THE 1933 SEASON (MARCH-JUNE)
THE CHEVROLET PROGRAM----SEASON ONE
Started March 3, 1933. Broadcast Friday evenings at 10:00-10:30pm EST on NBC. The point of origin was WEAF Radio in New York City. In addition to Jack, the cast was Mary Livingstone, James Melton, Frank Black and his orchestra, and Howard Claney (announcer). This season ran until June 23, 1933. (17 episodes, 5 surviving)
This is the first of two seasons of The Chevrolet Program. This was a half-length season, beginning in March, beginning in March and ending in June. Perhaps it was a mid-season replacement, or a late pickup (since it began only 5 weeks after The Canada Dry Program ended). The second Chevrolet Season is of a more standard length, beginning in the Fall, and ending in the Spring.
Unlike The Canada Dry Program, which was a musical show with light comedy, this one is more or less a variety show. However, it has less variety in it than Jack's later variety shows. It follows the same basic "Music and a Play" format of Jack's later Jell-O Program: The orchestra plays a few songs, the cast comes in and mingles bit, then gets together and performs a play. However, in The Jell-O Program, the mingling period was actually the heart of the program. Anything and everything might be discussed during this time, and interaction between the (well-defined) characters was paramount. The Chevrolet Program is more rigid. The basic format is "News Roundup and a Play" with orchestral numbers and light mingling thrown in here and there. However, none of the characters (including Jack himself) are especially well-defined. You don't feel that you know any of them, and so their interactions simply aren't as interesting as on The Jell-O Program. In addition, the jokes themselves simply aren't as funny as ones from the late 30's. There are some good ones (no great ones), but also several awkward misfires.
The Chevrolet Program has no theme song as such, only a trumpet fanfare. It's actually pretty catchy, and makes a decent Windows startup sound if you're in the market for one.
The episode guide/log for this season was written entirely by Graeme Cree. I have added a few tiny notes here and there, as notated by the (BC) afterwards.
Jack Benny : Master of Ceremonies
Frank Black : Orchestra Leader
James Melton : Vocalist
Mary Livingstone: Supporting Player (Girlfriend? Co-Comedian? Fan?)
Howard Claney : Announcer
[EPISODES 1-4: Lost]
5. 03/31/33 SHE DONE HIM RIGHT (29:19)
The orchestra opens with "I Like Mountain Music". Jack does a News Roundup. The orchestra plays "Two Tickets to Georgia". Jack fishes for compliments about his violin solo last week, but Frank avoids commenting. Mary brings Jack the fan mail about his violin solo on the Lady's Night program last week. Jack reads it aloud. Jimmy fishes for compliments on his violin playing from Jimmy, who is willing to praise everything *else* about him, but not that. Jimmy sings "Maybe". Jack announces the play, and names all the minor actors playing in it. The orchestra plays "The Grass Is Getting Greener All the Time", with Mary singing a chorus, and the play begins.
PLAY: "She Done Him Right", a parody of the Mae West/Cary Grant movie, "She Done Him Wrong" (1933). There's very little plot here. A scene of people sitting in a bar, drinking non-alcoholic drinks. Mae trades banter with her maid, Jack comes up, and ends up hiding in a very crowded closet. Somehow, it ends, but what just happened here? Better listen to it again…
HOWARD'S INTRO: "And now, Jack Benny."
GUEST CAST: Ralph Ashe, Blanche Stewart
NOTE: April is National Drive-a-Chevrolet Month. If you visit a dealer, test drive a car, and write why you like the new Chevrolet 6, you could win a car! (presumably a Chevrolet, but I didn't catch whether they definitely specified this. You know the rule about fine print). They're giving away a car a day for the whole month, so that's 30 chances out of 100 million or so to win. (Couldn't they at least have picked a month with 31 days?). Winners will be announced during the show, which may have been the best reason for tuning in.
NOTE: Last week's episode was some kind of "Lady's Night" program, in which Jack played a violin solo.
NOTE: Jimmy comments to Jack "If you can play the fiddle, my name is Albert Einstein." There are several Einstein jokes spun off from this. Example:
JOKE: Jack: "Ladies and gentlemen, that was Albert Einstein, singing... Jimmy Melton singing "Maybe'. And next week, he will give you his theory on his relatives."
NOTE: Compare the elaborate and clever introductions that Don Wilson gave to Jack in later years, with the bare-bones simplicity of Howard's introductions in this season ("And now, Jack Benny.") This shows you, in a nutshell, the difference between The Chevrolet Program, and The Jell-O Program.
NOTE: Something that never happened later on. Jack actually introduces the cast of the play. Most of them are regular cast members, with their names slightly changed for the play, but Ralph Ashe and Blanche Stewart get named.
MARY SINGS: Mary sings along with the orchestra's rendition of "The Grass Is Getting Greener All the Time".
NEWS ROUNDUP: This was a common feature in Jack's early programs, in which he would read the name of a city, along with a faux news headline associated with that city. It was a good idea in theory, the problem is that the jokes were rarely, if ever funny. Some samples:
JOKES: (From the News Roundup)
Jack: "London, England! American-owned horse wins the Grand national Derby. When asked if he would remain in England, he said 'Neigh, neigh'!"
Jack: "More derby news! Frank Black had better buy a new hat!"
Jack: "Winnipeg, Canada! Flu season starts with eight feet of snow! Robins still wearing earmuffs!"
Jack: "New York, New York! Groundhog comes out of hole on first day of spring! Listens to our program and goes back in again!"
Jack: "San Francisco, California! George Bernard Shaw arrives here to plead for wine, beer and whiskers! During interviews, said he will match his beard against Anheuser's Busch!"
(That last one was almost good. It may have been the biggest laugh of the night.)
WORD ASSOCIATION COMMERCIALS (WAC): Another common feature in early Benny programs, is the 'Word Association Commercial', in which an innocuous word would be mentioned, and Howard would butt in with a Chevrolet pitch based on that word. These commercials were more disruptive than funny, since the word association itself was usually the only joke. In later years, commercials of this type were less blaring, more inventive, and often quite clever. Sometimes they would spawn entire routines. In these early shows, they're simply annoying. Here are the examples from this episode:
Jack, reading news: "King Kong, Africa! Missionary arrives here and finds cannibals wilder than ever. Howard, what are they wild about?"
Howard: "They're wild about the new Chevrolet! At $445, the only..."
Jack: "You said it!..."
Mary: "So, Chick flew the coop, eh?"
Man: "Yeah, Chick flew the coop."
Howard: "And the 'chick' cylinder 'coupe' Chevrolet at $445 is the best buy on the market today!"
Jack: "Howard, Howard, this play is bad enough, stay out of it."
Jack: "Jimmy Melton, what are you doing here?
Jimmy: "I'm Lou's singing teacher, and Chick's hates me too!"
Jack: "My goodness, Chick hates all of us."
Howard: "But he can't hate the Chevrolet 6, the most dependable car on the road!"
In addition to the fact that these impromptu commercials aren't funny, we can see another big difference from the later impromptu Jell-O commercials: their frequency. In this episode, Howard butts in three separate times with commercials (and this isn't his record). In later years, Don Wilson might do it once in an episode. More than that and it was because they had built something funny around it.
JOKE: Jack, reading mail: "Here's a wire from the Lady's Tea club in Delph Center, Ohio. It says 'We thought your Lady's Night was a complete failure. We sent our husbands out so we could listen in to your program and we weren't even embarrassed! What happened to the farmer's daughter?'"
Jack: And Mary, what gives you the courage to sing?"
Mary: "I heard you play the violin last week."
Jack: "Ah, what repartee! Play, Frank."
(Here's an early example of Mary slamming Jack. These were very rare at this time. After all, she had been introduced as a fan, so she can't make too big a show of disliking him. Mary's delivery is completely different for this slam than it would be in later years. She says it meekly, almost apologetically, as though she's trying to be clever, but doesn't really mean what she's saying. In later years, she would have delivered this line much more acerbically. And notice how she doesn't get Jack's goat in the slightest. "Ah, what repartee!" In later years, Jack's comic burns would often be half the joke.)
[EPISODE 6: Lost]
7. 04/14/33 KIDDIES NIGHT (29:54)
[This is a mislabeled duplicate copy of Episode 8.]
Apparently, Episode 7 is lost, which is a shame, as I was dying to see how they were going to try to sell Chevrolet's to the Kiddies.
8. 04/21/33 GUEST--EDWARD G.ROBINSON (29:54)
The orchestra opens with "The Start of the Big Parade". Jack starts off with the News Roundup. The orchestra plays "Speaking of the Devil". Jack announces that he's stepping outside of the program and calling on a friend in the audience that he'd promised not to call on. The friend turns out to be Edward G. Robinson. "G" comes up and talks about his new child. Jack tries unsuccessfully to get an answer about his favorite screen role, but "G." would rather talk about how much thought the kid put into saying "Dada". After "G" leaves, Jack talks a bit about his own screen roles, and claims he's been invited to team up with Tom Mix (Don't memorize this fact, it goes nowhere). Jimmy sings "L'amour Toujours". Howard announces the 7 winners of this week's Chevrolet Contest! Jack announces the play. The orchestra plays the "Can-Can", and the play begins.
PLAY: "Why Gals Leave Home". Jack and Blanche play an elderly couple who have an 18 year old daughter, Nell (Mary), who's still hanging around the house, and quite attached to the place. Before they can get her to leave, they have to explain to her exactly why gals leave home. At their age, you wouldn't think they'd remember, but Jack does recall that it has something to do with marriage. Unfortunately, Nell is quite the homebody, and turns down one suitor after another. To speed things up, Jack tries to assist a suitor's efforts to elope with her. He's unsuccessful until he discovers the shocking REAL reason why gals leave home!
HOWARD'S INTRO: "And now, Jack Benny."
SPECIAL GUEST STAR: Edward G. Robinson
MINOR ROLES: Blanche Stewart
NOTE: I listened closer this time, and the Drive-A-Chevrolet contest is in fact giving away Chevrolets for the contest. So, you can forget those fears that they were trying to unload old Stanley Steamers or something.
NOTE: The opening commercial boasts about Chevrolet's gas mileage. Chevrolet drivers have been known to get 20, 22, maybe even 24 miles per gallon! I'm doubly amazed, a) that 24 mpg was considered great mileage, and b) that they cared about gas mileage at all. In those days, wasn't gas so cheap that they practically paid you to take it off their hands?
NOTE: The Drive-a-Chevrolet contest lasts 9 more days, so if you're only listening to this program now, 79 years later, and getting excited about it, forget it. You're too late.
NOTE: Despite Jack's assurances that it was all on the level and impromptu, Edward G. Robinson's appearance was not unscripted. He came up with things to say, and even butted into the play with more comments about his baby. Calling on a friend like that and getting him to come up for a free appearance is something that the fictional Jack Benny would have done, but not the real one. With that in mind, Jack's assurances that it all really was on the level come off as a bit awkward.
NOTE: If you're curious about what the 1933 Chevrolet's looked like, here's a page showing some of them for sale. http://cars.oodle.com/1933-chevrolet/for-sale/ Some of these are priced at over 30 grand, so if you bought one for $445 in 1933 and held onto it all this time, you'd make a bit of cash. Keep these prices in mind if you've got one and the American Pickers ever drop by with an offer.
NOTE: Jack mentions "Hollywood Revue" as one of his previous movies.
NOTE: Between this week and last, it seems like there have been an unusually large number of jokes about George Bernard Shaw's beard lately.
WAC#1: Jack explains a currency issue
Jack: "...So, the English pound will be $3.89, Sophie Tucker will be $2.65, and Paul Whiteman will be back to 290."
Howard: "But the Chevrolet still remains $445, making it the best buying offer available to the public!"
WAC#2: The elopement scene
Howard: "I've come to take you away from here."
Mary: "No Pete, I can never leave home unless I have a good reason. "
Jack: "For heaven's sake, Pete, give her a reason."
Howard: "I love you, Nell, isn't that enough?"
Mary: "No, love isn't everything."
Jack: "Give her another reason, Pete."
Howard: "I have money. Loads and loads of it."
Jack: "Pete, if she turns you down this time, I'll marry you."
Mary: "I don't care for money."
Jack, aside: "That's only in the play, folks."
Howard: "And another thing, Nell. I have a car."
Mary: "What kind of a car?"
Jack: "Here it comes, folks. Here it comes."
Howard: "A Chevrolet! The most dependable car in the low-price field!"
Mary: "A Chevrolet! That's what I've been waiting to hear! Goodbye, Daddy! Goodbye! I'm going with Pete!"
Jack: "Another victory for Chevrolet! The reason why gals leave home!"
NOTE: I actually like this ending. It's more clever than most, and for a play called "Why Gals Leave Home", you've pretty much got to have a surprise ending of some sort. A product plug is as good as any, and this one is worked into the program, rather than interrupting it.
(Jack, reading news) "Shanghai, China! Blaseball season opens near flue. Flirst glame held at Yangtze Stadium. Yangtze beat one White Sock. Blabe Ruth sockee home run. Glasgow, Scotland! Jigsaw craze rapidly catching on here. Local stores selling one-piece jigsaw puzzles!"
(We'll be tracking Racial Humor here. There's a common perception that radio was rife with politically incorrect humor in those days, so we'll be keeping an eye out to see what the situation really was. [To give away the ending now, we're going to discover that there's nothing terribly bad, but nothing terribly funny, either.]
So, let's look at this one. Funny or not? Short Answer: Not. Longer Answer: I don't take offense at dialect jokes, necessarily. Some of them can be quite funny. US English isn't everyone's native tongue, so it should be no surprise that not everyone who speaks it speaks it well. But Jack talking in a Chinese/English dialect, simply because the news is from China just isn't funny. Similarly, if I said "Queen Elizabeth is going to visit the United Stites", and said "Stites" instead of "States" because she's English, that's not funny either. If I were trying to imitate an English accent, and failing badly, that might be funny, but just saying "Stites" in my normal voice is not. If Jack were simply reading the announcement as written, maybe that would work (the idea that someone who spoke in an accent would also write in one is funny). Maybe that was the point all along; that Jack is reading each headline right off the original ticker, and this one (only) was written in an accent, but that's not made clear either from the dialogue, or from Jack's tone.
On the other hand, the Yankee/Yangtze pun is kind of cute. So is the idea that the Chinese would have a player with the same name as the US's biggest star, except with an accent. So there are a couple of funny elements here that a good joke could have built on.
The Scottish one is kind of a head-scratcher. My first thought was that it was a "Dumb" joke (I heard pretty much the same joke as a Polish joke when I was a kid), but the Scottish stereotype is "Cheap", not "Dumb". So, wait a minute. Is the idea supposed to be that rural people would want a less-complicated puzzle? Or is the idea that 1-piece puzzles are cheaper than larger ones? If you have to wonder what a joke is even trying to say, that's a good sign that it wasn't executed properly.)
NOTE: Speaking of one of the US's biggest stars, "Blabe Ruth" was indeed still playing at this time. He didn't retire until 1935.
Jack: "This is Jack Benny, the Earth Galloper, coming to you with all the late news events through the courtesy of the Friday Evening Poll. All the news that's print to fit. Er, flit to print. Er, fit to plit. The news that gets in your hair and comes to you by Hair Mail, Telegraph, Gable, Beary and Crawford. This is the April of Time talking."
Mary: "You mean the March of Time."
Jack: "This is April, Mary."
(Thud. He wasn't doing too badly until the end).
JOKE: Jack, reading news: "President Roosevelt takes country off the gold standard! Three goldfish turn grey overnight!"
Jack, explaining currency: "For instance, the French Franc is now worth four and a half cents. The Coney Island frank is still a nickel. The German Mark gained one point while the four Marx Brothers dropped two and are now on the air as a team. Now the Swiss franc, if you care for combination sandwiches, has gained 90 pounds and is now 99 cents. But if you prefer a plain Swiss, it'll be 10 cents as usual. Of course this situation will mean inflation. So, the English pound will be $3.89, Sophie Tucker will be $2.65, and Paul Whiteman will be back to 290."
Mary: "Jack, was that Edward G. Robinson, the movie star?"
Jack: "Yes, Mary."
Mary: "Hey, I think he's swell. I saw him in a movie this week, Julius Caesar."
Jack: "Mary, you mean Little Caesar, LITTLE Caesar!"
Mary: "Oh, no wonder Cleopatra wasn't in it."
Jack: "But Frank, I really did make a few pictures. Now, there was one called "The Hollywood Revue", you know, and then I made a couple of others too."
Frank: "I've never heard you talk about it."
Jack: Well, I'm modest, you know."
Frank: "I haven't heard anybody else talk about it either."
Jack: Well, they're modest too, you know, Frank..."
(Good exchange, a spark of what the show became later)
JOKE: There's actually a pretty decent joke right before the play, where Jack gets the orchestra to play the "Can-Can" as an overture, and then has a hard time getting them to stop.
Jack: "Hey, what's the matter with you, Nell, anyway? Why don't you marry Zeke?"
Mary: "Because I'm 'Zeke' and tired of him."
Jack: "Why don't I give myself those jokes?"
Mary: "I'd rather marry Dracula than that Zeke Melton!"
Jack: "Well, you can't expect to get one of them movie stars."
(This one's good, but it only got a small laugh. Much less than it deserved.)
[EPISODE 9: Lost]
10. 05/05/33 RUSSIAN SKETCH (29:26)
[This is a mislabeled duplicate copy of Episode 15. Apparently the real Episode 10 is lost.]
[EPISODES 11-13: Lost]
14. 06/02/33 SHERLOCK HOLMES AND KING KONG PART 2 (29:09)
The orchestra opens with "Charley's Home". Jack starts with a News Roundup. The orchestra plays "My Darling" from "The Vanities". Jack introduces the play, and starts, but stops so Jimmy can sing Franz Lehar's "Frasquita Serenade". During the scene change, the orchestra plays "Playing With the Devil". After the play, Mary sings a number.
PLAY: "Who Killed Mr. X?", Part 1. Mr. X is killed in his penthouse. Holmes and Watson (Jack and Sam Hearne) try to find the killer. Despite the fact that the killer laughs sardonically (much like The Shadow) every time someone asks who he is, finding him doesn't prove easy. After the intermission, Jack has deduced that Mr. X was killed by a gorilla currently climbing the Empire State building. They track Kong there, and find him holding Mary. They arrest Kong until the voice of the real killer offers the shocking revelation that Kong did NOT kill Mr. X! Play, Frank!
HOWARD'S INTRO: "And now, Jack Benny."
MINOR ROLES: Ralph Ashe, Sam Hearn
MARY SINGS: Mary sings an unidentified number at the end of the show.
NOTE: According to the opening commercial, someone buys a Chevrolet every 40 seconds. (He must have a lot of them by now.)
NOTE: The Chevy commercials boast that the car is built with a Fischer body. Here's the background on that: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fisher_Body Ironically enough, the company is owned by GM today.
NOTE: Thanks to mislabeled duplicate episodes on the 700 episode Jack Benny .mp3 set I bought on eBay years ago, I heard these in the wrong order. I wonder if the Mr. X Saga would make more sense, listening to it again in the right order. Probably not.
NOTE: Jack's Holmes imitation consists of ending a lot of sentences with "Hmm, hmm." Perhaps he's imitating someone else's portrayal, but whose? Not Basil Rathbone. He didn't play Holmes until 1939.
NOTE: Mary does another Mae West imitation at 23:20. She also did one in Episode 8. Apparently, both are references to her having played Mae West in "She Done Him Right". Apparently it became a running joke for a while.
NOTE: According to the closing commercial, Chevrolet users are now getting up to 26 miles per gallon, with most getting between 18-24.
NOTE: Black plays the violin twice in this episode. Once, to play a violin exercise, when he asks Watson for his saxophone, and again at the very end, when he plays a few bars of "Shuffle Off to Buffalo".
NOTE: A pre-Shleperman Sam Hearn plays Dr. Watson to Jack's Holmes.
JOKE: Jack, reading news: "Bombay, India! Hmm, more Gandhi news. Mahatma Gandhi finishes 21-day fast, and is now wearing a cigar band. When last seen, he was mistaken for a Panatela."
JOKE: Jack, reading news: "Scotland sends Harry Lauder COD!"
(Not very funny, but I appreciate any Harry Lauder references).
JOKE: Jack: "Glasgow, Scotland! Harry Lauder also sailing for America. Local citizens give him big blowout by putting tack in his rear tire!"
JOKE: Jack, reading news: "Wanted! Thirty chorus girls! Apply Minsky's theater, New York! Wanted! Three more chorus girls! Apply to Melton, Black and Benny!"
Jack, reading news: "Female help wanted! Good secretary! If good looking, don't have to be so good."
Mary: "Jack, can I read one now?"
Jack: "Go ahead, Mary."
Mary: "Wanted: Good master of ceremonies for Chevrolet Program."
(Another early Mary slam of Jack, but she doesn't really have her heart in them yet. She doesn't become a true foil for Jack until the 1936-7 Season."
JOKE: (In the play)
Jack: "Detective Melton, you've been out on this case a week."
Jack: "What have you found?"
Larry: "I found a place where you can get a sandwich and a glass of beer for a nickel."
Jack: "Mary, take down the address."
JOKE: (In the play) Mary: "Hello? Hello? You want to speak to Sherlock Holmes? Yes, this is Sherlock's home. But Sherlock isn't home. He's working on a case right now. Yes, he's on his last bottle."
JOKE: (In the play)
Sam: "Before we start, why don't you eat something? You're always working. I just made some nice homemade soup."
Jack: "What kind of soup?"
Sam: "I made some chicken, vegetable and noodle. Which do you want?"
Jack: "Quick Watson, the noodle."
(This one is actually pretty funny. However, contrary to myth, Holmes never said "Quick Watson, the needle!" in a Conan Doyle story.)
JOKE: (In the play)
Sam: "You mean the killer is King Kong?"
Jack: "Of course. Of course. Who else is covered with hair like that?"
Sam: "George Bernard Shaw."
Jack: "Well, he didn't do it."
(For some reason, the fascination with Shaw's beard continues)
JOKE: (In the play)
Jack: "You lie. You did kill Mr. X. Why, you're big enough to eat him alive."
Kong: "Well, I did have X for breakfast this morning..."
Jack, reading headlines: "Wanted! Howard Claney to say something about Chevrolet!"
Howard: "Oh, yes! You'll find that Chevrolet saves you on oil, gas..."
Jack: "Play, Frank. Don't wait for this!"
Jack, as police captain: "Detective Claney, what did you find?"
Howard: "I find that every minute of the day, someone buys a Chevrolet!"
Jack: "Well, now we're getting some place. That's what we're here for. Did you find out anything else?"
Howard: "Yes, that the Chevrolet has the Fisher No-Draft ventilation!"
Jack: "We must get to the Empire State Building in a jiffy."
Sam: "Why in a jiffy? My Chevrolet will get us there just as quick."
Jack: "And much safer. At times, Watson, you show signs of intelligence."
Howard: "You have just heard what these two famous detectives have said about the Chevrolet! It's quick, safe and dependable!"
Jack: "That's elementary, Claney, and get out of my study."
Jack, as Holmes: "Hand me my saxophone."
[Jack plays a few violin exercises]
Howard: "That was "Stormy Weather", brought to you through the courtesy of the Chevrolet Motor Company!"
Jack: "Ladies and Gentlemen, this mystery will be continued next Friday night."
Howard: "But there's no mystery about the Chevrolet Motor Car! It's the best buy in America today and the nation's choice!"
Jack: "Play, Frank."
(I don't know who killed Mr. X, but five WAC's in one program is definitely overkill.)
15. 06/09/33 WHO KILLED MR. X ? (29:26)
The orchestra opens with "Roll Up the Carpet". Jack does faux color commentary as if though he were the announcer for the upcoming Schmeling-Baer Fight. (After it's over, the rest of us need Schmeling Salts.). The orchestra plays "Someone Stole Gabriel's Horn. Jack introduces the play. Jimmy sings "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life, and the play begins. After the play, Mary sings "It's Great To Be Alive" from "Strike Me Pink". The orchestra closes with "In the Park" from "The Golddiggers of 1933".
PLAY: "Who Killed Mr. X, Part 2. Mr. X has been found dead in his penthouse, Sherlock Holmes and Watson try to find his killer. Somehow they track the killer to the Russian border. Presumably, the trail is officially "cold".
HOWARD'S INTRO: "And now, Jack Benny."
MINOR ROLES: Ralph Ashe, Sam Hearn
NOTE: Chevrolet had a billboard campaign saying that someone buys a Chevrolet every minute. According to the show, that's wrong, it's actually every 40 seconds. They claim that's every 40 seconds, night and day, which I don't believe for an instant, because everybody knows that Chevy dealers aren't open in the middle of the night!
NOTE: You can buy a Chevrolet for as low as $445, FOB, Flint.
NOTE: Jack refers to himself as "The Earth Galloper" again as the program opens. It's amazing that nickname didn't catch on, isn't it? It's almost as catchy as Jack Dorkheimer, Star Hustler.
NOTE: Max Schmeling was World Heavyweight Boxing Champion between 1930 and 1932, and was the first man to beat Joe Louis (in 1936). On June 8, 1933 (a month after this broadcast) he lost a controversial 15-round split decision to Max Baer Sr. (father of Max Baer, Jr., aka Jethro Bodine of Beverly Hillbillies fame). Schmeling died in 2005 at the age of 99.
NOTE: The rationale for Jack playing a boxing announcer is that they're doing commentary on the Baer-Schmeling fight "that didn't happen last night". Apparently, it was re-scheduled.
NOTE: The Baer-Schmeling fight was held at Yankee Stadium. Jack briefly mentions this at the beginning, but if you weren't paying attention, several baseball-related jokes in Jack's commentary won't make sense.
NOTE: Amazingly, there are no jokes in here about Schmeling needing a Baer Aspirin after the fight. No jokes about Baering down, either. How did they miss the easy stuff?
NOTE: Another Mae West impression from Mary in this episode. They're still milking that running gag from "She Done Him Right". Hasn't someone gone up to see her yet??
NOTE: As often happens with these plays, especially the early ones, they're very light on plot, and hard to follow. Mr. X is dead, but it's hard to care without knowing who he was or how he died. Scenes take place in different locations, but they consist mainly of a string of patter and one-liners that don't advance the story. Somehow they end up in Russia. Don't ask.
JOKE: Jack: "Baer looks confident, and Baer looks German"
(Actually, this is a little funnier than it sounds. It's not funny at all on paper where it just lies there, and has to endure scrutiny, but it's not bad as part of a string of patter that goes by you quickly.)
FORGOTTEN HUMOR: Jack: "[Baer] sees Jimmy Melton, becomes self-conscious, and lands a blow to Schmeling's temple. What a blow! Watch out, Baer! Four feet lower and it would have been a foul!"
(This is a reference to the fact that Schmeling won the world title from Jack Sharkey after a controversial low-blow from Sharkey. Apparently, some thought that Schmeling was faking. Read about it on Wiki:
And here's the video, if you want to judge for yourself. It was the only time that the world title changed hands on a disqualification.)
Jack: "They are both mixing in the center of the ring as the round ends. Schmeling's round, and Howard Claney..."
Howard: "The Chevrolet motor car is the finest..."
Jack: "Round 2!"
Jack: "None out and Baer still at bat. What a game! In the outfield, we see Lefty Grove warming up for Germany. And Schmeling's still catching. As the bell rings, Ruth and Gehrig are walking through the dugout. And, Howard Claney!..."
Howard: "The Chevrolet motor car is the most economical car in...
Jack: "Round 3!"
Jack: "Remember folks, last week we put the case in the hands of Sherlock Holmes. Nothing happened. And if we paid Sherlock in advance, we have to give him another chance."
Howard: "And those of you are giving Chevrolet a chance, admit there is no mystery attached to it!"
Jack: "What was that?"
Watson: "The other wing dropped off."
Howard: "You see, folks, this couldn't happen in a Chevrolet! It's safe, dependable, and does everything but fly!"
[EPISODE 16: Lost]
17. 06/23/33 MARY'S BIRTHDAY (29:35)
The orchestra opens with "Tony's Wife". Jack tells a joke that nobody gets, but Melton gives him a Sympathy Laugh anyway. Jack does the News Roundup. The orchestra plays "My, Oh My". Mary shows off the flowers she got for her birthday, and thanks Jack for the card. She reads cards she got from the others, and tells some of the (kayfabe) story of her life. Jimmy sings "Roses of Picardy". As this is the last program of the season, they hold a celebrity dinner. After the guests are seated, the orchestra plays an unidentified song. Jack mingles with the celebrity guests, some of whom sing. Mary sings "It's Great to Be Alive", before leaving for a date with The Shadow.
PLAY: None. The celebrity dinner takes up the time.
HOWARD'S INTRO: "And now, Jack Benny."
MINOR ROLES: Blanche Stewart, Johnny Woods (Woods does all the celebrity impersonations. At the end of the episode, Jack introduces him by name.)
JOKE: Jack, reading news: "President Roosevelt takes two weeks vacation, which will end June 30th! Vice-President Garner's vacation will end in 1936!"
(This is actually a pretty decent take on the common wisdom about VP's not doing anything important. Unfortunately for the joke, John Nance Garner ran with Roosevelt for his second term too, so his vacation didn't actually end until 1941.)
FORGOTTEN HUMOR: Jack, reading news: "New York, New York! Jack Sharkey will fight Primo Carnera at Madison Square Bowl! When interviewed, Sharkey claimed he will not be able to hit high enough to foul Carnera!"
(Another reference to Sharkey losing the world title over a controversial foul. Carnera, World Champion from 1933-1934, was the Andre the Giant of his time, standing at 6'5½" at a time when the average boxer was 5'9". Until 2005, he was the tallest world heavyweight champion in history. Carnera won the title from Sharkey on 6/14/34, losing it a year later to Max Baer.)
MORE FORGOTTEN HUMOR: Jack, reading news: "Cincinnati, Ohio! Man finds alcohol in 3.2 beer, and is given Key to the City!"
(I'm not sure what 3.2 beer is, but it sounds funny. The 21st Amendment was ratified on 12/5/33, so Prohibition was still in force when this episode was broadcast.)
"CAN THEY SAY THAT ON RADIO?" HUMOR: Jack, reading news: "Highland, New Jersey! Nudist colony discovered here! During cold spell last week, nudists were seen wrapped in cellophane!"
REALLY EARLY CHEAP JOKE:
Jack, reading news: "Prosperity News, Detroit, Michigan! Big businesses raise wages 10 percent!"
Mary: "When do I get a raise, Jack?"
Jack: "When we're in Detroit, Mary."
(This may be the first joke to make Jack look cheap, although this won't become a full-blown part of his character until Fall 1937. But this joke does raise the question of what Mary's function on the show is supposed to be? She was introduced as a fan, and at least once is referred to as Jack's girlfriend. If she's getting a salary, she's attached to the show in an official manner now. So, as far as the public is concerned, what is her official role?)
Jack, reading news: "London, England! Nations meet here to pay United States war debt! Poland acknowledges her debt in silver, and sends us four dimes and a quarter. Finland sends us a Finn. Belgium gives us two brass rings from a merry-go-round, and France gives us Chevalier."
Jack: "Why Mary, what are you doing with all those flowers?"
Mary: "Well, it's my birthday today, Jack."
Jack: "Oh, yes. Gee, I nearly forgot, huh?"
Mary: "And thanks for the card."
Jack: "Did you like the card I sent you, Mary?"
Mary: "Yes, but my name isn't Easter."
Jack: "Well, I happened to… Mary, I happened to have one left over, you know."
Mary: "Well, that's all right. What are you giving me for a present?"
Jack: "Well, let's see, Mary. How old are you today?"
Jack: "21. I'll say, I have a great idea. It's too late to buy you something, but I'll… I'll give you a dollar for each year. See? Here it is now. Five, ten, twenty, twenty-one."
Mary: "Well, that's awfully nice of you, Jack. And gee, are you lucky."
Mary: "Well, if I told you my right age, you'd owe me six dollars more."
Jack: "Mary, make believe you're 16 and give me back $5, willya? Well folks, you can never tell a person's age. I dunno, a man is as old as he looks and a woman is as old as she likes."
Howard: "Well, congratulations, Mary."
Mary: "Thanks, Howard."
Howard: "Now, here are a couple of little remembrances."
Mary: "Gee, a ring and a book. Thanks. What a pretty ring. But what's the book all about?"
Howard: "Well, that's to keep up the payments on the ring."
NOTE: This episode really was broadcast on Mary's birthday. However, her real age was 28.
Mary: "Here's [a birthday card] I got from Howard. It says "Happy Birthday, I must say. May many more come by your way. Cause every minute of the day…"
Jack: "…Someone buys a Chevrolet. That's a wonderful thought on Howard's part. I knew he'd get that in."
Mary: "On my fifth birthday, I said to myself 'Toots, Plainfield isn't big enough for you', so I went to Elizabeth."
Jack: "Elizabeth, New Jersey?"
Mary: "No, my Aunt Elizabeth. But there was nothing there for me, so I went to Trenton."
Jack: "Oh, your Uncle Trenton?"
Mary: "No, Trenton, New Jersey."
Jack: "Oh, well I'm all mixed up now."
NOTE: A good running gag is spun off from this, in which we learn that Jack and Jimmy also inwardly refer to themselves as 'Toots'.
NOTE: Mary's onscreen character comes from Plainfield, New Jersey, but in real life she was born and grew up in Seattle. (Do you really want to know some of this stuff, or am I spoiling the illusion?)
NOTE: The celebrity dinner features actors imitating Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Marlene Dietrich, Mahatma Gandhi, Maurice Chevalier, Ed Wynn, Fred Allen, Walter Winchell, 1928 Presidential Candidate Alfred E. Smith, and Rudy Vallee. Chevalier and Vallee even sing. Jack claims that Jack Pearl, Eddie Cantor, Maurice Chevalier, Ben Bernie, Phil Baker, and Bert Lahr are in attendance also. Johnny Woods, the celebrity imitator, actually does a pretty spot-on imitation of Wynn's laugh.
POLITICALLY INCORRECT HUMOR:
Jack: "Mary, set the table and serve the food as soon as possible."
Mary: "But Jack, we have no tablecloth."
Jack: "No tablecloth?"
Jack: "What are we going to do? Oh! Here comes Mahatma Gandhi, we're saved. Check your coat, Mahatma?"
Jack: "Mary, here's your tablecloth.
Gandhi: "Where am I going to sit?
Jack: "Behind that screen, you're fasting anyway."
Rudy Vallee: "'Eigh 'O, everybody."
Jack: "What's that?"
Rudy Vallee: "'Eigh 'O, everybody.
Jack: "What, with your salary??"
Jack: "…and France gives us Chevalier!"
Howard: "And Chevrolet gives you the biggest value for your money in the low-priced field!"
Jack: "But Howard…"
Howard: "'But' nothing, the Chevrolet has the Fisher No-Draft…"
Jack: "I know that, Howard! I know!"
Howard: "And every 40 seconds of the day, someone buys a Chevrolet!"
Jack: "Play boys, play. There's no use arguing with Howard."
Jack: "Say, Howard. Howard. Look at all those cars parked out in front of this building."
Howard: "And they're all Chevrolets!"
NOTE: Although this is clearly identified as the last show of the season, at the end, Jack says to tune in next Friday to find out who killed Mr. X. It's not clear if this was a mistake and he meant to say tune in next season, or if this was a roundabout way of saying that they were never going to finish the story.