Q: Why do you think your style caught on?
A: It’s about everyone’s life. My jokes have nothing to do with what you have read, where you have traveled. Everyone must get the joke at the same time.
Q: How do you deal with hecklers?
A: I have no hecklers. My timing is so precise. A heckler would to have an appointment to get a word in.
Q: How many jokes do you tell in a minute?
A: I’m told it’s about a dozen. Bob Hope told six, but he would stare at the audience and wait. I just kept going. I work wild like a woman would.
Q: How did the laugh start?
A: At first, I did it because I was nervous. Then, I used it to prime the pump and break up the jokes with an oral exclamation mark. It caught on. I don’t laugh nearly as often as people think. It just seems that way.
Q: Why the cigarette holder?
A: So I could keep my left hand in the air. It became such an important part of my act that people thought it was a foot long. It was five inches long. Oh, and it was never lit. I flicked it, but no ashes. (She cackled.)
Q: Have you had bad audiences?
A: There is no such thing as a bad audience. You must never surrender on the stage. The audience comes to see you, so you must take charge. If you don’t, you shouldn’t be up there.
Q: Are some people born funny?
A: Steve Allen once said that if you’re not funny by the age of 12, you’re not going to be funny. I agree with him.
Finally, here a few of Phyllis’s favorite one-liners:
I want my children to have all the things I couldn’t afford; then I want to move in with them.
Burt Reynolds once asked me out. I was in his room.
I wore a topless suit to the beach. It took me two hours to get arrested.
Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight.