently.
Wild hope sprang up within De Mille’s heart. “You have film?”
“The right film?”
“The cap is off the lens?”
“There is nothing wrong?”
“Not a thing.”
“Relax,” said the fourth camera operator. “We’re in perfect shape, so get started whenever you want, C.B.”
“I used to be an airline pilot. I got fired because I kept locking the keys in the plane. They caught me on an eighty-foot stepladder with a coat hanger.” —Steven Wright