Category Archives: Comedy

That Dog Is Smoking

Definitely NOT The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

Arthritis and Rheumatism Foundation, "Koko" the poodle pauses for a cigarette Jan 18 1952 photo Murray Garber Journal AmericanKoko Takes a Break

New York – Taking a break from soliciting support for the Arthritis and Rheumatism Foundation, “Koko” the poodle pauses for a cigarette. January 17, 1952 photo: Maurey Garber / New York Journal American

The Westminster Kennel Club just had its dog show in New York and smoking was not one of the activities that the dogs were judged upon.

Well times certainly change. How and where exactly the Arthritis and Rheumatism Foundation used Koko to raise awareness of arthritis is not explained in this news photograph, beyond the simple caption attached to the photo. I couldn’t help being drawn to the unnamed dowager lighting up for Koko. Continue reading

Possible Oscar Boycott Ignores Other Underrepresented Actors

Time To Put A Stop To Hollywood’s Casting Bias – Microcephalics Insultingly called “Pinheads” Get The Shaft in Oscar Process

microphely 1

Everyone is now aware that for the 2016 Academy Awards no African-Americans were nominated for Academy Awards in the major acting categories. This has led to some people calling out the racist members of the Academy saying they will boycott the Oscars and things “have to change.”

microphely 2 zipBut there are so many groups not represented with nominations. If we’re going to go through with this diversity campaign let’s go full tilt.

In this country where we strive for equality the question arises – is it fair to single out the omission of only African Americans?

There is one group of entertainers that has been far more glaringly ignored in the Oscar process since the Academy’s  founding, and yet no one is standing up for them.

Microcephalic actors have not been recognized by the Academy – ever. Disparagingly called “pinheads” by sideshow aficionados, these people have been thoroughly neglected by the Hollywood elite and the Academy.

Schlitzie in Tod Browning's Freaks

Schlitzie in Tod Browning’s Freaks

Director Tod Browning was the only filmmaker brave enough to break the stigma of using people with microcephaly prominently in a film with his 1932 classic Freaks.

Since then, I know of no film that has featured a microcephalic actor with any prominent role. Therefore there have been no microcephalic actors nominated for an Academy Award.

True, Dan Akroyd and Jane Curtin starred in 1993’s The Coneheads, but they were only actors who looked like people with microcephaly and they were not nominated for anything either.

How can we let this obvious oversight and discrimination continue? When will we see a fair representation of this unrecognized group of people?

Beetlejuice - An Academy Award winner if given the chance?

Beetlejuice – An Academy Award winner if given the chance?

Besides Beetlejuice from the Howard Stern Show and Patrick from Spongebob Square Pants, where are microcephalics being represented in entertainment? Continue reading

Ads Targeted To Women – 1955

Maybe In 1955 This Type Of Advertising Attracted Women To Products

Ad Counselor Scales Dec 12 1955

These advertisements featuring women and various products are all from the December 12, 1955 issue of Life Magazine.

If you believed the advertising, a scale may have seemed like an appropriate gift, because the ad proclaims, “the Counselor Capri is the scale for you… or as a gift for others.” By others I’m assuming those people you want to give a not so subtle hint to.

Ad Sunbeam Life Dec 12 1955While an electric razor is a practical gift I am dubious of the ad’s claim that “Now every woman wants Lady Sunbeam.” I doubt that this would make  any woman’s top ten…. ummm, better make that top 100, gift wish list today.

Ad Lewyt Vacuum Life Dec 12 1955 Remember folks that this isn’t just any vacuum, it’s a Lewyt. A Lewyt? I like the way the woman is dressed for vacuuming.

Ad Eureka Vacuum Life Dec 12 1955It wasn’t just Lewyt’s roller and nozzle on wheels that was a breakthrough in vacuuming, Apparently vacuums had some other big innovations with the Eureka Roto-Dolly. Also “no dust bag to empty,” means Mrs. 1955 Housewife won’t soil her chic white dress that she does the vacuuming in.

Ad Bell Telephone Life Dec 12 1955“The Christmas gift that rings a bell,” the Bell Telephone System says. Something as simple as installing a kitchen telephone will have your wife saying, “I have the nicest husband.” This appears to be a large kitchen. So one question: is that the best place for the telephone? Please take note of the length of the phone cord.

Donald Trump And W.C. Fields On China

A Businessman And A Comedian’s Views On China And The Chinese

Donald Trump’s views on China versus W.C. Field comments on the Chinese may not seem clearly related. But I think they are.

Who’s statements are more accurate?

Donald Trump photo distorted chroniclescomDonald Trump

“Every single country that does business with us is ripping America off. The money China took out of the United States is the greatest theft in the history of our country”

“I’ve been telling everybody for a long time China’s taking our jobs. They’re taking our money. Be careful: They’ll bring us down. You have to know what you’re doing. We have nobody that has a clue.”

“When was the last time anybody saw us beating, let’s say, China in a trade deal? They kill us. I beat China all the time. All the time.”

WC Fields You Cant CheatW.C. Fields (from W.C. Fields & Me by Carlotta Monti 1971 Prentice Hall)

(On the Chinese) “All they have to do is give each one a gun, plus a few rounds of ammunition and they could conquer the world. It may happen one day.”

“And if they can’t do it by brute force they can accomplish it by cleverness. All they have to do is shrink the neck size of customers’ shirts at every laundry, and everybody will choke to death.”

Fields For President dj

Fields made his statements to Monti in private in the 1930s or 40’s, she does not specify exact dates in her account. Apparently Fields was seriously apprehensive of the Chinese as he was among many other groups (clergy, lawyers, children, film writers, tax collectors, doctors, etc. etc.)

You may not think of Fields as presidential material Continue reading

Alexander Hamilton Says “I’m Not Happy About The New $10 Bill”

An Exclusive Guest Interview With The Late Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton makes some suggestions for his replacement on the ten dollar bill

New 10 dollar bill Anna Nicole Smith

The news that founding father Alexander Hamilton is to be replaced by a woman as the face of the ten dollar bill has received wide media coverage with mixed reviews. Continue reading

Babe Ruth And Lou Gehrig Comedy Record -1927

A Commercial Recording Release By The Bambino and The Iron Horse

Gehrig and Ruth at League Park Cleveland 1927 photo L Van OeyenRecently I was reading an old New York Times column from October 7, 1956 by Gay Talese in which he wrote about the history of baseball records. Not home run or pitching records, but baseball related music and spoken word records.

In the article Talese mentions that one of the first record companies to release a baseball record was Pathe records in 1928 when they got Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig to make a recording explaining how they hit home runs. It did not sell very well. Almost all baseball related recordings have traditionally done poorly with sales, with the exception of Take Me Out To The Ballgame written in 1908 by Albert Von Tilzer and Jack Norworth. Incredibly neither Von Tilzer or Norworth had ever attended a baseball game prior to writing their hit song.

So I searched for the Ruth – Gehrig recording on youtube and couldn’t find the exact recording mentioned in the article, but came up with this version instead. (Click on the youtube video below). Apparently it is the exact same record as in the Talese article, but Talese is mistaken about  the content and the date.

It’s a comedy skit (which is not very funny) advertised Continue reading

W.C. Fields Will Gave The Bulk Of His Estate To Establish A College For White Orphans

W.C. Fields Died On A Day He Pretended To Despise, Christmas Day 1946

When His Will Was Read, It Had A Peculiar Racial Provision In It

WC Fields full face and portraitsMovie star comedian W.C. Fields is not well remembered by today’s generation, his cerebral brilliance generally going unappreciated or unrecognized. But those who know comedy such as Monty Python’s John Cleese said of Fields, “At a time when political correctness often stifles honesty and impulse to laugh and genuine wit is in such short supply, I think nothing could be healthier than the re-discovery of this most original, perceptive and unrepentant of comedians.”

When Fields died 68 years ago today on December 25, 1946, his will provided small amounts for family members and friends with the $800,000 remainder of his estate being left to establish “The W. C. Fields College for White Orphan Boys and Girls Where No Religion of Any Kind is Ever to be Taught.”

This strange racial provision seemed completely out of character for a man who treated blacks as equals and stood up for racial equality long before it was popular.  It was at W.C. Fields insistence that his Zigfield Follies friend, the great black vaudeville star Bert Williams, be allowed to join Actor’s Equity. Williams was finally admitted to the association. Fields said Williams was, “The funniest man I ever saw and the saddest man I ever knew.”

So why would Fields put this exclusionary provision in his will? Continue reading

Gilligan’s Island Cast Related Albums

The Skipper’s Orgy Album and Other LP’s

album cover Alan Hale's Roman Orgy

This year September 26, marks the 50th anniversary of the premiere of one of television’s all-time classic shows.

Gilligan’s Island originally ran on CBS from September 26 1964 until April 17, 1967 and will be seen forever in re-runs. It spawned an unforgettable theme song and a cast of actors that for better or worse became synonymous with their characters.

Nowadays merchandising and licensing for nearly every quasi-celebrity is the norm. But Gilligan’s Island never took advantage of the popularity of the show and issued albums on behalf of the cast members.

But looking around the web you will find a few albums related to the cast of the show.

Alan Hale’s incredibly titled album, Skipper Alan Hale’s Roman Orgy, would not inspire many of the eleven-year-old fans of the program to purchase it.

Unfortunately it is not a real album, but just one of a series of fake album covers by animator Chris Shapan.

album cover Bob Denver Maynard Krebs fake albumGilligan star, Bob Denver, Continue reading

Batman TV Series – Celebrity In The Window Cameos

Do NOT Be Alarmed Citizen! Batman Series To Finally Be Released On DVD

Sammy Davis Jr., Robin & Batman

Sammy Davis Jr., Robin & Batman

In January it was reported that the long awaited release of the original Batman TV series is finally coming to DVD/Blu Ray sometime in 2014.

Batman which originally aired on ABC from 1966-1968, has been wrapped up in licensing, clearance and legal tangles for years and a whole generation knows Batman primarily from the most recent set of movies and DC comic books.

But for anyone who grew up in the 1960’s or 1970’s, Batman meant the campy TV series starring Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin, along with many guest star villains and celebrity cameos.

Presented here on Youtube (until it is ordered taken down by some corporation) is a compilation of all the cameo appearances of celebrities who happened to coincidentally  look out the window just when Batman and Robin were climbing up or down a building. They then would proceed to have a bizarre conversation with the dynamic duo. Bat Climb photo via www.bat-mania.co.uk:This simple stunt was accomplished by having Adam West and Burt Ward walk on the floor hunched over while the camera was tilted on its side as the celebrity pops out of the floor disguised as a window.

Some of these celebrities like Dick Clark, Jerry Lewis and Sammy Davis Jr. are still recognized by younger audiences today, but many are forgotten such as Suzy Knickerbocker. Take a look for yourself.

The celebrity cameos are in order of appearance on the video:

1. Jerry Lewis

Continue reading

The Brilliance Of Sid Caesar – Five Of His Great Comedy Sketches

Sid Caesar, Master Of Sketch Comedy Dies At 91

Sid Caesar Feb 9 1953When certain celebrities pass away it hits me hard. Sid Caesar was always one of my favorite comedians. His death at the age of 91 in Beverly Hills, CA on February 12, 2014, closes the book on the big TV comedy stars during the golden age of prime time television of the 1950’s. Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Red Skelton, Ed Wynn, Jackie Gleason, Ernie Kovacs, Phil Silvers – they’re all gone now.

Sid Caesar’s meteoric rise at breakneck speed from 1950-1954 on Your Show of Shows and from 1955-1957 on Caesar’s Hour was offset by a steep fall into depression with drug and alcohol problems, which took him many years to recover from.

To modern audiences Caesar may be best known for his movie appearances in Grease (1978) as Coach Calhoun and It’s A Mad, Mad Mad, Mad World (1963) as one of the treasure pursuers. But I would say for most people under the age of 40, the name Sid Caesar will draw a blank stare when mentioned. That is a shame.

Here is a sketch that pre-dates the current health food craze by sixty years.

What Sid Caesar accomplished besides entertaining millions with his hilarious sketches that the common man could relate to, was to bring together a staff of talent that influences modern comedy to this day.

The writing and performing staff included Mel Brooks, Woody Allen, Neil Simon, Lucille Kallen, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris, Danny Simon, Mel Tolkin and Larry Gelbart. It is no exaggeration to say the annals of comedy would not have been the same without Sid Caesar.

As the New York Times pointed out in its obituary of Sid Caesar:

A list of Mr. Caesar’s writers over the years reads like a comedy all-star team. Mel Brooks (who in 1982 called him “the funniest man America has produced to date”) did some of his earliest writing for him, as did Woody Allen. Continue reading