1934-1934 Season

          1934 SEASON (APRIL-SEPTEMBER)

THE GENERAL TIRE PROGRAM  aired from April 06, 1934 to September 28m 1934 on Friday evenings from 10:30 to 11:00p.m. EST on NBC, originating again from the studios of station WEAF in New York City. There were 26 episodes total, with 11 surviving. 

Five days after The Chevrolet Program ended, Jack began his new show for General Tire.  Frank Black and Alois Havrilla are gone, replaced by Don Bestor and Don Wilson. The show wasn't really on long enough to register in the year-end Hooper ratings.

CAST

Jack Benny:        Master of Ceremonies

Frank Parker:      Vocalist

Mary Livingstone:  Supporting Player

Don Bestor:        Orchestra Leader

Jimmy Grier:       (Orchestra Leader for Hollywood Episodes)

Don Wilson:        Announcer


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. This has acted to seriously degrade playback quality and has resulted in numerous instances of sticking and jumping of grooves. Certain shows (noted below) were recorded on 12" 78 rpm acetate coated discs, and these are of better quality and are less damaged than the uncoated aluminum ones. Programs 3, 8-15, 17, 19, 20, and 23 are missing from the UCLA collection.

  

1.    04/06/34                     FRANK PARKER'S MUSIC STORE     (25:57)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  The orchestra opens with an unidentified number.  Don Wilson announces a new series of shows for General Tire.  Jack meets his new cast, who don't seem to realize that they are his new cast.  Don Wilson had thought that orchestra leader Don Bestor would be MC'ing the program.  Once the formalities are ironed out, Jack tries to come to an understanding with Don Wilson about not butting in with commercials willy-nilly, as happened on that other program.  Wilson agrees, but the rule is soon broken.  Jack meets Don Bestor, who seems to be overly intellectual, and often needs to be translated by Don Wilson.  The orchestra plays "Contented".  Mary comes in, and mistakes the tuxedoed Don Bestor for a waiter.  She tries to figure out who Bestor reminds her of and finally decides it's Don Bestor the orchestra leader.  Mary convinces Jack to leave the show and go visit Frank Parker at his new music store, conveniently located only a few blocks from here.  As they leave, the orchestra plays "April Showers".

SITUATION COMEDY:  Jack and Mary arrive at Frank Parker's music store.  Somehow he's set one up in the five days since The Chevrolet Program ended.  Apparently, like Mary, Parker is not supposed to be a cast member of this show either (this isn't completely clear, but nobody seems to have expected him to be at Jack’s broadcast).  Parker's music store isn't doing too well, so Jack and Mary decide to make a little music to help advertise the place.  At a customer's request, Mr.”Parkerton” sings "Orchids in the Moonlight".  There's no overall story to the scene, just a series of retail set pieces about waiting on various funny customers.

PLAY:  None.  The trip to the music store takes the time.

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we present that universal favorite, that radiant person, that well-known entertainer, that star of the air, Don Bestor!"

Bestor:  "Thank you, Mr. Wilson.  Good evening, ladies and gentlemen."

Jack:  "Hmm, trouble brewing."

Wilson:  "And now I want you to meet a most versatile gentleman, a man who has accomplished things…"

Jack:  "You bet I have."

Wilson:  "And a man who will probably make this the hottest program on the air, our janitor!"

Janitor:  "I thank-a you!"

Jack:  "Maybe I'm in the wrong studio.  Say fella, what program is this?"

Wilson:  "General Tire."

Jack:  "Well, here I am!  Jack Benny is my name."

Wilson:  "Pardon me, I didn't get that."

Jack:  "Jack Benny.”

Wilson:  "What is it again?"
Jack:  "Constantine Acropolis."

MINOR ROLES:  William Edmunds, Sam Hearn, Mary Kelly, Blanche Stewart

NOTE Throughout this episode, Jack jumpstarts the orchestra by saying "Play, Frank", rather than Don (a reference to previous orchestra leader, Frank Black).

NOTE There's a running joke throughout this episode of Mary trying to figure out who people remind her of.  Don Wilson reminds her of George Bernard Gandhi (a cross between two figures who fascinated the writers during The Chevrolet Program.)

NOTE In the Music Store, Jack and Mary's names change throughout the sketch.  At one point, they are Miss Livingweather, and Mr. Bennyton.

NOTE Sam Hearn's "Shleperman" character is one of the customers in the music store, but he calls himself Ginsburg.  In his previous outing, he was Ghostburg.  The character of Shleperman exists, but the name has not yet been coined.

CLUES TO MARY'S IDENTITY:

Mary:  "I just thought I'd drop in and see how your new program's coming along."

CLUES TO MARY'S IDENTITY:

Mary:  "I've been around looking for work and I found a job yesterday as a private secretary.  Isn't that swell?"

Jack:  "A private secretary?  Gee, that's nice work.  How did you get it?"

Mary:  "I showed him your recommendation, but I got the job anyway."

(Between these two clips, it sounds like Mary is not a cast member of this show at all.  She even she has another job.  However, this other job will be immediately ignored, and she'll go back to the same indeterminate role on Jack’s show that she had before.)

JOKE

Jack:  "I don't want to see anybody. I'm going to be the Master of Ceremonies on this program.”

Wilson:  "That's news to me."

Jack:  "News to you??  Didn't you see that article about me in the paper?"

Wilson:  "I seldom read the want ads."

JOKE:

Jack:  "That's strange, you're Don Bestor and he's Don Wilson."

Wilson:  "That's two Don and one to go."

BESTOR INTELLECTUAL JOKE:

Jack:  "You seem to have quite an orchestra here, Bestor."

Bestor:  "Oh, yes.  I've augmented my musical constituents to embellish my symphonic interpretation."

Jack:  "What did he say, Wilson?"

Wilson:  "He says he's pretty good."

Jack:  "Well, he doesn't have to use medical terms.  Sounded to me as though he read that off a prescription or something."

(Bestor's intellectual acuity is explained by the fact that he's a college grad (Carnegie Tech, 1928).  In those days, that meant something.  His character is similar to Elliot, the Sound Man in the 1940 Burns & Allen Spam Program.  However, Elliot had the added nuance that he despised the ignominy of his job, but couldn't quit because he supported his more successful brothers.  This wouldn't have worked for a position as important as orchestra leader.  Elliott's character had a voice a bit like Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob.  His catch phrase, uttered under his breath with barely concealed rage was always "Four YEARS at Harvard!  And this!  (Door Slam) This is what I do for a living!!"  Definitely worth checking out.)

JOKE (at the music store)

Frank:  "That's a Stradivarius."

Jack:  "Do you mind if I use it?"
Frank:  "No, go ahead.  It's an old one, anyway."

JOKE:  (At the store)

Jack:  "Good evening, Madame.  What can I do for you?"

Lady Customer:  "I'd like a copy of 'Going To Heaven on a Mule' from 'Wunderbar'."

Jack:  "Going to Heaven On A Mule?"

Lady Customer:  "Yes."

Jack:  "I'm sorry, we're all out of that.  Is there any place else you want to go?"

JOKE (At the store)

Mary:  If somebody wants Saint Louis Blues, and we haven't got it, I'll give them Cincinnati Reds."

BESTOR INTELLECTUAL JOKE:  (At the store)

Bestor:  "I'd like to get a copy of Chimney Exhaust Finds Its Way Into Your Optics."

Jack:  "You mean Smoke Gets In Your Eyes?"

Bestor:  Yes, if you want to be vulgar."

JOKE:

Jack:  "Oh, Don?"

Bestor and Wilson:  "Yes?"

Jack:  "Too many Dons on this program.  Good night, Folks."

(They've gone from too many Franks to too many Dons.)

WORD ASSOCIATION COMMERCIAL (WAC) #1:

Mary:  "Everybody was there.  Gee, what a blowout."

Jack:  "But when you use the General Tire, you will have no blowouts, because it is tough, flexible…

Jack:  There you go, Mary!  I'm going to have the same trouble here!”

WAC#2:  (In the store)

Wilson:  "How do you do?  How do you do?"

Jack:  "Anything for you, sir?"

Wilson:  "I'd like to buy a musical instrument."

Jack:  "Yes, what kind?"

Wilson:  "A microphone."

Jack:  "Funny, we have one right here.  In fact, the only thing we have left in stock."

Wilson:  "Do you mind if I try it out?"

Jack:  "No, no, no, no, go right ahead there."

Wilson, into the mike:  "When you're thinking of buying tires, go to the General Tire dealer, and ask the dealer for the new blowout-proof tire with the silent safety tread!"

NOTE: The UCLA Collection notes that the "discs too deteriorated in parts to transfer" (BC)

  

2.    04/13/34                   BRIDGE GAME         (18:38)

ORCHESTRA OPENING: The opening is cut. 

As the recording starts, everyone is talking about home towns, and discovering that they all come from Springfield, but not the same Springfield.  Bester plays "Little Duck Bill" (cut).  Jack writes a letter to the President of General Tire to complain about commercial interruptions, but gives up.  Bestor invites Jack and Mary to his house.  Parker sings "The Touch of Your Hand" from "Roberta" (cut).

SITUATION COMEDY:  Bestor, Jack and Mary leave the program.  They meet Mrs. Bestor, and Don Bestor, Jr.  They tune in The General Tire Program, and hear the orchestra play "Riptide" (cut).  The four of them play Bridge.  Jack and Mary are partners, but Mary plays and bids very poorly.  The orchestra closes with an unidentified song (cut).

DON'S INTRODUCTION [Cut]

MINOR ROLES: Blanche Stewart

CONTINUITY ALERT:  For the purpose of this sketch, Mary came from Springfield, OH.  In every other episode, she's from Plainfield, NJ. 

NOTE:  At various times during the sitcom scene, Don Wilson appears to be both back on the program, and with them at Don Bestor's at the same time.  It appears that Don is back on the program, and speaking over the radio, but that he is somehow hearing things said at Don Bestor's house and replying to them anyway.

JOKE:

Jack:  "Who's better looking, Mary?  Bestor or I?"

Mary:  "You are."

Jack:  "Thanks."

Mary:  "So, you can imagine how Bestor looks."

BESTOR INTELLECTUAL JOKE:

Jack:  "Oh, Don?  Don?

Bestor:  “Just call me Mr. Bestor.  No need of formality, you know.”

Jack:  "Oh, of course.  And you can call me Mr. Benny now, I mean after all, we're not strangers."

Bestor:  I'd rather have it that way.  Extreme formality breeds contemptuous reactions.  [Unintelligible] …more formidable."

Mary:  "What did he say, Jack?"

Jack:  "I don't know, Mary.  I’m having my own troubles.  Did you hear those words he used, Mary?"

Mary:  "Well Jack, why don't you incorporate the vernacular of the intelligentsia?"

Jack:  "Oh, you too, eh?  Did you hear that, Parker?"

Frank:  "Oh, Constantinople!!"

Jack:  "Constantinople??"

Frank:  "Yes, that's the only big word I know."

BESTOR INTELLECTUAL JOKE:

Jack:  "My, my, what a nice young boy.  What's that book you have there?"

Don Bestor, Jr.:  "I'm reading the Psycho Analysis of Stratospheric Phenomena."

JOKE:

Don:  "Oh Jack?"

Jack:  "Yes, Wilson.”

Don:  "It is now imperative that I wholly eulogize our product.”

Jack:  "Oh, yeah?"

Don:  "The General Simon safety tread adds the final factor of security to the blowout-proof tire, and the patented (?) construction provides luxurious comfort!  I thank you."

Jack:  "I can see that I won't talk much to you either."

Don:  "Well, the squirrels had a word for it."

Jack:  "Now, wait a minute!  This thing has gone far enough!  Mary, take a letter."

Mary:  "Yes, Jack."

Jack:  "I've had enough trouble around here.  Take a letter to Bill O'Neill, President, General Tire and Rubber Company.  Springfield… I mean Akron, Ohio.  Dear Bill:  My constituents are conspicuously conspiring to cause verbal consternation by employing multi-syllabic conglomerations in this studio."

Mary:  "Jack, how do you spell 'studio'?"

NOTE:  Bill O'Neill was the man who founded General Tire in 1915.

WAC#1:  (In the car)

Jack:  "This is a nice car you have, Don."

Mary:  "What kind of a car is it, Jack?

Jack:  "Mary, what's the difference?  It's the tire that counts."

Mary:  "I know, but the tire is so quiet, I can't even hear it."

Wilson, on radio:  "That's because it has the General Blowout-Proof Tires with the Silent Safety Tread!"

(Five days after being dropped by Chevrolet, here’s Jack saying that the type of car doesn’t matter at all.  Coincidence?)

WAC#2:  (In the Bridge Game)

Jack:  "I'll take a leg."

Mary:  "I'll take the other leg."

Jack:  "That's two legs we get, so we win the rubber."

Wilson, on radio:  "And speaking of rubber, remember the General Tire is blowout-proof, and will not skid even on Friday the 13th!"

NOTE:  The UCLA Collection notes that "opening of program too deteriorated to transfer" (BC)

  

4.    04/27/34                  NEW HAMPSHIRE THROUGH A KEYHOLE or LORD     (3:58)

ORCHESTRA OPENING: The opening number is cut and unidentified.

Jack tries to tell jokes to Wilson, who recognizes them before Jack has gotten more than a few words out.  Jack tells a joke about two Scotsman and an announcer.  Don laughs at the Scotsman part but the announcer part goes over his head.  Don tries to tell one about an Airdale, and a Master of Ceremonies, but Jack doesn't want to hear it.  Bestor tries to tell a Traveling Salesman Joke, but as usual, his vocabulary goes over their heads.  Mary tells a joke and the recording cuts out.

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  [cut]

MINOR ROLES: William Edmunds, Sam Hearn, Blanche Stewart

MARY'S JOKE:  "Why is Mae West like an ocean dinner?  They both come up and see you some time."

WILSON'S JOKE Don tries to tell a joke about the difference between a General Tire and other tires, but the punchline is cut.

BESTOR INTELLECTUAL JOKE:

Bestor:  "I just overheard you boys exchanging yarns."

Jack:  "Uh huh."

Bestor:  "Do you mind if I relay an anecdote?"

Jack:  "What did he say, Wilson?"

Wilson:  "Oh, he said he'd like to tell a story."

Jack:  "Okay Bestor, but I wish we had an interpreter.  What’s the story?"

Bestor:  "Retard me if you've heard it."

Jack:  "Retard you??  I'll make it tacit, don't worry."

Bestor:  "Well, there was a touring merchandise salesman, a man who ploughs the earth, and his female offspring."

Jack:  "You mean a travelling salesman and a farmer's daughter?"

Bestor:  "Well yes, if you want to be crude."

NOTE The recording cuts out about 4 minutes in. The UCLA Collection notes "Excerpt only, approximately 0:04-0:08 of program; remainder of program not in collection" (BC)

  

5.    05/04/34                    THE HILLS OF KENTUCKY     (20:44)

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

Jack takes exception to the word "chiseller" in Don's introduction, but looks it up in the dictionary, and decides that it's okay.  (He'd thought Don was accusing him of carving statues.)  Mary and Parker both arrive from dances.  Everyone discusses their favorite dances.  The orchestra plays "Carioca" from "Flying Gondolier".  Jack gets a telegram from a friend giving him tips on the Kentucky Derby.  Jack calls up to make a 40 cent bet on Cavalcade.  Wilson makes his own bet, on "General Tire" to Win, Place and Show.  Frank sings "Cocktails For Two" from "Murder in the Vanities".  Jack reads poor reviews of their recent play, "The Lure of the City" and then introduces the next play.  The orchestra plays a Hillbilly Medley, and the play begins.

PLAY "The Hills of Old Kentucky".  Jack Van Smith is leader of a Mountain William Clan feuding with the Diddleberries.  He tries to order breakfast for everyone, but the order changes every time one of them gets shot.

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "Ladies and gentlemen, I take great pleasure in introducing that sculptor, painter and chiseller, Mr. Jack Benny."

MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Blanche Stewart

NAMES FOR THE BAND:  Don Bestor and His Mountaineers.

NOTE The telegram comes from Sam Friedman in Louisville, KY.  It’s not clear if this is a real person or not.

RACIAL HUMOR!:

Jack:  "Say Wilson, what nationality are you, anyway?

Don:  "Well, my mother was Irish and my father Scotch."

Jack:  "Oh, you have Scotch and Irish blood, huh?  Oh, now I remember, when we went to dinner together the other night.  Your Irish blood wanted to pick up the check and your Scotch blood interfered?"

JOKE:

Jack:  "I thought you liked dancing."

Mary:  "No.  all it is is a lot of hugging with music.

Jack:  "Well Mary, didn't you enjoy yourself?"
Mary:  "No, you know how I hate music."

Jack:  "Oh, yes, yes.  I can imagine.  Say, I went to a dance last night, myself.  You know, one of those places, you know, ten cents a dance?"

Mary:  "How much did you make?"

JOKE:

Jack:  "…And Don Wilson, who is quite a big fellow, will play one of the hills."

(This may be the first ever time Jack referred to Don's weight.  He doesn't expect the audience to get the joke unless he spells out the fact that Don is quite a big fellow.  Remarks about Don's weight are few and far between for the next couple of years, but become a trademark later.)

BESTOR INTELLECTUAL JOKE:

Bestor:  "Say, Jack?"

Jack:  "Yeah?"

Bestor:  "I understand from your conversation that you are discussing terpsichore."

FORGOTTEN HUMOR:  (In the play)

Mary:  "Well Pappy, I reckon I'm gonna skip to the village now and see a movin’ picture."

Jack:  "Yeah?  What picture is showin' down there this week?"

Mary:  "Francis X. Bushman."

Jack:  "Well, it's about time they gave us some of that new stuff."

(Bushman was a silent era star).

BESTOR INTELLECTUAL JOKE:

Jack:  "Well, if it ain't Zeke Bester.  What are you doing here, Zeke?

Bestor: "I'm a Mountain William, too.

Jack:  "A Mountain William?  You mean a Hillbilly, don't you, son?"

Bestor: "Yeah, if you want to use slang."

WAC#1: 

Mary:  "What's your favorite dance, toots?"

Wilson:  "The General Tire Glide with the non-skid movement of the silent safety tread!"

Mary:  "How does the air go?"

Wilson:  "It runs on 40% less air than any other tire, and gives your car a perfect rhythm!"

WAC#2:  (In the play)

Don, after being shot:  "I don't mind going, Pappy, there's just one thing I regret."

Jack:  "What's that?"

Don:  "That I wasn't blowout-proof like the General Tires."

WAC (In the play)

Jack:  "And I hope all you folks enjoyed our little feud tonight."

Don:  "And speaking of feuds, there are very 'feud' automobile owners who will not agree that the General blowout-proof tire is the best that money can buy!"

NOTE: The UCLA Collection notes that "musical selections not recorded"

  

6.    05/11/34                        HOME COOKING AT DON'S     (11:52)

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

Wilson wants to know what a Master of Ceremonies is.  Jack describes it in his own way, which naturally leads to a discussion about whether Jack is egotistical.  This nearly leads to a fight with Don, until Don warns that he was once California Heavyweight Champion.  Jack backs off, but when Don leaves and Mary arrives, Jack puts on airs bout how he got the best of Don in the fight they never had.  When Don returns, Mary starts to console him for losing the fight.  Don is on the verge of finding out what Jack has been saying when he gets distracted by another chance for an impromptu General Tire commercial.  The orchestra plays an unidentified number.  Bestor apologizes for his behavior at the beginning of the program (that we didn’t hear).  Wilson invites Jack out to his place for the weekend.  Jack leaves the show early again.  The orchestra plays an unidentified number.

SITUATION COMEDY:  Jack and Don take the subway to Don’s.  During the walk from the stop to his place, they get mugged.  The mugger takes Don’s word for it that he has nothing, but steals a ring from Jack.  Don takes Jack home to meet his mom, and produces a hundred bucks that the mugger missed, and the program cuts out.

PLAY:  None.

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now for the face on the taproom floor, Jack Benny!”

MINOR ROLES: Ralph Ashe, Sam Hearn, Mary Kelly, Blanche Stewart

NOTE:  Don wears glasses in this episode, as he mentions taking them off before fighting Jack.

NOTE:  In this episode, Don lives in The Bronx with his mother, just a short walk from the last subway stop.

JOKE: 

Jack:  Am I burning up, folks!  Right now you could fry eggs on my forehead!"

Wilson:  "That'd be a nice order of ham and eggs."

JOKE:

Wilson:  "Well, listen Benny.  Just a word for your own protection.  You know, I was once Heavyweight Champion of California.  Remember that."

Jack:  "Well, I can fight too.  Did you ever hear of Carnera?"
Wilson:  "Yes."

Jack:  "Well, who didn't?  Big smart alec."

NOTE: The UCLA Collection notes that this recording is an acetate, and that "opening announcement and section approximately 1/3 into show not recorded. Last half of show missing" (BC)

  

7.    05/18/34                    JACK IS TAKING A TAXI TO THE SHOW     (17:54)

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

Jack isn’t there.  He’s going to be a little late, and is taking a taxi to the show.  Don wants the orchestra to play a little number, but Mary suggests that Don tell a few jokes.  Don suggests that they tune into the taxicab instead.  This sounds like a neat trick, but they manage it effortlessly.

SITUATION COMEDY:  Jack is in a cab on his way to the program.  The cabbie offers to put on the radio, and Jack asks for “The Rise of the Goldbergs”.  The cab gets pulled over for speeding, but the cop tickets Jack.  Jack arrives at the show.

THE SHOW The orchestra plays “Tea For Two” from “No No Nannette” (cut).  They talk about how Jack will do in pictures, compared to Gable and Karloff.  Parker sings “May I?” from "We're Not Dressing".  Parker says his folks feel slighted that Jack went to Bestor’s house, but not his.  Jack, Mary and Frank leave the show early to go to Frank’s house.  Bestor seems amused by this, but won’t say why.  The orchestra plays an unidentified number (cut).

SITUATION COMEDY:  Jack, Mary and Frank arrive at Frank’s house.  Jack tries to meet Frank’s mother, father and sister, but they’re too busy singing.  It soon turns out that singing is all they do, and when they want to say something, they sing the words to the tune of a famous operatic piece.  Jack tries to do as the Romans do, with mixed success.  Finally, they tune in to The General Tire Program for a little sanity, and find the Singing Bug has caught on there too.

NOTE The scene at Parker’s house is really funnier than it sounds on paper.  It’s a strong candidate for “Jack Benny Scene That Most Resembles a Monty Python Sketch”.

PLAY:  None.

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, for the spaniel that blighted my life, Jack Benny!” (I know I heard this wrong, the recording is bad… but it probably sounds better this way)

MINOR ROLES: Mary Kelly, Blanche Stewart

NOTE:  Jack’s studio is at 6th Avenue and 49th Street.

NOTE:  Jack just made a personal appearance at the Capital Theatre. 

NOTE Jack says that he went to Wilson’s house last week and had to move a piano.  This must have been in the part of the show that was cut.

JOKE

Mary:  "Well, the only [joke] I know is the one about the goat without a nose.  And you know how that smells."

JOKE:  (In the cab)

Jack:  "I can see you weren't always a taxi driver."

Cabby:  "No, I used to be a Master of Ceremonies.  Did you ever hear the one about the peacock?"

Jack:  "No."

Cabby:  "It's a wonderful tail."

Jack:  "There always was.  And don't pull any of those jokes.  You know, I'm a Master of Ceremonies, myself."

Cabby:  "Oh, yeah?  Well, why ain't you drivin' a cab?"

Jack:  "Say, driver.  Just watch that road ahead of you, will you?"
Cabby:  "Hey, don't worry about me.  I've hit over 100 pedestrians, and there ain't a mark on this cab!"

 Jack:  "Say, were we going 60?  It didn't seem like 60 to me."

Cabby:  "Well, I got those General blowout-proof tires on, Chief.  Dey ride like cushions!"

Jack:  "It won't help you.  Ten cents is all I ever tip."

JOKE:

Jack:  "I dropped in to see a picture, and you should have been there, Don.  You'd have cried your eyes out."

Wilson:  "Why?  Was it that sad?"

Jack:  "No, the picture was all right.  But a guy came out and sang Wagon Wheels, and I know how you like General Tires."

JOKE:

Jack:  "Which reminds me, folks, I read in the paper the other day how Harry Lauder is swimming over for another tour of America."

(A combination of a Scottish cheap joke, and a reference to the fact that Lauder did numerous "Farewell Tours" around that time).

JOKE:

Mary:  "Say Jack, I think you'll be swell in pictures."

Jack:  "Do you really think so, Mary?"

Mary:  "Sure, there's always room for another Boris Karloff."

Jack:  "But I'm not a Karloff."

Mary:  "No, but you certainly 'bore us'."

CLUES TO MARY’S IDENTITY:

Jack:  "What has sex appeal got to do with it?  You love me, don't you, Mary?"

Mary:  "Yes, but do I know what I'm doing?"

(Okay, so does this mean that Mary is supposed to be Jack's girlfriend?  Why else would he ask that?)

JOKE:

Mary:  "Jack, what does 'colossal' mean?"

"Well, colossal… colossal means, uh… uh… gimme that dictionary a minute there, will you, Frank?"

Frank:  "Yeah, here."

Jack:  "Let's see.  'Colossal'.  'Colossal'.  K-O-L… K-O-L-O… gee, it isn't even here.  I guess there's no such word."

RUNNING JOKE:

Mary:  "Remember the night you sang "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes", and the fella hit you in the nose somebody hit you with a grapefruit?  Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"

Jack:  "What are you laughing at?"

Mary:  "Squirt got in your eyes."

(This is an example of a running joke that was popular throughout the 30's, in which someone would say something that would start Mary laughing uncontrollably, Jack would ask why she was laughing, and Mary would offer a punchline that made sense in hindsight.  This one's not that funny, just another reference to the show's strange fascination with that song after Frank Parker sung it last year.  It continues…)

Jack:  “Say, Frank.”

Frank:  “Yes, Jack.”

Jack:  “Let me straighten you out on this.  You know, the fella that threw that grapefruit?  Well, I paid him to do it just to get a laugh out of the audience, you see?”

Mary:  “Oh yeah?  Well, what about the other two guys who were throwing things at you?”

Jack:  “Well, they were free-lancing, I had nothing to do with that.”

JOKE:

Jack:  "Where do you live, Frank?"

Frank:  "Right down here in Greenwich Village."

Jack:  "Oh, you mean the artist's colony where all those painters, poets and singers live?"

Frank:  "Yes, my family are all singers.  And my mother was a soprano with the Metropolitan Opera Company."

Jack:  "Oh, she was?  Does she know Lucia de Lamamour?"

Frank:  "No, we just moved in last week."

JOKE:

Jack:  "Is this the apartment, Frank?"

Frank:  "No, that's a Chinese laundry.  We're one flight up."

Jack:  "Oh.  I saw a sign, "Sing Fat".  I thought it was your place."

FLUB:

Jack:  "What are they doing now?"

Frank:  "Oh, just practicing arpeggios."

Jack:  "Oh, you mean the scales?"

Frank:  "Yes.  Notes to you."

Jack:  "Notes to you, too!"

(Frank nearly flubs the line here, and starts to say "Nuts to you" before correcting himself)

JOKE:

Frank:  "Well Mary, how do you like mother's range?"

Mary:  "I like her whole kitchen."

Jack:  "You know Parker, your mother looks fine, but your dad doesn't look so well."

Frank:  "Well, dad's leading a Faust life."


JOKE:

Mary:  "Oh Jack, look at that pretty bird.

That's my singing canary, Jack.  And what a singer.  Come on, sing something, Primo."

Jack:  "Oh, Primo Canary."

JOKE:

Mary:  "Look Jack, they even have a Singer Sewing Machine."

JOKE:

Jack, singing:  "I'd like some chili and some beaaaaaans…. This is the silliest program we've ever had!"

NOTE: The UCLA Collection notes that this recording is an acetate, and that the "opening and closing announcements and musical selections not recorded". (BC)

  

17.    07/20/34                    WHO KILLED MR. STOOGE PART 5     (27:45)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  The orchestra opens with a Medley of Old Favorites in 6/8 Tempo. 

Jack opens with a News Roundup.  Jack talks about how unequally he and guest orchestra leader Jimmy Grier split the bills last night.  Jack bought the dinner and cigars, Jimmy paid for the cab and matches.  Jack tries to describe Jimmy Grier for the audience.  The Unknown Killer (like the Unknown Soldier, but more sinister) reminds them they have a murder mystery to do tonight, so Jack introduces it.  Frank sings “A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody” from “The Ziegfeld Follies”, and the play begins.

PLAY:  “The Stooge Murder Case”, or “Who Killed Mr. Stooge?”  This is not the first part of the play, but we don’t know how many installments were before it.  The .mp3 says Part 5, but I wouldn’t bet on it.  Joe Gefilte Stooge of the famous Radio Stooges, was murdered on the Rue de Lou-say.  The only clues are six shots found in Mr. Stooge’s hip pocket.  Jack plays Sergeant O’Hair, rather than Captain O’Benny, and several jokes are built around this name, both now, and in coming weeks.  The first scene involves Jack, Mary and Wilson loitering around the police station, tossing out stray punchlines.  Radio Comedian Phil Baker comes up for questioning, but knows nothing useful.  Everyone Jack questions seems to have trouble with his name ("Hair!  Hair!")  A disembodied voice starts to tell him who killed Mr. Stooge, but is interrupted by screams. 

THE SHOW:  The orchestra closes with "I Wish I Were Twins".  Jack and Phil Baker reminisce about their time in vaudeville.  Baker thinks Jack played a pretty good fiddle in those days (!), so he brings out his accordion so he and Jack can play a duet of "Love Thy Neighbor". 

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, for that phony comedian… er, funny comedian, Jack Benny!”

SPECIAL GUEST STAR:  Phil Baker

MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin, Joe Franz, Jimmy Grier, Minnie Martin, Harry McNaughton, Ward Wilson

LABELING ERROR?:  Despite the .mp3 filename of this episode on the Jack Benny collections circulating on the internet, this may actually be the episode broadcast on 7/27/34, not the one from 7/20.  (See the next note).

NOTE:  The show is being broadcast from Hollywood, rather than New York.  They don’t say how long the show has been in Hollywood, but this appears to be the 8th consecutive week.  The reasoning behind this conclusion is as follows: 

1) Don Bestor is absent, with Jimmy Grier serving as orchestra leader in his place.  Apparently Bestor did not go with them to Hollywood.

2) According to the cast lists at http://jackbennyshow.com/index_041.htm Jimmy Grier was on the show for all 8 shows from 6/15/34 through 7/27/34.  Bestor was absent those same weeks.  Apparently, this 8 episode block was the trip to Hollywood.

3) Jack says that they will be back in New York next week.

4) Conclusion:  This is the final Hollywood episode.  Therefore it is probably also the final Grier episode.  And according to the logs, that was broadcast on 7/27/34, not 7/20.

5) HOWEVER, according to those same logs, Phil Baker, who appears on this show, was in the 7/20 episode, but not 7/27.  So, nothing is clear.

NOTE:  Jack’s character is not yet a cheapskate at this point in the series.  At least not a full-time one (there may be the stray cheap joke here and there).  As a result, this episode treats us to a bizarre cheapskate sequence involving Jack and Jimmy Grier, in which Jimmy is the cheap one and Jack the sporty one.  Enjoy it, folks, you’ll never see this again.

NOTE:  The Unknown Voice that knows who killed Mr. Stooge is actually Beetle from Phil Baker's Show.  Beetle turns up again on 1/16/38 when he haunts the program.

MISSING CAST As they’re on the road, Don Bestor is missing, with Jimmy Grier filling in.

NOTE:  This is the first News Roundup we’ve heard on the General Tire Show.  It’s fairly short, and Jack no longer refers to himself as “The Earth Galloper” when doing it.

NOTE:  It’s not clear if “The Famous Radio Stooges” are meant to have any resemblance to The Three Stooges.  The Stooges’ first film was in 1930, but the word “stooge” was in fairly common parlance in those days, so probably not.)

JOKE:  (In the News Roundup)

Beverly Hills, California!  The Bing Crosbys are proud parents of twins.  They now have three boys and are the Marx Brothers worried.  Say, that's a good laugh to start with, isn't it?  The little Crosbys were born in the b-b-b-blue of the night.  And Bing was seen giving everybody a Carooner cigar.  That's the best I can do with that."

(This one wasn't funny until that last sentence.)

JOKE:

Mary:  "Oh, Jack.  I read a great book last night.  Shakespeare's King Lear."

Jack:  "Isn't that book a little over your head, Mary?"

Mary:  "No, I held it in my lap."

JOKE:

Jack:  "Now, what was the motive in this murder?  It was not homicide.  It was not suicide."

Mary:  "Maybe it was herbicide."

Jack:  "Mary, go down by the seacide, and pull a permanent wave over your head."

RUNNING JOKE - HAIR!  HAIR!:  Starting with this episode, there's a running joke that shows up occasionally for the next few years, that goes like this:  Jack says something.  Somebody misses part of it.  Jack insistently repeats the word they missed, and asks a rhetorical question about it.  Other guy delivers punchline.  in which Jack would say something.  It began in this episode, over the word "Hair" (resulting from Jack's character being named "O'Hair", but in future it might be used with other words.  It occurs three times in this episode, as follows.

Jack, on phone:  "Hello?  Hello, Sergeant O'Hair speaking.”

Man:  "Who?”

Jack:  "O'Hair, O'Hair! "

Man:  "I never did get that name."

Jack:  "O'Hair!  What is it a bald-headed man hasn't got?"

Man:  "Dandruff."

Jack:  "All right then, this is Dan Druff talking."

Jack, on phone:  "Hello?"

Man:  "Hello, who is this?"

Jack:  "Police Headquarters, Sergeant O'Hair speaking."

Man:  "Who?"

Jack:  "O'Hair, O'Hair!"

Man:  "I'm not catching the name.

Jack:  "O'Hair!  What have you got on your head?"

Man:  "My brother, we're acrobats."

 Jack:  "Wait a minute my name is O'Hair!  Sergeant O'Hair!"

Man:  "Glad to know you, Sergeant.  What was that name again?

Jack:  "O'Hair!  O'Hair!  What have you got on your head?"

Man:  "Lots of Vaseline."

WAC#1:

Jack:  "In appearance, I would say Jimmy is the pell grant type."

Mary:  "He looks more like the General Grant type."

Wilson:  "And, speaking of Generals, it's the best tire on the market today!"

WAC#2:

Jack:  "Where were you on the night of June 15th, at 8 o'clock?"

Wilson: "In Chicago, at the Armour plant, where you can buy the finest hams, the finest…"

Jack:  "Stop!  Hey, stop him!"

Wilson:  "Why?  Why?"

Jack:  "You can't mention Armour here."

Wilson:  "Why?  There 'Armour' features to the General Tire than any other tire on the market!  It's the low-pressure that makes Generals blowout proof, and they can be purchased on convenient terms through the General Tire dealer!"

Jack:  "I guess we're even now, Baker."

WAC#3:

Jack:  "That was Phil Baker and Jack Benny, playing Humoresque."

Wilson:  "And 'Humoresque' anyone about the General Blowout-Proof tire, and you will find…"

NOTE:  The UCLA Collection states that the point of origin for this show was KFI, Hollywood (7:30-8:00pm Pacific Time) and that short gaps in the continuity are caused by portions of discs too deteriorated to transfer. Guest stars Phil Baker, Harry McNaughton and Ward Wilson were all stars of "The Armour Program" aka The Phil Baker Show", which aired Fridays at 9:30pm during the time of this broadcast on NBC Blue. Phil Baker was the star, Harry McNaughton played his butler, Bottle, and Ward Wilson was Beetle the Heckler, who, much like this episode, was a "ghost" type voice that heckled Baker. Baker had an extreme fear of performing live on the radio, so he created the character of a heckler in the audience, and this deliberate confrontation with his "worst fear" actually helped to take some of his nerves away.  It's worth noting that, while Jack Benny's Chevrolet program finished 13th in the Hooper ratings for 1933-1934, The Armour Program with Phil Baker finished 11th, so technically at this time Phil Baker was the bigger "star". (BC)

  

18.    08/03/34                 To New York on the 20Th Century Limited     (27:39)

[This is a mislabeled duplicate copy of “Who Killed Mr. Stooge, Part 5”.]

NOTE: Apparently the actual episode for 08/03/34 may be in the UCLA Collection, which titles it "skit: Train trip back to New York; Who killed Mr. Stooge concluded", notes that Sam Hearn appears, that the recording is an acetate, and that the "opening announcement and musical selections were not recorded" (BC)

  

21.    08/24/34                        THE HOUSE OF RAWCHILD     (23:04)

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

Jack opens with a near-monologue for a change, all about his vacation to Atlantic City, the hotels in Atlantic City, and betting on dog races.  They also discuss the waves in both Atlantic City and Coney Island.  Mary comes back, having gone to Atlantic City also, and entered the Miss America contest, but didn't win.  The orchestra plays "There's a House For Sale In Harlem For Sale" (cut).  Bestor turns out to have been in Atlantic City too, though none of them met each other there.  Jack introduces the play.  Parker sings "For All We Know". 

PLAY:  "The Rise of The House of Rawchild" (a parody of "The House of Rothschild" (1934), starring George Arliss, Boris Karloff, and Loretta Young).  The play opens with a scene of Jack seating the crowd in the theater.  In the play itself, Baron Rawchild gives large sums of money to all of his sons who are in their 60's (and so old enough to go out into the world), to go out into the world, and build empires.  Three months later, three of the kids haven't made much.  Two are bankrupt, one still has the 5 gulden he was given, but the fourth made it big by selling *General Tires*!

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, for that master golfer and talented violinist, Jack Benny!"

MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Sam Hearn, Mary Kelly, Bert Lytell

NOTE:  Jean Harlow won the Miss America contest and she wasn't even there.

NOTE:  The unit of currency in the play is the "gulden".  It sounds like a mustard joke, but is actually the historic Dutch and German word for "gold coin", similar to a guilder.

NOTE:  The double-named hotels Jack mentions are the Ritz-Carlton, the Marlborough-Blenheim, and the Trans-Lux.  (The last is a theater, but Jack slept there a few times too.)

NOTE:  In the play, someone comes to the House of Rawchild, looking for The Rise of the Goldbergs.  There have been a lot of references to that show lately.

JOKE:

Jack:  "Where did you live in Atlantic City?

Mary:  "At the Belden-Stratford."

Jack:  "The Belden-Stratford?  That's in Philadelphia."

Mary:  "Oh, no wonder it was such a long walk to the beach!"

Jack:  "Isn't that awful?  Isn't that awful?  Mary, if you ever go to Chicago, there's a nice hotel in Kansas City, you must stop there."

JOKE:

Jack:  "This play tonight will cost us about 100,000 dollars and 200,000 listeners.  Now, those of you who have seen this picture, The House of Rawchild, will remember that famous family of fine financiers from Frankfurt.  You will remember how old Mayer Rawchild called his sons together, and sent each one to a different place to amass a fortune, and build up the name of Rawchild.  One son remained in Frankfurt, another son went to Hamburg, a third son to Liverwurst… uh, Liverpool.  While the 4th son went to Delhi, India, where he opened a Delhi-catessen store.

JOKE:

Hey Sinatra, why did you spell the "house" with an l."

Bestor:  "I saw the rehearsal."

RUNNING JOKE - HAIR!  HAIR!:  (They branch it out to other words.)

Jack:  "The people behind you can't see.  You'll have to take off your hat."

Man:  "What?"

Jack:  "I say you'll have to take off your hat."

Man:  "My what?"

Jack:  "Oh, you again!  Your hat!  Your hat!  What's on your head!"

Man:  "Vaseline, I'm going to a dance."

Jack:  "Anyway, we didn't say Sergeant O'Hair."

JOKE:

Woman:  Who do you wish to see?"

Prince:  "I'm the prince of Pilsner Bachenlager.  Und I want to see Mayer Rawchild."

Jack:  "Tell him I'm out."

Woman:  "He's out."

Prince:  "I believe you but not him."

JOKE:

Woman:  "Why did you give him that money, Mayer?"

Jack:  "Because it's a good investment.  The Prince of Pilsner Bachenlager is a good friend to have.  You can't tell when he will throw something our way.

Mary:  "That goes for the audience, too."

JOKE:

Jack:  "And you, Solomon.  Here's 200,000 gulden.  I want you to go to Hollywood.  Hal Roach is making "Our Gang" comedies.  And I want you to be one of the Roach Childs."

Solomon:  "Yes, father.

Jack:  "Go, my son.  And hold up your head.  Be a cocky Roach child."

WAC#1:

Jack:  "We all went away for a rest and came back tired.

Wilson:  "And, speaking of tired, the General Tire is not only safer…"

WAC#2:

Usher:  "Get your General Tires here.  You can't enjoy a trip home without a General Tire."

Wilson:  "Oh, I'll have one of those."

Usher:  "Here you are, sir.  Here's one with the silent safety tread.

Jack:  "Yeah, but don't blow out till the show is over.

WAC#3:

Jack:  "Go Sandy, and remember.  Save every penny.  For in money there is power!

Wilson:  "And for a small amount of this power, you can buy the General Blowout-Proof tire on convenient terms through your General Tire dealer."

NOTE: The UCLA Collection notes that the recording is an acetate and has "lightning static throughout". (BC)

  

22.    08/31/34                    THE HOUSE OF BENNY         (30:39)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  The orchestra opens with "My Baby's On Strike". 

Jack describes Don Wilson for the audience.  Jack talks a little about Don's (kayfabe) background, as a Deputy Sheriff in Wyoming.  Everyone talks about dreams and whether they believe in them.  Mary and Parker each describe dreams they've had.  The orchestra plays "Sapphire".  Mary reads a Labor Day Poem.  Parker sings "A New Moon Over My Shoulder" from "Student Tour".  Jack leads a fan letter from the Raw family, that liked his Rawchild play, and wants a House of Benny play.  The orchestra plays "A Medley From Rain Or Shine".

PLAY:  “The House of Benny”.  A play in three acts.  Or three scenes, anyway.  Scene 1:  Jack is born.  Scene 2:  At 8 years old, Jack’s father wants him to get a real job, but Jack wants to be a Master of Ceremonies.  Scene 3:  In the present day, Jack’s father and his sister Florence are wondering whatever became of Jack.  They tune in the radio, and hear Jack as a Master of Ceremonies, and still telling the same jokes he told when he was 8.  Jack’s dad is still not impressed.

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, if you hear any odd noises on your radio, don't worry, it'll be Jack Benny!"

MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Mary Kelly

NOTE:  Jack himself does not take a role in the play, but he interjects Mystery Science Theater-style commentary onto it as himself throughout.  There’s a running gag about present-day Jack getting young Jack in trouble when people overhear his comments.

NOTE:  Don Wilson actually came from Denver.  This episode contains the first reference to Don being fat, although it doesn't become a part of his character for another couple of years.

NOTE:  This episode has the first reference I've noticed to Jack coming from Waukegan.

NOTE:  Jack’s father and sister both appear as characters in the play (voiced by regular cast members).  Jack’s father’s name is changed from Meyer to Hiram, but his sister really was named Florence.  In the play, Jack is named “Jack Benny” at birth.

NOTE:  Jack plays his violin in the play and plays that Violin Exercises that later became almost a trademark piece for him.

NOTE:  This is the one play that almost makes Jack seem *older* than he really is.  In real life, Jack is now 40.  But when Mary shows up in the “Jack at 8 Years Old” scene, present-day Jack comments “That’s Mary in the Gay 90’s.”.  In the present-day scene, Jack’s dad comments that Jack left home 40 years ago.  Even if he’d left home when he was 8, that would make him 48.  Making sure to keep Jack under 40 was not a priority in these days.

NAMES FOR THE BAND:  Don Bestor and His Waukegeans (?)

MARY'S POEM:  (9:30)

"Labor Day, Oh Labor Day!

You come but once a year.

In September, not November,

Gee, but you're a dear.

Butchers, bakers, all parading,

Down the avenue.

In your honor, Labor Day,

But not to Santa Claus.

 

Scads of great men oft remind us,

Footprints on the sands of time.

And the bills we leave behind us,

In the Catskills, and the Beat (?) on Labor Day.

Dear Labor Day,

When we haven't got a dime.  Less.

 

Thirty days hath September,

April, June and November.

All the rest have 31,

Except Labor Day, which falls on Monday.

I thank you.

JACK DESCRIBES DON WILSON

Jack:  "Did you ever see Don Wilson, folks?  He's a big, good-natured fellow, laughs at anything, and always picks up a check with a smile on his face.  I mean his salary check.  (Don laughs) There you are, you hear him?  You know, Wilson has only been in New York a short time.  He comes from the West, and was formally… formerly a deputy Sheriff in Wyoming.  Which is equivalent to a Boy Scout in New York.  He's a well-fed gentleman.  Eats three meals a day, and has a corn beef sandwich rehearsal before each meal.  He has the greatest collection of knives and forks you've ever seen, and carries a salt shaker in his vest pocket."

Don:  "Oh, you're wrong, Jack.  I don't eat a lot."

Jack:  "Not much, eh?  He has two decisions over Henry VIII.  But at that, he's really a nice guy.  He really has only one fault, he talks in his sleep.  And, if you ask me, he's more convincing than when he's awake.

Don:  "How do you know that I talk in my sleep?"

Jack:  "Well, I left a microphone in your room last night.  You might not know it, but you were on the air at 2:30 this morning."

JOKE:

Jack:  "Say Frank, do you believe in dreams?"

Frank:  "I certainly do, Jack.  Why, one night I dreamt I was the Prince of Wales.  And the next day I was playing polo and fell off my horse.

Jack:  "Fell off a horse, that's an old joke."

Frank:  "Well, I dreamt it about 8 years ago."

JOKE:

Jack:  "Where'd you learn wielding a baton, Don?"
Bestor:  Wielding, West Virginia."

Jack:  "Well, that's the best we can do with that, folks."

JOKE:

Jack:  "You know, I always like to sing when I shave.  And my favorite song is "When Irish eyes are smiling, da-da-da-da-da da-da!  Really, it doesn't sound bad at all, you know.  What do you think I ought to do with my voice?"

Frank:  "Use a straight razor and continue shaving."

Jack:  "Is that so?"

Mary:  Why Frank, you ought to be ashamed of yourself, panning Jack's voice."

Jack:  "Thanks, Mary."
Mary:  "Jack can shave as good as you can!"

JOKE:

Jack:  "Now, you take the life of Napoleon.  That was interesting.  Or Shakespeare or Rothschild.  They accomplished something.  But what does anyone care about my house?"

Mary:  "Some people like to go slumming."

FORESHADOWING JOKE: (Lyman will play a notable role on the show later)

Jack:  "Waukegan, Illinois.  The town where Lincoln was born."

Wilson:  "What Lincoln?"

Jack:  "Tom Lincoln, he's a friend of mine in the grocery business."

Wilson:  "Oh, I thought you meant Abe."

Jack:  "You're thinking of Abe Lyman, the orchestra leader."

JOKE:

Frank:  “Why don’t you christen [the baby]?”

Don, as Jack’s Dad:  “All right.  I now christen you Jack Benny!”

Mary:  “You didn’t have to break a bottle over his head.”

RUNNING JOKE:

Don as Jack’s Dad:  “Thank heavens, I now have an heir!”

Man:  “A what?”

Jack:  “Oh, are you here again?  An heir!  An heir!  What’s on your head??”

Man:  “A can of acid, I’m the janitor!”

(Huh??)

CLUES TO MARY’S IDENTITY:  At the end of the program, Jack says “Come on, Mary, let’s go.  Mary comments that she has a date “already”, and Jack asks when he’s going to see her again.  This seems to imply that Jack and Mary are supposed to be dating each other but are not going steady.

WAC#1:

Jack:  "Well, I think we've had enough of dreams tonight, anyway."

Wilson:  "And speaking of dreams, what a dream the General Blowout Proof tire is!  It is smarter looking and will give you more space miles than ay other tire."

Jack:  "I was wondering how you'd get that in."

NOTE: The UCLA Collection notes that for this recording "some sides recorded on turntable of uneven speed hence considerable 'wow'" (BC)

  

24.  09/14/34                THE SCHOOL DAYS PART TWO    (11:21)

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

Jack dedicates the program to the children (but concedes a 10:30 program is a bit late for them).  Everyone talks about their own school days.  Bert Wheeler drops in, and the orchestra plays “Contented” again (cut).  Jack announces that they’re going to do another school play this week, with new pupils. 

PLAY:  “School Days”, Part 2.  Everyone plays Junior versions of themselves, augmented by a few faux guest celebrities.  Frankie Parker, Jr. sings his song, which is cut and unidentified.  Jack calls the roll and leads the kids in their morning exercises.  The kids who stayed up until 10:30 must have been glued to their seats (at least they were if the Katzenjammers were anywhere near by).  The episode cuts out after this.

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water.  Jack fell down and broke his crown, and here he is in person.”

MINOR ROLES:  Bert Wheeler, Johnny Woods

NOTE:  Jack dedicates the program to kids, the future Presidents of the United States.  The only two people who actually fit that description who might have been listening would have been Jimmy Carter and George Bush the Elder, who were both 10 years old at the time.  If anybody reading this ever meets either of those two, can you please ask them if they heard this broadcast, so we can close this loophole?

NOTE:  Jack did some kind of Kid’s Night show last week, but it isn’t clear if this was a play, a special segment, or something else.

NOTE:  The play includes imitations of Walter Winchell, Jr., Bert Wheeler, Jr., Fred Allen, Jr., Rudy Vallee, Jr. and Stoopnagel and Bud, Jr..  Bert Wheeler plays himself, but the others are all played by Johnny Woods, who did the celebrity imitations in the 6/23/33 episode.

NOTE:  When roll is called during the play, Mary claims to have never missed a program yet.  Politifact.com rates this “Pants on Fire”.

NOTE:  Bert Wheeler mentions seeing a preview of Jack’s new movie, “Transatlantic Merry-go-Round”.

JOKE

Wilson:  “I was a bright pupil too, Jack.  I was first in reading, writing and sex appeal.”

Jack:  “First in sex appeal!?”

Wilson:  “Well, yes.  And do you know who was in my class?”

Jack:  “Who?”

Wilson:  “Clark Gable.”

Jack:  “Well, you’re not in his class now, Don.”

JOKE:

Wilson:  “Do you know Abraham Lincoln thought nothing of walking 10 miles to school every morning?”

Jack:  “Well, I don’t think so much of it myself.”

JOKE:

Mary:  “I was some kid, too.  The teacher gave me some of the best marks in our class.”

Jack:  “I don’t believe it.”

Marty:  “Well, they’re all healed up now.”

JOKE:

Mary:  “So, then I took up telephone surgery.”

Jack:  “Telephone surgery?  What’s that?”

Mary:  “I learned to operate on a switchboard.”

JOKE:

Jack, reading letter:  “Listened to Jack Benny’s aerial school days, and although he had lots of pupils, he had no class.  The plot was prosaic.  What’s prosaic, Mary?”

Mary:  “A town in New Jersey.”

Jack:  “Oh, that’s right.”

(This joke was re-used on 3/15/36, and frankly I’m amazed that they had the self–control to only use it twice.  Of course, if you did this joke today, “prosaic” would be a prescription antidepressant.)

WAC#1:

Jack:  “Wilson, this is Bert wheeler.  Bert, this is Don Wilson, our announcer.”

Bert:  “Hello, Don.”

Wilson:  “Uh, Wheeler did you say?”

Jack:  “Yes, Bert Wheeler of Wheeler & Woolsey.”

Wilson:  “I don’t care where he’s from, every wheeler should have the General Tire, because it has the non-skid corkscrew grip, and it’s blowout proof!”

NOTE: The UCLA Collection notes that "opening and closing announcements and musical selections not recorded" (BC)


25.    09/21/34                    SCHOOL DAYS Part Three     (19:55)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  The orchestra opens with “Here Comes the [Something]” (the end of the name is cut). 

Jack and Don discuss the welterweight Ross-McLarnin fight, and discuss poor seating at fights.  Jack and Don argue about whether Corbett knocked out Sullivan in 1892, and call Ed Sullivan to find out.  Everyone else discusses fights.  Mary saw one and thought the fighters were flirting with her.  They discuss best dressed cast members, and whether Wilson or Bestor “dons” better attire.  Jack starts to introduce a play, but when he gets an insulting letter from the Board of Education in Pawtuckett, Rhode Island, he decides to do another School Days play.  Parker and the cast sing “School Days” and the play begins. 

PLAY:  “School Days, Part 3”.  Jack calls the roll, and engages the class in exercises again.  Frankie Jr. sings “The Very Thought Of You”.  Jack asks trivia questions of the class until the program runs out.

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you that educator of children, that tower of wisdom, Jack Benny!”

MINOR ROLES: Brad Barker, John Woods

NOTE:  This week’s school kids include junior versions of Mary, Bestor, Ben Bernie, Jimmy Durante, Bing Crosby, and Maurice Chevalier.  Again, male celebrity impressions are done by Johnny Woods.

NOTE:  Jack claims that for the Carpentier-Dempsey fight (held in 1921), Row A was in Elizabeth, Row B in Trenton, and Row C in Philadelphia.  He got Row C, and stayed around for the Dempsey-Tunney fight (which was held there in 1926).  Ross and McLarnin fought twice in 1934.  Ross won the title in May, McLarnin got it back in September, and Ross won their third and final fight, in 1935.

NOTE:  Jack thanks Johnny Woods by name for the imitations.

JOKE:

Jack, reading letter:  “We have a shortwave radio set on which we have no trouble getting Bulgaria, Algeria, Bavaria and Neuralgia.  Last week while trying to get Malaria, we accidentally tuned in on your School Days program, and it reminded us of the first three letters in the word “loud” and the last three in ‘Jersey’.  Wait a minute, I don’t quite get that.  Let’s see, the first three letters in the word ‘loud’ and the last three in ‘Jersey’.  Did you get it, Mary?”

Mary:  “Sure, a lot of people wear loud jerseys.”

Jack:  “I guess that’s what they mean.”

FLUB:  (in play)

Jack:  “Good morning, Mary, how are you this morning?”

Mary:  “I’ve got a teacher, he… a headache, teacher.”

Jack:  “What were you going to say?  I’ve got a teacher headache?”

JOKE:

Jack:  “Don Wilson, Jr., what state is Boise in?”

Wilson:  “I dunno.”

Jack:  “That’s right, Boise, Idaho.”

JOKE:

Jack:  “What is a rainbow, Mary?”

Mary:  “A rainbow is a cloud with too much lip rouge.”

RUNNING JOKE:

Jack:  “Come, come now.  What’s another word for rabbit?  It’s hare.”

Dog:  “Rrrrr, what?”

Jack:  Oh, you two?  Hare!  Hare!  What’s on your head?”

Mary:  “Fleas.  He’s only a dog.”

Frank:  “Say Jack, that’s my joke.”

Jack:  “I know, but it’s his fleas.”

WAC#1:

Jack:  “What are the three great products of the North?”

Bestor:  “The three great products of the North are automobiles, steel, and…”

Wilson:  The new General Tires, with the corkscrew grip!”

Jack:  “Corkscrews, that’s right.”

NOTE:  The UCLA Collection notes that once again "opening and closing announcements and musical selections not recorded" (BC)

  

26. 09/28/34                  More House of Rawchild     (23:04)

[This is a mislabeled duplicate copy of Episode 21]

NOTE: The actual show for 09/28/34 may be in the UCLA Collection, which titles it "skit: General Tire Banquet", notes that Bert Wheeler guest stars, that the opening and closing announcements and musical numbers were not recorded, and that "despite mention of a new General Tire series to begin in March, this was the last such program". (BC)

 

BEST OF THE 1934 SEASON

BEST MOMENT OF THE SEASON

A tossup. For historicity, the first meeting of Jack and Don Wilson (4/6/34). For sheer funniness, Jack’s meeting with Parker’s singing relatives (5/18/34).

BEST GAG OF THE SEASON

There's not really any one gag that stands out, but there are several really decent ones. Here's a smattering, just to show how far the show has come since The Chevrolet Program.

4/6/34

Bestor: "Oh, yes. I've augmented my musical constituents to embellish my symphonic interpretation."

Jack: "What did he say, Wilson?"

Wilson: "He says he's pretty good."

4/6/34

Lady Customer: "I'd like a copy of 'Going To Heaven on a Mule' from 'Wunderbar'."

Jack: "Going to Heaven On A Mule?"

Lady Customer: "Yes."

Jack: "I'm sorry, we're all out of that. Is there any place else you want to go?"

5/18/34

Jack: “Don't pull any of those jokes. You know, I'm a Master of Ceremonies, myself."

Cabby: "Oh, yeah? Well, why ain't you drivin' a cab?"

5/18/34

You know, the fella that threw that grapefruit. Well, I paid him to do it just to get a laugh out of the audience, you see?”

Mary: “Oh yeah? Well, what about the other two guys who were throwing things at you?”

Jack: “Well, they were free-lancing, I had nothing to do with that.”

5/18/34

The Prince of Pilsner Bachenlager is a good friend to have. You can't tell when he will throw something our way.

Mary: "That goes for the audience, too."

8/24/34

Jack: "One son remained in Frankfurt, another son went to Hamburg, a third son to Liverwurst… uh, Liverpool. While the 4th son went to Delhi, India, where he opened a Delhi-catessen store."

8/24/34

Prince: "I want to see Mayer Rawchild."

Jack: "Tell him I'm out."

Woman: "He's out."

Prince: "I believe you but not him."

8/31/34

Jack: “[Don Wilson is] a big, good-natured fellow, laughs at anything, and always picks up a check with a smile on his face. I mean his salary check.

9/14/34

Wilson: “And do you know who was in my class? Clark Gable.”

Jack: “Well, you’re not in his class now, Don.”

9/14/34

Jack: "What's prosaic?"

Mary: "A town in New Jersey."

And it's embarrassing to admit, but one I'm still laughing over is "Primo Canary". It's a good example of how you tell the joke makes it funny. A bird called Primo Canary is an awful joke. It's not worthy of making it into Boy's Life. But when you consider that Jack's writers have had a minor obsession with Primo Carnera for two years, and then soften the audience up with a whole room full of people singing arias instead of speaking, and then in the midst of all that, toss in "Primo Canary" on top of it, then yeah, it's funny.


NOTES ON THE CHARACTERS

JACK BENNY:  This season builds a bit on what they began to establish in Chevrolet Season 2.  No age jokes, toupee jokes, or cheap jokes yet, but all those things, when they arrive, are merely offshoots of Jack’s primary trait; his vanity.  Canada Dry and Chevrolet 1 were straight comedy shows.  Chevrolet 2 began to introduce more personality clashes among the cast, this one begins to establish Jack's being just a bit too full of himself as the reason for many of them.  The best example of this is the opening sequence from 5/11/34, where Jack’s hubris nearly gets him into a fight with Don, and after escaping this, he still can’t resist trying to brag about the incident.  Building a main character on a negative trait is a tricky proposition because he’s still got to be likable, rather than overbearing.  The audience can identify with a character like that because they have negative moments of their own, and can take comfort from knowing that it’s possible to have those moments and still be a basically nice guy.  There’s a long way to go on this before they really hit their stride.  The writing isn't quite there yet, and he hasn't got as strong a supporting cast as he might, but they’ve definitely got the right idea.

MARY LIVINGSTONE:  A little less wide-eyed than before, but she's still a fairly demure character.  Her status on the show is as unclear as ever.  As the season begins, we learn that she'd gotten a secretarial job when the Chevrolet Program ended.  But then, without explanation, she's suddenly working for Jack again, doing whatever she does for him.

DON WILSON:  The new announcer has a lot more personality than Howard or Alois had.  He's enthusiastic and genial, and projects a personal devotion to the sponsor's product.  That's not so easy to do with tires, but he'll do better next season.  It seems that they're still not sure exactly what to do with him, and are playing with various options.  There are a few attempts to make him look cheap, an attempt to make him look tough (when he and Jack nearly get into a fight).  He's occasionally a wise guy (usually when introducing Jack).  There are one or two cracks about his weight, but they haven't really settled on that as his trademark yet.

DON BESTOR:  The new orchestra leader had a pretty good shtick going for the first month, as an overly intellectual college man who frequently needed a translator in order to be understood.  But this was quietly dropped after the first month, and replaced with… nothing at all.  After this, Bestor is just there.

FRANK PARKER:  A good singer, but completely colorless as a character.  He has a few punch-lines that could just as easily have been delivered by someone called "Man”.  It’s almost impossible to describe what he’s like, he’s just somebody who’s ‘there’.  It’s odd because there are two pretty good sketches based on him (“Frank Parker’s Music Store” on 4/6/34, and the visit to his parents on 5/18/34.  Both of these are very good sketches, but Frank himself has no important role in either of them.



MISCELLANEOUS NOTES:

GENERAL TIRES:  You hear a lot about the new General low-pressure blowout-proof tires this year, and it makes you stop and think.  You don’t hear much about “blowout-proof tires” any more, presumably because they make all tires that way now.  Sort of like there was no need to talk about MMX technology any more after every Pentium had it.  So, what were auto tires like before blowout-proof tires were introduced?  Did they actually go “Pop!” when they were punctured, like in those old cartoons?  That sounds hilarious.  So, then you really start to wonder.  Whose bright idea was it to invent a LESS funny tire, and then build a comedy show around it??  If they’d done a comedy show back when tires popped like a paper sack when you ran over a nail, THAT would have been funny.  But “blowout-proof” equals “laugh-proof” if you ask me.

Next season, Jack will be on the air for Jell-O, and it’ll be a big improvement.  Jell-O sits in the bowl and jiggles around a lot.  Jell-O can be molded into funny shapes.  Jell-O comes in six delicious flavors, which always have to be mentioned in the same order.   And three of those flavors are the exact same color.  Jell-O is a much funnier product than General Tires.  You’ll like it.

SITUATION COMEDY:  They’re starting to leave the confines of program more often.  Characters come late or leave early and the action follows them rather than the show.  The show is still primarily a variety show that takes place within the NBC Studios, but they're not absolutely bound to that.

WORD ASSOCIATION COMMERCIALS:  Still used far too often, but they're getting a little more clever and a little less annoying.  There are a couple of decent puns used to introduce them.  They're much better than they were during the Chevrolet Program, but they still don't feel quite right.  They'll tone them down after this for a while, then bring them back in cleverer form a few years into the Jell-O Program.


  

BOTTOM LINE

There’s still a long way to go, but there has been a jump in quality.  The Chevrolet Program was borderline awful.  This show is okay.  It’s still not great, it may not even be good enough yet to go out of your way to listen to it.  But they’ve definitely gotten the right idea.  It will take improvements to the writing and supporting cast before this idea can really reach its full potential.




 

 

 

 

 

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