“Film Comic Gets Ideas From People”

The News-Dispatch – Nov. 15, 1948

HOLLYWOOD (UP)—Danny Kaye says his secret of being funny is constantly keeping his eyes on the people around him.

He figures out what’s funny about them and then imitates them for a couple of thousand dollars a week.

“I’m not a gag comic,” Kaye says. “What I need are situations and character. Then I beat my brains out trying to fit them together in a movie.”

Kaye sometimes rehearses a routine all morning on Warner Bros.’ “Happy Times.” He does it over and over and he still doesn’t think it’s funny enough.

Then suddenly, just as the camera rolls, he discovers the key to a human weakness and burlesques it all over the sound stage. He gets some of his best routines that way.

“I’ve been entertaining my friends for years,” Kaye said, “with a satire on the busy eater. You know, the guy who concentrates like a hog on four different dishes at the same time and stuffs his face with food, never listening to the conversation.

“You’ve seen thousands of them in restaurants. So have I.

“Well, no one thought that four minutes of straight eating would be funny in a picture. But I talked them into letting the camera roll until I finished a whole meal – and it’s in the picture.”

Kaye’s wife, Sylvia Fine, wrote a national anthem for a non-existent country and Kaye went crazy trying to find the best way to sing it. Then he puzzled out the answer based on the way people really act.

“You know how everybody stumbles through the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ pretending to know the words?” he said triumphantly. “That’s what I’m doing.”

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