Pat Paulsen

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Pat Paulsen
Pat Paulsen 1970.JPG
Paulsen in 1970.
Born Patrick Layton Paulsen
(1927-07-06)July 6, 1927
South Bend, Washington
Died April 24, 1997(1997-04-24) (aged 69)
Tijuana, Mexico
Spouse(s) Noma Paulsen
Website
http://www.paulsen.com/

Patrick Layton "Pat" Paulsen (July 6, 1927 – April 24, 1997) was an American comedian and satirist notable for his roles on several of the Smothers Brothers TV shows, and for his campaigns for President of the United States in 1968, 1972, 1980, 1988, 1992, and 1996, which had primarily comedic rather than political objectives, although his campaigns generated some protest votes for him.

Early life and education[edit]

Paulsen was born in South Bend, Washington, a small fishing town in Pacific County. He was the son of Beulah Inez (née Fadden) and Norman Inge Paulsen, a Norwegian immigrant who worked for the Coast Guard.[1][2][3] When he was 10, the family moved to California.

After graduating from Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley in May 1945, Paulsen immediately joined the United States Marines. World War II was still being waged at that time, but it ended before he was shipped overseas. However, he did see overseas duty, including guarding captured Japanese soldiers during their repatriation.[4] He returned home after the war and worked as a posting clerk, a truck driver, a hod carrier, a Fuller Brush salesman, and as a gypsum miner. Later, he was employed as a photostat operator for several years. After attending San Francisco City College, Paulsen joined an acting group called "The Ric-y-tic Players" and formed a comedy trio which included his brother Lorin.

Career in comedy[edit]

Paulsen went on to become a solo act, appearing as a comedic guitarist in various clubs on the West Coast and in New York City. During one of his appearances in San Francisco, he met the Smothers Brothers.

The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour premiered in 1967. Paulsen said he was hired because he sold them cheap songs and would run errands. At first he was cast as their editorialist, and his deadpan, double-talk comments on the issues of the day propelled him into the national consciousness. (His deadpan work was nearly flawless: on one isolated occasion, in a talk about Hawaii, he defined a "wahine" as something you put on a bu-hun with lots of mu-hustard. His composure started to crack, but he recovered.) His work on The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour earned Paulsen an Emmy in 1968.[5]

In addition to his work with the Smothers Brothers, Paulsen made a memorable guest appearance on The Monkees, appearing in the 1967 episode "Monkees Watch Their Feet", playing the secretary of National Defense.

In 1968, Paulsen appeared as timid, tenderfoot Federal Agent Bosley Cranston in "The Night of the Camera", Season 4/Episode 10 of The Wild Wild West. Pat's character had a photographic memory and ended up with the "girl(s)", much to the surprise of agents James West (Robert Conrad) and Jeremy Pike (Charles Aidman).

During the Sesame Street inaugural season (1969–1970), he often recited the alphabet in one of the comical early skits – fumbling on a few of the letters.

He was prominently featured in the 1970 Get Smart episode "The Mess of Adrian Listenger".

Early in 1970, Paulsen headlined his own series, Pat Paulsen's Half a Comedy Hour, which ran 13 weeks on ABC. Guests on the first show were former US Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and an animated Daffy Duck, whom Paulsen interviewed.

Political campaigns[edit]

The comedian was approached by the Smothers Brothers with the idea of running for President in 1968. His reply, he was later to recount, was: "Why not? I can't dance – besides, the job has a good pension plan and I'll get a lot of money when I retire."

Paulsen's campaign in 1968, and in succeeding years, was grounded in comedy, while not bereft of serious commentary. He ran the supposed campaigns using obvious lies, double talk, and tongue-in-cheek attacks on the major candidates, and responded to all criticism with his catchphrase "Picky, picky, picky". His campaign slogan was "Just a common, ordinary, simple savior of America's destiny." Every question on social issues received basically the same response: "I feel that it is too directly bound to its own anguish to be anything other than a cry of negation, carrying within itself the seeds of its own destruction. However, to get to the meat of the matter, I will come right to the point, and take note of the fact that the heart of the issue in the final analysis escapes me."[6]

Paulsen's name appeared on the ballot in New Hampshire for the Democratic Primary several times. In 1996, he received 921 votes (1%) to finish second to President Bill Clinton (76,754 votes); this was actually ahead of real politicians such as Buffalo mayor James D. Griffin. In 1992 he came in second to George Bush in the North Dakota Republican Primary. In the 1992 Republican Party primaries he received 10,984 votes total.

During later years, Paulsen appeared in nightclubs, theaters, and conventions throughout the country. He also appeared each summer in Traverse City, Michigan, at the Cherry County Playhouse where he produced and starred in some 25 different plays, including The Fantasticks, The Odd Couple, Harvey, and The Sunshine Boys.

Death[edit]

Paulsen was suffering from colon and brain cancer when he died from complications of pneumonia in Tijuana, Mexico, on April 25, 1997.

Discography[edit]

  • Pat Paulsen for President (1968)
  • Live at the Ice House (1970)
  • Unzipped (1998).

Quotes[edit]

  • "All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian."
  • "I don't want to say too much about illegal immigration. I'm afraid my views will be reported on the Cinco O'Clock News"[7]
  • On the Miranda warning: "Why should we tell kidnappers, murderers, and embezzlers their rights? If they don't know their rights, they shouldn't be in the business."
  • "A good many people feel that our present draft laws are unjust. These people are called soldiers."
  • "Sex doesn't have to be taught. It's something most of us are born with."
  • When originally "denying" he was running, borrowing from General William Sherman in 1884: "I will not run if nominated, and if elected I will not serve."
  • Presidential campaign slogan: "I've upped my standards. Now, up yours."
  • Presidential campaign slogan: "If elected, I will win."
  • Campaign supporters' rallying cry: "We can't stand Pat!"
  • "We have nothing to fear but fear itself...and of course the boogieman."
  • "I am neither left wing nor right wing. I am middle-of-the-bird."
  • "If either the right wing or the left wing gained control of the country, it would probably fly around in circles."
  • "Marijuana should be licensed and kept out of the hands of teenagers. It's too good for them."
  • When asked if he believed in the right to bear arms: "No, I believe in the right to arm bears."
  • On network censorship: "I feel proud to be living in a country where people are not afraid to laugh at themselves and where political satire is tolerated by the government, if not the television network."
  • On network censorship: "Censorship does not interfere with the constitutional rights of every American to sit alone in a dark room in the nude and cuss. There are realistic taboos, especially regarding political comments. Our leaders were not elected to be tittered at. For example, we're allowed to say Ronald Reagan is a lousy actor, but we're not allowed to say he's a lousy governor – which is ridiculous. We know he's a good actor. And we're not allowed to make fun of President Johnston (sic),[8] but if we praise him, who would believe it?"
  • On his political affiliation: "I belong to the Straight Talking American Government Party, or STAG Party for short."

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.paulsen.com/bio1.html
  2. ^ Armstrong, Alice Catt (1997). Who's who in California, Volume 26. Who's Who Historical Society. p. 363. 
  3. ^ Paulsen to perform at ActivePaper Archive
  4. ^ paulsen.com
  5. ^ Grimes, William (April 26, 1997). "Pat Paulsen, 69, a Parodist Of Presidential Doubletalk". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  6. ^ Williams, M. Pat Paulsen for President. Beverly Hills, CA: Kragen/Fritz, Inc. (1968), p. 131.
  7. ^ paulsen.com; retrieved 29 July 2008
  8. ^ paulsen.com

External links[edit]