[78-L] Live Comedy.

Michael Biel mbiel at mbiel.com
Tue Apr 12 23:03:14 PDT 2011

On 4/12/2011 9:56 AM, Elizabeth McLeod wrote:
> Standup comedians in the form of vaudeville/Broadway monologists were
> commonly featured on Rudy Vallee's radio program during the thirties --
> with many surviving recordings of their performances. Maybe the most
> definitive is a performance by Richy Craig Jr. from November 1933 -- he
> was the performer who inspired Bob Hope's style and manner, reacting to
> the audience in a very casual, offhand way rather than simply reciting
> jokes.

Did Hope ever acknowledge this?  Actually, I find Hope's style very much 
just reciting joke after joke after joke.  Especially in the television 
studio programs his "reactions" to the audience seem to be just smug "I 
got 'em" smirks, and often they don't really match how the REAL audience 
reacted.  I've mentioned in the past how a joke with a punchline about 
an Egg McMuffin completely DIED in the NYC Central Park program I 
attended since McDonalds breakfasts had not yet come to the east coast 
-- but in the show it was greeted with riotous applause!  His monologues 
were all cut-and-paste, with jokes moved around,  edited out, and 
reactions sweetened in.

As for his shows for the troops, I don't think he was so much reacting 
to them than PANDERING to them.  He was fed local situations and names 
and his writers inserted them into the boilerplate universal military 

His political humor was very much like what Will Rogers had done and 
Johnny Carson was doing in the same era as Hooe and Saul.

> There are some Frank Fay performances on the Vallee program from a
> few years later that show the same self-aware approach, and are very
> clearly pointing the way to modern standup style.

What is "modern stand-up style"???  Does it have to be in a comedy club 
or a small nightclub to be modern style?  What makes Mort Saul on the Ed 
Sullivan Show any different from Sam Levenson on the Ed Sullivan Show?   
What is the difference between Mort Saul in a dinner club any different 
from Sam Levenson in a Brooklyn dinner club?  What is the difference 
between Mort Saul at a stadium or large theater like Radio City Music 
Hall and Will Rogers at the Follies?
We've mentioned the Rogers Victors in this thread, but let me also bring 
up Eddie Cantor's Tips On the Stock Market, recorded within days of the 
stock market crash.  No audience but VERY, VERY current and topical.  We 
also need to look into other cultures.  Has anybody mentioned Moms 
Mabley?  She did 78s, I think.  Pigmeat Markham.  When did Red Fozz 
start recording?  Minnie Pearl?  Senator Ford?  And there are loads of 
other country comic routines on record back in the 20s and 30s.  And the 
foreign languate records are filled with comedy monologues, dialogues, 
and skits.

I think some of the philosophical stand-ups have been doing analytical 
discussion programs about stand-up and thedy discuss only the performers 
that they have seen in their lifetime and limited background.   Iam not 
so sure that "modern" stand-up is quite that recent an invention.
> None of these are
> commercially-released recordings, but they're recordings nonetheless.
> Elizabeth

The Library of Congress list includes a lot of recordings that were not 
commercially released records, so I don't think your comments were 
moot..  If I were to nominate the first comedy record, it would be 
Edison himself on TINFOIL overdubbing snide remarks about what he had 
just recorded.  Those don't exist but he is on wax doing jokes.

Mike Biel  mbiel at mbiel.com

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