Bob Zany

A 15-year-old Bob Zany began his comedy career on The Gong Show in 1977, reading directly from his notes onstage. The program was famous for its mean-spirited treatment of novices, and Zany wasn't just gonged, he was yanked off the stage in a net by a man dressed as a nun. But the wannabe comic's persistence would pay off. A little more than a decade later, he returned to The Gong Show -- as a celebrity judge.

In 1991, Zany reinvented himself, losing 175 pounds and gaining a caustic, take-no-crap persona. Ever been left speechless by an insult, only to think of the perfect comeback once it's too late? Zany's been around long enough to have heard everything. Now he has an arsenal of flawless retorts to every imaginable insult. And boy, does he use them. People file into the Laff Spot just to jeer him and hear his snappy replies.

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Eric A.T. Dieckman