"What most people don´t know about Jackson is that he was a joker - a playful prankster who loved to laugh and often teased those closest to him most."
"I think he wanted someone he could play with. He just wanted to see, am I going to have fun with this person?"
"An I laughed every day until he died."
Michael Lee Bush, MJ´s longtime designer
“He liked to play practical jokes, and he liked to have fun. He was a big kid. There was one food fight where I wore a bucket of shrimp...after they poured it all over me."
Harrison Funk, MJ´s longtime photographer
“I think we are going to find out in this next century that there is something really magical about laughter. Whenever I feel depressed and down and out, I force myself to laugh and I try to think of something funny and I feel better. I think some kind of chemical reaction takes place in the soul. I really feel better and I force myself to smile. I think just smiling, the muscles, it does something and I feel a lot better."
Michael Jackson in the book Honoring the Child Spirit
"Michael had a childlike sense-of-humor. While in the studio recording our duet "I Just Can't Stop Loving You", he began tossing popcorn in my face in an effort to make me mess-up. Producer Quincy Jones, not seeing this, began to chastise me for flubbing the takes. Michael, on the other hand, was just CRACKING UP! Love you MJ."
„Once, my sister, Michael, Emmanuel Lewis and I got in a car with Super Soakers and went by a movie theater and supersoaked the hell out of people waiting in line. They had no idea they'd just been supersoaked by the King of Pop."
Michael Jackson: One thing you don´t know about me is how silly I am. Everytime I get in these meetings and everyone is uptight I laugh through the whole thing and I can´t stop giggling and I have to keep apologizing and my lawyer looks at me and says: "I´m sorry. He does this sometimes." Then they start laughing and they all start laughing and so it becomes fun and ligh-hearted, because they look too serious sometimes and I like it to be a little more light-hearted. I can´t help it. I really can´t help it.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: Does that break the ice when you do that? Do people feel closer, does it make tough negotiation easier? Do tehey feel that they bonded more when that happens?
Michael Jackson: Yes, I think so. I think there is a commonality amongst all of us that we really are the same. Things can be really humorous and we can laugh at the same hing. There´s this commonality in mankind. Really, we are all the same. Really.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: Laughter is the quickest way we can achieve something in common?
Michael Jackson: Everybody´s funny bone is the same color, isn´t it? We are all the same, really. I have seen that a lot. (.........) That´s my most favourite thing in the world to prank people: I love doing it, but I am afraid that some people will get mad even though sometimes I don´t care. But I do it all the time. I carry stink-bombs and watter balloons. After every video, on the last day the whole room stinks like rotten eggs and it all turns into a big mess and everybody knows what I do and everybody knows that´s when it´s done. And then I walk out. I love it.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: Do you see very serious people becoming more childlike in front of your eyes when that happens?
Michael Jackson: Yes, and they talk about it and how funny it was. It is fun.
"If you were to ask me what was one of my fondest memories with my uncle Michael, the first answer that would come to my mind would be, "Huis Ten Bosch". What is Huis Ten Bosch. The Huis Ten Bosch I am talking about is a Dutch Village theme park in Nagasaki, Japan. The quick story is.... my brothers and I were visiting my uncle Michael in Japan. All of us were invited to visit the theme park Huis Ten Bosch . I won't go into too many details because most of these memories are very special to me and I hold them close to my heart. However what I can tell you is that the four of us never laughed so hard.... period..We were all just acting silly and making each other laugh that day. For years afterwards we still talked about that trip. Matter of fact, whenever my uncle need some cheering up, all we had to do was mention Huis Ten Bosch and he would laugh again. That's one of the things I will miss most about my uncle. Making him laugh or smile. He had a great laugh. A laugh that would make you laugh back. That trip was purely a magical one and I will never forget it."
Michael Jackson in the MJ Tapes
"One fear of mine was that I knew there’d come a day that it would be just Michael and I in the same room one on one. I’d rehearsed it in the mirror over and over, just what was I going to say to this guy??? Well that day came, and what was probably seconds, seemed like a very long time. Catering had arrived at the Studio and here Michael and I were standing by ourselves. I was looking at the floor and said to myself, “this is it, this is what I‘ve been afraid of, I’m going to have to break the ice.” I took a big deep breath and raised my head to speak and … wham .. I got hit with a handful of corn, I thought, “oh no this is going to be war” … I picked up some pickles and threw them at Michael, then he threw something else and it went back and forth for a while. We were laughing so hard (I had to clean it all up later of coarse) but for three weeks we couldn’t look at each other without laughing. What a great way for him to make me feel at ease. Michael really has a great sense of humor, he just loves seeing people do a 3 Stooges act and fumble all over themselves. I wish there were more people in the world exactly like Michael Jackson, he is truly one amazing human being."
Russ, about Dangerous recording (1990-1991)
“He was funny, he had a big laugh, he loved practical joking and I can remember vividly going to Disneyland and going on a ride with him and he wouldn’t let the ride stop and by the end of it I was just absolutely ill. And he thought that was the funniest things he’d ever seen.”
"Those were probably the funniest sessions I´ve ever had in my career, working with Michael."
Rodney Jerkins on working with Michael
Stories from David Gest’s autobiography “Simply the Gest”:
Michael used to love calling people up. He would do it when he came over to my house. He would just pick up the phone, dial a random number and start horsing around.
The person at the other end would pick up the phone and Michael would say, “Who’s this?”
They would reply something like, “It’s Lenore.”
He would go, “Oh, Lenore, listen, we’re going to have to get a divorce. I can’t carry on like this.”
“She would go, “No, no, you have the wrong…”
Michael would interrupt and say, “No, Lenore, don’t even try that on me. I’ve just had it with you. We’ll divide the property evenly and everything but it’s got to be this way.”
Then he would hang up, leaving the person on the other end of the line wondering what the hell had just happened.
Michael was staying at my place on Dohney and was happy to come along. He really respected Burt (Bacharach) but wondered, as we all did, what made him tick.
Burt had ordered a bottle of expensive French red wine, which he, Carole (Bayer Sager) and I were drinking. Michael never drank but that night he got interested in wine. Unbelievably; he didn’t even know what wine was.
‘What’s it made of?’ he asked me.
‘Grapes’, I said.
‘I like grapes,’ Michael said. ‘I think I’ll try some.’
So we poured Michael a glass and he drank it. He obviously liked it because he drank another one. We were drinking a 1982 Pomerol that tasted like candy, so he was bound to like it.
By this time, we all had a glass or two and the bottle was finished. So Burt ordered a second bottle. This time, Michael drank virtually the whole bottle. He had really aquired a taste for wine, fine wine at that, and was guzzling the stuff down.
So we ordered a third bottle and Michael drank most of that as well. That’s when I knew we were going to have a problem that night.
The evening came to an end and I drove Michael back to my place. He was, understandbly, happy. In fact, he was flying high, very high. In the car he was talking and laughing. He was singing ‘I Want To Be Where You Are’ and ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’.
Then he started singing more of his hit songs like ‘Ben’. He was giggling away all the time.
‘You’re going to be in trouble,’ he said. ‘I’m going to tell Joesph what you did.’
I wasn’t taking the bait. ‘I didn’t do it, you did,’ I said.
It took us a few minutes to get back to my place. The minute I parked the car and opened the door for him, Michael leaned out and threw up all over the place. He spent the rest of the night hanging over the toilet. He was as sick as a dog. I was up all night with him.
He kept saying, ‘I’m going to tell Joe you corrupted me,’ I was kinda worried he would but he never did.
It was his first taste of wine, something he would come to love a little too much in later years. I always felt bad about that night but it sure was funny!
We would go to Disneyland. We both loved rollercoasters. Sometimes we would go on them twenty times in a row.
Often, Michael would wear disguises. Once, he was a sheikh and I was his translator. We would go into a place called Carnation Restaurant in Disneyland where they served great tuna salad and sandwiches. Michael was eating organic food only, although, at that time, he had a rather strange idea of what organic was. We would go to KFC, Michael reckoned if you took off the skin it became organic.
Anyhow, at Carnation on this particular day, there were two elderly women and a gentleman in their eighties from Croydon. We started talking in our mock Arabic to each other.
When the two ladies looked over, I turned to one of them and explained, “The Sheikh Majolini wanted me to tell you that you are a beautiful woman and so is your friend,” I said.
These two ladies probably hadn’t been paid a compliment like that in the last couple of decades so they started smiling. We then got talking. They asked what the Sheikh was doing here and I said he had just got divorced from his 97th wife and was now on his 154th child.
“He has 154 children?” they asked, looking shocked.
“That he knows of,” I said. “He has had 97 wives…” and I started naming them, “Jada, Jami, Shakira, Vera…” with Michael saying them in mock Arabic.
There was nothing malacious in it. In fact, Michael picked up their bill. He was like that, always pulling practical jokes on people.
Sometimes though, the joke would be on us. The funniest thing that ever happened to us was when we went for pancakes one night. It was after 1am and our regular haunt, Dupars, was closed, so we went to another pancake house that we knew on Ventura Boulevard. There was only one couple in there; normally it held 150 people.
The waitress who served us was in her late sixties or early seventies. This was around 1979, when Off The Wall came out. Michael was the no. 1 artist in the world. She didn’t recognize him at all.
We got to the table and she come over and asked us what we wanted to order. I put on a Saudi accent and went “Yamaka fallesh.”
Michael started laughing. The waitress slapped him across the face with the back of her hand. She said, “This is not funny. Your friend is from a foreign country and you have respect for people from foreign countries.”
Michael got nervous. He wasn’t used to being treated like that in public. He slid further inside the booth so he couldn’t get slapped again.
I asked, “What is pancake? Explain please.”
The waitress started miming a pressing motion. She said, “It’s like a cake that you press down.”
Michael started to laugh again and she started to put her hand up again, so he slid further away.
She then said, “Ok, I’m going to take you back to the kitchen.” She and the cook showed us how to make pancakes. I ordered some.
When the pancakes came to our table, I took the syrup bottle and emptied the whole bottle all over the pancakes. She immediately slapped me across the face. It hurt.
“Not funny,” she said. Michael was laughing again.
She brought me a new batch and I ate them. When we left, Michael left her a $200 tip.
We were in the car park, heading back to Michael’s Rolls Royce, when the waitress came running after us.
“I’m not taking this. You boys are probably working your way through college and you need the money,” she said, not even noticing the car he was driving.
Michael insisted but she said, “No, I’m not taking it.” We couldn’t believe it.
We’d get in the car and sing songs together. He used to tell me I was the worst singer he’d ever heard! He always made me laugh. Michael had a great sense of humour which most people never saw. We loved to go antiquing for furniture and paintings as well as memorabilia. Our favourite thing to do was walk into a store and go, “Do you have any John LeCockah paintings?”
The antique dealer would respond, “We’ve just sold the last one for $100,000.” I’d say to Michael, “Oh no, he’s just sold the last John LeCockah painting.” We would plead for him to get another in and he’d respond, “They are just too hard to find.” We’d walk out and go, “We’ll never buy from that dealer because there’s no such painter!” Michael would be laughing so hard. He had a laugh that was like a cackle: Hhk hhk hhk hhk hhk.
We’d do very normal things. We’d go out for pancakes and French toast and I’d drive his Rolls-Royce. When we stopped for gas, I’d ask him to fill the tank. He’d say, “I’m the star here. I can’t believe you’re making me put gas in the car.” And I’d tell him, “When we’re together, there’s only one star.” That was the reason our friendship was so good. I never treated him like he was a big deal.
(at the 7th Annual American Cinema Awards where Michael was honoured, 1990)
When Michael Jackson came on stage to take his final bow at the end of the evening with Celia (Lipton Ferris – she was the executive producer of the show), she got even more excited. At one point, she wrapped herself around Michael shouting, ‘He’s the greatest, he’s the greatest!’ Finally the musical conductor danced with Celia and Michael could free himself. It was very funny. Even Michael enjoyed it.
I remember we once went to Disneyland. He was in disguise and we watched Captain EO, a Disney 3D movie which he starred in.
When we came out I said, ‘You were brilliant’ and he went, ‘Oh thanks, have you only just realised?’. Then when we got home I made him Moonwalk in my kitchen — then I tried it and fell flat on my face!?
The Michael Jackson I will remember was smart, articulate and made me laugh. His death was a huge shock but it brought back so many happy memories.
Michael singing Smile of Charlie Chaplin (and smiling in a fan video):
“Michael Jackson does stuff only Jesus can do. Michael Jackson goes to Third World countries, they have no money, they have no music, they have no radio, they have no TV, yet he comes to concerts and sells out. Only Jesus can do that. I’m not saying he’s Jesus but when he dies you got three days to get yo **** together, that’s all I’m sayin’.”
Comedian Gary Owen, 2008