THE 1934-1935 SEASON


“The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny” was broadcast Sunday evenings from 7:00 to 7:30pm Eastern time over the NBC radio network, with the show originating from radio station WJZ in New York. The cast members for the 1934-1935 season are: Jack Benny as the Master of Ceremonies; Mary Livingstone as the MC’s girlfriend; Don Wilson as the announcer; Don Bestor and His Orchestra; Frank Parker is the tenor vocalist, and Sam Hearn is Shelpperman.

“The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny” finished in 3rd place overall in the Hooper Ratings for the 1934-1935 season, with an overall total rating of 36.4


What happened?? There had been talk about doing a second season for General Tire, but suddenly, without any warning, Jack has a new sponsor. The General Tire season had begun in April and stretched into the summer. Now, with less than a two week break, they launch a full Fall-to-Spring season for Jell-O. In addition, The General Tire Program had begun only 6 days after The Chevrolet Program ended. By the time this inaugural Jell-O season is over, Jack and Company will have worked 20 months straight, from October 1933 to July 1935, with barely a week off.

Jack hasn’t been big on theme songs at this point. The Chevrolet Program had only a trumpet fanfare. The General Tire Program played around with a couple of themes but never settled on one. The Jell-O Program has no theme either. Only a couple of choral voices singing the letters of the product: “J! E! L, L! Oooooooo!” Somehow, it’s a lot catchier than it sounds. But didn't they want kids to listen to this show? It's not a very kid friendly environment when you go around spelling things.


The first several episodes of this season feature a fanfare consisting of three fluttery notes, right after the J-E-L-L-O chorus. It sounds a little odd, and is gone before 1934 is out.


A running joke this season is fictional “guest stars” making an appearance, as listed in the logs below.

NOTE: Copies of this season’s shows were donated to UCLA by the Benny family. The following technical information regarding copies of the shows broadcast this season is from the Jack Benny Papers (Collection 134), Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles: “Tapes of this series were made from uncoated aluminum discs (12” 78 rpm). Due to poor storage conditions prior to their donation to the University, many of these 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”.  Most of this season does not circulate among collectors, and apparently the shows don’t even exist. UCLA notes that shows 7, 9, 11, 12, and all of shows 14 through 40 are missing from their collection. It’s also noted that, interestingly, almost none of the musical selections on the show were recorded onto the discs.

This episode guide/log for this season was written entirely by Graeme Cree, with the exceptions of a few very tiny notes here and there written by Bill Cairns, as notated by the (BC) afterwards.


 
1.  10/14/34                  THE JACK BENNY GROCERY STORE (19:40)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  The orchestra opens with “Sunny Disposition” (cut).

Suddenly with a new sponsor, Jack varies his usual opening of “Hello again” to saying “Jell-O, everybody!” Jack boasts about this joke, and tries to claim it just sprang from his head as an ad lib, but Wilson saw him write it down 8 days ago. With a new program beginning, Jack once again tries to set a rule against what we’ve been calling WAC’s (Word Association Commercials, in which a word of dialogue is twisted into a commercial plug). Wilson promises not to do this (but he made the exact same promise at the beginning of the General Tire Program, and how long did that last?). This time the promise is broken even quicker, as Don tries to twist the word “jealous” into “Jell-O”, in short order.


Jack notices that Don had bought six delicious neckties, one for each of Jell-O’s six delicious flavor, just in case he was a messy eater. Unfortunately, he’s already spilled Orange Jell-O on the Strawberry necktie, defeating the purpose of the whole thing.

Mary comes in with some good jokes about blowout proof tires and the new silent-safety tread, only to find that they’re unusable on this new show. Jack asks someone to supply a riddle to get the show rolling. Mary supplies one that Jack likes, but he seems to run into trouble every time he tries to tell it to someone. Parker tries to tell a joke, but mangles it. The orchestra plays an unidentified number (cut).

Jack announces that this season will feature distinguished guest stars, and to start it off, he introduces the three Dean Sisters, from New Orleans; Dizzy, Daffy, and Nutsy. They sing "The Hilltilly Song" (a female version of Hillbilly), which is also mercifully cut. Parker intends to sing “Tea For Two”, but it comes out as “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” from “Roberta”. Jack introduces the play.

PLAY:   “The J. Benny Grocery Store”, a country store sketch intended to stimulate Jell-O sales. Jack and Mary run a country store in New Hampshire. They deal with the usual funny customers; a woman trying to buy eggs, a caller looking for split peas, Parker looking for anything but spinach. The Chicken/Dean Sisters show up in the store, so Jack has Bestor play an emergency intermission number to drive them out. The orchestra plays “Confidential” from “The Gay Divorcee” (cut). Shleperman drops by, but this time his name is Sam. Shlep tries to tell Mary’s riddle, but has the wrong punchline. Wilson plays a Swedish customer wanting to buy Yell-O. The orchestra plays another number (cut), and the program ends.

DON’S INTRODUCTION: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, one of the world's greatest assistant comedians, Mr. Jack Benny."

NOTE:  Jack though of "Jell-O everybody" 8 days ago? If we take this number seriously, that would be October 6, only 8 days after the last General Tire broadcast. Just when did they know they were switching shows anyway?

NOTE:   Jack opens with “Jell-O, everybody”, rather than “Jell-O again”, which became his trademark phrase until 1942 when wartime sugar rationing forced General Foods to temporarily stop advertising Jell-O, and moved Jack over to Grape Nuts. In this episode, there seems to be no thought of using “Jell-O everybody” as a standard opener. It comes off as a one-shot joke. In the next episode, Jack is back to “Hello again”. Incidentally, “Jell-O everybody” (not “Jell-O again”) was Lucille Ball’s opening phrase on the radio version of “My Favorite Husband” (which was the postwar Jell-O program).

NOTE:   This opening program shows exactly why “Jell-O again” (even though he doesn’t use that precise wording here) was the perfect catch phrase for Jack. It’s funny because it’s NOT funny. On the surface, it’s an incredibly weak pun. But Jack acts as though it’s good, because HE thought of it, you see. In this episode you see Jack trying to sell it as a good joke, and failing. That would get a little tedious to have him get angry every week because people weren’t laughing at this joke, so in future he doesn’t even try to SELL the phrase. He just adopts it and uses it. It’s rarely referred to at all after this, Jack just comes out and says it week after week, sometimes with a slightly smug tone, other times matter of factly. And that’s what makes it funny. He’s telling it because he thinks it’s a good joke. Not only did he think it was good enough to tell in the first place, he thinks it’s good enough to use week after week. And THAT’S what makes it funny. There’s no need to refer to any of this after today. It’s just understood. As a result, from now on, every time Jack comes out and says “Jell-O again”, it’s funny. Even though it’s not! Go figure.

NOTE:   During the play, Mary answers the telephone with “Jell-O?”

NOTE:   As an example of the kind of Word Association Commercials that he doesn’t want to hear, Jack says that if he should happen to say “Los Angeles”, he doesn’t want Don twisting it into “Los Anjello”. Coming from the guy who, 2 minutes earlier, had turned “Hello everybody” into “Jell-O everybody”, isn’t this just totally shameless?

NOTE:   Why would you need six neckties for Jell-O’s six flavors? Couldn’t you use one necktie for Strawberry, Raspberry and Cherry, and so make do with only four? Who except Don himself would know the difference if somebody spilled Cherry Jell-O on the Raspberry necktie?

NOTE:  Compare this sponsorial transition with the last one. This time, Mary comes in wanting to tell tire jokes, only to be told that it’s too late to use them. The name “General Tire” isn’t actually mentioned, but blowout proof tires with the new silent-safety tread are, as a little tip-of-the-cap to the last sponsor. Apparently, they parted on good terms. Now, compare this with the last transition. Chevrolet dropped Jack, and two weeks later, he drops an offhand comment to the effect that the model of car you drive doesn’t matter, it’s the tires that are important. Apparently, Jack and Chevrolet did not part on nearly as good terms.

MARY’S RIDDLE:   The riddle Mary supplies is "It's not my sister, it's not my brother, but still, it's the offspring of my father and mother. Who is it?" It sounds foolproof, but it’s hard to make things foolproof when fools are so ingenious. Jack tries to tell it to Don, who gets distracted by the thought that he doesn’t have a sister, but wishes he did. Parker doesn’t know the answer because he hasn’t been home in months. Bestor has no interest in the question at all.

RACIAL HUMOR:

Jack: “Listen Parker, this is a new program. Have you got any jokes of your own?”

Frank: “Well, I should hope to smuggle a Chinaman.”

Jack: “Smoke a herring, smuggle a Chinaman, all right, let’s hear it.”

(Nope, I don’t get this one at all. I've never heard that phrase.)

NAMES FOR THE BAND: Don Bestor and His Jell-O-Teers. Apparently Jell-O-Teer is a play on Musketeer (cause it's too early to have been based on Mousketeer).

NOTE:   This episode is very choppy, and sounds as if the record it was stored on was in bad shape when the .mp3 was made from it.

NOTE:   The Dean Sisters claim to have appeared on Jack’s show before as The Chicken Sisters. Dizzy and Daffy Dean were baseball stars of the 30’s. The sisters claim to have another sister at home, named Gunga.

MINOR ROLES:   Sam Hearn, Mary Kelly, Vi Klein, Blanche Stewart

NOTE:   There has been a running joke in the past about Parker singing "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes". There's nothing more to the joke than the fact that he likes to sing it. I guess you had to be there.

JOKE/FORGOTTEN HUMOR: (In the General Store)

Frank: “I think I’ll take some cheese.”

Jack: “What kind?”

Frank: “Oh, I like any kind of cheese. I guess it’s the rat in me.”

Jack: “Well, here’s some nice Swiss cheese.”

Frank: “Yes, I’ll take half a pound.”

Jack: “All right, that’ll be 25 cents.”

Frank: “Hey, it’s marked 20 cents!”

Jack: “I know, but there’s a nickel deposit on the hole. When you return the holes, you get a nickel back.”

Frank: “Yes, and if I don’t get it, by crackey, you’ll be full of holes!”

Mary: Jack, he must be wearing Swiss Socks. They’re full of holes too.”

(This joke is based on the old practice of selling soda in deposit bottles which could be returned for a nickel. The Swiss Socks gag is really very good.)

FORGOTTEN HUMOR: (In the General Store)

Lady: “Give me a pound of rice.”

Jack: “A pound of rice?”

Lady: “Yes, and send it to me.”

Jack: “Yes, ma’am, what’s the name?”

Lady: “Goldberg.”

Jack: “Mark that down, Mary.”

Mary: “I’ve got it: ‘Rice for the Goldbergs’.”

(“The Rise of the Goldbergs” was a contemporary radio show that was mentioned frequently on Jack’s show around this time.)

O’HAIR JOKE:

(A variation on the “Hair! Hair!” joke started last season.)

Jack: “We’re all out of squash, Zeb. We’ve got some nice pumpkins.”

Frank: “What?"

Jack: “Pumpkins."

Frank: “I don’t get that."

Jack: “Pumpkin! Pumpkin! What do you have for Thanksgiving Dinner?”

Frank: “My relatives, they drive me nuts.”

(This is a continuation of a joke started on 7/20/34, in a play in which Jack played Sergeant O’Hair, and Frank had trouble understanding him when he said his name. Every joke in the series follows this same basic pattern. Jack says something, someone doesn’t hear him. They keep asking him until Jack repeats the word and asks a rhetorical question about it, and they deliver a punchline. Most of these jokes have been pretty unfunny, but they get their share of laughs just because they’re recognizable. The joke is usually over the word "Hair", but every so often they slip a pumpkin or something in on us).

NOTE:   In these early programs, the orchestra's second number was sometimes played during the play, as a kind of intermission. In later years, the second number always came before the play.

JOKE:   (In the play)

Mrs. Anchovy: “I want some dog biscuits.”

Mary: “Shall I send them, or will you eat them here?”

RACIAL HUMOR:

Sam/Shleperman: “Well, let me see. Have you got any ham?”

Jack: “Ham? Yes.”

Sam/Shleperman: “Keep it.”

(Because he's Jewish, you see. So he would have no interest in ham. It's actually a little funnier if you can hear the accent.)



2.  10/21/34                    THE JACK BENNY GROCERY STORE PART 2

Although this episode does not seem to circulate among collectors, it is listed in the UCLA Collection. The title, and the fact that the musical selections were not recorded, is all of the information given about the episode in the UCLA Collection. However, the NBC program Analysis Sheets list the following for this episode:  "Jack Benny was given the Medal for Distinguished Service to Radio by Radio Stars Magazine. Mr. Curtis Mitchell, editor of "Radio Stars", presented the award.  (BC).

 
3.  10/28/34                    THE BENNYS OF WIMPOLE STREET            (20:54)

The opening is cut. Jack talks about how he went to a banker’s convention, and couldn’t cash a check. Everyone gets to talking about what they have saved up for a rainy day. Unsurprisingly, this reminds Wilson of Jell-O. The orchestra plays a Medley of Popular Songs (cut). Jack introduces this week’s guest star, Masha Niblick, the Women’s Golf Champion of Upper Staten Island. Masha talks a bit about her career, and attempts a trick shot off of Jack’s watch. The shot doesn’t quite come off, but we do get to see time fly, if you know what I mean. Parker sings “It’s Sweet of You”, from “Transatlantic Merry-Go-Round” (cut). Jack introduces the play. The orchestra plays “Serenade For a Wealthy Widow” (cut) and the play begins.

PLAY: “The Bennys of Wimpole Street”, a parody of “The Barretts of Wimpole Street” (1934), starring Norma Shearer, Fredric March, Charles Laughton and Maureen O’Sullivan. Jack disapproves of his daughter Elizabeth’s relationship with poet Robert Browning. Browning writes a poem for Mary, which inspires Mary to write one of her own. Jack chases Browning off, asks if Elizabeth really loves him, and the play just kind of dissolves into nothingness.

DON’S INTRODUCTION:

Don: "...and now a few of his intimate friends say something until his arrival. They're all here waiting to greet him. First, we'll have a few words from his butcher."

Butcher: "Hello people. I have been Mr. Benny's butcher for 10 years. He is a nice fellow to meat, he is as tender as a lamb, and a clean liver. All kidney aside, I thank you.

Don: "And now his lawyer."

Lawyer: "I have known Mr. Benny for 9 years. I've had him acquitted 16 different times, showing he is upright and honest. I thank you."

Don: "And now his landlady."

Landlady: "Sure, and Jack Benny has had a room in this house for the past 6 years. I've lost over a hundred bath towels, but I don't think it's him. He is a good tenant and has already paid his rent for last July."

Don: "And now his doctor."

Doctor: "I am Jack Benny's physician. I have taken out his appendix, his tonsils and adenoids. And that's about all you can get out of him."

Barber: "I'm Jack Benny's barber. I've shaved Mr. Benny 250 times and never cut him once. It's my own fault."

Tailor: "I'm... I'm Jack Benny's tailor. He bought a suit from me on time... and then his watch stopped. I'll be right home, Ma."

Chauffeur: "I'm Jack Benny's chauffeur, but since he doesn't own a car, I ain't got nothin' to do."

Mary: "I'm Mary Livingstone, Jack Benny's girlfriend. And if all the ice cream sodas he bought me were laid end to end, there would be one."

[chorus of indistinguishable voices}

Jack: "I'm Jack Benny!"

Don: "Here's Jack himself!"

JACK’S INTRO:  Jack says neither “Jell-O again” or “Hello again” in this episode. After “I’m Jack Benny”, he launches right into a monologue.

MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin, Mary Kelly, Blanche Stewart

NOTE:   The actor playing the chauffeur has a southern African-American accent, but is not Rochester, who hasn't been introduced yet. The Maxwell hasn't been introduced either, thus the comment that Jack has no car. When the Maxwell is introduced, Jack will have retroactively owned it back to the early 1920's.

JOKE:

Mary: "I had my money in a bank 5 years ago, and then there was a run on the bank."

Jack: “Why don't you keep your money in your stocking?"

Mary: "What good is that? There's a run in that too."

Jack: "So you DO keep money in your stocking. Does it draw interest?"

Mary: "No, I wear a long fur coat."

NOTE:  Jack mentions that two weeks ago the Chicken Sisters guested, and that last week featured a violinist named Mr. Gett.

NOTE:  Masha Niblick recently finished 3rd in the Saratoga Open, won by Cavalcade. The joke here is that Cavalcade was the name of a horse that won three major races in 1934. I'm not sure why a racehorse would win a tennis tournament, but it SOUNDS like it's supposed to be funny. Maybe the joke is that that darn Cavalcade wins everything.

JOKE:    (Jack interviews Masha)

Mary: “Jack, doesn’t she look awful for a champion?”

Masha: “Oh yeah? If you were in the rough as much as I was, you’d look bad too!”

JOKE:   (Jack interviews Masha)

Jack: “There is a lot of exercise in golf. Now tell me, how are you on the green?”

Masha: “Very short, that’s why I’m up here tonight.”

JOKE: (Jack interviews Masha)

Jack: “You carry 12 clubs, a putter, a spoon, and a knife. What’s that knife doing in your bag?”

Masha: “I use it for slicing.”

Jack: “Oh, I have the same trouble too. Now, tell me something about your shots. Are all of your shots straight?”

Masha: “No, I mix some of them with Ginger Ale.”

NOTE: When Masha smashes Jack’s watch, she uses Jack's phrase, “Play, Don”, as a way of changing the subject.

KNOCKLESS KNOCK KNOCKS:

A big feature of early Benny shows is what might be called “The Knockless Knock-Knock Joke”. These are bad puns that people try to work into regular conversation, such as this exchange from 12/10/33:


Jack: "Who is it?"

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

Jack: "Venice what?"

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

The phrase "Knockless Knock-Knock" means that the same joke could be easily rewritten as a Knock Knock joke, thusly:

Knock Knock.

Who’s there?
Venice.

Venice Who?

Venice I going to sing my song?

Jokes like this need a name, and “Knockless Knock-Knock” is a good way of impressing just how awful most of them are. We’ll try tracking a few of them.

KNOCKLESS KNOCK KNOCK: (Jack introduces the play)

Jack: “This play, as you know, was a big hit in London, and was also played in New York by Miss Catherine Princeton.”

Mary: “Cornell, Jack.”

Jack: “No Mary, that was a’notre dame.”

NOTE: Throughout the play, and into next week, Jack repeatedly uses the phrase "Ya Heeeeeeeear ME?" It seems to be an imitation of a Charles Laughton line, but Jack doesn't do it very well, and it gets quite annoying after the first time.

JOKE: (In the play)

Jack: “Where’s your sister, Maureen?”

Mary: “She’s out with a leatherneck.”

Jack: “Oh, Maureen is out with a Marine, eh?”

NOTE: Several times in the play, Mary sings bits of "I want to go back to my little brass shack in Hawaii", apparently as a lead-in to next week's play.

KNOCKLESS KNOCK KNOCKS: (In the play)

Jack: “Elizabeth, I’m going to leave you here to repent. And when you have repented, come to see me.”

Mary: “Where will you be, Papa?”

Jack: “I’ll be waiting up in the Repenthouse.”

KNOCKLESS KNOCK KNOCKS: (In the play)

Frank: “Do you really like my poems?”

Mary: “I think you’re a regular Edgar Allen Pew.”

JOKE: (In the play)

Mary: “And you know, Robert. After reading all of your poems, it has inspired me to write one.”

Frank: “Yes? How does it go?”

Jack, interrupting: “Labor Day! Oh, Labor Day!”

(This is a reference to the fact that all of Mary's plays seem to begin with the words "Something! Oh, Something!" to the point that it's almost a catch phrase of hers. As a result, this joke is a lot funnier than it seems in print.)

O’HAIR JOKE:

Jack: “[Laughton] should be better, he’s been in pictures for years.”

Frank: “He’s been in where?”

Jack: “Pictures, pictures!”

Frank: “What?”

Jack: “Pictures! What hangs on your wall at home??”

Frank: “My other pair of pants, we have no closet.”

JOKE: (In the play)

Jack: “Are you going to Italy with that stale, broken down poet?”

Mary: “Italy? Why, I’d even go to the Sahara Desert with him.”

Wilson: “And speaking of the desert, you will find that Jell-O is the grandest desert your family has ever tasted. And you can get it in six delicious flavors! Strawberry, Raspberry, Cherry, Orange, Lemon and Lime!”

(The play dissolves at this point, so it’s really Don’s fault.)

 

4.     11/4/34                 THROUGH ROMANTIC HAWAII  (22:32)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  The orchestra opens with "Over my Shoulder" from "Evergreen" (Cut).

Jack tries to tell travelling salesmen jokes but everyone keeps telling him how outdated they are (the characters in the joke have all moved on to other things). This leads to a discussion about whether various things ever get old or obsolete. One of the things they mention is Mother Hubbard, which leads to a discussion of what she has in her cupboard, and you don’t need to be told what Wilson makes of an opening like this. The orchestra plays “I Saw Stars”. Everyone discusses Jack’s new picture, “Transatlantic Merry-Go-Round”. Mary thought Jack looked good, but it turns out she was confusing him with co-star Gene Raymond.


Jack’s guest star for this week is Colorado soprano, Galley Kerchoo. They interview her a bit, and get her to sing “Angelo Mia”, which Don quickly perverts to Anjello Mia, with Jack and the others joining in. Frank sings “The Moon Was Yellow” (cut). Jack introduces the play. The orchestra plays “You’ve Got to Give Credit to Love”, and the play begins.

PLAY:   A Travelogue called “Through Romantic Hawaii”, inspired by the fact that The Hawaiian Islands are now hearing Jack’s program. According to Jack, in the past, they’ve done travelogues through England, France, Ireland, China and India. (If this is true, none of them are in surviving episodes). As a travelogue, this play consists of Jack narrating his way through a trip to Hawaii, complete with interviews with the natives and the occasional sound effect. They arrive in Honolulu, meet a few natives, tell a few puns, and make their way to Waikiki. They finally meet a real Hawaiian who turns out to be Shleperman, and who tells them that they are actually in Coney Island. Whoops! Jack realizes that they loaded the wrong reel of film into the Travelogue. (Film?? On radio?) They re-board their steamer and sing the song “Aloha-ee”, altering the words to “Jell-O-ha-ee”. The orchestra closes with “You’re Devastating” from “Roberta”.


DON’S INTRODUCTION: "And now I present to you Mr. Jack "Charles Laughton" Benny from Wimpole Street."


JACK’S INTRODUCTION: Jack is back to saying “Hello again”.


MINOR ROLES: William Edmunds, Sam Hearn, Mary Kelly


NOTE:   Jack’s opening joke is a typical “Traveling Salesman and the Farmer’s Daughter” model. Very few such jokes would have been suitable for his program, but it doesn't matter, since he doesn’t get very far with it. The others insist that the Farmer’s daughter in his joke is now married with 5 kids, the Traveling Salesman owns a store, and the farmer sold the farm and is now a movie star in Hollywood. Jack doesn’t even bother telling the joke this way, since nobody wants to hear a story about a guy too old to travel, and a woman with a flock of kids. When they talk among themselves, they realize that Bestor himself was the farmer in the story, Mary was the Farmer’s Daughter and Jack the salesman, which doesn’t really make any sense at all given what we’ve been told (Mary doesn't have 5 kids, Bestor isn't a movie star, and Jack doesn't own a store).


NOTE:   As mentioned, Jack’s attempted Traveling Salesman joke leads to a discussion about whether things get too old. They mention the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Katzenjammer Kids as things that are old but don’t show it. Often in these early episode, you see awkward transitions like this, in which one subject leads to another in a very artificial way. The best example of this is 3/18/34, in which Jack being institutionalized in a sanitarium led to "Everybody's crazy about something. What are you crazy about?"


NOTE:   As you can probably tell from the above two examples, the opening to this episode is very flat. They’ve got two ideas that had some promise, but have very little idea what to do with them. The next subject is Mary confusing Jack with his co-star Gene Raymond, and that’s flat too. In fact, the entire opening to this show is so flat, it’s a good thing they didn’t use it on The General Tire Program. (canned laughter).


DAFFYNITION:


Jack: “That’s right, Frank. Nothing becomes antiquated.”

Mary: “What’s 'antiquated', Jack?“

Jack: “I don’t know, I just read these lines, I don’t write ‘em.”

NOTE: Jack compares Galley Kerchoo to real life opera singers such as Lucia de Lammermoor, and Nellie Melba.


KNOCKLESS KNOCK KNOCKS:


Jack: “Madame Kerchoo, I think you are without a doubt the outstanding singer of the day.”

Galley: “Yes, that’s the trouble. I’m out standing, but Lily Ponds is inside sitting.”

KNOCKLESS KNOCK KNOCKS:


Jack: "Are you familiar with Madame Butterfly?”

Kerchoo: "No, but I’m a great friend of Charlie Butterworth.”

Jack: "Is that so? Say, what is Butterworth now?”

Mary: “About 40 cents a pound.”

Jack: “Mary! Keep that joke for our grocery store!”

JOKE: (Miss Kerchoo is going to sing)


Jack: “Sing anything at all, I’m sure we’ll all be delighted.”

Galley: “Well, what would you like? Would you care for La Boheme, or La Paloma?”

Jack: “Why mention cigars on the Jell-O Program, you know? You have quite a large repertoire, haven’t you?”

Mary: “What’s the difference, as long as she’s healthy.”

JOKE: (Miss Kerchoo is going to sing)


Jack: “Oh, that’ll be fine. "Angela Mia". Now, before you start, Madame, what is your range?”

Galley: Gas.”

NAMES FOR THE BAND: Don Bestor and His Connecticut Hawaiians.


JOKE:


Jack: “The Hawaiis’s as you know, are a little group of islands in the Pacific Ocean, about two inches from Hollywood on a small map. Or two thousand miles, if you really mean business.”

JOKE:

According to the play, there are 8 Hawaiian Islands, and 5 inhabited ones. The five inhabited Hawaiian Islands are named Hawaii, Howveyoubeen, Howsthemisses, Howstricks, and Likewise.


JOKE:


Jack: “Parker can have his Yellow Moon, Morton Downey can have his Carolina Moon, but give me the Hawaiian moon. What about you, Wilson?”

Don: “I’ll have Scotch and Soda.”

(Have I mentioned how really flat this episode is?)

KNOCKLESS KNOCK KNOCKS: (Jack is doing the travelogue)


Jack: "In a jiffy, we are down the gangplank, and here we are in Honolulu. It is Lulu’s birthday, so we arrive just in time to hono' Lulu.”

KNOCKLESS KNOCK KNOCKS: (Jack is doing the travelogue)


Jack: “And at this moment, from where we are standing, we can see several mountain peaks.”

Mary: “What kind of dogs are those, Jack?”

JOKE: (In the travelogue)


Jack: “Young man, are you a native here?”

Frank: “Yes, sir."

Jack: “Well, we’ve lost our way. Can you direct us to Waikiki?”

Frank: “No, sir.”

Jack: “Well, do you know where the Royal Hawaiian hotel is?"

Parker: “I don’t know."

Mary: “He looks like Frank Parker to me.”

Jack: “Mary! Well young man, can you tell me what street this is?"

Frank: “I don’t know.”

Jack: “Well, you don’t know anything, do you?”

Frank: “No, but I’m not lost."

(This line actually got a laugh! And a decent laugh too! Can you imagine anyone getting a laugh, even then, with that “I may be stupid but I ain’t lost” joke??? Can you imagine any writer having the chutzpah to take money for putting this one into a script?)

O’HAIR JOKE: (The preceding was immediately followed by…)


Frank: “No, but I’m not lost."

Jack: “What a sap you are.”

Frank: “A what?”

Jack: “Sap! Sap!”

Frank: “I don’t understand.”

Jack: “Sap! What comes out of trees?”

Frank: “Monkeys, like you.”

(Did I mention how really FLAT this episode is?)

KNOCKLESS KNOCK KNOCKS: (Jack is doing the travelogue)


Jack: “We enter this romantic eating place and order some of their native food, which consists chiefly of fish and poi. Hey, waiter! Waiter!”

Waiter: “Coming right up. What would you like to eat?”

Jack: “Give us two orders of fish and poi."

Waiter: “What kind? We’ve got apple poi, peach poi, and strawberry poi."

Jack: “Have you got any children?”

Waiter: “Yes, one poi.”

(You see why we call these Knockless Knock Knocks? They’re as awkward as any Knock Knock Joke. How did we get from dessert to “Have you got any children?”, anyway??)

FORGOTTEN HUMOR: (Jack is doing the travelogue)


Jack: “Waikiki is the… very famous resort, that you hear so much about, and is truly one of the beauty spots of the world.”

Frank: “Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!”

Jack: “What are you laughing at?”

Frank: “Oh boy, are you a Burton Holmes!”

(Burton Holmes (1870-1958) was the photographer, traveler, and filmmaker who coined the term “travelogue”.)

NOTE: At the end, Mary finds the correct film for the travelogue on the piano. Jack says that even though they got the wrong film, he HOPES we were entertained. Is he kidding? You think you can pull a boner that big and still go over well? It’s almost like he deliberately used the wrong film, just to get a laugh! Of course, I know it couldn’t be THAT, but it’s still spooky.


THE BOITH OF SHLEPERMAN: This episode seems to mark the beginning of the Shleperman Character per se. Sam Hearn has showed up in several previous episodes (usually in plays and sitcom scenes) as a quirky guy with a thick Jewish accent. He’s had different names in the past; Ghostberg, Ginsberg, Sam, and others. When he shows up in this episode, Jack recognizes him from somewhere or other, but doesn’t know his name. Shlep introduces himself as Shleperman, and this is his name from here on out. Shleperman’s main defining trait is that he’s always turning up in some new line of work, often something that you wouldn’t normally associate with a guy with a thick Jewish accent (for example, running a Chinese restaurant, or working as a department store Santa Claus).


 
5.     11/11/34                     CHARLIE CHAN IN RADIO CITY  (23:47)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:   The orchestra opens with "OK, Toots" from the picture "Kid Millions" (cut).

A very rare non-integrated Jell-O commercial follows, featuring Don Wilson and two outside actors. Jack opens with his first News Roundup in quite some time. The orchestra plays “I’ll Keep Warm All Winter” (cut). Jack observes that he always makes up a funny name for the band, and wants to know their real name, but Bestor explains that they don't have one. For this week's guest star, Jack had intended to have the Marx Brothers, but receives a sound-effects telegram from Harpo, cancelling out. In their place, Jack brings on Mr. J. Barrett Wimpole, a Shakespearian actor. In fact, an OVERLY Shakespearian actor, if you know what I mean. Don asks for permission to do the Jell-O commercial, but after Jack turns down each pitch request individually, Don has done the commercial anyway. Frank sings "Water Under the Bridge" (cut). Mary presents the Jell-O Show's first fan letter. The fan letter requests that Jack play the part of Charlie Chan. Jack agrees, in order to show that he can play a Chinese role (although calling Charlie Chan a Chinese role is a bit of a stretch). The orchestra plays "Chinatown, My Chinatown", and the play begins.


DON’S INTRODUCTION: "And now, ladies and gentleman, as it is impossible for me to offer you a cigar, cigarette or a drink, I can still offer you Jack Benny."


JACK’S INTRODUCTION: When Jack walks on this week, he introduces himself by singing his own version of the Jell-O chorus: “H! E! L, L! Oooooo!” He is met with groans, as well he should have been.


PLAY: “Charlie Chan in Radio City”. A loose parody of the Charlie Chan movies that were made from the 1920’s through 1950’s, featuring an Oriental detective and his Number One Son. I’ve never seen any of the original movies, but Jack’s portrayal consists of speaking softly (big stick not included), and constantly offering copious numbers of apologies whenever he opens his mouth. Plot: When Don Wilson is shot in the studio, Chan is summoned to find his killer. Jack questions the suspects, and manages to find the gun. Among the suspects, he turns up Wimpole hiding in a closet, and Ming Toy Shleperman. As Jack questions the suspects, the body disappears. Don's ghost speaks to them from heaven to remind them that Jell-O has six delicious flavors, and with that, the play sort of peters out. As usual for these murder mysteries, the killer is never caught, but at the end, Jack kinda sorta hints that it might have been him.


MINOR ROLES:    Sam Hearn


NOTE:   This episode is very choppy in places. Apparently the recording was damaged by the time it was converted.


NOTE:   Several commercials this season have talked about how Jell-O is now twice as good as ever before. For the final Jell-O Season (1941-42), it’s improved again with the new “Locked In” flavor. Considering how many times Jell-O has been improved over the years, it must have really been awful when it first came out, huh? Besides, didn’t the original formula contain cocaine or something? (Or was that Coca Cola?)


NEWS ROUNDUP:
The News Roundup was a frequent feature during the Chevrolet Program, but has only been seen infrequently since then. The basic routine is that Jack reads the name of a town, and a funny headline associated with that town. In theory, it’s a good idea (a bit like The Onion), but the problem is that the jokes are rarely, if ever any good. This latest incarnation is no exception. On The Chevrolet Program, Jack nicknamed himself “The Earth Galloper” when doing this routine, but that name is not used in this episode.


JOKE:   (Opening the News Roundup)


Jack: “This is Jack Benny, your local correspondent, coming to you with the late news reports from all over the world. Sees all, knows all, but still bets on the wrong horse.”

JOKE: (In the News Roundup)


Jack: “First, local news! New York, New York! New, streamlined train arrives here from California in 56 hours, breaking all records! New Yorkers now wearing streamlined underwear to get to work faster!”

(This is a typical News Roundup joke. Unfortunately.)

RACIAL HUMOR: (In the News Roundup)


Jack: “Tokyo, Japan! Tokyo! American baseball players, including Babe Ruth, arrived here to play Japanese team. The battery for Japan was Dizzy Osaki, and Daffy Matzyama. In left field was Hacky Wilson, and on second sacky was Frankie Fricky. All good Japs. In the opening game, Ruth made a homer, and the Japs named a town after him. It is called Yoka Homer. Isn’t that clever?”

(The joke here is that the names of the Japanese players are de-anglicized versions of contemporary American players, including Dizzy Dean, Daffy Dean, Hack Wilson, and Frankie Frisch. And I'm just surprised that Frisch's nickname, "The Fordham Flash" wasn't Japanicized to "The Fukushima Frash", or something like that).

FORGOTTEN HUMOR: (In the News Roundup)


Jack: “New Orleans, Louisiana! Senator Huey Long organizes football team. He says he doesn’t care how good they play as long as they protect his right eye at banquets.”

(I don’t really get this one. Huey Long was a US Senator, assassinated 11 months after this episode, who wanted to virtually confiscate and redistribute every dollar in the United States. But the bit about right eyes at banquets must refer to some forgotten incident because I don't get it at all).

JOKE: (In the News Roundup)


Jack: “More football news! Sing-Sing wins again! Jones halfback, runs 60 yards for touchdown. Said if he had run that fast on another occasion, he wouldn’t be with his present team.”

NAMES FOR THE BAND: Don Bestor and His Jellonians.


NOTE: When Jack asks Bestor the band’s real name, he cites real life bands, such as Waring’s Pennsylvanians, Lombardo’s Royal Canadians and Lyman’s Californians. Bestor says that his band has no name because they all come from different places, so Jack settles on the name “Bestor’s Disgusted Yankees”.


JOKE:


Jack: “And now that we have named Bestor’s orchestra, we will continue with our policy of bringing you another outstanding artist. We intended to have the four Marx Brothers here tonight: Groucho, Chico, Harpo… and uh… uh, what’s the fourth one?

Don: “Jell-O.”

Jack: “Yes… That was Wilson, folks. There’s no doubt about that.”

DAFFYNITION:


Jack: “Mary, what’s a thespian?”
Mary: “A fella that rides a horse.”

JOKE:   (Jack is interviewing his guest star)


Jack: “Tell me Hamlet, what’s the last thing you played in?”

Wimpole: “Ten Nights in a Bar Room.”

Jack: “Ten nights in a bar room? That’s a pretty long run these days. Do you know Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor?”

Wimpole: “I am an actor, not a gigolo.”

Jack: “I’m sorry.

Wimpole: “Why, I have played in every hamlet from here to California. I have played Richard III, Henry VIII, and Louis XIV.”

Jack: “All one-night stands, huh? Well, I was an actor, too. I played New Haven the 6th, Hartford the 7th, and Bridgeport the 8th.”

JOKE: (Wimpole gives a sample of his acting)


Wimpole: “Ah, Juliet! I am here beneath thy balcony. Dost thou not see me? Dost thou not see me?”

Jack: “Plenty of dust has seen you. Go ahead.”

NAMES FOR THE BAND: Don Bestor and His Chowmaniacs.


O’HAIR JOKE: (In the play)


Jack: “I hate to ask, charming tenor, but did you kill man on floor?”

Frank: “I should say not. I’m a lady killer.”

Jack: “With 6,803 apologies, you are a chump.”

Frank: “I’m a what?”

Jack: “Chump! Chump!”

Frank: “With 112 apologies, I don’t get that.”

Jack: “Chump! What do you do when you leap over a mud puddle?”

Frank: “I fall in.”

(At this point, the O’Hair joke is running on fumes, but it still gets laughs. Go figure.)


 
6.     11/18/34                     MRS WIGGS OF THE ONION PATCH (21:52)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  An unidentified announcer opens the program. The orchestra opens with “Put On Your Glasses” (cut).

There is another non-integrated Jell-O commercial featuring outside actors, this one involving a boxer asking his mom for Jell-O (the heck??) Don congratulates Jack on the variety of roles he's played. Jack claims to study the performances of every picture he sees. This leads to a discussion of Baby LeRoy, and what his various Gaga sounds really mean. This leads to a discussion of what babies of famous people would mean when they said "gaga". Everyone discusses their own baby pictures. The orchestra plays an unidentified number (cut). Jack introduces the play as a parody of Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, changing "cabbage" to "onion", to make it more of a tear jerker. Parker sings "Be Still My Heart" (cut), and the play begins.


PLAY:    "Mrs. Wigg of the Onion Patch", a parody of "Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch" (1934), starring W.C. Fields, Pauline Lord, and Zasu Pitts. Mary is a mother of 6 children, who describes how their father walked out on them 30 years ago to go to Alaska. Little Frankie Parker goes to the mill to get a job to support them. Mary's millionaire neighbor, drops by to offer his help but doesn't seem too serious about the offer. Don Wilson drops in to foreclose the mortgage in 20 minutes, unless Mrs. Wigg can raise $3. Frank comes in and tries to sell their horse to raise the money. Just as Don is about to foreclose, dad returns from Alaska. "Dad" turns out to be J. Shleperman Wigg, who pays the mortgage, and reveals that he didn't go to Alaska at all, he went to Laskey's! As surprise endings go, this doesn't exactly stack up with "Luke, I am your father!", does it? Play, Don.


AFTERWARD: After the play, Don plays a medley of numbers from "Hit the Deck" (cut). Mitzi Green, Jack's co-star from "Transatlantic Merry-Go-Round" drops by. Mitzi does a few impersonations and sings "If I Had a Million Dollars" from the movie.


DON’S INTRODUCTION: "And now for that great actor, late star of 'Charlie Chan', 'The Barretts of Wimpole Street', and 'Ashcans of 42nd Street', Jack Benny."


JACK’S INTRODUCTION: “Jell-O again, it’s me, folks. Jackie Blenny. Hmm, I can’t get rid of that dialect I had last week.” This marks the first time that Jack opens with “Jell-O again”, and it’s here to stay.


MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Mitzi Green, Sam Hearn, Blanche Stewart


NOTE: It sounds like the Jell-O chorus sang three L’s when they sang J-E-L-L-L-O today. A glitch in the recording? What the "L" is going on??


O’HAIR JOKE:


Jack: “Lookit. There I am a year old and no hair yet.”

Frank: “No what?”

Jack: “Oh, are you starting again? Hair! Hair! What’s on your head??”

Frank: “A policeman’s club, I’m a communist.”

(It’s a mystery what’s keeping the O’Hair joke running at this point. There's been like ONE good punchline so far ("What's on your head?" "My brother, I'm an acrobat.", and the rest of all been from hunger.)

NAMES FOR THE BAND: Don Bestor and His Jellonians (again). Jack comments that he’s running out of names.


JOKE:


Bestor: “You didn’t ask to see my picture when I was a baby.”

Jack: “Oh Don, I’m terribly sorry. Really, I forgot, you were an infant too, yes. Have you got a picture with you?”

Bestor: “Yes.”

Jack: “Let’s see it.”

Bestor: “Here I am. Eight months old.“

Jack: “Eight months old, gee. Hey! Why, you’ve got a soldier’s uniform on.”

Bestor: “Yes, I was in the infantry.”

(Go figure. Some of these puns are awful, and others, like this one, are great. It's all in how you tell it.)

DAFFYNITION:


Little Girl: “What’s ‘destitute’, Ma?”

Mary: “Very Unwealthy.”

JOKE:  (In the play)


Mary: “What am I supposed to do until he gets back? A fan dance?”

Jack: “Well, it’s honest work if you can stand the breeze.”

O’HAIR JOKE: (In the play)


Jack: “Who is that, Mrs. Wigg?”

Mary: “It’s my neighbor, Miss Toupee.”

Jack: “Hmm, Wigg and Toupee. Well, don’t you remember me? Sergeant O’Hair?”

Frank: “What? What’s that?"

Jack: “Quiet, we did that joke already.”

KNOCKLESS KNOCK KNOCK: (In the play)


Frank: “Don’t cry, Ma. It’s your son, Strawberry.”

Jack: “Don’t disturb your mother, son. She’s in distress.”

Frank: “Yeah, she’s been in dis dress for 10 years, it’s time she got a new one.”

(In the play, Mary's six children are named after the six delicious flavors.)

JOKE: (In the play, Don is ready to foreclose the mortgage)


Don: “Oh, so, you’re broke too, eh?”

Shleperman: “Who’s broke? I’m just like Jell-O: tvice as rich as ever before!”

Don: “Curses.”

Shleperman: “Likevise.”

NAMES FOR THE BAND: Don Bestor and His Hams Patches.


RUNNING JOKE: There’s a running joke throughout this episode of “If you ever need any help, just call on me.” Jack begins it in the play, when he offers help to Mrs. Wigg and then ignores her when she asks for it. Mitzi and Mary pick up on the line after the play, and use it on Jack.



7.      11/25/34                       {LOST}

 
8.     12-02-34                      ROSE OF THE RIO GRANDE  (22:24)

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

Jack and Don discuss whether or not they’re self-made men. Jack talks about movies he’s seen recently, but Don doesn’t realize that he’s talking about titles (i.e. Jack says he saw The Gay Divorcee, and Don thinks he’s talking about a person, not a film). Mary comes in from visiting the Barretts of Wimpole Street (I thought they were fictional!) Parker arrives, and more movie titles are misinterpreted. Jack decides that they’ve been having the same old arguments every week (even though I don’t remember this particular one), and decides that the show needs new talent. Jack has Mary call a talent agency to send over new talent. The agency has singers, musicians, dancers and jugglers, so Jack says to mix ‘em up and send ‘em over. The orchestra plays an unidentified number (cut). Everyone talks about having to re-learn English when they went to Boston, and discovering that they had auhnts and bahths, rather than aunts and baths. Juggler Jake Bentley arrives from the talent agency. Even though it’s radio, Jack successfully does play-by-play on his act, counting his plates from 4 down to 0 as they break. A dog and rooster impersonator arrives, but gets a door in the face before she’s warmed up. Parker sings “Blame It On My Youth”. Jack introduces the play. The orchestra plays “La Cucaraca” (cut).


PLAY: “Rose of Rio Grande Street” (a parody of “Rose of the Rio Grande” (1938), starring John Carroll, Movita and Antonio Moreno). Since this movie won’t be made for another four years, Jack was really ahead of his time on this one. Mary is Rose, Jack her father, and Parker her lover. Parker wants to marry Mary, and so elopes with her across the Rio Grande, to escape Jack’s disapproval. Jack pursues Rose and Parker, and instantly knows that they’ve gone across the Rio Grande, because, after all, that’s the TITLE, fercryinoutloud! What more clue do you need? Jack and his posse catch up with Parker, and Jack oddly, begins introducing the members of his posse to Frank (I dunno, maybe it’s rude to lynch somebody without a formal introduction!?). All the members of the posse turn out to be members of the regular cast with de-Anglicized versions of their regular names (Don Jose Bestor, Dom “Jell-O” Wilson, et cetera). Shleperman, now Mexican, is in the posse too. Parker asks Mary to marry him, because he’s rich, but Mary, despite eloping with Parker (and despite the fact that a lynch mob is about to kill him), decides to marry Jell-O instead, because it’s TWICE as rich! That’s really it, folks. (And personally, I’d never dare tell a joke like that with a lynch mob in the vicinity). Play, Don!


DON'S INTRODUCTION: "And now for that self-made man who could have done a better job, Jack Benny."


JACK’S INTRODUCTION: “Jell-O again.” It’s here to stay.


NOTE:  This time it sounds like the Jell-O chorus only sings one “L”, but it may be a glitch in the recording. In fact, this is another very choppy recording in spots.


NOTE:   Jack recently saw the movies “College Rhythm” and “The Gay Divorcee”.


JOKE:


Jack: “Are you a self made man, Don?”

Wilson: “No, the stork brought me.”

Jack: “He must have made four trips.”

JOKE:  (Mary just visited the Barretts. They're fictional, but she's no snob.)


Jack: “How are the Barretts?”

Mary: “It’s awful, jack. You see, Old man Barrett is getting so mean. All his daughters had to leave Wimpole street.

Jack: “I see. They couldn’t ‘bear it’. Ha, ha, ha! ‘Ya heaaaaar me’, folks?

Wilson: “You certainly are the comedian tonight.”

Jack: “Yes, sir.”

Mary: “What’s funny about that, Jack?”

Jack: “Mary! The Barrets of Wimpole Street! They couldn’t bear it!”

Mary: “Ha, ha, ha, ha! I still don’t get it.”

JOKE:


Mary: “Hello, operator. Give me Brian-0499.”

Jack: “Mary, that’s the wrong number!”

Mary: “What’s the difference as long as he answers?”

JOKE:


Mary, on the phone: “Is that you, Jake? Say Jake, this is The Jell-O Program.”

Wilson: “Mary, tell him the six delicious flavors.”

Jack: “Don, keep out of this!”

DIALECT HUMOR:


Jack: “You see, in Boston, Don, it’s your auhnt. You see, they use the broad ‘A’ there.”

Bestor: “Well, that’s the proper English, Jack. Whenever I go to Boston, I ask for a room and a bahth.”

Jack: “Well, you can have your bahth. I took a bath this morning and look just as good as you do.”

JOKE:


Jack: “Did you have any trouble with bahth and bath?”

Mary: “No, I took a shower and everything was all right.”

JOKE: (Jack interviews the new talent)


Jack: “Jokes and juggling. That’s a nice combination. Have you had any experience on the air?”

Juggler: “Yeah, I fell out of a balloon once.”

JOKE:   (Jack interviews the new talent)


Jack: “Let’s hear your jokes. That’s what we need on this program. You see, that’s why I sent for you. A real good joke.”

Juggler: “All right. My father’s hair only grows on one side of his head.”

Jack: “What side is that?”

Juggler: “The outside.”

Jack: “That’s fine. That’s fine. That’s very good. We can use you on one side of this program.”

Juggler: “What side is that?”

Jack: “The outside.”

JOKE:   (Jack interviews the new talent)


Juggler: “I sing, too.”

Jack: “You sing? Have you got a good voice?”

Juggler: “They tell me I’m a second Frank Parker.”

Jack: “Oh, you’re a second Frank Parker?”

Mary: “Jack’s having trouble with the first one.”


JOKE:  (Jack interviews the new talent)


Jack: “What do you want to do first?”

Juggler: “First, I’ll juggle. I’ll juggle five plates at one time.”

Jack: “Wait a minute, what good is juggling on the radio? How can they see you?”

Juggler: “Well, you tell jokes and nobody can see YOU.”

Jack: “I know, but how can they appreciate your juggling? Nobody will believe you.”

Juggler: “I’ll take an oath I’m doing it!”

Jack: “Oh, well that squares things, yeah.”

JOKE: (Jack interviews the new talent)


Jack: “By the way, what’s your name?”

Juggler: “W.C. Jones.”

Jack: “What’s the W.C. stand for?”

Juggler: “Fields.”

KNOCKLESS KNOCK KNOCK: (Jack describes Jones' juggling)


Jack: “He is now juggling four plates. (Crash) I mean three plates. (Crash) Well, even two plates isn’t bad. (Crash) Ah, how marvelously he handles one plate. Bestor, just a minute. Boy, give me that plate will you? Now, stick out your head. (Crash) He is now juggling no plates. Carry him out boys, there’s no plates like home.”

RUNNING JOKE:

There are several running jokes in the series which are used over and over. However, every so often, an episode has a running joke that runs the course of that one episode, never to be used again. This episode features one such joke; the phrase "in a pinch". Parker talks about how he can sing in a pinch, Bestor can lead an orchestra "in a pinch", and the phrase turns up a couple of times later, and in the play.


RUNNING JOKE:


Mary: “Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!”

Jack: “Mary, what are you laughing at?”

Mary: “I don’t know, I’m tired.”

JOKE:   (Jack introduces the play)


Jack: “For the first time on any air, we are presenting this thrilling play of the Mexican border, “The Rose of Rio Grande… Street”. This play had a longer run than a 20 cent pair of ladies stockings. It ran three days in Trenton, and then the cast ran from there to Philadelphia. And, unlike Abie’s Irish Rose, they are still running.”

NAMES FOR THE BAND: Don Bestor and His Hot Tamales


DIALECT HUMOR:


Jack, in bad accent: “Ahh, Rose of the Rio. You are to me my only daughtair. And I am to you your fathair.”

Mary, in bad accent: “Sigh, Sigh, Senor.”

Jack: “That’s Si, Si!”

RACIAL HUMOR: (In the play)


(three shots ring out)

Jack: “Hmm, three o‘clock, Mexican Standard Time.”

AUTO HUMOR:


Frank: “Ahh, Rose of the Buick… er, Rio! I love you!”

JOKE:


Frank: “Senorita Rose, for the last time, will you marry me?
Mary: “I would like to, yes. But are you reech?”

Frank: “You mean rich? ”
Mary: “Reech, rich, as long as you’re wealthy.”

O’HAIR JOKE: (Jack is insulting Parker in his sleep)


Frank: “I don’t care if he is sleeping. Where did he say my oil was?”

Jack, in his sleep: “In your hair, your hair!”

Frank: “What was that?”

Jack: “Hair! What’s on a monkey’s face?”

Frank: “Look in the mirror and find out!”

(It’s a shame. The setup for these O’Hair jokes is pretty good. The only problem is that the punchlines are invariably awful. A five year old wouldn't laugh at this one.)

NOTE:    The rationale for this play is a little confused. Parker elopes with Mary across the Rio Grande, when Mary explains that Papa hates gringos, and would "keel heem" rather than let them marry. So, Parker is an American, right? Well no, later in the play, Parker is Mexican.


NOTE:    Jack refers to his daughter as Rose of Rio a couple of times. So, if your name was Rose of the Rio Grande and you were trying to escape and elope, would YOU run across the Rio Grande to do it? Wouldn't that be the first place everybody would look?


CATCH PHRASES:    Shleperman's primary catch phrase is "Hello, Straynger!", which he usually utters when encountering Jack. One of his lesser catch phrases is "Vhat else?" On paper, that doesn't sound like a funny line. But this is a special-purpose line that Shlep uses whenever he's playing a role that you wouldn't expect to be played by somebody with a thick Jewish accent.) We saw it on 11/4/34 ("Are you a real Hawaiian?" "Vhat else?") And we see it in this episode. ("Are you a Mexican?" "Vhat else?") It's not roll-on-the-floor funny, but it's cute. It's a lot better than that O'Hair joke.)


THE PLAYS:    Jack's plays are a mixed bag. Sometimes they have no plot at all (like Uncle Tom's Cabins, for example). Other times they're like this one. They start out with a basic storyline of sorts, and then come completely unraveled by the end. This one started out comprehensible enough, and then dissolved into nothingness at the point where Jack and the posse caught up with Parker.


CLOSER:    The orchestra closes with "Love is Just Around the Corner" from "Have a Heart".




10.     12/16/34                 RUSSIA THROUGH A KEYHOLE  (22:02)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:   The orchestra opens with “Take It Easy”. All except the first note is cut, but it was a really good first note (and I always feel that if you’ve heard one note, you’ve heard them all).

Jack regards Don’s apple-polishing introduction as being motivated by a desire for pecuniary largess due to the propinquity of the Yuletide holiday (I sound like Bestor USED to sound here!). This leads to a discussion of everyone's Christmas lists. Jack plans to give Parker the necktie that Wilson gave him last Christmas. Parker wants to know what to buy Wilson on a 50 cent budget (Jack suggests a telegram). Mary debuts another awful joke. Mary got her father a cigar lighter, but needs to exchange it because he smokes cigarettes. Bestor wants to buy his dad a razor, but has trouble getting laughs with this. The orchestra plays a medley from The Music Box Review (cut). Jack talks about a band he used to have that had several famous musicians as members. Bestor wants to know if Jack still likes to play the violin (how long has he worked on this show, anyway??) Jack’s dad came in from Waukegan to see the show, so Jack borrows a violin and plays “If I Had a Million Dollars”. Jack’s dad walks out after the first 8 bars. Parker sings “Some Day I’ll Find You” from “Private Lives” (cut). Jack introduces the play. Jack’s dad returns with foam on his mustache. The orchestra plays “A Needle In a Haystack” from “The Gay Divorcee” (cut), and the play begins.


DON'S INTRODUCTION: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you that wizard of mirth and wit, that gentleman of gentlemen, a man who is a credit to his community, loved and honored by all, Mr. Jack Benny."


PLAY:   “Russia Through a Keyhole”, or “The Private Life of the Vulgar Boatmen”. The title is a play on the title of the movie “Broadway Through a Keyhole” (which features Benny veteran Abe Lyman). Jack is a Russian somebody or other. The Cossacks have carried off Natasha somebody-or-other. Jack hires a vulgar boatman (Shleperman, who is now Russian. ‘Vhat else?’) to take him to see Olga Petroff in Odessa. Olga turned over Natasha to somebody, Jack hides when the Cossacks come, but comes out of the closet for another O’Hair joke. Jack says that the Cossacks will take Olga over his dead body… so they shoot him! Wait no, it turns out that Olga shot him (goodness knows why, or even who she is). Shlep returns to find out what size shirt Jack wears for his own Christmas list, and Jack asks to return to Kishinev (which is in Moldavia, for whatever that’s worth). Jack asks Shlep to deliver a message, but time expires before he can say what the message is. Have I mentioned that these plays are REALLY hard to follow sometimes? (Or maybe “Play, Don” was the message, in which case it almost kinda makes sense.)


MINOR ROLES: Sam Hearn, Louis Sorin


NOTE:   The Jell-O chorus sings three L's again. What gives? "Jell-O! More L's than ever before!"


NOTE:   Parker bought Don Bestor a size 17 shirt, but Bestor wears a 12½. I don't know why they'd mention this fact on the air unless Bestor was angling for gifts from the audience too.


JOKE: (Mary's joke)


Mary: “Listen, Jack. Why does Santa Claus wear a black suit?”

Jack: “But he doesn’t, Mary. He wears a red suit.”

Mary: “I mean after he gets down the chimney.”

Jack: “Oh, I see. What’s the answer?”

Mary: “That’s it, the chimney, you dope!”

NOTE:   According to the episode, Jack and Don Wilson both wear Size 15 shirts, and Jack often wears Don's shirts. Occasional references have been made to Don's weight, but it isn't a trademark with him yet. I'm not sure what we're to make of this line. Either Don wasn't supposed to be fat here, or Jack was going through a tubby period of his own.


JOKE:


Jack: “By the way, Mary, what happened to that gold ring I gave you last Christmas? I never see you wear it.”

Mary: “I was afraid to tell you, Jack. I lost it.”

Jack: “Oh, that’s fine. And you said you’d take such good care of it.”

Mary: “I did.”

Jack: “Well then, how did you lose it?”

Mary: “The finance company took it.”

Jack: “The last time I’ll buy anything from that company!”

Wilson: “You’re telling them.”

NOTE:   Mary claims that her mother is 64 years old. That would make her 85 in the program’s final season, and she’s still sending letters.


JACK PLAYS THE VIOLIN: Jack plays a semi-serious rendition of "If I Had a Million Dollars" from "The picture I was in" (meaning "the most recent picture I was in", meaning "Transatlantic Merry-Go-Round"). Jack even sings a few lines in this song, so just a warning that this episode should be considered PG-13.


JACK'S DAD: Jack's dad is said to be in the audience tonight, but there's no knowing if that was really true, since he doesn’t come onstage or deliver any lines. Jack says that his dad came in from Waukegan to see the show. A couple of years later, we'll hear that Jack's dad lives in Miami (apparently retired from the clothing store).


DIALECT HUMOR: (In the play)


Karloff: “Mr. Bennyvitch! Mr. Bennyvitch! There’s a telegram for youovitch!”

Jack: “Is it collectovitch?”

Karloff: “No, payski.”

(There’s no accounting for taste. I absolutely love this joke, even though it’s almost totally stupid. The key to it is in how they set you up to think that their "Russian" involves nothing more than adding "vitch" to the end of words, and then they trip you up at the last minute and change it to "ski".)

DIALECT HUMOR:   This entire play is little more than an excuse to do bad Russian accents. That's not a complaint, by any means. The plot is hard to follow, but ten minutes of bad accents is a great reason to do a play in my book. I remember being literally on the floor laughing the first time I saw this Highland commercial years ago:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKQcZYTZVmI

JOKE: (In the play)


Jack: “Hmm, so the Cossacks have taken away Natasha. This is terrible! Terrible! Not the play, folks the situation.”

KNOCKLESS KNOCK KNOCK:


Jack: “Karloff, bring me a glass of wodka.”

Karloff: “What kind of wodka?”

Jack: “Ice wodka.”

(This one is almost too bad to come off in print at all, but Jack manages to mangle the final "wodka" badly enough to make it almost sound like "water". I don't expect anyone to take my word for that without checking.)

JOKE:    (In the play)


Jack: “Karloff, send for the Volga boatman.”

Karloff: “I send for him already.”

Jack: “How did you know I wanted him?”

Karloff: “I remembered it from rehearsal.”

JOKE:   (In the play)


Jack, to the audience: “Ah folks, you should see this river. It’s in a pail, right here in this studio.”

JOKE:   (In the play)


Jack: “Hey, Volga. I must get to Odessa at once. Snap-it-up-ovitch.”

Shleperman: “Okay, jump in there.”

O'HAIR JOKE:   (In the play)


Jack: “Stopski! Who touches a hair on Olga’s head dies like a dog!”

Frank: “Who touches a what?”

Jack: “A hair.”

Frank: “I don’t get it.”

Jack: “A hair, a hair! What’s on your head?”

Frank: “It’s on my chin now, we’re in Russia.”

NOTE: After the play, it's mentioned that Minneapolis and Saint Paul are now hearing Jack's show.


NOTE:   Listening to the play again, it seems that Olga is actually Jack’s sweetheart. But why she shot him, or who Natasha is, is still unclear.


11    12/23/34    {LOST}


12.   12/30/34    {LOST}


13.    01/06/35                THE COUNT OF MONTE JELL-O    (23:10)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:   The orchestra opens with "Anything Goes" from “Anything Goes” (cut).

Everyone discusses what they did on New Year’s Eve. Don remembers leaving for Boston but waking up in Philadelphia. Jack and Bestor went on a non-alcoholic bender, and were in bed before midnight, unable to keep up the pace. Mary tears up a poem unread, when she finds that January 6 isn’t a holiday. Parker read a book and went to bed early because he didn’t realize that it was New Year’s Eve. The orchestra plays “Some of These Days” (cut). Jack introduces the play. Parker sings “With Every Breath I Take” (cut), and the play begins.


PLAY: “The Count of Monte Crisco”, a parody of “The Count of Monte Cristo”. There was a movie version in 1934, starring Robert Donat and Elissa Landl, but Jack doesn’t mention it, and says that his version is based on the play. Plot: In 1805, Jack is wrongfully accused of being a spy, and tossed into a dungeon for 14 years, with the same sponsor. He meets another prisoner with a map to a treasure island, with whom he plots an escape. During his 14 years in stir, the orchestra plays "Here Is My Heart", and "Say When" from "Say When" (cut). Ten years later, Jack gets a telegram from his girlfriend Mercedes, telling him that since he’s dead, she’s marrying his rival, Mondego. Now motivated to escape, Jack breaks into the next cell and meets a prisoner who’s been there for 30 years, and is still Shakespearian! His partner gives Jack a treasure map, as he expects to be killed later in the scene. Jack escapes and meets Shleperman. Seven years later, Jack and Shlep are on the island searching for the treasure. They find a trapdoor! In an underground cave, they find a box! And inside that box, what do you think they find? (I’ll give you a hint, it has six delicious denominations). Jack ascends to his rightful place as The Count of Montejello! (It’s just like the ending to “Zork III”, except with gelatin!). Shleperman, on the other hand, is still Shleperman. Play, Don!


DON'S INTRODUCTION: "And now that I'm on the air in the year 1935, I present to you that famous... uh, that well known... a fellow whom you all... a man that uh..."


MINOR ROLES:   Harry Baldwin, Sam Hearn


JOKE:   (Don had a wild New Year’s)


Jack: “Did you have any fun New Years?”

Don: “Oh, I had a marvelous time… my friends tell me.”

JOKE:   (Conversely, Jack had the squarest New Year’s of all time)


Wilson: “Now, what did you do New year’s Eve, Jack?"

Jack: “Oh, I had a lot of fun, Don. I bought a tin horn and blew it unmercifully."

Wilson: “Oh, that must be exciting. Did you go any place?”

Jack: “Certainly, I walked up and down Broadway all evening.”

Wilson: “Why Broadway?”

Jack: “It’s so reasonable, Don. No cover charge.”

Wilson: “Oh, I see. Well Jack, did you have anything to drink?”

Jack: “Heavens, yes. I stopped in the first drugstore I saw and I had three Orange-ades. Then I got silly and had two more.”

Wilson: “Well, there’s no harm in those drinks.”

Jack: “No Don, but I started mixing them with frosted chocolate, and oh boy! Wow!!”

Wilson: “Was anybody with you?”

Jack: “Oh sure, Bestor was with me. You should have seen him! Was he dizzy!”

Wilson: “Yeah? What did he drink?”

Jack: “He ordered a cherry phosphate and kept revolving around on the stool.“

(Come to think of it, this might be the quintessential Depression-Era New Year’s Eve celebration.)

JOKE:


Jack: “Where were you New Year’s Day, Mary? Did you go any place?”

Mary: “Yes, I went to Jersey City 10 times.”

Jack: “Ten times?”

Mary: “Yes, I fell asleep on the ferry boat.”

THE BULLDOG MAN:  

The Bulldog Man is a precursor to the Knocking Man character that debuted in January 1937. (No, he doesn't curse!) Bulldog Man only appears in this episode. His shtick is that he constantly drops by asking if Jack wants to buy a bulldog. When Jack declines, he politely takes no for an answer ("Okay, Mr. Benny.") and leaves, but is back a few minutes later, trying again. His questions are as follows:


3:00 “Do you want to buy a bulldog?”


4:30 “Does your brother want to buy a bulldog?”

7:20 “If you had a brother, would he want to buy a bulldog?”

10:30 “NOW do you want to buy a bulldog?”

18:20 “If you find the treasure, will you buy a bulldog?”

22:45 “What have you got against bulldogs??”

NOTE:   Foreshadowing the switch to Grape Nuts, Jack offhandedly comments at one point that the day that Don doesn't eat Jello, you'll know it's Yom Kippur. So, that means that the next Yom Kippur comes in September 1942, when the sponsor changes to Grape Nuts.


FLUB:   Parker flubs a line pretty badly at 3:45. Jack tells him to take it again but they don't bother.


NOTE:  At one point in this segment, Don claims that the holidays themselves are brought to you by Jell-O! In that case, I'd like to complain to General Foods about Saint Swithen's Day.


JOKE:   (Jack describes a member of the band)


Jack: “Gee, that’s a cute mustache he’s got. Looks like he swallowed Mickey Mouse and left the tail sticking out.”

NAMES FOR THE BAND: Don Bestor And His New Man in a Moment of Melody.


FORGOTTEN HUMOR:   (Jack introduces the Play)


Jack: "Most of you are familiar with this famous play of the French Revolution by Alexander Dumas... or Dumas, who wrote such other great hits as “The Count of Gene Tunney”, and “The Discount of Gimbel's Basement”."

NOTE: "The Count of Gene Tunney" is a reference to the famous "Long Count" in the 1927 Tunney-Dempsey fight.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Long_Count_Fight

Gimbel's was a major American department store from 1887-1987, and, sure enough, their discounts were in the basement.

NOTE:   Like most surviving 1934-5 episodes, this one is pretty choppy in places.


JOKE:   (Jack and Frank get ready for the play)


Jack: “Are you ready, Francois?”

Frank: “Oo-ee, oo-ee, Monsiour.”

Jack: “Wait a minute, that’s pronounced oui, oui!”

Frank: “Well, why don’t they spell it right?”

CONTINUITY ALERT:


Jack: “That was “With Every Breath I Take”, sung by Frank Parker, whose breath still reminds me of New Years.”

(Didn’t Parker stay home and read a book on New Year’s?)

JOKE:   (In the play)


Wilson: “You’re under arrest.”

Jack: “Hmm, what for?”

Wilson: “For carrying papers in your pocket detrimental to the safety of this government.”

Jack: “Oh, those papers are nothing. Just a few jokes I jotted down for next Sunday’s program.”

Wilson: “That’s even worse.”

JOKE: (In the play, Jack seems to have trouble understanding he’s in jail)


Jack: “Where’s my room?”

Wilson: “On the 4th floor?”

Jack: “Four flights up?”

Wilson: “No, four flights down. Your name from now is 37.”

Jack: “That’s a nice name. Edward 37.”

O’HAIR JOKE AND CONTINUITY ALERT:   (In the play)


Prisoner: “You see this file?”

Jack: “Yes.”

Prisoner: “I hide it under my pillow. This knife I hide in my toothpaste. And this piano…”

Jack: “I know, you hide it in your beard.”

Prisoner: “No! In my hair! ”

Frank: “What?”

Jack: “Hair.”

Frank: “I don’t get that.”

Jack: “Hair! Hair! What’s on your head?”

Frank: “An ice bag, I’m not over New Year’s yet.”

(For the last time, Parker stayed home on New Year’s!)

NOTE: Jack opens at the Sammy Theater in Pittsburgh next Friday.


NOTE: You know, just to nitpick that last play, I’ve noticed that Jell-O boxes have an expiration date on them, so finding Jell-O as buried treasure might be problematic. I recently made a box of Jell-O that had been expired for over a year, and it still tasted delicious, but I don’t know if it was AS delicious as it would have been fresh.


When Gavrilo Princip murdered Archduke Ferdinand in 1914, he took a cyanide pill when he was apprehended, but, since it was expired, it just made him ill, without killing him. This is something to keep in mind if you ever find a map leading to any kind of Jell-O themed treasure. These expiration dates can be important. Expired Jell-O might go bad, just as surely as expired cyanide might… go good.




14-40                        Rest of The Season:  [Lost]

NOTE:               Although the rest of this season is lost, the following episodes are noted in the NBC Program Analysis Sheets:

04/14/35            Jimmy Grier and his orchestra substituting for Don Bestor's band when Jack Benny, Mary Livingstone, Frank Parker and Don Wilson stage their first broadcast from Hollywood. Jack Benny is the winner of the nationwide poll conducted by Radio Land Magazine.

06/30/35            Jack Benny awarded a gold medal in the second annual Star of Stars poll conducted by Radio Guide.

07/14/35            Jack Benny's last program before vacation. Fred Allen, Portland Hoffa guests.


(BC)


 

NOTES ON THE CHARACTERS

JACK BENNY: No real changes in Jack's character this season. Age, toupee, and cheapness jokes are rarely seen, and when they are, they feel like one-shot jokes, with no overall theme. As such, they don't define his character. At the moment, Jack's main character trait is still his vanity. It's well within reasonable limits at this point, but it's there. It usually manifests itself in a smug tendency to act as though jokes are funnier than they actually are, and stray boasting about his accomplishments. Jack's status as a second rate violinist is present, but used only very rarely. When it is, his playing is less bad than it later became. No scratching, wheezing, and slipping into violin exercises in the middle of a piece, as he did later. Usually, he just makes a piece sound as though it's being played off of a very warped record.

DON WILSON: Very few fat jokes this season. In fact, there's even one reference to Jack and Don wearing the same shirts. As in previous years, the announcer's job is to interject integrated commercials into the program. But it's amazing to see how far they've come so quickly. What was annoying and obtrusive in The Chevrolet Program (and even a little in General Tire) is now funny, precisely because they've learned to capitalize on calling attention to how awkward and unnatural the commercials are, and get laughs from that fact. In later years, this shtick will become progressively slicker and funnier.

MARY LIVINGSTONE: As last season, Mary is a little saucier than she was originally. But she's still fairly quiet and reserved, compared to the acid-tongued foil she was in later years, who existed for the purpose of taking Jack down a peg. At this point, she's still more cute than acerbic (cute, but only rarely ditzy). She was originally introduced as a fan of the show who somehow stayed around (she sounds more like a relative!). Her exact function on the show is unclear. At least once she describes herself as "Jack's girlfriend", but she seems to be more of a supporting player; someone who's there to take parts in the plays. She fills the role of a sidekick or secondary comedian, but this is all supposed to come across as unscripted. Two of her later gimmicks, letters from Momma, and crazy poems, do not appear in this season (at least not in surviving episodes). Letters are not mentioned at all. She does write one poem, but tears it up without reading it.

DON BESTOR: On The General Tire Program, Don had had a minor gimmick as an intellectual who expressed simple concepts in overly complicated terms, and often needed someone to translate him. This is completely absent this season. Don has a few lines, and even a few jokes, but nothing which really defines him. The only thing about him worth mentioning is the line "Play, Don" which Jack uses to get music out of him. Milt Josefsberg's book claims that this became a "national catchphrase", but he was surely exaggerating. "Play, Don" hasn't got nearly the zing of "Is EVERYBODY happy?", "You ain't heard NOTHIN' yet!", or even "Jello again".

FRANK PARKER: All of Frank's songs are cut from surviving recordings, so it's hard to tell how good a singer was. Even though this is his second year, Frank has little definable onscreen personality, no shtick, no quirks, and only a handful of stray jokes. If you wanted to describe Frank Parker based on this show, the only thing anyone would remember is his complete inability to hear the word "hair" being spoken. That's just not much to hang a character on. Every time he speaks, you appreciate just how good Dennis Day really was.


OTHER NOTES

JELLO AGAIN: In previous years, Jack tended to open with the phrase "Hello again". In this season, he quickly modifies this to "Jell-O again", and this very, very lame pun quickly became one of the catchiest catch phrases in radio. We discussed why this should be so in the first episode, and the answer is that it's tailor made to Jack's personality. Just as "Your Money Or Your Life" instantly defined him as cheap, this phrase defines him as someone a little too pleased with himself, who tells bad jokes and thinks they're great. This phrase is NOT funny. But Jack comes out there every week and uses it as though it were funny. Believe it or not, this makes it funny. Not right away, mind you. It's only funny by tenure, so to speak. It's because he did get out there week after week and take a little bow for it, that it works. Lucille Ball tried something similar on her radio show, "My Favorite Husband", by opening with the phrase "Jell-O, everybody." With her, it didn't work so well. Her character in that show was fairly normal (neither Jack Benny nor even Lucy Ricardo). Since she wasn't defined in the same way, the phrase didn't have the same zing.

GUEST STARS: A recurring bit in this season is Jack's bringing on faux celebrity guest stars, such as the ladies tennis champion, the Shakespearian actor, and others. This is actually a decent idea, and is executed fairly well. In effect, they've found a way to do "Man on the Street" interviews without leaving the studio.

SITUATION COMEDY: Situation Comedy scenes (scenes in which Jack and the cast portray themselves in situations away from the studio and program) are completely absent in surviving episodes from this season.

KNOCKLESS KNOCK KNOCKS: Some decent puns here, but something in the writing is a little off. They often come off as very awkward and non-conversational. In later years, Jack did a better job at milking laughs from bad jokes by following them up with some kind of personality conflict with someone in his cast. That's mostly absent here, and a lot of these come off like something from the joke page in "Boy's Life".

HAIR! HAIR! WHAT'S ON YOUR HEAD??: This is such a good sendup for a running joke. It's catchy and memorable. What a shame that, with one or two exceptions, the punchlines are awful.

PLAYS: The plays are, perhaps the weakest part of the program. They frequently have a few decent lines, but it's usually very hard to follow any kind of plot in them. Sometimes there is none, other times they start off clear, and then kind of dissolve into nothing. But, to be fair, most of them are based on some contemporary play or movie, and so they might play better to someone who had seen the work they were based on.

JELL-O: Over the last couple of years, whenever I've listened to an old radio program sponsored by a product still in existence, I've tried to use that product. (Within reasonable limits. I haven't taken up smoking or anything like that). Of late, I've purchased Jell-O, Grape Nuts, Reynolds Wrap, Maxwell House Coffee, Canada Dry Ginger Ale, Pet Milk, and Spam (That's S-P-A-M), just because some long-dead pitchman told me to. Of these products, Jell-O is the greatest of them all. It is not only tempting, and economical, but it comes in six delicious flavors: Strawberry, Raspberry, Cherry, Orange, Lemon and Lime. This you know from Don Wilson. But there are so many other things that he never mentioned. You can mold it into funny shapes. You could make Jell-O look like a car, a train, or your aunt. When you plunk it down on the table, it goes wibble-wobble. If you were to hold it in your hands and squeeze, it would squirt out the other side. It now comes in sugar-free versions that are virtually indistinguishable in taste from the higher calorie version.



 

OVERALL:

From the depths of The Chevrolet Program, Jack's show has risen to become quite a decent show. Not great, mind you. It's sort of fair to middling at this point. There was a noticeable jump in quality from The Chevrolet Program to General Tire. There was another jump this season, but not as big. Things are clicking a little better, but there's still a long way to go. At the moment, the show is kitschy, a little campy, and has a definite charm to it. The two biggest deficiencies at this point are in the writing and the supporting cast. Jack's later greatness came less from what he did himself, than in how he reacted to his supporting cast. He doesn't have a strong enough supporting cast to play off of at this point. Either the right people are not there at all (No Kenny or Phil yet), or they are there, but they're not fully developed themselves (Don Wilson, Mary). In addition, the writing is not quite up to snuff yet. There are laughs here, but a lot of it is centered around bad puns like those silly Knockless Knock Knocks, or constant attempts to work an O'Hair joke in. At the moment, the show is good enough to have been on the air in 1934, but not good enough that anyone would care about it in 2012 if it were not a part of something much greater that came later on. Luckily, it is.








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