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In the annals of American comedy, there are many clowns, and fewer geniuses. And then...there are comics who transcend the level of genius. None of these categories however apply to: Ronald Redball: Comedian. Clown. Idiot.


Bill Kurtis: In the annals of American comedy, there are many clowns, and fewer geniuses. And then...there are comics who transcend the level of genius. None of these categories however apply to: Ronald Redball: Comedian. Clown. Idiot.


(Cue nostalgic music)

Bill Kurtis: From his humble beginnings in the Jewish Ghetto of San Francisco's East Side, to his lackluster film career, to his ridiculous downfall and unlikely comeback, Redball's sensational life has long been fodder for tabloid biography shows like this one. I'm Bill Kurtis, filling in for Peter Graves as your host for tonight's Biography: the shocking and ridiculous life of Ronald Redball.

Cue: theme

Bill Kurtis: Ronald Redball was born Sept. 20th 1963 as Jacob David Talamud Moses L'Chaim II. His first words were 'not Jew'. Even at a young age he displayed his playful side often playing hide and seek with the Mohel.

Phineas: Growing up, Ronald's parents would often call him pet names like: 'Our little beige stapler', 'the pencil', and 'our precious little ball of lint'. He would spend many a weekend as a magnet with his forehead pressed up against the refrigerator, holding up reams of paper, moaning pathetically. Redball's first day of school was traumatic for the little Hebrew youngster:

(SFX: Kids making fun of Ronald on playground)

Ronald: (High pitched Bug voice): I AM NOT JEWISH!!!


Ronald: thank you

(SFX: Jewish party music, sounds of crowd partying)

Bill Kurtis: Redball's barmitzvah at age 13 was a glorious cavalcade, a festival of denial.

Ronald: (slight reverb, addressing crowd): I really... uh... I thank you for this quaint... traditional ethnic show you've put on as if I were Jewish but I'm really not I'm Portuguese. Thank you, thank you for all the money but I'm not Jewish. Not Jewish thank you.

Bill Kurtis: Veteran comic Jackie Mason, who entertained at the event, remembers:

Jackie Mason: His parents said that he insisted that he wasn't Jewish. I said 'tell him to pull down his pants. If he's uncoicemsized I'll go home and you don't have to pay me. If he's coicemcized than he can Kissen mine tuchis hurrah'.

Bill Kurtis: In 1978, the young Ronald discovered he had a knack for performing. Going by the stage name 'Not A. Jew' he met future collaborator and friend Phineas Narco an up and coming temp worker and full-time mental patient. The two took an immediate disliking to each other but one night found themselves at a restaurant-theater. Not having enough money between them to pay the bill, they were forced to entertain.

Ronald: You're a complete jerk
Phineas: Yeah well you're a loser
Ronald: Look at how fat you are my god don't you ever stop eating?
Phineas: Not as fat as that fat Jew nose you rat bastard
Ronald: Yeah well what if I got a gun and killed you?
Phineas: Yeah well what if I stabbed you in the eye with a letter opener?
Ronald: You make me sick
Phineas: Yeah? Well you're an idiot
Ronald: Look how you dress! Did your invalid mother dress you?
Phineas: God, you're so ugly. I'm just standing her marveling at how ugly you are
Ronald: At least I bathe, occasionally
Phineas: Yeah, very occasionally, judging from the smell
Ronald: My smell? I haven't been able to breathe since I've been standing here! What did you do?? Shit your pants?

(crowd laughs in delight throughout)

Club owner Mel Kissel remembers:

Mel Kissel: I remember that they went on like that for 12 hours, insulting each other, just really you know tearing into each other. They were an instant hit, and before long had garnered a cult following in the Catskills. Which was strange because this was in San Francisco.

Bill Kurtis: One Summer evening while "Not A. Jew" was performing an impersonation of then California governor Ronald Reagan, a drunken Phineas suddenly ran up onstage and punched him in the left testicle. (SFX: hit and groan, crowd laughs and applauds) At the height of the swelling, someone suggested the moniker Ronald Redball. The name stuck, and a legend was born.

Bill Kurtis: Bartender and Beatnik rectal opium junkie Al Newport remembers:

Al Newport: Ronald would go into these fits in the middle of the routine. He would flop on the floor and just start vibrating like a landed carp. Phineas would take the opportunity to go over to the bar and start eating popcorn and peanuts, just watching him. Of course the crowd just thought it was hysterical.

Bill Kurtis: But it wasn't hysterical. Ronald was suffering from a brain aneurysm brought on from years of Semetic-denial. Doctors told him that unless he started acting extremely Jewish immediately he had less than six months to live.

(cue music: Hava Nagila)

Phineas: Ronald quit his act with me and went from not Jewish to ultra-orthodox in a matter of hours. He started reading the Torah, going to temple on the Sabbath, even eating matzo balls and Gefeltefish and bottles of Maneschewicz. He was taking off Jewish holidays no one had even heard of. But in the midst of it all he had a complete nervous breakdown, a complete uh, personality fragmentation and eventually he had to be hospitalized.

(SFX: Music slowing down)

Bill Kurtis: Redball, convinced that his comedic career never took off due to his poor sense of timing, was despondent. At the end of his rope, he threw himself behind a train. The failed comedian lapsed into a long and deep coma. Loved ones gathered around the bed in hushed silence and repeatedly placed his hand in pans of warm water so he would piss himself.

Al Newport: He was in a coma for nine days. And when he woke up he was convinced he was a sleazy middle-aged black man named 'Uncle Bob'.

Bill Kurtis: 'Uncle Bob' was a local hit and could be heard on late night radio selling everything from toothpaste to strawberry flavored beef jerky. He even had his own top 40 show "Bobbin' for French-Fries" which skyrocketed him to syndicated stardom until it was discovered he was not black by the local media. Dejected and hopelessly Jewish, Ronald decided to seek his fortune in Hollywood.

(Cue Desi Arnaz theme music)

Announcer: And now it's time for LOVE... THAT... RONALD... Starring Ronald Redball, Adam Rich, Vivian French, Stephen Markowitz and Dan Rather as 'The Beaver'.

(SFX applause)

Bill Kurtis: 'Love That Ronald' ran for 1 season on prime time NBC in the summer of 1978. In it, Ronald plays a dim-witted unemployed pool cleaner with a severe overbite and a spastic colon trying to make it in the Big Apple.

(SFX: Applause just ending)

Boss: Alright Mr. Carmichael, it's very simple, even a moron could do it! Just take these candy apples off the conveyor belt here, coat them with chocolate and put them in this tray here. You shouldn't have any problems. Oh and whatever you do DON'T press this red button all right? That's very important. DON'T press this bright red button. All right, I'll be back to check on you in 10 minutes.

Redball: (like Jerry Lewis nutty voice) Okay

(SFX: Crowd laughter)

Redball: Nnnnnnn, I wonder what this red button does.

(SFX: Sound of click, alarm, things crashing, exploding, glass breaking, goes on for a ridiculously long time)

Redball: Oooooh Oh! Oh Ooooh! Oh boy!

(SFX: Crowd laughter)

Boss: Mr. Carmichael what are you-- Oh your wacky hijinks! Doh ho ho ho ho! DOH HO HO!!!

Ronald: Waaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!! (SFX: wet farting sounds)

(SFX: Crowd applause)

Bill Kurtis: Critics praised 'Love that Ronald' for it's original highbrow humor but it did not do well in the ratings. Ronald complained that the American public could not recognize genius if it crawled up their leg and bit them in the left testicle. Disillusioned with television, Ronald turned his attention to the movies. In 1979, he approached Universal studios with an idea for a feature called The Nutty Musician.

Redball (pompous, chewing gum noisily): When I was making The Nutty Musician... the studio was horrified that I wanted to be director.... producer... star... writer... editor... lighting technician, cameraman and that I wanted to have myself biologically cloned so I could also run the boom microphone, the clapper, the catering service, the sound effects, props, wardrobe and makeup. They said I was a control freak. But I say they were just afraid of a perfectionist.

Studio head Samuel Lime remembers:

Samuel Lime: Ronald was a method filmmaker, Redball insisted on filming the entire production in one weekend at Beach Boy Brian Wilson's house with the entire cast wearing clothing made from week old potato salad. He then insisted on each frame of the resulting print being licked repeatedly by teenage Lithuanian sheepherders with cleft palets, that had to be flown in at great expense, I might add. Uhhhh, he was an idiot, he didn't know what the hell he was doing. And to top it all off he loses the print after leaving in the back of a taxi cab during one of his drunken drug binges with Happy Days' Donny Most.

Bill Kurtis: In 1980 Redball suddenly retired from motion pictures to take a full time job raising charity. His yearly Labor Day celebrity telethons for children without feet are the stuff of legend:

(SFX: Reverb, slight sound of crowd)

Ronald Redball (on TV): They have no feet! You know what I'm saying!? No feet! They can't walk like you or I! No feet! You're just going to sit there on all the money while you've got feet to walk around? They've got no FEET! God GOOFED!

Bill Kurtis: Many children and adults without feet objected to being made clowns and poster children for Ronald's cause.

Man: Sure we don't have feet, but we're human beings too. He's turning us into clowns or poster children for his cause and we object to that.

Ronald (in interview): Now... I was given a gift. By God. And it's a gift to make people laugh and to help people get through their horrible lives. I did not ask for the gift. I did not want the gift. But it was given to me. BY GOD! So, if these people are against me, they are against God, it's that simple.

Bill Kurtis: In 1982, Ronald was 'roasted' by other members of what was called 'the webpack'. What he did not realize was that he was to be skewered on a spike, mouth to anus, and literally roasted over a low flame for hours in front of a delighted crowd of onlookers. The event was the largest grossing event ever to be broadcast on cable Pay Per View to that time. The roast hardly phased Ronald who was now addicted to all manner of painkillers, barbiturates and hallucinogenic drugs. The roasting hardly caused any further physical damage to his skin, which by now had become a thick and mottled mass of red and pink scar tissue.

Ronald: Yeah I was so delirious back then that I hardly knew the roasting had taken place. I had some vague recollection of Foster Brooks beating me over the head with a New York City phone book and calling me a 'motherfuckin' heeb bastid' but other than that, it was just a big blur.

Bill Kurtis: It was during this period of addiction and psychosis that Ronald reunited with his old pal and nemesis Phineas Narco.

Al Newport: Phineas if I recall had set up the reunion months beforehand. Ronald thought it was going to be a brief fling, just a quick appearance but Narco had planned this huge televised event around the reunion. It was pretty disastrous.

Phineas Narco: We never spoke again after that. I uh, I pretty much recovered from my injuries of course, and eventually went on to tour the Midwest with a punk band called Skin Graft with some moderate success. Redball though, well he just sank into a delirious alcoholic haze of misery, depression, and disgusting self-pity.

Bill Kurtis: At one point, in early 1985, Redball was allowed to make himself into a woman, he then changed his mind and was made back into a man only to make himself back into a woman again two weeks later. He then changed himself back into a man again. He acquired mountains of cocaine, and hundreds of dollars in walkin' around money, which he then used to make himself back into a woman.

Confused, despondent, and hopelessly androgynous, the embittered Redball decided to once again take his own life... only to discover that he didn't have one.

He reached a low point in 1988 when he found himself scrounging through a Beverly Hills dumpster for some gum. He came across a coffee stained copy of the National Enquirer and realized that the public was intrigued by the hard luck stories of down and out drug addicted has-been celebrities. Sensing a potential goldmine in his misery, Redball immediately took action and started smoking black tar heroin.

Cue music: White Room

Bill Kurtis: Al "Doc" Newport recalls his role in this phase of Ronald's life. 

Al Newport: "Yeah I provided him with the black tar heroin, fuckin'-A I did. I also provided him with the motherfucken acid, psilocybin, DMT, PCP, GHB, crank, crack, coke, horse tranquilizer, toad venom, everclear, glue, wasp poison, paint thinner and some Grateful Dead concert port-a-potty matter I had lying around in a syringe somewhere... all of which he took one new year's eve at Joe's house. Just wanted to see the fucker go HOME jack, back to reality heaven, and out of this fuckin' body man where he can finally have some peace and RELAX. You dig?? Of course... it didn't quite work out that way, now did it?"

(CUE Eerie music)

Bill Kurtis: It was New Year's Eve, 1989, the start of a new decade and a night of partying and drunken debauchery for most of the populace of Las Vegas, Nevada. Redball, his blood supply almost completely replaced by a turgid seething stew of alcohol and various noxious narcotic chemicals... and flanked by an entourage of cheap hookers and porn stars... was kicked out of a total of 31 bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and casinos in quick succession leaving behind him a trail of empty unlabeled pill bottles, used needles, vomit, urine, and shaking heads. Just after 11pm, eyewitnesses say Redball staggered into John Escouga's Nugget Hotel and Casino encountering beloved comedian Bill Cosby, and condescendingly moralistic serial rapist, relaxing and smoking a cigar in the lounge before going onstage to entertain tourists and New Year's partygoers. There are conflicting accounts of what happened next, but the police report from that night states that when Cosby offered his hand in friendship, Redball vomited on the famed comedian, uttering a vicious stream of semi-coherent, insults, racial slurs and emitting a rude series of loud flatulent sounds from his... buttocks area. Immediately, Redball found himself surrounded by a team of bouncers and bodyguards and a melee ensued. Unknown to Cosby at the time, he had been 'dosed' by the mere physical contact with Redball's ultra-toxic vomitus. What follows is rare footage of Cosby's New Year's performance that night at the peak of the drug's effect.

(SFX: Crowd ambience)

Bill Cosby: Now! What was I sayin'... heh heh heh (starts laughing more and more crowd starts laughing with him) I was saying that the pudding people are putting... pudding... putting... puddddinnnggg.... on the child's face YOU SEE you have pudding on your face... NOW... that's brain damage! The child would like a COOKIE For the pudding people! OH MY GOODNESS! I'm remembering a time when I'm going DOWN the toooobe and a giant egg YOU SEE with Camille's face... it was SPLIT!!... NOW Youououououou!... I don't know...

(crowd starts to react as if something's wrong) (long pause, sounds of restless concerned crowd)

Bill Cosby: There's a cricket!

(crowd collectively gasps)

Bill Cosby: I said to the child if you want pudding you will have to make the walls stop breathing! My face is melting into a puddle of pudding piddle A POODLE is eating my face I ALWAYS WANTED TO GET SOME CALF'S BRAINS! you SEE! NOOOOW! That's brain DAMAGE! You see! It's time for the new decade to begin! I am seeing visions of the second coming! The colors oh god the colors! I said to the child

(Music: Auld Lang Syne is played)

(SFX: chaos erupts, frightened people:)


(CUE: Dramatic music)

Bill Kurtis: Redball was booked into Las Vegas County jail and later arraigned and convicted on 14 counts of public intoxication, 21 counts of being really obnoxious and 1 count of vomiting on a celebrity, a felony under Nevada law. He served 18 months in jail, an experience that Redball would later characterize as a life-changing period of deep reflection and soul-searching that really allowed him to get in touch with his butt! Ronald Redball... genius...comedian... idiot. Just who was he? Who WAS he? Who was HE? WHO was he? WHO WAS....

(SFX: Kurtis explodes violently)

This comedy piece has no ending.

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