Phyllis Diller, 95

by Brian McKim & Traci Skene on August 20th, 2012

Phyllis Diller passed away. We never got to meet her in person, nor see her perform, but we felt like we did after seeing this documentary on Netflix.

Back in 2006, we stumbled upon a series of interviews with comics. We excerpted the following from Diller’s interview:

It’s wonderful to be able to do something that not everyone can do. Not everyone can play the piano. I’ll tell you what: You know how dear old Rodney Dangerfield says “I don’t get no respect?”
When you play the piano, you get a lot of respect. Because here you are with an audience of 3,000, and maybe 15 people can play fair in that audience. Your art show. People are coming and looking at your art and going “ooh!” and “ahh!” and buying it. Not everyone can paint.

Everyone can talk. Some of them can even sing. In fact they get in the shower and they think they’re pretty hot stuff. Now… This is why comics don’t get the respect they truly should: People think they even know how to tell a joke. Most of them don’t even if they have an audience. If they have an audience they will elongate. They’ll pad it. They think, “Oh my golly, they’re loving this!” They aren’t loving this. They already know the answer, maybe. They’re maybe being polite.

But you see, they look at you and if youre really good, they think your ad libbing they think you just walked out and talked. They don’t realize that 45 years went into getting the experience to looking that peaceful and looking like you know what you’re doing, and holding their attention and making them laugh. You are an impresario. You’re in charge. It’s power.

Just because you’re talking, they think they can do it. They think they can do it.

They know they can’t play the piano, they know they can’t paint. But they think they can do that. It looks possible.

Access all the interviews from the Archive of American Television here.