THE 1933-1934 SEASON


THE CHEVROLET PROGRAM (Season 2) ran from October 01, 1933 to April 01, 1934 airing on Sunday evenings at 10:00 to 10:30pm EST on NBC, originating from the studio of station WEAF in New York City. There were 26 episodes, with 8 surviving. The total for both Chevrolet Seasons:  Forty-Three 30-minute episodes (13 surviving).

For this season, after a 13 week hiatus, the Chevrolet Program returned for the Fall 1933 Season, moving from Friday nights to Sundays, but keeping the same time slot (10:00 p.m.).   

Howard Claney and Jimmy Melton are replaced by Alois Havrilla and Frank Parker, but if you weren't paying close attention, you probably wouldn't even notice.

"The Chevrolet Program" finished 13th place overall in the Hooper ratings for the 1933-1934 season, with a 25.3 rating (the top show that season was the Eddie Cantor show).


Jack Benny      :  Master of Ceremonies

Frank Black     :  Orchestra Leader

Frank Parker    :  Vocalist

Mary Livingstone:  Supporting Player

Alois Havrilla  :  Announcer

NOTE:  Alois Havrilla's first name is pronounced "A Loy", (as in "a member of Myrna Loy's family.")  Not "alloy", and definitely not "A Lois" (as in "Phyllis Coates was a Lois Lane but not the only one.")

NOTE:  The numbering sequence given is for the Chevrolet Program as a whole, rather than for this season.  For instance, Episode 27 is the 10th episode of Season 2.

The episode guide/log for this season was written entirely by Graeme Cree. 

Note from Bill: As with the other early seasons in the UCLA Jack Benny collection, the index states that the tapes of this 1933-1934 series were made from uncoated aluminum discs (12" 78 rpm) and that due to poor storage conditions prior to their donation to the University, many of the reference discs have suffered serious corrosion. The collection start their program numbers all over again for this brief season, and note that programs 1-9,11-20 and 25 are missing from the collection (meaning that apparently they don't possess the 02/11/34 or 02/18/34 shows).

27.    10/10/33                UNCLE TOM'S CABIN     (28:43)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  The orchestra opens with "Oooh, Honey." 

Jack announces he's not working today, in order to protest the undignified introductions that Havrilla keeps giving him.  Havrilla tries to smooth things over, to no avail, by explaining that "Outstanding false alarm" is a compliment (because it means that Jack is no good, but is very good at it).  When Jack walks off, Frank Black replaces him as MC, and gets laughs with straight lines and unfunny jokes.  Jack comes to blows with Black over the quality of his material, which somehow becomes a full-blown boxing match, which somehow leads to Jack on the floor kissing canvas (or linoleum, or whatever).  Mary comes in, and with Jack out of commission, starts neckin' with Black until Jack groans an instruction for the orchestra to play.  The orchestra plays "Let's Do It", and Jack, now fully recovered introduces the play.  The orchestra plays "High C" from "Hold Your Horses" and the play begins.  A few minutes in, they call an intermission so that Parker can sing "Mine" from "Let 'Em Eat Cake", and the play continues.

PLAY:  "Uncle Tom's Cabin", a loose adaptation of the long-running stage play (it may even have been a book or something before that).  This version revolves around a resort hotel called "Uncle Tom's Cabins".  The plot is impossible to follow, and the play is mainly a showcase for bad accents and Chevrolet plugs.  Simon LeGree (Frank Black) comes in and threatens to sell Jack and Liza both to Warner Brothers, in a desperate but unsuccessful effort to add at least one actual plot point to the play.  Failing this, they close out with a chorus of "Dixie", in which the word "Chev-ro-let" replaces "look away", and the play wheezes to a stop with no definitive ending.  Or even a definitive beginning.

ALOIS' INTRODUCTION OF JACK:  And now Ladies and gentlemen, I take extreme pleasure in presenting to you once again, America's outstanding false alarm, Jack Benny."

ALOIS' INTRODUCTION OF FRANK BLACK:  Ladies and gentlemen, I take great pleasure in presenting to you our Master of Ceremonies, that very fine artist and international favorite, Mr. Frank Black!"

NAMES FOR THE ORCHESTRA:  Frank Black and His Plantation Serenaders.

MINOR ROLES:  Brad Barker, Marie Dressler, Blanche Stewart

NOTE:  The bit at the beginning, with Jack taking umbrage over the announcement and walking out is a little spark of what the show later became.  The angle of having the orchestra leader take over as interim MC after Jack walked out was used again (to much better effect) on 12/13/36).

NOTE:  By this time, they've begun plugging the new 1934 Chevrolet!


Jack:  "Now, we have not only procured some of the original scenery for this over-mellow drama, but we have also engaged some of the original cast, and a few of the original pieces of ice.  In fact, we are going to put on the same production that toured the country for 1,765,000 consecutive performances, playing under tender, under cover…"

Black:  And under 10 cents."

Jack:  "That's where you saw it, Frank.  You can bet on that.  This run beats "Abie's Irish Rose" by 17 years, four days, and three and 2/5th seconds.  I understand there's another company still running out west, but the last report is the Sheriff is gaining on them.  And I do know "Uncle Tom's Cabin" is a very sad play.  But after looking over our cast this evening, I think it will be a little sadder than usual."

(You get the feeling that this intro is supposed to be funny.  But it's not.  Not even a little.  Well, okay, let's be fair.  The bit about getting some of the original pieces of ice was a *little* funny.)


Mary:  Where you all been today, Uncle Tom?"

Jack:  "I've been up at the Cotton Club, picking cotton."

(Reference to a jazz club that operated in Harlem from 1923 to 1940.  But knowing that doesn't make the joke any less weak.)


Jack:  "Who did Simon say he was gonna sell me to?
Mary:  "To the Showboat."

Jack:  "Well, that's a good program."

(A reference to "The Maxwell House Showboat", radio's top program from 1933 to 1935.  On Jack's 6/20/37 program, he announces a revival of the Showboat series). 


Jack:  "Who is it?"

Parker:  "Tis I, the Merchant of Venice."

Jack:  "Venice what?"

Parker:  "Venice I going to sing my song?"


Jack:  "Please don't sell me to Warner Brothers, Master Simon."

Black:  "Why not?  I can get $7 a day for you, and $10 for you and Liza together.

Jack:  "Now listen here, Master LeGree.  I don't care what y’all does to me.  But you leave that gal Liza out of this, ya hear?

Black:  "Don't tell me what to do, you good-for-nothin', rotten, fotten cotton picker."

Jack:  "That's Frank Black, folks, getting all mixed up.  Well, I'm not a-going, Master.  My soul may belong to you, but the body belongs to Fisher!"

(Unfunny, and painfully so.  All that buildup just for another Chevrolet plug??)


(Jack and Black begin fighting)

Alois:  This fight comes to you through the courtesy of the new 1934 Chevrolet!  The low-priced car with the knee (?) action wheels!

WAC#2:  (The song "My Old Kentucky Home" takes an odd turn)…

Jack, singing:  "For you now can buy the best car you ever had."

Alois, singing:  "The 1934 Chevrolet!"

WAC#3:  (In the play, a stranger enters)

Alois:  Good evening, folks.

Jack:  "What can I do for you, sir?

Alois:  Are these Uncle Tom's cabins?
Jack:  "Yes sir."

Alois:  Well, I'm drivin' through to Florida, and I'd like to rent one overnight."

Jack:  "Liza, we got any cabins left?"

Mary:  "No, Uncle Tom, they's all rented for the night."

Jack:  "I'm sorry, Mister… Mister… "

Alois:  Havrilla is the name."

Jack:  "You're tellin' me.  By the way, what kinda car is you all drivin, stranger?  As if I don't know, folks."

Alois:  A Chevrolet!  The most economical car in the low-price field!"

Jack:  "Doggone it, nothin' but Chevrolets drivin' through here."

VERDICT:  An almost completely mirthless episode.  The play fails both as comedy and as an Uncle Tom adaptation, and the entire episode is littered with unfunny plays on words ("Up at the Cotton Club picking cotton", "Venice I going to sing my song".)  In later years, Jack would have ways to wring laughs out of jokes like this by over-selling them, and then allowing someone to cut him off at the knees.  Right now, jokes like this just lie there.  The episode's only redeeming feature is the opening bit with Jack walking out in protest over Alois' introduction.


36.    02/11/34                MINIATURE WOMEN      (20:37)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  The orchestra opens with "There's Something About a Soldier".  The song is cut, and the recording skips ahead to Mary reading a poem about Winter (in progress). 

After the poem, Alois introduces Jack, who opens with a News Roundup.  The orchestra plays "Without That Certain Thing".  Mary is packed for a vacation.  The others try to guess where she's going, and fail to guess that Mary is going to Florida for a week.  Jack is going to Chicago to visit his sister next week, so Mary thinks they can travel together as far as Montreal.  Jack announces the play.  Parker sings "The Country of Hands" (?) from "Roberta" (song is cut), and the play begins.  The play interrupts for the orchestra to play "Of Thee I Sing" from "Of Thee I Sing", and the play continues.  Afterwards, Jack introduces the minor actors individually.

PLAY:  "Miniature Women", a parody of "Little Women" (1933), starring Katharine Hepburn and Joan Bennett.  This is another hit movie that may have been a book or something like that.  The main joke is that the sisters all have different accents.  Jack and Alois romance two of them.  Jack's girl is more interested in a career than him, while Alois is more interested in the new Chevrolet's chassis than that of his girl.

ALOIS'S INTRODUCTION:  "That was Mary Livingstone, finishing the poem she started last week.  And now, I bring to you our Master of Ceremonies, Jack Benny."

MINOR ROLES:  Mary Kelly, Blanche Stewart

MARY'S POEM:  "Dear Old Winter".  During the play, Mary's character, Jo, comes up with a few lines of another play, entitled "Fifteen Years".

NOTE:  Since last week's program is lost, there's no telling why Mary was unable to finish her poem then.

NOTE:  Jack introduces himself as "The Earth Galloper" again.  Apparently this nickname was specifically connected with the News Roundup feature, as that's the only time we've heard him use it.

NOTE:  Jack comments that last week they had "Opportunity Night" (some kind of talent show), and the results were disastrous, therefore they're going back to doing a play this week.

NOTE:  Jack refers to "Little Women's" author as "Louisa M. Alcott".  Pretty much every time I've ever heard anyone mention her name, it was  in full, ("Louisa MAY Alcott").  Not a big deal, that's just the way I'm used to hearing it that way, darn it!

NOTE:  Mary’s joke about traveling with Jack from New York to Florida as far as Montreal was kind of cute, but would never fly today.  Too few of the audience would know enough geography to get it.


Jack, reading news:  "Athens, Greece!  Sam Insel [name uncertain] given five days to leave Greece.  When he asked them where he could go, the Greeks had a word for it!"

(I have no idea who this is or what the circumstances were.  It's not too bad a joke though, and by default, may be one of the News Roundup’s best ever jokes.)


Jack, reading news:  "New York, New York!  Famous screen actor Clark Gable arrives here from Hollywood during cold spell.  Twelve girls present him with a pair of earmuffs."

(That's a joke???  It sounds like three people in the audience laughed, so I'm not the only one that these jokes are falling flat on)


Jack, reading news:  "It is rumored that Frank Black will entertain these stars while in New York, and has four slots reserved in the automat."

(A very early cheap joke, and not even directed against Jack.  In the early days, cheap jokes, like other kinds of jokes were sort of randomly assigned, and as a result often weren't that funny.  For example, since when is Frank Black cheap?  Well, since he needed to be for the sake of this joke, that’s when.  Five minutes from now he won't be cheap any more.  It wasn't until later, when Jack's whole character began to be based on attributes like this that they attained the context they needed to be really funny.)


Jack, reading news:  "More screen news!  Jimmy Durante also heading East!  His nose is already here, and Durante will arrive in the morning!"

(Not too bad.  Jokes about Jimmy Durante's nose were fairly common in those days.)


Jack:  "Flash!  Flushing, Long Island!  That should be ‘flushed’.  10 pm!  Man kills wife for bidding Two No Trump Without a Spade or Diamond in her hand.  11 pm!  Man is acquitted and the game continues!"

(One of the very few, perhaps the only Benny joke in genuinely bad taste.  But with better writing you could make a decent joke out of this.  Simply make the incident non-lethal, and make the bid into the punchline, rather than the bit about the game continuing.)


Jack, reading news:  "Flash!  NBC Studio, New York!  Alois Havrilla now standing on soapbox addressing the Chevrolet Audience!"

Alois:  "And word comes to us from everywhere that orders for the new 1934 Chevrolet are literally pouring into the factory!"

(Flash!  Somebody doesn’t know what the word ‘literally’ means!)


Alois:  "And now for the second scene of our play, "Miniature Women".  The next scene takes place two nights later by the old elm tree on the Gotgeld Estate.  Where we find Tom Gotgeld waiting for his sweetheart Jo, with whom he is madly in love.  And the Chevrolet is the only car in the low-price field with the knee (?) action wheels that has nothing to do with this play!"

WAC#3:  During the play, Alois romances one of the Miniature Women, comparing her attributes to those of the new 1934 Chevrolet. 

VERDICT:  Another very weak episode.  One or two bits in the News Roundup that are maybe worth a smile, but no real laughs in the whole program.


37.    02/18/34                    DON'T LIVE RIGHT     (17:55)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  The orchestra’s opening number is cut and unidentified. 

Jack had a birthday 4 days ago, and just returned from a party in his (unnamed) home town.  They try to guess his age, but Jack isn’t telling (or even hinting).  Frank talks about his grandfather, who lived right; he never drank, smoked or went to nightclubs, and lived to be 103, but nobody can figure out why he bothered.  Jack tries to tell jokes, but all of them are recognized as having recently been used on other radio shows.  The orchestra plays “My Dancing Lady” from “Dancing Lady”.  Jack reads (faux) fan mail.  In response to one of these letters, Jack agrees to do a mystery play.  Jack introduces the play.  The orchestra plays “You’re In My Heart” (cut), and the play begins.  Again, the play has an intermission, during which time the orchestra plays a number (cut and unidentified).

PLAY:  "The Blue Room Murder", the earliest known outing of Jack’s recurring police captain character, Detective O’Benny (later Captain O’Benny).  As with “Who Killed Mr. X?”, somebody is killed, but we never quite learn much about the Who, What and Why of it all.  The first scene is entirely taken up with Jack traveling to the scene of the crime.  After the intermission, Jack arrives, questions everybody, and somehow makes an arrest.  It’s difficult to tell with the poor audio, but apparently the unnamed man was killed by an unnamed woman, for reasons unknown.  (People stayed up until 10 pm for this??)

ALOIS’ INTRODUCTION:  “And now for the winner of the World Telegram Radio Editor’s Poll, Jack Benny!”

MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin, Mary Kelly, Blanche Stewart

MISSING CAST:  Mary is not in this episode, still on vacation, but Jack reads two letters from her.  One comes during the fan mail segment, and another at the end, when she writes that she just heard the program, and realized that she’d better be on next week.  He also gets a telegram from her during the play.

NOTE:  Jack’s birthday 4 days earlier was the Magical “Big 4-0”, that he never quite seemed to hit in later years.  For a few years after this, before “39” became a joke, they would occasionally cop to Jack being over 40.  For several years after that, the number was rarely mentioned, but always seemed to be somewhere in the 30’s.  As late as 3/12/1944, Jack still claimed to be 32.  In November 1944, there was an extended sequence in which Jack absolutely insisted to Mel Blanc that he was 36, and stuck to that number through intense questioning.  For the next few years, Jack got a year older each year; 37, 38, 39, and then just stuck there permanently at 39.

RACIAL HUMOR:   In those days there was a well-known stereotype about policemen being Irish.  To reflect this, whenever Jack plays a police captain, he changes his name from Benny to O’Benny.  To further drive home the point, most of his co-workers are given Irish names as well (Phil Harris becomes Sergeant O’Harris.  Dennis Day, who is Irish already, becomes even more Irish, as his name is changed to O’Day.  One play even featured Captain O’Bogart.  This is actually a pretty decent joke, for several reasons.  1) The Overkill Factor, changing ALL the names.  2) The utterly simplistic way that the names are changed.  They don’t concoct elaborate names, but just tack an O’ on to everyone’s regular name.  There’s not even a McSomething thrown in there for variety, it’s ALWAYS O’.  3) No attention is ever called to this fact, and no explanation is ever offered.  They just treat it as though it’s the most natural thing in the world, and needs no explanation.  The joke is that they’re telling a joke, and the joke is that they’re acting as though it’s NOT a joke.  Sheer brilliance.

But with racial humor, the question is “Is it offensive?”  The answer here is No, but the reason why is worth noting.  The reason it isn’t is because the joke isn’t even on the Irish.  (It’s about them, but not on them).  The joke is not that Irish people often have names starting with the letter O.  The joke is a) that the show would have such an absurd expectation about policemen, and b) that they would implement it in such a clumsy manner.  As usual, the joke is on Jack (and to a lesser degree, on his writers). 

NOTE:  Speaking of clumsy name changes, the murder takes place on Rue de la 8th Avenue.  (A cross between on the French “Rue de la Paix”, and the American 8th Avenue).

NOTE:  The jokes that Jack tries to tell were previously heard on Eddie Canter, Fred Allen, Burns & Allen, and Joe Bennett (hard to catch the name on this one)(possibly Joe Penner?--BC)

NOTE:  That World Telegram Radio Editors Poll is something we’ll be hearing more about, as Jack is voted the most popular comedian on the air for at least the next 5 years running, maybe more.

NOTE:  Faux Fan Mail is another feature that Jack often had in the early years.  Today, one of the letters praises “Miniature Women” (which is proof right there that it’s not a genuine letter).  The next is from Leonard Fenchell, who was probably Jacks’ real-life brother-in-law (his sister was Florence Fenchell).  He doesn’t mention this fact, nor does he read the letter.  The third is from Mary (who is absent tonight), with a poem.  The fourth letter suggests that he do mystery plays once in a while.

NOTE:  “The Blue Room Murder” was ostensibly done in answer to a fan letter saying that they ought to do mysteries once in a while.  They did one last season (Who Killed Mr. X?), and will do another next season (Who Killed Mr. Stooge?)  On 5/15/38, Jack will announce that they a murder mystery annually.

NOT QUITE FORGOTTEN HUMOR:  Detective O’Benny refers to himself as “The William Powell of the Air”.  This is a reference to Powell’s detective character in the “Thin Man” movies.


Frank:  How old were you last week, Jack?”

Jack:  “Oh, why go into that?  You know, a man is as old as he looks.”

Frank:  “So, you’re 55, huh?”

JOKE:  (Jack and Frank, on not smoking, drinking, or going to nightclubs.)

Frank:  “Say Jack, you know my grandfather took care of himself just like you’re doing, and he lived to be 103."

Jack:  “What for?”

Frank:  “I don’t know, but the poor fellow’s gone now.”

Jack:  “Ah, that’s too bad, Frank.  How did it happen?”

Frank:  “Well, when he was 98, he started running around, and it just got him, that’s all.”


Jack, introducing play:  “Who was this man?  Where did he come from?  Why was he murdered?  And who dunnit?"

Frank:  “Jack.  Jack, you know your English is very bad.”

Jack:  “So is this play.”


Jack, introducing play:  “Murder!  M-O-I-D-E-R!”

[sound of screams and sinister laughter]

JOKE:  (in the squad car)

Jack:  “C’mon Sarge, step on it.”

Black:  “I’m going 80 now.”

Jack:  “I meant step on my cigar butt, I just dropped it.”

JOKE:  (in the play)

Jack:  “Let’s break it in.  C’mon Sarge, give it the works!”

[sound of door smashing]

Jack:  “C’mon out, all of you!”

Woman:  “That’s the bathroom.”

Jack:  “Oh, pardon.”

JOKE:  (in the play)

Jack:  “Now, you.  You in that full dress suit.  What’s your name?

Black:  “Frank Black.”

Jack:  “Frank Black, eh?  What do you do for a living?”

Black:  “I’m an orchestra leader.”

Jack:  “Oh, you do nothin’, eh?”

WAC#1:  (in the play)

Jack:  “Calling all cars.  Murder on the Rue de la 8th Avenue.  Calling all cars!

Alois:  “And when you’re calling for cars, ask for the Chevrolet!  The most dependable car in the low-priced field!”

WAC#2:  (in the play)

Policeman:  Do you know you fellas were going 80 miles an hour?

Alois:  Well, everyone knows that’s easy for the new 1934 Chevrolet!”


38.  02/25/34                MY LIFE AS A FLOORWALKER    (14:49)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  The opening of the show is cut out. 

The recording opens in mid-scene, with Jack and Frank talking about freeloading on their girlfriends.  Parker sings “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” from “Roberta” (cut).  Jack starts to introduce the play, when a stranger drops in, claiming to be an old friend.  Jack doesn’t remember him, but the stranger claims to be down on his luck, so Jack gives him $5.  It turns out that the stranger mistook Jack for someone else and never knew him at all, but Jack finds this out five dollars too late.  Jack gets a special delivery letter from someone asking if he was once fired as a floorwalker in Omaha.  Jack admits he was a floorwalker, but was not fired, and promises to tell the real story in tonight’s play.  The orchestra plays “Carioca” from “Flying Down to Rio”. 

PLAY:  “My Life as a Floorwalker”.  As the title says, Jack is a floorwalker.  He waits on a few customers, and gets fired when he accidentally tries to sell a lady her own coat.  But after he was fired, he quits.  So, you see, Jack wasn’t fired because he quit after he was fired.  That’s really it, folks.  It’s even less interesting than it sounds.

MISSING CAST:  Mary is absent again this week.

MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin, Sam Hearn, Mary Kelly, Blanche Stewart


Parker:  “And now, ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to sing a song that so many of you have requested.  “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” from “Roberta”.

Jack:  “Well, that could happen from a cigarette, too, you know.”


Stranger:  “You don’t remember me, do you?”

Jack:  “Well, your face is familiar, but not to me.”


Stranger:  “I’ll pay you back as soon as I start working.”

Jack:  “Well, what kind of work do you do?”

Stranger:  “I’m an automobile mechanic in Bermuda.”

Jack:  “Bermuda?  Wait a minute, there are no automobiles in Bermuda.”

Stranger:  “Yeah.  Yeah, that’s what’s worrying me.  Well.  Goodbye, Jack.”

Jack:  “Goodbye, five bucks.  I mean young man.”


Jack:  “Well, from now on, I’m Harry Lauder.  Let him try and get five dollars from that name, huh?”

(Poor Jack, at this point in his career he actually has to borrow cheapness from somebody else.)


Jack:  “Dear Jack:  Last week you gave us a mystery play, and it certainly was a mystery, if you remove the letter ‘t’.”

JOKE:  (In the play)

Jack:  “Can I help you, Madame?”

Woman:  “Yes.  I’d like to see some umbrellas.”

Jack:  “Umbrellas.  Yes, Madame.  What kind?”

Woman:  “The kind you keep over your head when it’s raining.”

JOKE:  (In the play)

Jack:  “May I help you?

Black:  “I want to buy a derby hat.

Jack:  “I’ll be glad to wait on you.  We’re a little short of actors.”


Jack:  “Ah.  Ah, well.  Love’s a funny thing, huh?”

Black:  “It sure is.”

Jack:  “Oh, well.”

Black:  “Yes siree.”

Jack:  “It sure is.”

Alois:  “Well, as long as there’s nothing going on, I’d just like to say that the 1934 Chevrolet with its knee-action (?) wheels, is more economical on gas and oil than ever before!”


Jack:  So, immediately after the next number, I will give you a brief synopsis of this questionable incident in my life as a floorwalker.  Havrilla, have you anything to say?”

Alois:  “No, Jack.  I have nothing to say about the new 1934 Chevrolet, with its New-plane engine.  It’s 80 miles an hour, or it’s knee action wheels.”


In the play, Alois comes into Jack’s department store looking for a new 1934 Chevrolet, which is kind of odd, considering that the story is supposed to have happened years ago.


39. 03/04/34                    DUAL IN THE GRAVEYARD    (17:08)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  The orchestra opens with an unidentified number (cut). 

Jack compares himself to Garbo and Gable.  The others dispute it.  Jack claims to be an outdoor man, and the others match their credentials against his.  Alois' claim to be an outdoorsman is based on owning a Chevrolet (go figure).  The orchestra plays "In a Shelter From a Shower".  Mary returns from her vacation in Florida.  Mary brings Parker a California orange, Black a grain of sand from Miami, and Jack her hotel bill.  Frank Parker sings "Romance".  Jack reads a fan letter from someone wanting to become an MC.  Jack offers advice, but the others take issue with him.  Somehow this ends with Jack and Black challenging each other to a duel.  Alois suggests that they meet at the old graveyard to shoot it out.  The orchestra plays "Louisiana Hayride."

PLAY:  None.  They leave the show early for a duel.

ALOIS'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, for that vindicated floorwalker, Jack Benny."

SITUATION COMEDY:  The body of the show is Jack and the others broadcasting from the NBC Studios, talking and playing music.  There are two main exceptions to this:  Plays, and Situation Comedies.  Plays you know.  They involve everyone taking a part and acting out a play, often a knock-off of a famous work.  Situation comedy scenes are scenes in which all the characters play themselves in scenes that take place away from the main body of the program itself.  These may result from Jack leaving the show early, or show what he's supposed to be doing in between shows, flash back to what he did in between shows, or come about in other ways.  Eventually the show will become a sitcom first and foremost, but for the time being, these sitcom scenes are rare deviations from the norm.

In this scene, the entire cast of the show goes out to "the old graveyard", so that Jack and Black can shoot it out.  They read unfunny epitaphs on tombstones.  Black seems to be doing really well in target practice.  The game warden nearly throws them out, but relents when he finds that they only plan to shoot each other.  The duel eventually takes place, but both sides miss and hit Havrilla instead.

MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin

NOTE:  Mary was only supposed to go to Florida for a week, but she apparently missed five consecutive shows.  Wish I could get a week’s vacation like that.

NOTE:  The idea of a feud between Jack and his orchestra leader is a decent one, and is carried off to really good effect in the 1936-7 season, where it is carefully cultivated over a course of several weeks, and becomes a major storyline.  Here, it comes at you out of nowhere.  One minute Jack and Black are trading their usual banter, and the next they're about to fight to the death.  (The heck??)  The feud never comes off as genuine, just as something they're doing to have an excuse to go out to a graveyard.

NOTE:  At no time is this fight ever referred to as the Black-Jack duel.  How do you miss easy jokes like that???

NOTE:  On her vacation, Mary says she saw the Carnera-Loughran fight.  Jack says that she's the one who saw it.  Mary says Max Baer won the fight.  Carnera beat Loughran in Miami on 3/1/34, but went on to lose to Baer in New York on 6/14 in New York.


Jack:  "You took the words right out of my script."

Alois:  "Well, if you ride horses, Jack, you must be interested in polo."

Jack:  "Polo?"

Alois:  "Yes, polo.  That requires horsemanship.

Jack:  "Of course, but then there are two kinds of polo.

Black:  North polo and south polo.

Jack:  "No, no, wait a minute, Frank.  I mean there's land polo and then there's water polo."

Alois:  "Yes, that's right.  In land polo, you ride a horse.

Jack:  "Yes, that's right.  And in water polo, you ride a fish."

Black:  "You should be good at riding fish, Jack."

Jack:  "Why?  What do you mean?"

Black:  "Well, you certainly can hold on to a Finn."


Jack:  "Last Sunday, a guy came in and borrowed $5 from me, and I didn't even know him.  I mean, not that I care about the five…"

[The crowd groans loudly]

Jack:  "Now, listen guys, you know me better than that.  With me, it's easy come…"

Black:  "…And slow departure."


Jack:  "I wish you'd have brought me a bottle of air.  They say the air is marvelous down there."

Mary:  "Yes, until you got on the air Sunday night."

JOKE:  (in the cemetery)

Alois:  "Now, both of you turn your backs and step 10 paces from each other."

Jack:  "I think 10 blocks would be better, don't you, Alois?"

Alois:  "No, ten paces."

Jack:  "How much is ten paces, Mary?"

Mary:  "About three dollars in American money."


Mary:  "Jack, don't worry about Frank Black.  He couldn't hit a wedding with a handful of rice."


Jack:  "Now, listen here, Black.  I'm going to fill you so full of holes, you'll look like the new no-draft ventilation."

Alois:  Thanks for the plug, Jack!"


Alois:  "This duel comes to you through the courtesy of Chevrolet!  The most dependable car in the low-priced field!"


Jack:  "Say, Havrilla.  Come here, I don't want the folks to think you were really shot.  Now, how do you feel?"

Alois:  "Oh, I'm fine."

Jack:  "See, we were only kidding."

Alois:  "Yeah, but I'm not kidding when I say the 1934 Chevrolet gives more miles to the gallon than ever before!"

[sound of gunshots]

Jack:  "I wasn't kidding that time.  Good night, folks."


40.    03/11/34                     HAUNTED HOUSE     (18:26)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  The orchestra opens with an unidentified number (cut). 

Jack brags about how modest he is.  Alois insists that Jack wear a collar and tie, since they broadcast on Sundays, even though the audience can't see them.  The others pick on Jack's appearance, including Mary, who initially defended him.  The orchestra plays "Going to Heaven on a Mule" from "Wunderbar" (cut).  Jack reads a viewer mail that requests that Frank sing "With a Song In My Heart", which he does.  Alois says that his friends felt that Jack lacked courage in last week's duel.  Jack dismisses this, but still wants some way to look better than that Frank Black.  Mary suggests they toss a coin to see who buys drinks, but neither one is that anxious.  Mary knows of a haunted house on Gunhill Road, and suggests that Jack and Frank each try to see if they can survive a night in it.  Neither is too eager, so Alois tosses a coin, and Jack gets to spend the first night there.  The orchestra plays an unidentified number (cut).

SITUATION COMEDY:  They leave the show and escort Jack to the haunted house.  Jack is left there alone.  He hears gunshots and steps.  He meets a ghost who offers to bring him a ham and egg sandwich.  Jack starts hearing various familiar sounds; including a voice singing "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes", and another one chanting "Chevrolet, Chevrolet, Chevrolet!".  Jack decides to make a run for it, but can’t figure how to get out.  He meets Mary's great-great-grandmother, Sarah Livingstone, the ghost of Jack Benny, and another ghost named Ghostberg, who finally shows him the way out.  Jack runs outside to find his cast waiting outside, having made all the ghost sounds themselves just to spook him.

ALOIS' INTRODUCTION:  Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you our Master of Ceremonies, but a gentleman, nevertheless.  Mr. Jack Benny."

MINOR ROLES:  Sam Hearn, Blanche Stewart

PLAY:  None, they leave the show early again, to go to the haunted house.

NOTE:  Sam Hearn plays a ghost named Ghostberg who is functionally identical to his later (non-ghostly) recurring character, Shleperman.  Ghostberg even uses Shleperman’s catch phrase, “Hello, Straynger!”

NOTE:  I don’t know what’s more mind-boggling in this episode.  That Alois’s idea of impersonating a ghost was to chant “Chevrolet, Chevrolet, Chevrolet!”, or that Jack failed to recognize him.  In some ways, The Chevrolet Program is like “Jack Benny:  The Mystery Science 3000 Years”.  Next Halloween, if you’re at a carnival haunted house, or hiding in the bushes waiting to scare the daylights out of some kids, try chanting “Chevrolet, Chevrolet, Chevrolet!”  Let us know how it goes.


Jack:  "When Lincoln posed for the penny, did he worry about clothes?  Yeah, all right, let's take Washington.  When he crossed the Delaware, did he wear an evening suit?"

Mary:  "No, he crossed in the morning."


Alois:  "Well, how about it, Frank?  Are you game?"

Black:  "Well, uh… well, uh… I… I…"

Alois:  "How about you, Jack?"

Jack:  "Me too."

Alois:  "These heroes come to you through the courtesy of Chevrolet!  The most dependable car in the low-priced field!"

VERDICT:  Louis Chevrolet would be turning over in his own grave over this one.  That’s the ghost they should have met.


41.    03/18/34                  AN ARIZONA WESTERN     (19:18)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  The orchestra opens with an unidentified number (cut). 

Jack is missing.  The strain of fighting a duel and spending a night in a haunted house has driven him mad.  (The utter failure of those two bits to get any laughs couldn’t have helped any, either.)  In any case, Jack has been confined to a sanitarium.  Everyone leaves the show to go visit him.

SITUATION COMEDY:  The show transitions to a sitcom scene at the funny farm where Jack has been committed.  Unfortunately, the funny farm isn’t very funny at all, as Jack seems completely normal.  They get him released and return to the show.

THE SHOW:  The orchestra plays “Nasty Man” from “George White’s Sandals”.  Jack apologize for going off his nut, but explains that it’s no big deal because “we’re all crazy about something” (are you following this?  The analogy might make more sense if Jack had actually been crazy rather than completely normal!!).  Everyone discusses what they’re “crazy” about.  Alois butts in with another Chevrolet commercial, which sends Jack back to the nuthouse.  Parker sings “Orchids Lying Down to Kneel”.  Jack (who obviously changed his mind) reads this week’s piece of fan mail, a letter from Arizona asking him to do a Western play.  Jack refuses to do it on short notice (even though he’s done “impromptu” plays before).  When a follow-up telegram and phone call come through, Jack relents and sends everyone out for props.  While they’re building a ranch, the orchestra plays “Tony Boy” (cut).  Jack introduces the play.

PLAY:  An unnamed play about life on a cattle ranch in Arizona.  Coyote Jack lives on the Benny Z Ranch in Poison, Gulch, Arizona.  Jack’s niece comes in from the East, and Jack starts to ride out to catch Rattlesnake Black, the rustler.  Jack falls off his horse, and so decides to give the ranch, his kit and his caboodle to Rat.  That’s really it, folks!

ALOIS'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, I was about to present Jack Benny to you.  But I just found out that something has happened to him which I’d rather not mention here.  However, we will do the best we can without him…”

MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin, Brad Barker

NOTE:  In the “What are we all crazy about?” section, Black is crazy about hazelnuts, Mary about Clark Gable, Parker about garlic, and Jack is crazy about rare coins.  (Don’t memorize this, you’ll never hear it again.  In later years, Jack is crazy about coins, period, and not just old ones, brother.)

NOTE:  Mary comments that the ranch house was a haunted house last week.

JOKE:  (In the sanitarium)

Jack:  “Say Frank, there are a lot people here who don’t belong.  See that fellow in the next cell?”

Black:  “Yes, Jack.”

Jack:  “And you notice how quiet he is never opens his mouth, doesn’t interfere in anything.”

Black:  “What’s the matter with him?”

Jack:  “He thinks he’s Vice President Garner.”


Parker:  “All opera singers eat garlic.  In fact, it’s the secret of my success.”

Jack:  “If you think that’s a secret, you are crazy.”


Jack:  “And now, ladies and gentlemen, I want to apologize, really, for going off my nut.  But, after all, as Shakespeare once said, the whole world is an asylum and we’re all crazy about something or other.  For instance, take the different nationalities.  One is crazy about Spaghetti, another is goofy about herring, Winchell is that way about Bernie, Einstein is crazy about his relatives, and that’s the way it goes.”

(Another long setup with very little payoff.  The Einstein bit is cute, but that’s it.  The whole speech is incredibly awkward.  “Sorry I went crazy, but that reminds me how funny life is in general.”  It’s not the least bit believable that someone would use a personal crisis in this way, to tell completely unfunny jokes.  In later years, we’ll see personal antagonism between Jack and Phil Harris, Jack and Fred Allen, and Jack and pretty much everyone he meets.  We know they’re all in fun, but they work because they come across as believable, realistic clashes of absurd egos.  Back in the days of The Chevrolet Program, nothing is believable, not even in a cartoony way.)


Jack, reading:  “Dear Mr. Benny, although it costs us nothing to listen to you on the radio, we still feel cheated. 


Jack, reading:  “Arizona… where men are men and women are the gosh-darndest things.”


Jack, introducing:  “The first scene takes place on the Benny Z Ranch in Poison Gulch, Arizona, the toughest spot between Phoenix and asphalt.  Curtain!  Music, Frank! 

[orchestra plays “California, Here I Come”]

Jack:  “Hey, wait a minute!  Wait a minute, Frank!  We’re not going out that far.  You know, just Arizona, that’s all, see?”

Black:   “Oh, pardon me.”

Jack:  “Yeah, just Arizona.”

[orchestra plays a classical piece]

JOKE:  (in the play)

Jack:  “What’s your name?”

Cowboy:  “Jones.”

Jack:  “Not Buck Jones.”

Cowboy:  “No, his little brother, fifty cents.”

Jack:  “Oh, half buck, eh?  Now, there’s a two-bit joke!  Well boys, let’s go in.  I’m so hungry I could eat a bar.”

Parker:  “A chocolate bar?”

Jack:  “Nope.

Parker:  “A Hershey bar?”

Jack:  “No, a grizzly bar.”


Jack:  “You know, we got a Chinese cook out here.  Hey, Lum Fat, what have we got for supper tonight?”

Lum Fat:  [long string of unintelligible Chinese]

Jack:  “Hmm, beans again, eh?  Well, I want to tell ya something, I’m not satisfied with your cookin’!”

Lum Fat:  (in Jewish accent) “All right then, why don’t you get another Chinaman?”

Cowboy:  “Hey boss, is that thar a Chinese cook?”

Jack:  “Yeah, he’s been listening to “The Rise of the Goldbergs” so much it finally got him.”


Cowboy:  “Ah said, have you been a-brandin’ your cattle?”

Jack:  “Ah used to brand ‘em with a red-hot iron, but I hadda cut it out.”

Cowboy:  “Why?”

Jack:  “Smoke got in their eyes.”

(This is part of a running joke, that began with Frank Parker singing “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” on 2/25/34.  There’s nothing funny about it, but they keep referring to it anyway, hoping that if they mention it enough times it will be.)


Stranger:  “My car broke down and I’d like to borrow your ranch.”

Jack:  “This is a cattle ranch.”

Stranger:  “Oh, pardon me, I thought it was a monkey ranch.”


Jack:  “Funny how a horse full of hay can be so hard to sit on.”


Black:  “But you must be here for some reason.”

Jack:  “I tell you there’s no reason!  It’s all a mistake!”

Alois:  “But it is not a mistake to buy the 1934 Chevrolet, the most dependable car in the low-priced field!”


Jack:  “Nothing to talk about.  Anything new, Havrilla?”

Alois:  “Yes.  The New 1934 Chevrolet… where are you going, Jack?”

Jack:  “Back to the sanitarium.”

VERDICT:  It’s amazing how flat these last three shows have fallen.  They’ve built a minor story arc here, moving from the duel, to the haunted house to the sanitarium.  These are all decent ideas, but nothing much is done with any of them.  There are few good jokes, and nobody hides the fact that it’s all a put on.  “They visit Jack in a sanitarium and find that he’s perfectly fine”!!  What kind of a scene is that??

43.  04/01/34                 THE ETERNAL TRIANGLE     (18:17)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  The orchestra opens with “Where’s That Rainbow?” from “Peggy Anne” (cut). 

It’s Easter Sunday, so they talk about the women on 5th Avenue with new green outfits.  Mary comes in, fresh from trying to buy Easter Eggs.  Mary starts to read an Easter poem, which is interrupted by an unidentified song (cut).  When they finish, Mary is still reading.  She swears to never write another poem, to great applause.  Since it’s April Fool’s Day, Jack enlists Mary to help play a prank on Black.  Black is supposed to call a phone number and ask for Mr. Mackerel, but the number is actually that of an aquarium! (Oh, the hilarity!)  Black calls, and appears to have a genuine conversation (full of fish puns), with someone by that name, but when he hands the phone to Mary, there’s nobody there!  April Fool!  (As phone pranks go, this isn’t exactly Bart Simpson material.)  Jack introduces the play.  Parker sings “The House is Haunted” from “The Big Follies”, and the play begins!

PLAY:  “The Eternal Triangle”, a parody of the movie {? Lionel Barrymore}.  Mary (Kathleen Livingsburn) is caught between her husband, Lionel Havrilla, and her lover, Clark Benny.  Mary sends Havrilla to Boston, so that she can cavort with Jack.  When Havrilla returns, Jack hides behind the radio.  When Havrilla has Mary turn the radio on, Jack impersonates Jack Benny doing The Chevrolet Show (another great idea that not much is done with).  Jack has trouble remembering who the sponsor is, perhaps because it will be someone else 5 days from now.  And again, that’s all, folks!

BACK TO THE SHOW:  The orchestra plays “You’ve Got Everything”.  Jack announces that this is the final Chevrolet Show, and says goodbye to everyone.  Jack returns $10 to Black that he doesn’t remember borrowing.  Black uses it to repay a forgotten $10 debt to Havrilla.  Havrilla uses it to pay a forgotten debt to Parker.  Parker pays it to Mary, Mary pays it to Jack, and they’re all back where they started!!  Absolutely priceless! (NOT!)  Eddie Cantor comes in to collect $10 of his own.  He also comes to collect the suit that he loaned Jack, and the dress that his wife Ida loaned to Mary.  Since Jack and Mary are wearing these outfits at the moment, Jack says he can have them after the program, which is a real shame, as returning the outfits to Eddie right there on stage would have been an ending to The Chevrolet Program that nobody would have gone down in history. (Or is that infamy?)  Especially if Jack had mooned Chevrolet on the way out for dropping him.

ALOIS'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, for that man of mirth, humor, jokes, Rochester, Cleveland, and all points west, Mr. Jack Benny, on Track 5.”


MINOR ROLES:  Blanche Stewart

NOTE:  When Mary has trouble buying pre-colored Easter Eggs, Jack explains that you have to color them yourself.  Either they didn’t sell plastic ones then, or they were just assuming that you knew they meant real eggs.  Today you can buy even real eggs pre-colored.

MARY’S POEM:  Mary’s interrupted Easter Poem is used again on 4/5/36.

NOTE:  Next week, there will be a NEW Chevrolet Program, featuring Victor Young And His Orchestra.  Jack Benny will be back in five days on the new “General Tire Program” (but of course they don’t tell us that.)

JOKE:  (regarding Easter dresses)

Jack:  “The only way to hang onto your dough is to marry a Scotch nudist!”


Mary:  “You leave Jack alone!  He has more talent in his little finger than you’ll ever have!”

Black:  “I don’t believe it.”

Mary:  “Neither do I, but that’s what he told me.”


Mary:  “That reminds me, Jack, I wrote a poem about Easter.”

Jack:  “Mary, will you stop writing those poems!  That’s the only trouble with this program!”

(That is NOT the only trouble with this program!)


Jack:  “As I was saying, it is nice to see people in their new spring finery.  New hats, new dresses, new suits…”

Alois:  “And it is nice to see the new Chevrolet, with its shining hood, it’s…”


(phone rings)

Jack:  “Answer that, Mary.”

Mary:  “Okay. (answers) April Fool, you big palooka! (hangs up) He didn’t fool me that time.”

Alois:  “And you are not fooled when you buy the 1934 Chevrolet!”




2/18/34, the birth of Captain O’Benny.  It’s a character that Jack used on radio right up to 1955.  The joke behind naming him “O’Benny” had a nice wry subtlety to it.


Maybe this exchange from 3/4/34:

Jack:  "How much is ten paces, Mary?"

Mary:  "About three dollars in American money."

The musical mix-up from 3/18/34, in which Black keeps picking the wrong theme song for the western play is nice, too.


JACK BENNY:  Jack’s character is very slowly, but very surely developing.  The Jack Benny of the Canada Dry Program bore almost no resemblance to the later Jack whatsoever.  Chevrolet Season 1 established Jack as slightly vain, and a poor violinist.  Chevrolet Season 2 builds on that by having Jack’s ego generate personality conflicts with his cast.  Granted, most of the conflicts they set up are ridiculous, like fighting a duel to the death for no real reason at all.  But we are seeing a progression here.

MARY LIVINGSTONE:  She’s still kind of a wide-eyed innocent.  Hard to classify, she’s neither the acid-tongued cynic of later years, nor the stereotypical Ditzy Dame.  She still comes off the way she was originally introduced, as a wide-eyed fan who’s just happy to be there at all.

FRANK BLACK:  They try to set up a few situations for him where he can butt heads with Jack for bragging rights on the show.  It’s a good idea, but the attempts are very random, half-hearted, and not very well written.  But the next time we see this angle used, it will be carried off much better.

FRANK PARKER:  There’s a new singer this year, but he’s functionally identical to the old singer.  No personality is developed for his character, and all of his songs are cut from surviving recordings of the show.  He has a few stray lines here and there that could just as easily have been assigned to a walk-on.  They make one half-hearted attempt to build a shtick for him based on his singing or wanting to sing the song “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”, but they forget to do anything funny with the idea.

ALOIS HAVRILLA:  It’s hard to compare flavors of vanilla.  Howard Claney or Alois Havrilla?  It's not exactly "Ginger or Mary Ann", is it?  Howard and Alois both exist for the sole purpose of interrupting dialogue with Chevrolet commercials, so what’s the difference?  But believe it or not, I think I actually prefer Howard.  With all of Jack’s announcers, you end up asking the question “Why do they do what they do?”  Don Wilson would rhapsodize about Jell-O to the point where you could find yourself imagining that he really did have some kind of bizarre emotional attachment to Strawberry, Raspberry, Cherry, Orange, Lemon and Lime.  Howard Claney was more bombastic and annoying, but I had just about had him pegged as a humorless, over-zealous, by-the-book type, who knew he was supposed to plug the product, but had absolutely no clue about when was an appropriate time to do it.  That’s not a great character, but it’s something.  Havrilla is different.  He comes across as a bit refined and cultured, maybe like a wise-old-grandfather type.  He doesn’t project real personal affection for the product like Don, nor does he come off as clueless and zealous, like Howard.  He comes off like a guy who ought to know enough to do the commercials at the pre designated times, but just doesn’t.  In that way, his commercials are different from those others, they’re neither fish nor fowl.  (Well, they are foul, but that’s another story)


RECURRING BITS:  The News Roundup doesn’t show up in surviving Season 2 episodes.  In addition to the play, reading fan mail after the orchestra’s second number is a regular feature this year.

JOKES:  In later years, items designated as “JOKE:” are usually reserved for presenting really great or memorable quotes from the show.  That’s not really the case here (there are no “great” lines).  Instead, these are intended as a representative sample of the show’s better lines, intended to give the reader a general idea of the state of humor on The Chevrolet Program.  There are long spiels that are supposed to be funny, but go nowhere.  There are simple puns that are cute but not enough to hang a show on (“Venice I going to sing my song?”, or “This is a cattle ranch” “I thought it was a monkey ranch”, or “A chocolate bar?” “No, a grizzly bar.”)  It all goes to show how critical writing is.  The guy starring in this show is one of the funniest people of the 20th century, and it’s not that he didn’t learn how to be funny until later on.  He knows now, he just hasn’t got much to work with.

FAVORITE TOPICS OF HUMOR ON THE CHEVROLET PROGRAM:  George Bernard Shaw, Mahatma Gandhi, Primo Carnera, Sir Harry Lauder, Albert Einstein, and nudists.  Don’t ask me why.

SHOW’S FORMAT:  There is a marked difference between Chevrolet Season 1 and Chevrolet Season 2, and that difference is in the way the cast interacts with each other.  In Season 1, most of the non-musical segments were dedicated to the News Roundup (in which Jack speaks to the audience), and the plays (in which the cast speaks to each other, but only through temporary roles that they won’t be playing next week).  Chevy Season 2 starts to build up interactions between the cast playing themselves.  We can see the difference in the first scene of the first surviving episode, in which Jack walks off the show in protest over the undignified introduction that he’s given.  With scenes like this, they finally start to build relationships among the various permanent characters on the show.  Most of these interactions are handled very badly, to be sure.  The jokes are few and largely unfunny, and the situations are awful (like sending Jack to a sanitarium and not letting him act unusual in any way whatsoever).  But they’ve definitely got the right idea.  It will take a couple of seasons to develop this good idea into something really great.


The Chevrolet Program was cancelled because GM President William Knudson didn't think Jack was funny.  Listening to the surviving programs, you kind of see where the dude was coming from.  The show is not funny, and often difficult even to sit through.  But the problem isn't with Jack, it's with the writing.  There simply wasn't much here for him to hang his talents on.  On the other hand, midway through the season, the 3rd annual New York World Telegram radio editors poll named Jack the most popular comedian on the air (an honor which he won for the next several years running), so somebody liked what they were hearing.

A wonderful undated photograph of Jack and Mary. From the University of Wyoming American Heritage Center, Jack Benny Papers Collection, Accession Number 8922, Box 65, Folder 22