Pat Paulsen (July 6, 1927 - April 24, 1997) was a United States comedian and satirist notable for his roles on several of the Smothers Brothers TV shows, and for his supposed campaigns for President of the United States in 1968, 1972, 1976, 1992, and 1996, which had primarily comedic rather than political objectives, although a not insignificant percentage of voters couldn't tell the difference.
Paulsen was born in South Bend, Washington, a small fishing town in Pacific County. When he was 10, the whole family moved to California.
After graduating from high school, Paulsen immediately joined the U.S. Marines during World War II. Paulsen returned home after the war and worked several jobs, including working as a posting clerk, truck driver, hod carrier, selling Fuller brushes, toiling in a gypsum mine and 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.
Paulsen went on to become a single 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.
In 1967, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour premiered. Paulsen was hired because he sold them cheap songs and would run errands. At first he was cast as their editorialist, and his dead-pan, double-talk comments on the issues of the day propelled him into the national consciousness. His work on The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour earned Paulsen an Emmy in 1968.
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 that year, 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 catch phrase "Picky, picky, picky".
Paulsen's name appeared on the ballot in New Hampshire for the Democratic Primary several times. In 1996 he received 921 votes (1Éto finish second to President Bill Clinton (76,754 votes). In 1992 he came in second to George Bush in the North Dakota Republican Primary.
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.
Paulsen died while undergoing treatment for cancer in Mexico.
Comedy Albums: Pat Paulsen for President (1968); Live at the Ice House (1970) Unzipped (1998).