“Funny how I started my career at the Purple Onion and can now afford Bermuda.”
“Television has opened up a whole new field of unemployment for me.”
Stand-up Comedy Arenas
Phyllis Diller refined her craft in several performance environments.
The first is nightclubs. She made her professional debut in 1955 at
San Francisco’s legendary nightspot, the Purple Onion, where she
was held over for eighty-seven consecutive weeks. From the 1960s
through the 1990s, she performed in clubs across the country. In the
early 1960s, she appeared at the Bon Soir in Greenwich Village, and
had as her opening act a young singer named Barbra Streisand, with
whom she shared a tiny dressing room.
During her run at Bon Soir, Diller made her first recording, Wet Toe in a Hot Socket!, one of several albums which gave her another platform for her routines. A third outlet was television, where she made numerous appearances on talk shows, most notably The Jack Paar Show, and on variety specials. The fourth stage for her brand of stand-up comedy was the USO tours with Bob Hope to Vietnam and later to the Middle East during the Persian Gulf War.