Comedy and Jokes by Red Skelton

Skelton as the heavy drinker Willie Lump-Lump. Willie's wife nailed all the furniture to a wall to teach him a lesson.
Skelton as the heavy drinker Willie Lump-Lump. Willie's wife nailed all the furniture to a wall to teach him a lesson. | Source

Joke's 'R' Us

That is where I need to go to purchase some funny material.

I cannot believe I am writing a Hub on jokes, but then, that's a big reason I joined Hub Pages a year ago - Not to write jokes, but to learn to write in a wider Universe. So here I am.

Sometimes I do funny things and make a class laugh. Sometimes I arrange words and pictures to illustrate a point with dry humor. So I have nothing to lose in presenting you with one of my favorite comedians.

Richard "Red "Skelton (1913 - 1997) was a clean-joke teller, an portrait artist, and a poet. He was in the same poetry association I joined and I was glad of it, because his work is good.

Richard Bernard “Red” Skelton

Red Skeleton became a part of American culture and entertainment history, working in the old traveling medicine shows, in minstrel shows, in burlesque, at dance marathons, on showboats, in the circus, on stage in Vaudeville; and on radio, on TV, and in films. He was also a portrait painter of clowns and a poet, as well as a symphony and song writer.

Laughter for Healing

University of Vincennes, Indiana: Red Skelton Museum Of American Comedy, Education Center, and Performing Arts Center.
University of Vincennes, Indiana: Red Skelton Museum Of American Comedy, Education Center, and Performing Arts Center. | Source

At 10 or so years old, he left home and joined a Medicine Show. That's the traveling show Cher sang about in Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves. They sing, they do magic, they dance (some strip a little), they sell some tonic, and someone tells jokes or does slapstick.

This was like vaudeville, only it traveled in wagons or in old cars in the 1920s about the time of the prelude to the Great Depression. Growing up in extreme poverty, he needed something to laugh at and he was influenced by vaudeville and tent show comedian Ed Wynn.

Red learned a lot about funny faces, clowning, slapstick comedy and pantomime, but one of the best things he did was the Story Joke. The one presented below is from vaudeville, updated and cleaned up a little for mid-20th century television. Red did some "naughty jokes", as he called them, but never on film. He did not want audiences to see or hear them.

Red used to upset his weekly TV script rehearsals with these jokes to make himself laugh so hard that he could relax before the live taping later. However, he was relaxed while, others were annoyed.

Red Skelton, Bob Hope, and Johnny Carson
Red Skelton, Bob Hope, and Johnny Carson

A Master of the Vaudeville Story Joke

Red Skelton Vaudeville Joke

A man goes into the confessional at church and says, "Forgive me, father. I have sinned."

The priest recognizes the man's voice. It is Charlie Smith, one of the most loyal, devoted members of the church. The priest says, "Charlie, I cannot believe that you, of all people, could possibly have committed a sin."

Charlie says, "Well, father, I am ashamed to admit that I did. My wife and I have been married for 42 years and for the last ten, we have been unable to have marital relations. And you cannot imagine what that is like, father. It just creates unbearable tension and causes my dear wife to believe that I do not love her, which is far, far from the truth."

"I understand," says the priest.

Charlie goes on: "Then, last Saturday evening, I looked at my wife and she was bending over a sack of potatoes. There was something about her at that moment...I suddenly experienced feelings I had not felt for a decade. I was suddenly filled with love and passion for my wife and I grabbed her and ripped her dress off and we made love, right there on that sack of potatoes. And that is how I have sinned, father."

The priest is puzzled. "That is not a sin, my son. The two of you are married...it is not a sin to express that love for your wife..."

There are tears in Charlie's voice as he gasps, "You mean it, father? You really mean it? We won't be thrown out of the church?"

The priest laughs. "Of course not. Why would we throw you out of the church?"

Charlie says, "Well, they threw us out of the Safeway."

The Man Who Made Peter Lorre and Bela Lugosi Funny

Peter Lorre and Red Skelton perform The Honeymooners

Clem and Bela Lugosi

Pie Fight at Red Skelton Clown School, Held Annually in June

Historic Vaudeville Footage

© 2008 Patty Inglish

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Comments 38 comments

Stacie Naczelnik profile image

Stacie Naczelnik 8 years ago from Seattle

Thanks for introducing me to Red Skelton. I love that Safeway joke. Too funny!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

You're welcome!


In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 8 years ago from California

Patty

Red Skelton is one of the funniest men on earth. Thank you for helping us remember that.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

Thanks Doghouse! I was writing something about his recitation of the Pledge of Alegience, so it all sort of fell together. He was one of the funniest people I ever saw in my life,a s well as nice, but he had a sarcastric edge. I liked that. George Reeves as Superman had it as well.


gredmondson profile image

gredmondson 8 years ago from San Francisco, California

I loved Red Skelton on television as a kid. I remember thinking that I'd start my homework after the Red Skelton Show. Then, later I discovered his movies from the 40s. It's been a long time since I have seen one, but I'm going to Tivo Red Skelton right now. How about writing something on Jack Benny? He was another favorite. His movie "The Horn Blows at Midnight" I think is comic genius.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

YES! The Horn Blows at Midnight - a favorite of mine. OK, will write.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

I loved Red Skelton's movies and his TV show. The video is great, and Peter Lorre is one of my favorites, too, but I don't think he did much comedy. Jack Benny's been all over satellite radio this week because his birthday was on Valentine's Day. He had a wonderful radio show. Nice going, Patty.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

I'm glad you stopped by, William. I remember seeing Peter Lorre on two other comedy shows, but Red's was the funniest. I'm sorry the readio show was before my time. Perhaps on CDs these days.


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 8 years ago from Chennai

A great guy, I asw him first in the Poseidon Adneture when I was a kid.

Thank you, Patty.


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 8 years ago from Chennai

Oops, that was Red Buttons, sorry.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

Red Buttons as pretty funny himself!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Patty, this is fantastic! I loved learning more about Red Skelton and his era. The Safeway Joke is priceless. Excellent Hub!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

Thank you, Im really glad you like it. The vid with Peter Lorre is priceless.


BoCot profile image

BoCot 8 years ago from Illinois

You brought back memories, when I was kid and Red had his show on radio and he was playing one of his characters "Junior" about kidnapping Santa. He had him trapped in his closet and wasn't going to let him out till he gave him the present he wanted. His skits were always hilarious. note: I never got much for Christmas, so I loved it. I was rooting for Junior BoCot


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

Thank you for this story, BoCot. After doing this Hub and having this dicussion thread, I really miss Red Skelton. I will definitely tray to find tapes of his radio shows. Radio brought so much out of the imagination!


Rhym O'Reison profile image

Rhym O'Reison 8 years ago from Crowley, Tx

Very nice story. Everything I know about Red Skelton I owe to you. Thanks.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

Thank very much Rhym. I miss him more every day now.


gamergirl profile image

gamergirl 8 years ago from Antioch, TN

I loved the part of his sketch on TV one night where someone from his crew got him to say the word 'Hell'. He was so flustered!! A real golden hearted character, and a huge part of my growing-up process.

On a side note, you can pick up one or two skit dvds at walmart for a buck. Well worth it!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

WalMart it is - I have to go there next week and will look, Thank you!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

Patty, there are a few companies that sell oldtime radio shows. I haven't used this one, but it's one option:

http://www.radioshowcds.com/cd_red_skelton.html


gamergirl profile image

gamergirl 8 years ago from Antioch, TN

Patty!!! Amazon.com has some amazing Red Skelton stuff too!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

William - thank you very much for that link. And I'll check Amazon as well. I'll have some good things to listen to and watch very soon thanks to your help, friends!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

I was just thinking, Red would be pleased to know he still has an audience!


johnr54 profile image

johnr54 8 years ago from Texas

In your links you have the Vincennes University Red Skelton Museum. Vincennes is quite proud of the fact that Red was born there. In additon, they are trying to preseve his birthplace, and the major bridge over the Wabash River was named for him decades ago. I remember watching him on Saturday nights, and he is still a favorite of my parents.


Hazok profile image

Hazok 8 years ago from Malaysia

Great as always. whatever u touch patty turns to gold.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

johnr54, than you for the additional information. Great input. I hope to visit the museum this summer.

Hazok - thank you, I appreciate your comments.


Warren Moulds 8 years ago

Few of any comic actors had the range of characters, voices or brilliant pacing of Red. When we were kids, his weekly radio show was something we lived for. Later it was his tv show. Now, just thinking about him and Junior, Klem and his other characters cracks me up. Kids today are really denied by not having Red Skelton in their lives.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

I agree with you Mr. Moulds. The could benefit from both radio and Red Skelton for imagination and laughter. Red on film still makes me laugh so hard I cannot breathe.

Thanks for stopping by and giving a nice comment!


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

Brings back many happy memories of watching those shows on early television with my parents and sometimes even my grandparents. His act was that of a big hearted clown of a person with a soft side. Freddie the Freeloader was a favorite character. Thanks for writing this hub. It is making me smile just thinking of Red Skelton.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

He still makes me smile, too. We need this humanity these days, but perhaps every generation does. :)


lxxy profile image

lxxy 7 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond

Thanks for making me smile!

Red Skelton is one of your species best comedians! =)


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

Yes, he has been one of the better members.


BetsyIckes profile image

BetsyIckes 7 years ago from Pennsylvania

Oh this hub brought back memories! I use to watch the Red Skelton show as a kid! Great hub!


natureboy 5 years ago

red was one of the best comics that ever was i got to see him live once and even met him once the only man that ever was ,,,that could lay down on his back on a stagh and make himself look like a piece of bacon ,,,frying on a hot griddle and not only get away with it but make people laugh ,,, they dont make people like that any more


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 5 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

You've rung a perfect note as Skelton comes off as a poet of comedy....I will try to look up some of his poetry online.;))


mollymeadows profile image

mollymeadows 4 years ago from The Shire

My parents loved Red Skelton and we pretty much grew up watching Freddy the Freeloader and Klem Kadiddlehopper. I miss that kind of clean humor on TV. Good night and God bless, Red.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 4 years ago from North America Author

I miss it too. Sometimes PBS reruns some episodes.


louromano profile image

louromano 4 years ago

A great guy, I asw him first in the Poseidon Adneture when I was a kid.

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    Patty Inglish, MS profile image

    Patty Inglish (Patty Inglish, MS)6,759 Followers
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    Over 25 years successful experience in Medicine; Health- and I/O Psychology; STEM, STEAM and other education, research, and sports training.



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