His success was assured when he told his very first "no respect" joke: "I get no respect. I played hide-and-seek, and they wouldn't even look for me." Dangerfield would also tell conventional jokes in his act: "I grew up in a tough neighborhood. Tough neighborhood! Teachers would get notes from parents saying, 'Please excuse Johnny for the next 5-to-10 years!'" Dangerfield became the surprise hit of the show. Some of Dangerfield's material was unabashedly silly, but with his stop-watch delivery, it hardly mattered. "I used to date a girl from Buffalo," he would announce. "Why can't I meet a girl with normal parents?" He would inform his audience, "I asked my wife 'is there somebody else?' She said, 'there MUST be.'"
Invariably the butt of his own jokes, the disrespect began with his parents almost at birth, continued through schoolyard taunting by classmates, followed by failure in the dating scene, right up to his insulting wife.
Finally established as a reliable stand-up comedian, he would write thousands more of these self-deprecating jokes. Dangerfield began headlining shows in Las Vegas and made frequent encore appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. He became a regular on The Dean Martin Show, and appeared on The Tonight Show a total of 35 times. Dangerfield bought a Manhattan nightclub in 1969 in order to remain near his children, whose mother was too ill to take care of them. "Dangerfield's" was the venue for an HBO show which helped popularize many stand-up comics, including Jerry Seinfeld, Jim Carrey, Tim Allen, Roseanne Barr, Jeff Foxworthy, Sam Kinison, Rita Rudner, Andrew Dice Clay and Bob Saget
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