Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What is a "Bono?"

One of my Friday Question Jeopardy answers was  "What is a Bono?"   Enough readers wondered what that was so I thought I'd explain it today. 

In between the time Sonny Bono wore fur vests and became a US Congressman he owned an Italian restaurant on Melrose Ave. in LA named “Bono’s.” He picked a bad location. Within months it went belly up. Since then, every time I drive by that place it’s something else – Japanese, Indian, American diner, etc.

When we’re in production on a show it seems that every week there is that one nagging joke that doesn’t work. It’s replaced on Tuesday. That joke doesn’t work. Wednesday, same story. On and on throughout the week.

That joke is called a “Bono”. And like I said, there’s ALWAYS one (at least one). The term was coined by Denise Moss, a fabulous writer on MURPHY BROWN.

What it teaches you is to stick with it, never settle, try new areas. And never just go for the easy joke…which is why I’m refraining from any reference to skiing.


Bill Jones said...

This reminds me of a great exchange from the Simpsons, back when Sonny was still alive (and the Simpsons was regularly hilarious). TV newsman Kent Brockman is interviewing a man who just woke up from a 23-year coma:

Man: "Do Sonny and Cher still have that stupid show?"
Brockman: "No, she won an Oscar, and he's a Congressman."
Man: "Good night!" [dies]

Mike Barer said...

I'm one of the few that liked Sonny more than Cher. I certainly didn't like his politics, but Sonny seemed like a real likable guy. Cher, not so much.

Bill said...

I remember ) an article that said the LAVERNE & SHIRLEY staff used "Nakamora" as slang for a repeating failed joke,as in"Nakamora Enterprises".
One of the antenna stations has been showing reruns of Sonny and Cher's program, or at least the ones with Jim Nabors, which is all of them. I'll stick to my nostalgia, thank you.

VP81955 said...

I'd sooner identify Sonny Bono as a Phil Spector acolyte (as a producer, mind you, thankfully not in his treatment of others -- RIP Lana Clarkson) than as a restauranteur. So would most folks who had no association with Melrose Avenue in those halcyon days...and that defines the vast majority of us.

The lesson: Know your audience.

DaveMB said...

It is worth remembering that Sonny Bono was many things, but
not the moron he played on the Sonny and Cher TV show
For one thing, he wrote a number of hit songs...

Moon Man said...

Thanks for the fascinating story, Mr. Hollywood.

Steve said...

And I'm one of the few that thought "The Sonny Comedy Revue" was the best of the three followups to the original Sonny and Cher hour. Unlike the later Cher solo series and even later S&C redo, it had most of the same writers and rep company, hence more of the same flavor.

Anonymous said...

You have to give Sonny Bono credit. He saw that Cher had some quality that could make her a star even when she was a teenager (and they were Caesar and Cleo). It sure looks like they modeled their act on Louis Prima and Keely Smith.
He was weird before weird was cool.
And as a congressman, he took himself less seriously than most of them do.

Jim said...

Friday Question Ken: What's your take on Daniel Day Lewis's announcement of retirement? And also do you think he is the greatest actor ever?

Kyle said...

My parents attended a taping of Sonny and Cher's television show once. After a long wait they were ushered into the studio and seated. The taping started and they did Sonny and Cher's song and routine that began the program, after which they taped Sonny and Cher's closing routine that ended the show. Then they turned the cameras around to the audience and my mother recalled that they applauded for what seemed like fifteen minutes while the show's theme music played. After that, someone came out and explained to the audience that for "technical reasons" Sonny and Cher had already taped the rest of the show, but thanks for coming out.

The Temptations were there, though, and my folks got to see them tape their number.

Turns out that was normal "Sonny and Cher Show" taping procedure, though, at least by that point. Except for their opening and closing routines, all the comedy sketches and musical routines that involved the two stars were taped without an audience and had laugh and applause tracks dubbed in.

Anonymous said...

Actually had lunch at Bono's - on expense account - once. Don't remember how the food was.

Dave said...


Daniel Day Lewis is just like Meryl Streep. Publicity and going to any depths for an Oscar.

Meryl with her Trump rant last Oscars and this Daniel to get an award for his latest movie "Phantom Thread" which releases in Oscar bait period - this December.

All publicity. Just publicity and for the Academy members' sympathy votes.

Actors never retire, never believe them.

Kathryn a librarian said...

RE: Actors never retire, never believe them.

Actually, some do when their memory or health no longer can support a performance (Gene Wilder) or they worry about their image such as Greta Garbo. Some also burn out from the constant, ruthless auditioning that Ken describes in numerous posts. Others walk away because they were unable to transition from child star to adult star such as Shirley Temple.
Kathryn a Librarian

Cap'n Bob said...

Sonny was a Scientologist. Pfui!

Y. Knott said...

Uh, WHY was the joke thing called a 'Bono'? And do people other than Denise Moss ever use the term?

Also, why on earth would any of us know about the failed and EXTREMELY local restaurant Sonny Bono owned for a nanosecond several decades ago?

I dunno. I still feel vaguely cheated by the explanation of the whole Bono thing -- as if the opening Jeopardy question was deliberately designed to be unanswerable and make us feel stupid.

(But hey, if *I* had to write daily blog, you'd see a LOT more misfired gags ... and WAY fewer interesting stories! So, y'know, you get to slip up once in a while...)

By Ken Levine said...

OR... it's a question you don't know but might be curious enough to check back the next day when I provide the answer.

And it's not like you're on TV where people can see you don't know the answer. I respectfully don't think readers felt stupid or that the question was there to shame anybody.

Kosmo13 said...

On one of the Sonny & Cher TV shows, they did a schtick about giving out "Bono" Awards. The Bono Awards had its own theme song and everything.

Brian said...

Friday Question: From what I have read in your blog, most sitcoms are written with an "A" story line and a "B" story line. Watching the Dick Van Dyke "That's My Boy??" episode, I noticed that there was no "B" story. It was all about Rob thinking that they brought home the wrong child from the hospital.

Outside of the script you wrote for Dick Van Dyke and posted in the blog, have you and David Isaacs written a single story line script that aired? Also, what shows do you think were the earliest to break with the single story model?

Y. Knott said...

Just letting you know how I feel, Ken. Maybe if it hadn't been the very first question it wouldn't have bugged me the way it did!

But I do appreciate that you write an interesting, funny blog post every single day! And I'm not about to stop reading (or participating) based on one minor thing. I usually learn something (or at least get some genuine laughs) with each post ... hard to beat that!

Henry D said...

Ken, are you sure about the origin of that term?

It doesn't sound right to me.

(I looked "Bono" up on Urban Dictionary and learned that a lot of people really don't like the lead singer of U2.)

Here's an article from the LA Times talking about the restaurant after 3 years, and still in business -

Back when I lived in CA, I used to hear 'bono' used as a term for something that's messed up, doesn't work or is embarrassing. I always thought it was short for something being called a 'boner,' which means a mistake