Motivation: Jack Benny & The Art of Living Well

I love Jack Benny. More on that in a bit.


The man himself. From

Wikipedia will tell you that Jack was an “American comedian, vaudevillian, radio, television, and film actor, and violinist,” and that he was “recognized as a leading American entertainer of the 20th century.”

He was all that, and a whole lot more.

Sites like the International Jack Benny Fan Club (IJBFC) will take you down a marvelous memory lane of old time radio and early television, so I won’t duplicate what you’ll be able to delight in over there.

But I will tell you that Jack was also a decent person who treated people kindly and generously. He was a natural comedian without the stereotypical traumatic background, nor with tragic repercussions in his adult life.

He lived well.

And do

As his daughter Joan Benny said in her biography of Jack, Sunday Nights at Seven, “People don’t buy books about nice.”

But oh, when I found out he had started writing his autobiography, how I wished he had finished.

So for a little bit of Monday-or-any-day Motivation, I wanted to leave this thought out in the ether:

We all want to do something to set us apart, be something that makes us special. But maybe we already do. Maybe we already are.

I think what I’m trying to say is Jack was always himself, even when he was on stage playing a character entirely opposite to everything he was. He worked hard, yes, but he also knew how to sit back and let things flow.

So write down those decent things you do yourself or see in others. Because every now and then we could stand a little reminding that it’s okay to just…live well!


George Burns and Jack Benny from


More effusive waxing about Jack Benny found here:

Jack Benny, Mel Blanc, and Liberty Bottleworks

I started out today with a simple YouTube clip from a famous Jack Benny Christmas episode, sure to strike a cord in those who deal with the holiday rush (and in those of us who witness the holiday rush).

Then I read this post and interview by Redhead Writing about the recent Liberty Bottleworks Facebook exchange with an all-caps customer.

What follows is a fantastic example of a company owner putting his employees first–over revenue, over possible community backlash, over tons of other things we may have come to expect from faceless companies. Instead, the owner’s decision clearly shows how he treats his people AS people, with families and weekends and their own holiday plans.

So enjoy Mel Blanc, enjoy the true leadership shown by Ryan Clark, and take a moment to reflect on how you treat people you work with and expect to work for you, whether employee or clerk ringing up your purchase. I know I am.

13 Things That Never Fail To Make Me Laugh


I was dying laughing at Jack Benny during my commute the other day. Some things have that marvelous knack of spanning decades and generations, the dead stars that still burn, holding their own beside bright new things because they’re just that good.

Here’s a short list of old and new things that tickle me pink:


If you’ve seen the movie “Up,” you’ll know. My office was filled with “SQUIRREL!” references for days after.


12. Stargate SG-1: Divide and Conquer [4.5].

I couldn’t find a clip, but fans of the show will remember this moment:

Dr. Jackson: [watches as O’Neill plays with a yo-yo] “You know, I think these are the Jack O’Neill moments I’ll probably miss the most.” *falls into reverie*
Col. O’Neill, who wasn’t listening: “What?”
Dr. Jackson, who’d forgotten what he’d said: “What?”


11. The Big Bang Theory: Raj & Sheldon – Eye of the Tiger.

Now referenced whenever deep thoughts are in evidence.


10. Just about anything Tom Baker says, anytime, anyplace, anywhere.


9. Robot Chicken: Star Wars – One-Armed Wampa.

Oh the pathos.


8. Cars: Tractor-tipping with Mater.

“I don’t care who you are, dat’s funny right dere!”


7. Stargate SG-1: Window of Opportunity (clips).

This entire episode is one of my favorites of the series.


6. S.J. Perelman.

So, so many writings; here’s an excerpt from “Acres and Pains”:

“I had read little more than three pages when I realized I was holding the diaries upside down and listening intently to a  noise in the kitchen.

Loosely speaking, the sound combined a creak and a sigh suggestive of a musical saw. Now and again, it was smothered by a soft, mirthless laugh ending in a sharp click. My dogs, quick to guard their master, formed into a hollow square and withdrew under the couch. I dried my palms, which seemed to have accumulated a slight film of oil, and picked up the fire tongs. ‘Who’s there?’ I inquired in a crisp falsetto. (After all, I thought, why waste a trip to the kitchen if nobody was there?) There was no answer; whoever it was didn’t even have the common decency to reply. Angered, I strode toward the kitchen, whistling to warn of my approach, and flung open the door. Everything was in apple-pie order, including the apple pie, except that the rocking chair was bobbing slowly back and forth.

‘That’s odd–very odd,’ I murmured, re-entering the living room and tripping over a chair. ‘Probably caused by a draft from an open window or something.’

‘Or something,’ agreed one of the dogs from under the couch.

‘Who said that?’ I demanded sharply. The craven cur was frightened back into silence.”


5. Cleolinda Jones: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in Fifteen Minutes

Read it. It’s awesome. Excerpt (@2004 Cleolinda Jones):

Defense Against the Dark Arts Class



4. His Girl Friday (1940).

Billy Gilbert stealing the scene and cracking up Cary Grant.


3. Walt Kelly’s Pogo.

The full glory of Pogo is best served through comic collections held in your hands, but I can attest to the mix of humor and devastating wit, couched in an Okefenokee parlance, that goes beyond Kelly’s dabbling in Pogo-politics.



2. Family Guy: Blowing Up the Death Star–with Magic Johnson.

I don’t even watch Family Guy and I die laughing at their Star Wars spoof.


1. The Jack Benny Program: A Day at the Races (1949).

Skip to about 5:50 and listen to Mel Blanc be Jack Benny’s Maxwell car. Kills me every. single. time.

Humor’s in the soul of the beholder–what makes YOU laugh?