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Entries Tagged as 'comedy'

Here’s Morgan - June 10, 1946

December 19th, 2010 · Comments

Here's my Christmas gift to you.  Or, at least some of you that are fans of the acerbic wit of Henry Morgan.

Henry Morgan was a bit ahead of his time with his cynical comedy that would later flower with comedians like Bob and Ray and publications such as Mad magazine.  Morgan got his start with a quarter hour stream of consciousness comedy show on Mutual where he was famous for skewering sponsors and poking fun at the conventions of radio.

There's only a few episodes floating around of Morgan's fifteen minute show, even though Goldin lists several as being in existence - many from the Mutual run from 1941-42 and only two when the show was carried on ABC in 1945-46.  Here's a previously lost episode of Morgan's work that I've not seen documented elsewhere, originally heard on June 10, 1946 on ABC and originating at WJZ, New York.

The show dates from just a few months before Morgan would start a half-hour comedy-variety series on ABC.  (You can hear several episodes from the run at archive.org and I posted an AFRS version of one episode a few months ago in the blog.)

In the show, Morgan pokes fun at Walter Winchell, takes us inside the mind of a landlord, referencing wartime rationing and shortages, and comments on the recent film "Cluny Brown" and Orson Welles's doomed Broadway musical version of "Around the World in 80 Days".  The commercials include Gallo Wine, Esquire boot polish and Topps chewing gum.

This episode of "Here's Morgan" appears to have survived because it was transcribed - the disc is part of a recent purchase I made of odd test discs and "throwaways" from various stations from a private collection.  So, it can pay off to carefully go through stacks of odd discs like this from local stations.

If you would like to know a bit more about Henry Morgan, WFMU has an extensive blog entry appreciation of Morgan's work.  And here's a profile of Morgan from the April 14, 1947 edition of Life magazine that includes some great photos, including the famous "praying to the razor" shot that got him in trouble with his sponsor, Eversharp.  (The ads interspersed with the article, by the way, are just a wonderfully funny as Morgan's parodies and include one featuring Senator Claghorn from the "Fred Allen Show".)

There's no scan on this transcription since there's no label - just a very light grease pencil notation on the label reading "Morgan" and "6-10-46" on the signle sided lacquer.

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Tags: comedy · WW II related · rand's favorites

Eddie Cantor Show - February 20, 1946

November 14th, 2010 · Comments

Here's a fun little episode of "The Eddie Cantor Show", originally broadcast on NBC on February 20, 1946.  The first tune on the show is Eddie's rendition of "Onesy, Twosey" and, in the main comedy sketch, Eddie inherits a South American plantation from his grandfather.

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The show originated on an Armed Forces Radio Service transcription from the "Music Hall" series where the show was heard as a replacement for program 173 in the series.  The date is from the disc matrix.

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Tags: music · comedy · variety

Bob and Ray Show - circa January 1952

October 21st, 2010 · Comments

In this post, another program from the same 70s era reel to reel that gave us "The Jack Webb Show".  It's an episode of "The Bob and Ray Show" carried on the NBC radio network after their successful late 40s series on WHDH in Boston.

I think, based on internal references in the program, that the show originally aired around January 1951 1952.  It includes Bob and Ray's Christmas tree warehouse sale and "Mr. Trace, Keener Than Most Persons" solving "The Broken Sweep Second Hand on the Wristwatch Murder Clue".

Perhaps a Bob and Ray expert out there could say if it's in circulation in digital form - I wasn't able to find a copy of it online from the usual suspects.

Update:  A comment from Dr. OTR (click the "Comments" link below) convinces me this is probably from January 1952.  My mistake ... Please update the name of the file after you download it from the site.

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Tags: comedy

Jack Webb Show - April 17, 1946

October 21st, 2010 · Comments

Well, some of you seemed to be amused and curious about "The Jack Webb Show" that I posted a couple of weeks ago and want to hear more of the "Dragnet" star's little known comedy series he did for ABC before hitting it big with his crime drama.

The program of April 17, 1946 includes the winner of the "How to Get 'The Jack Webb Show' Off The Air" contest.  The show is sustained and originated in San Francisco.  This was the fifth program in the series.

Only this episode and the one I posted earlier exist in the series.  They're currently in circulation, but this is a fresh dub from a 70's era reel to reel tape in excellent condition, so it should be a bit of a sound upgrade.

Wish I had more - it's fascinating to hear Webb is such a free-form sketch comedy show.

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Tags: comedy

The Jack Web Show - April 10, 1946

October 4th, 2010 · Comments

This show is floating around in mp3 format, but I've made a fresh transfer of it from an original 70s era early generation reel to reel tape of the program.

If you've not heard it before, you're in for a surprise.  It's a sketch comedy show.  And, yes, it features _that_ Jack Webb.  Originating in San Francisco and possibly carried on ABC's Pacific network, "The Jack Web Show" from April 10, 1946 includes sketches such as "Facts on Parade" and a private-eye spoof called "The Razor".

If you like this transfer, let me know and I can post the other existing episode of the series in the blog dubbed from the same tape.

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Tags: comedy · local radio

Guest Star - Pgm 11

September 28th, 2010 · Comments

Here's another one of those very early programs in the long-running public service series "Guest Star", featuring famous guests giving us a bit of entertainment as they pitch US Savings Bonds.

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Program 11 has Beatrice Kay with Kenny Delmar and Denes Agay and the Savings Bonds Orchestra.  Kay, doing her Gay 90s schtick, gives us "They Stuck Me with a Bustle" and reenacts a Gay 90's romance with announcer Kenny Delmar.  The flip side of the disc is the  Bob Hope-Bing Crosby episode with the atrocious laugh-track, posted on the blog earlier.

The show was digitized from an original Treasury Department vinyl transcription, matrix number ND7-MM-5426-1C.  The opening on the disc is slightly upcut.

A tip of the hat goes to George Brandon for donating the disc to my collection!

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Tags: music · comedy · Treasury Department

Guest Star - Pgm 12

August 19th, 2010 · Comments

Finally this week, a hard to find early entry in the long running, star-studded Treasury Department public service series, "Guest Star". Program 12 in the series features Bob Hope and Bing Crosby along with host Kenny Delmar and Denes Agay and the Savings Bond Orchestra and Chorus.  Agay and the Orchestra kick off the show with "After You've Gone".  In the Hope and Crosby segment, the guys crack jokes about each other and savings bonds while Hope plugs his new movie, "My Favorite Brunette".  The side is dated April 10, 1947 in the matrix, so I'm assuming that's the date the master for the show was recorded.

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Episodes of "Guest Star" and programs featuring Hope or Crosby aren't unusual, but there's one thing about this show that makes it distinctive - it's an early (and likely the most atrocious) example I've run into of a canned laugh track.  If you listen closely, it's obvious that Hope and Crosby segment was recorded separately and some unseen engineer has layered in laughs and often inappropriate audience reaction to Hope and Crosby's banter.

I posted about the show's laugh track to the OTR mailing list.  Scholar Michael Biel sent in a helpful response, conjecturing the laugh track might be the work of Jack Mullin.  Mullin, of course, worked with Crosby to record his network radio show on a German tape machine and tape stock that Mullen brought back from Europe after the War.  Mullin says he saved snippets of laughs and audience reaction to "sweeten" Bing's show, "creating" the laugh track.

But I'm not sure this is Mullin's handiwork.  The show dates from April 1947 and Biel, in an earlier mailing list message archived on this site, noted that Bing's show on ABC was recorded and edited on laquers at this time - it was only mastered on tape starting October 7, 1947.  According to Wikipedia's article on Mullin, Bing saw a demonstration of the tape machines for the first time in June 1947, a couple of months after this "Guest Star" episode was mastered.

So, what do you think?  Is this an early attempt by Jack Mullin to show off what could be done with tape?  Or is it some anonymous radio engineer with some lacquers of laughs and audience twitters on a couple of turntables?  Perhaps if Bing heard this bad laugh track on the final version of this "Guest Star" episode, it might have made him even more excited about the possibilities of Mullin's tape recorder when he saw it a couple of months later.

The use of prerecorded laughs in radio isn't as well documented, but this show seems like an early and very primitive attempt at giving an impression of a "live" audience - I still wonder if it might be the earliest surviving example.   Certainly, some Armed Forces Radio programs had applause inserted, particularly when they were covering an edited commercial segment or were making a transition in the sides of the show.  But I'm hard pressed to think of an example where audience reaction for a whole segment is being simulated.  It's certainly worth more research on this show and other resources by someone to see how early use of canned laughs developed on radio before it became such an annoying presence on television sitcoms.

The program was transferred from an original vinyl Treasury Department transcription, matrix number ND7-MM-5430-1C.

Thanks to blog listener George Brandon for donating this intriguing disc to my collection!

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Tags: comedy · variety · Treasury Department

The Billie Burke Show - April 27, 1946

August 19th, 2010 · Comments

Did you know that the Glinda, the Good Witch from "The Wizard of Oz", had her own sitcom on radio?

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Yes, "The Billie Burke Show" was heard on CBS from 1943 to 1946 on Saturday mornings, with Burke playing a slightly daffy woman who tries to spread joy in her neighborhood.  The program of April 27, 1946 has a tramp showing up at her back door, begging for food and it turns out to be an opportunity for Billie to teach her brother Julius a little lesson about charity.  The show was sponsored by Listerine Toothpaste and Tooth Powder.

Don't miss Billie singing the theme song at the end of the show in that distinctive voice of hers.

Despite being on the air for three years, it looks like this is the only circulating episode of the series.  Perhaps a cache of them are stored away in some personal transcription collection or the attic of a network or ad agency rep.

The program was transferred from an original Radio Recorders lacquer marked "copy" on the disc label.  There's an odd transition between the two sides of the disc - side one cuts off suddenly and side two is faded in.

Many thanks to Michael Utz for purchasing this one for my collection!

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Tags: comedy

Dinah Shore - Pgm 46

July 10th, 2010 · Comments

It's been awhile since we heard from the charming Dinah Shore, so let's give one of her fun shows a spin.

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Originally heard November 30, 1944 as "Birds Eye Open House" on NBC, here's program 46 of the "Dinah Shore" Armed Forces Radio Service series.  We hear guest Jack Carson do his imitation of Frank Sinatra; the show also features Harry Von Zell, The Joseph Lilley Chorus, Robert Emmett Dolan and His Orchestra.

Our mp3 was dubbed directly from an original War Department Armed Forces Radio Service vinyl transcription.  The date is from the disc matrix.

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Tags: music · comedy · variety

Henry Morgan - Pgm 20

June 18th, 2010 · Comments

I'm pleased to offer up on the blog an episode of "The Henry Morgan Show", a kind of hard to find series.  Morgan had a difficult relationship with his sponsors in the radio era, often very pointedly satirizing their products on his show.  You might think of him as a more mean spirited Fred Allen.  Gerald Nachman, author of "Raised on Radio" noted, "If Fred Allen bit the hand that fed him, Henry Morgan tried to bite off the whole arm."

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Program 20 in the series as broadcast on the Armed Forces Radio Service was originally heard November 5, 1947 on ABC.  Gerard (Arnold Stang), Henry's friend from New York, talks about his visit to Hollywood.  Lorraine Burton and her cocker spaniel Dooley sing "Sugar Blues" and "Uncle Henry" reads the comics pages to the kiddies (actually, the comic ads at the bottom of the pages).  The March of Science looks at the discovery of weather and then we wrap up with a short sketch about two ad men.  The show features Bernie Green and his Orchestra.

Our program was digitized from an original AFRS vinyl transcription.  The date is from the disc matrix.

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Tags: comedy