Rodney Dangerfield (born Jacob Rodney Cohen; November 22, 1921 October 5, 2004) was an American stand-up comedian and actor, known for his catchphrase I dont get no respect! and his monologues on that theme.
Dangerfield was born in Babylon, New York to Hungarian Jewish parents. In the early 1940s, he began performing standup under the name of Jack Roy. However, he wasnt very successful and he ended up quitting. He later joked about this by saying At the time I quit, I was the only one who knew I quit!"
Then, in 1967, when The Ed Sullivan Show needed a last minute replacement for another act, Jacob (now known at this point as Rodney Dangerfield) was the surprise hit.
Dangerfields career peak was in the 1970s and '80s. During this time, he made numerous appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and The Dean Martin Show, and starred in several successful films such as Caddyshack, Easy Money and Back to School. He also released a few successful comedy albums, such as I Dont Get No Respect, Rappin Rodney, and No Respect the latter which won a Grammy Award. In 1969, he built a nightclub in New York City, which he would be the venue for several HBO specials, which would showcase talents like Jim Carrey, Jerry Seinfeld, Andrew "Dice" Clay, and Sam Kinison.
Dangerfield continued to perform both on stage and in movies through the 1990s and the early 2000s. He died on October 5, 2004 from complications of heart valve replacement surgery he had undergone the previous August, he was 82 years old. Behind him, Dangerfield left quite a legacy.
In 2004, Dangerfield finally got some respect when he was ranked seventh on Comedy Centrals list of the 100 Greatest Standup Comedians.
- The Projectionist (1971) - Renaldi/The Bat
- Caddyshack (1980) - Al Czervik
- Easy Money (1983) (also writer) - Montgomery "Monty" Capuletti
- Back to School (1986) (also writer) - Thornton Melon
- Rover Dangerfield (1991) (also writer, producer and lyricist) - Rover Dangerfield
- Ladybugs (1992) - Chester Lee
- Natural Born Killers (1994) - Ed Wilson
- Meet Wally Sparks (1997) (also writer and producer) - Wally Sparks
- Casper: A Spirited Beginning (1997) - Mayor Johnny Hunt
- The Godson (1998) - The Rodfather
- My Five Wives (2000) (also writer and producer) - Monte Peterson
- Little Nicky (2000) - Grandpa (Lucifer)
- The 4th Tenor (2002) (also writer) - Lupo
- Back by Midnight (2004) (also writer) - Jake Puloski
- Whats in a Name?/The Loser (1966/1977)
- I Dont Get No Respect (1980)
- No Respect (1980)
- Rappin Rodney (1983)
- La Contessa (1995)
- Romeo Rodney (2005)
Rodney Dangerfield gets respect in these tropes:
- Abusive Parents: One of his subjects, particularly his father.My father taught me to play a game, it was called Hide-and-Go-Fuck-Yourself.
- Ambiguous Syntax: One of his most well-known jokes:Rodney: I tell you, my wife, she never went through. Now, the first time I called her up, she told me to come on over, there's nobody home. I went over, there was nobody home!
- Awful Wedded Life: One of his main subjects.
- Born Unlucky: "What sign am I? I was born under 'For Rent.'"
- "I dont get no respect!"
- He opens each show with "I'll tell ya I'm all right now, but last week I was in rough shape, ya know...?", and proceeds to say why.
- "I tell you my trouble, I got the wrong doctor. You know my doctor, Dr. Vinnie Boombatz."
- "When I was a kid, I had it rough...", often before a story about a Hilariously Abusive Childhood
- Corpsing: While Dangerfield didn't do this himself, he was famous for getting others to crack up. Johnny Carson was a frequent victim of this, as Dangerfield was a popular guest on The Tonight Show; in one instance, Carson had to call for a commercial break because he was laughing too hard at Rodney's jokes to continue the episode.
- Cover Version: Sings an entire cover version of "Twist And Shout" for a music video to promote the movie Back To School.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: "I got no sex life. I tried to masturbate; I had a headache."
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Based his career on this theme, and even adopted a variation of it as his personal motto.
- Early Installment Weirdness: His first few albums had longer routines with liner themes that would go on for several minutes. One-liners wouldn't become his norm until the 80s.
- Famous Last Words: Upon heading into a heart surgery that he ended up not surviving after some time in a coma:"If everything goes well, I'll be out in a couple months. If not, a couple minutes."
- Funny Character, Boring Actor: His wife was always somewhat annoyed that people assumed her husband was a wacky, boorish slob all the time. In real life, he was a shy, well-mannered gentleman.
- Grave Humor: His epitaph is "There goes the neighborhood."
- Hidden Depths: His first showbiz job was as a singing waiter and he developed a decent singing voice as a result. His second wife, Joan Child, also claimed that he was Good with Numbers and could perform complex mathematical equations in his head at a rapid clip.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: A common topic of his jokes"I told my old man I'm sick and tired of running around in circles and he nailed down my other foot!"
- I Am Not Spock: It slightly annoyed him and his wife that people thought he was really like the boorish schlub he portrayed in his act. In reality Rodney was quiet, polite, and very sharp.
- Iconic Outfit:
- When performing stand up, he usually wore a suit with a white shirt and an always-too-tight red necktie, which he was always pulling at. One of those suits is now part of the Smithsonian Museum's permanent collection.
- Offstage, he was famous for wearing bathrobes—often with nothing underneath. Roseanne Barr once reminisced about her first encounter with Dangerfield in a Las Vegas resort, saying that he went down to the casino floor and gambled for a while in one of his trademark robes.
- The Mentor: Dangerfield knew full well the difficulties of breaking into the business, and so made it a point to offer help and support to younger comedians whenever he could. Among his students were Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, Sam Kinison (who has a memorable role in Back to School), and Roseanne Barr. The latter is probably his best-known case—Roseanne had her big break playing Dangerfield's wife in one of his HBO comedy specials, and later wrote a touching eulogy for him when he died.
- N-Word Privileges: He had an entire routine about how bad Jewish men were at DIY housework."A Jewish man screws in a lightbulb, it's like he built a bridge!"
- Playing Against Type: His one and only dramatic role was as the abusive father in Natural Born Killers.
- Rapid-Fire Comedy: He wasn't called "the king of the one-liner" for nothing!
- Sad Clown: His childhood really was lousy and he struggled with depression all in his life, turning his genuine self-hatred into comedy.My whole life is pressure. This pressure is like a heaviness. Always on top of me, this heaviness, since I'm a kid. Other people wake up in the morning, "Ah, a new day! Up and at 'em!" I wake up, the heaviness is right there waiting for me nice. Sometimes I even talk to it. I say "Hi, heaviness!" and the heaviness looks back at me, "Today you're gonna get it good, you know. You'll be drinking early today."
- Self-Deprecation: He was the patron saint of this trope, he made a career off of the idea. Even the epitaph on his tombstone "There goes the neighborhood" plays off on this.
- The Stoner: A rather tragic example. As noted above, Dangerfield suffered from severe depression for most of his adult life. He used marijuana for self-medication and smoked every day for sixty years.
- Take That!: His acts were loaded with jokes that ran on this idea.
- Too Dumb to Live: "I tried marijuana once. Just once. I didn't know what I was doing...I was on cocaine."