Friday, February 28, 2014
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Saturday, February 22, 2014
The team of Eric Morecambe & Ernie Wise, along with Benny Hill, were among the last comedians influenced by the rollicking humor of English music halls.
Morecambe & Wise, A.K.A. Eric and Ernie, brought that tuneful joie de vivre into the television age.
Morecambe & Wise started performing together in 1941 and grew up watching variety shows, the British version of vaudeville. It would be an understatement to suggest that music is a cornerstone of their comedy.
The contagious silliness factor and good humor of the Morecambe & Wise musical sketches works for me and also is reminiscent (in a very good way) of the American team from numerous absurdist 1930's movie musicals produced by RKO Radio Pictures, Bert Wheeler & Robert Woolsey.
Too bad Allan Sherman was never a guest star on the Morecambe & Wise show (I can hear the intro now: "Hello Eric, Hello Ernie. Hello, Harvey, Sheila, Bernie").
The Morecambe & Wise Show proved a rousing success in Great Britain, first on radio (beginning with the You're Only Young Once show in 1953-1954) and then on television, with the BBC-TV program that ran from 1969-1977 representing its apex.
Eric and Ernie's musical comedy variety program, unlike the post-1960's seasons of The Benny Hill Show, never quite made it to television in Your Blogmeister's neck of the woods, the San Francisco Bay Area, unfortunately.
It's official: this blog loves Morecambe & Wise, much as it loves a comedy team that inspired them, Laurel & Hardy!
Thursday, February 20, 2014
For the first few years of this blog, rather arbitrarily, the 20th of every month was set aside to post Burt Bacharach music. Here are some Bacharach tunes, originally introduced in some very entertaining 1960's movies - enjoy!
Started running out of Bacharach clips that hadn't been previously posted on Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog multiple times quite awhile back. Should new clips of Burt or such prime interpreters of his music as Dionne Warwick, Dusty Springfield, Elvis Costello, Trintje Oosterhuis, Ron Isley and Diana Krall get uploaded to YouTube, there shall be more, but only on the 20th of a given month.
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Today, the Brit-com aficionados from Way Too Lazy To Write A Blog pay tribute to the comedy team that got big laughs in the legendary Beyond The Fringe revue and the BBC television show Not Only But Also - Peter Cook & Dudley Moore.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
As comedy and showbiz fans ponder and mourn the recent passing of powerhouse Sid Caesar, today's posting remembers another wild and crazy guy (and favorite of this blog) who blasted into the comedy zeitgeist in the 1950's, the great Spike Milligan.
Like Marty Feldman, he was a trumpet player who, instead of leading a British bebop big band, became a comedian. The musical nature of Spike's writing proved a constant in his career as a performer and author.
Born in British India in 1918, Spike made his name as a writer, cast member and co-founder of BBC radio's The Goon Show.
In over 200 radio shows and a few TV and film appearances, The Goons - Spike, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe - for all practical purposes threw out the comedy playbook and invented a new one.
After The Goon Show, Milligan began doing standup comedy and guest appearances on various TV variety programs.
He would soon follow up The Goon Show by producing, writing and starring in his own sketch comedy program Q.
Very likely the first time Americans saw Spike Milligan was on the short-lived but glorious 1970 sketch comedy show, The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine.
Unfortunately, the 10+ seasons of Spike's Q series, at least on Your Blogmeister's home turf, the San Francisco Bay Area, did not get TV distribution in the United States, even during the 1970's and 1980's stretch when British comedy - Python and Python offshoots (Fawlty Towers, Ripping Yarns), The Two Ronnies, Benny Hill and such lesser known shows as Dad's Army and Up Pompeii (starring Frankie Howerd)- could be found everywhere on the boob tube, especially via a then more prosperous PBS. Granted, non-Python British comedy (Peter Cook & Dudley Moore, Tommy Cooper, Les Dawson, Sid Field, Flanagan & Allen, George Formby, Tony Hancock, Kenneth Horne, Jimmy James, Morecambe & Wise, Eric Sykes, Kenneth Williams, Norman Wisdom) was also seldom seen.
Thanks to YouTube DailyMotion and other online portals, it is possible now for comedy-challenged Americans to spend a bit of time in Spike's surreal comedy world.
Onscreen, he was the silliest of the silly, but offscreen was quite the activist in the environmental and animal rights arenas, as well as a prolific author. His books included a seven-volume autobiographical account of his World War II service. Hitler, Nazis, fascism and pompous twits in general were frequent targets of his humor.
Since Spike was known as a poet and author of Silly Verse for Kids, let's finish this post with one of his poems!
Friday, February 14, 2014
February 14 is both Valentine's Day and the birthday of Benny Kubelsky, a.k.a. Jack Benny. We are thrilled and delighted to celebrate Jack's 39th birthday! First and foremost, read this superb overview of Benny's lengthy career that author Trav S.D. has penned on his Stars Of Vaudeville blog.
Jack started in vaudeville but found his voice - specifically, his vain cheapskate characterization - on radio, beginning in 1932. Unquestionably, Jack was one of the guys most responsible for making the medium the national sensation it was throughout the 1930's and a balm to hurting hearts in the Great Depression. Many of the radio shows are available online via archive.org and David Von Pein's Old-Time Radio Channel on YouTube.
It could be argued that the funniest of Jack Benny's radio programs - although entries from all eras remain a riot - date from 1946-1950, by which time the writers and cast had created quite the well-oiled machine. The Jack Benny shows compare with Burns & Allen, Bob & Ray and, decades later, satirists The Firesign Theatre) as the apex of comedy produced for radio.
Jack's television show, appropriately titled The Jack Benny Program, ran for 244 episodes, from 1950 through the 1964-65 season, and has braved the test of time quite well. While not available in its entirety in a gargantuan box set, a good number of hilarious episodes are to be found on this Shout! Factory DVD release.
The TV series began as an outgrowth of the radio shows, and for quite awhile, he was doing both, along with tours/fundraisers that raised millions for symphony orchestras. Jack was one busy guy and darn energetic for 39!
Among the funniest episodes of both the radio and TV versions of the show were those which entirely consisted of jokes at the expense of rotund yet good-natured Jack Benny Program announcer Don Wilson!
As the 1950-1965 television show evolved, it would differ from Benny's radio work or later TV specials in its use of way-out sight gags and willingness to "break the fourth wall". The television show spotlighted the talented crew of continuing cast members and supporting comedians from radio (especially Mel Blanc, Eddie “Rochester” Anderson and exceptionally goofy comic/Irish tenor Dennis Day), while repeatedly having fun razzing the pop culture images of Jack and his guest stars.
At Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog, we even find Jack's much-maligned feature film, The Horn Blows At Midnight, very funny.
Thanks for the laughs, Jack!
Friday, February 07, 2014
Now that we're living in an age in which comedies on both television and movies are few and far between - one would guess that The Suits have decided humor is insufficiently profitable - it's easy to be nostalgic for that last wave of outstanding screen comedians. One of the last, who would have fit right into silent era slapstick, was a trumpet player who became a comic in the 1960's, Mr. Marty Feldman.
Marty Feldman died in 1982 and boy, do we miss him!
Thursday, February 06, 2014
Switching from our usual focus on vintage movies and animation, rooted strictly in the 20th century, there was the rare television event Your Blogmeister actually likes to watch earlier this week on February 4. Comedian and host Stephen Colbert interviewed Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina, two musicians, songwriters and activists from Moscow performance art/ punk rock band Pussy Riot. The outspoken rock n' roll octet scared the hell out of "Bad Vlad" Putin to such an extent, he had Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina arrested and imprisoned.
Even through the interpreter, wry humor is quite evident throughout this interview.
It could have only been better if Pussy Riot got to also play music on the show. They appeared Wednesday night at the Amnesty International concert at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn (and again, at least this time around, did not get the opportunity to play music). Many throughout the world applaud the band's courage and wish them well.