Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Remembering Stan Freberg (1926-2015)

In one of those eerie coincidences, the scribe who pens Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog had been thinking a great deal about comedian, satirist, writer, puppeteer and cartoon voice artist supreme Stan Freberg in the past 24 hours and planning to write a tribute.

Had no clue Mr. Freberg was ailing, but was pondering which extraordinary wit could complete a Way Too Damn Lazy To Write A Blog trifeca that started with the blazing radio comedy team of Bob & Ray and the ever-cantankerous "Sultan Of Sarcasm" Henry Morgan.

So, with, the news that Stan passed this morning at 88, here's today's (admittedly, hastily thrown together - and to be edited and expanded soon enough) posting.

Could anyone in the world of comedy be considered the predecessor of such far-flung yet currently active comedians and entertainers as Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, Jon Oliver AND "Weird Al" Jankovic?

Yes - and that would be the great Stan Freberg. Before Allan Sherman, before Tom Lehrer, before the Dr. Demento show and 25 years before Weird Al, it was Stan The Man who wrote and performed a plethora of dead-on and frequently satiric song parodies.

Stan Freberg was also the last comedian to have a radio show that was actually on one of those "Big Three" networks (we know Bob & Ray continued on PBS for years, but they were the Last Comics Standing on radio).

Mr. Freberg could be regarded as part of a trend towards a sophisticated approach to comedy that began with Fred Allen, Henry Morgan and Bob & Ray in the 1940's.

As the 1950's progressed this list would expand to include Ernie Kovacs, Tom Lehrer, Bob Newhart and the intrepid writing staff of Jay Ward Productions. The Jay Ward connection is no accident, as hilarious supporting performances by Rocky & Bullwinkle Show voice artists June Foray and Daws Butler, are all over Freberg's recordings and radio shows.

One of the last Freberg pieces I remembered seeing was his 1982 PBS special. IIRC, it only aired once, so we are pleased to see that it's up on YouTube.

Farewell and thanks for a gazillion laughs, Stan!

1 comment:

Lenny Carlson said...

Thanks very much Paul. This was quite a trip down memory lane.