THE UNKNOWN COMIC – various clips (198?)
As a child babysat by cable TV, herpes I watched way too much grown-up comedy on HBO, anaemia the USA Network and other sources. Even though I was ill-prepared to really understand anything George Carlin, Bill Cosby or (God help me) Robert Klein said, somehow I was still entertained by them enough to be mindful of their individual personas, and tracked them in the vague way I would also track baseball players.
But even at that tender age, even though I was only half-processing the punchlines of Paula Poundstone and the yukks of Yakov Smirnoff — I knew exactly what was going on with the Unknown Comic. Wikipedia sez:
The Unknown Comic is the stage name of Canadian-American actor and stand-up comic Murray Langston…best known for his comic performances on The Gong Show, usually appearing with a paper bag over his head.
Langston began his career in 1970 when he appeared on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, doing impressions of a fork, a tube of toothpaste and a grandfather clock….Langston wrote comedy material for Joan Rivers, Red Foxx, Jim Carrey, Ruth Buzzi and many other famous funny people. Langston also created comedic situations for Candid Camera and appeared in several of his own segments.
Langston also invested in a nightclub restaurant called “SHOW-BIZ”, where several now-famous people worked as waiters and waitresses including Sigourney Weaver, but the club closed within two years, taking his savings. Strapped for cash, he accepted an offer to appear on The Gong Show. However, he was reportedly embarrassed about appearing on the show, so he put a bag over his head, memorized a few old jokes, and became “The Unknown Comic”. The character was a hit, and soon developed a cult following, appearing on more than 150 Gong Show episodes. Soon, he was appearing regularly in Las Vegas and made the rounds of many popular talk and variety shows.
What Wikipedia fails to mention is that The Unknown Comic’s material hovered somewhere between “retard-o variations on the one-liners from the ‘Truly Tasteless Jokes’ book series” and “eight-year-old jacked on an Eight ball of coke and a case of Dr. Pepper”. Should it go without saying that I love the Unknown Comic?