Radio Lessons #58 – Don Rickles
One of Planet Earth’s funniest people has passed away.
Don Rickles touched generations. His TV work began in the 50s and 60s where he appeared on most of the big, prime-time shows in one or recurring episodes; including Get Smart, Gilliagan’s Island, Beverley Hillbillies and The Addams Family. In the 70s, 80s and 90s his career continued to grow. He took movie roles when he could and concentrated on his worldwide live-show tours. In the 2000s, his work reached a whole new audience as Mr Potato Head with Disney’s Toy Story franchise.
He was known in the industry as a genuine gentleman, but when the mic was in his hand, or the cameras were rolling, he was THE master of insults. His razor-sharp wit and scathing tongue minimised anyone he was conversing with in seconds. He was incomparable. Incomparable, because he developed this style of comedy in a time when it was deemed risqué, offensive even. Comics were not touching this type of humour, and it made Don a stand-out stand-up.
He was different, he style was unique; other acts were doing basic sit-com – at best, observational comedy; at worst, slapstick. Before late night TV, he pioneered political comedy. He was mean (in all the best ways). He was a trailblazer.
Was he funnier than everyone else? Not particularly. But sadly, being better isn’t enough. Marketing gurus, Jack Trout and Al Ries have been preaching this for decades, and Don Rickles proved it. He was different. He created a new, edgier genre and re-wrote the script of success.
Are you better? It seriously doesn’t matter if you are. You need to be different. Memorable. You need to sit when everyone else stands, and stand while the others sit. Defy predictability and break norms. The best radio stations and morning shows don’t necessarily win – the memorable ones always do.
Thanks for the laughs Don. And thanks for the advice – you big dummy.