THE 1936-1937 SEASON
THE JELL-O PROGRAM STARRING JACK BENNY" was again broadcast Sunday evenings from 7:00 to 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time, over the NBC radio network, with the show originating from radio station WJZ in New York City. The returning cast members for the 1936-1937 season were: Jack Benny as the Master of Ceremonies, Mary Livingstone as the MC'S girlfriend; Don Wilson as the announcer; and Kenny Baker as the tenor vocalist. Debuting this season are orchestra leader Phil Harris, and Eddie Anderson, first as a train porter, and then as Rochester. Jack, Mary and Phil are the only cast members introduced at the show's opening. The sponsor is still Jell-O.
The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny finished in 2nd place overall in the Hooper ratings for the 1936-1937 season, with a total rating of 28.6
This episode guide/log for this season was written entirely by Graeme Cree. I have added a few tiny notes here and there, as notated by the (BC) afterwards.
1. 10/04/36 PHIL HARRIS INTRODUCED (29:23)
Orchestra Opening: The orchestra opens with
"Here's Love In Your Eyes" from "The Big Broadcast of
Everyone talks about what they did last summer. Don MC'ed the Jell-O Summer Show. Jack made his movie at Paramount, and went camping. The Knocking Man drops by as Mr. Lewis from the Radio Guide, wanting to interview Kenny Baker, but Kenny isn't there. Jack offers to answer questions instead, but Lewis is only interested in Kenny. He sits down to wait for him, and ask every few minutes if he's there yet. Mary's vacation was interrupted by a trip to the hospital. Her doctor took out her tonsils and is taking her out next. Don introduces Jack to the new orchestra leader, Phil Harris. The orchestra plays "Bye, Bye Baby." Jack describes Phil for his listeners. Lewis finally gives up waiting for Kenny and leaves. Jack lets Kenny out of the closet where he had been locked all this time. We hear that Kenny spent his vacation in Catalina, New York and the closet. Mary takes an obscene phone call (1930's strength only) from her doctor, who only wants his fee, not her. Kenny sings "How you Look" from "Swing Time". Kenny introduces his even dimmer-witted girlfriend to the cast. Jack interviews the guy who filled the gas tank on Richmond and Merrill's trans-Atlantic flight. The orchestra plays "Sing Baby, Sing" from Sing Baby, Sing".
Play: None. The interviews with Kenny's girlfriend and the gas filler-upper guy leave no room for play time.
Don's Introduction: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, after four months’ vacation, we present to you the man the whole world is waiting to hear."
"New York, New York!"
Woman: "Who's on the air tonight, dear?"
Man: "Oh, let's go to a movie."
Little Boy: "Oh, Daddy? Let's go see a picture show tonight."
Father: "Jack Benny is on the air."
Little Boy: "I want to see Shirley Temple!"
Scottish Guy: "Heatherrrrrrr. Who's on the radio tonight?"
Scottish Lassie: "Jock Benny."
Scottish Guy: "Well, it'll cost me money, but let's go to the movies."
Don: "So now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring to you the man who has done more for moving pictures than any other comedian, Jack Benny!"
Jack: "Don, would you mind trying one more town?"
Don: "Which one?"
Jack: "Oh, any one. Try Waukegan, Illinois."
[very short trumpet blare]
Don: "Waukegan, Illinois!"
Jack's Mother: "Who's on the air tonight, Mr. Benny?"
Jack's Father: My son, Jack! What a boy!"
Jack's mother: Oh, then you're not going to the movies tonight?"
Jack's Father: "No, I saw the picture."
Note: There have been few fat jokes about Don Wilson so far, but this program opens with three quick fat jokes. First, Jack says he's glad to be back with this old gang of mine. Don asks "Do you mean me?" A moment later, Jack tells Don that he looks swell. "Fit as a bass fiddle." When Jack discusses his camping trip, he thanks Don for lending him his shirt, saying that he had the only tent with a soft collar. Later, Kenny describes Don as "ton and rugged" (rather than "tan and rugged"). As of this episode, Don Wilson is officially fat.
Note: Jack describes Phil for his listeners as a good looking lady's man, but one that you could trust your best girl with, if you could trust your best girl.
Note: After the rather bland Don Bester and Johnny Green, this Phil Harris guy is a big improvement. They've got him playing it very polite and reserved in this initial outing, but you can tell that he has oodles of charisma underneath, each oodle waiting to burst forth and obliterate anything in its path. Let's hope we see a lot more of this guy.
Note: When Mary makes a quip about Jack's description of Phil's appearance, Jack says "Be quiet, Irene," she replies "Okay, Tim." This is a reference to Tim and Irene Ryan who had been the comics on the Jell-O Summer Show.
Note: This episode features the earliest known joke about Jack's toupee. When Kenny's girlfriend asks for a lock of Jack's hair, Mary suggests that he give her the whole wig.
Note: This show features the first commercial for a new product, Jell-O Chocolate Pudding. The best pudding you ever tasted (naturally).
Note: The gas filler-upper guy was played by Benny Baker of Paramount Pictures.
Note: The Jell-O Program is broadcast over the Red Network of NBC. Apparently a bunch of Commies are financing Jack's show, which certainly explains the Big Red Letters on the Box.
Note: Starting this season, Jack is no longer introduced with strains of "Love in Bloom".
Flub: Jack starts to describe Phil as the romantic tripe... type, then points out that this blooper was legit.
Joke: Mary gives Jack a seashell that lets you hear music when you put it up to your ear, but only if your other ear is up to a radio.
Joke: Jack has trouble keeping straight his 3rd orchestra leader in 3 years:
Jack: "Play Don... er, John. What's your first name, Phil?"
Joke: Kenny warns that his girlfriend is kind of dopey. Without meeting her, Jack says "I figured that." When she later professes a like for Fred MacMurray, Mary opines that she's not as dumb as she'd thought.
Driver: "From then on it was smooth driving until I reached Flushing Boulevard."
Jack: "Flushing? Is that that winding street?"
Driver: "No, it's a straight flush."
Running Joke: Mary had a running joke, where she would begin laughing for no apparent reason, Jack would ask why, and Mary would offer a punchline that made sense in hindsight. Most of these weren't very good, but there's a good one here:
Jack: "Besides driving a truck, what other notable contribution to aviation have you made?
Driver: "Well, during the World War, I took up flying.
Jack: "Oh, you did, huh? Were you a promising student?
Driver: "Oh yes, my instructor told me that in no time at all, I'd make an ace of myself.
Jack: "Getting back to your journey, did you have any trouble on your return trip?"
Driver: "Yes, I hit a road pocket, and was thrown out of my truck into an open manhole."
Jack: "Oh, my goodness!"
Mary: "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"
Jack: "Mary, what are you laughing at?"
Mary: "An ace in the hole."
2. 10/11/36 ANTHONY ADVERSE (29:39)
Orchestra Opening: The orchestra opens with
"Tain't No Use".
Everyone discusses how nervous they were on opening night, and reads various reviews of last week's program. Jack and Mary each read a fan letter, and talk about Kenny's girlfriend from last week. The orchestra plays "Sing, Sing, Sing". Phil and Jack talk about girlfriends they invited to the broadcast. Jack introduces the play. Kenny sings "Did I Remember?" from "Susie", and the Play begins.
Play: Anthony Adverse, Part 1, a parody of the film of the same name, starring Fredric March and Olivia de Havilland, and based on a 1200 page novel of the same name.
Don's Introduction: "And now we bring to you the man who returned to the air last Sunday with a deluge of merriment, a gale of laughter, and a worried look, Jack Benny."
Guest Star: Charles Irwin played John Bonnyfeather [?]. Pat C. Flick played the Carlos Siebal [?], the Cuban.
Note: The opening commercial revolves around a fan letter written by a woman who wrote a letter in 1919 saying how much she loved Jell-O, and is writing another to say that she still does. Just in case you were wondering. Her son Tommy, then 7, used to let out a wail of dismay when he came home and found no Jell-O. Now he's a naval aviator (and no doubt gives the same wail when one of his bombs misses?). Of course in 1919, they probably had only two delicious flavors. It's not supposed to be funny, but it is.
Note: At 2:15, Jack says "Hmmm, me worry?", a clear precursor to Alfred E. Neuman.
Note: The old shtick from the Chevrolet Show, of using a stray word as an excuse for butting in with a commercial is rarely seen any more. We see it in this one, however, when a reference to a Scotchman causes Don to butt in with "And, speaking of Scotchmen, you will find that Jell-O too, is economical…"
Joke: Don jiggled so much that Jell-O had 12 delicious flavors on opening night.
Joke: One of the reviews they read contains glowing descriptions of the other shows, but of Jack's show, it just says "8:30 - 9:00".
Joke: Jack reads a review: "Jack Benny's first program goes over with a thud. He must have thought it was our thud program, it was our fust."
Joke Jack tells Phil that he invited Claudette Colbert, Joan Bennett, and Carole Lombard to the show. Phil says he noticed the three vacant seats.
Joke: Anthony Adverse is owed money from a sugar plantation owner, and agrees to take it in a lump sum.
Mary: "Gee, he's dumber than last year."
Jack: "He is not."
Kenny: "I am, too!"
3. 10/18/36 ANTHONY ADVERSE PART TWO (29:24)
Orchestra Opening: The orchestra opens with
"Swinging The Jinx Away", from "Born to Dance".
Everyone discusses Jack's performance in "The Big Broadcast of 1937", and Jack discusses how modest he is. Jack takes a phone call from his father, congratulating him on his performance. The orchestra plays "A Night in Manhattan" from "The Big Broadcast of 1937". Phil offers Jack a few left-handed compliments on his performance. Jack introduces Part 2 of the play. Kenny sings "When Did You Leave Heaven?" from "Sing, Baby, Sing", and the play begins.
Play: Anthony Adverse, Part 2.
Don's Introduction: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you that rising young movie star, Jack Benny."
Name For The Band: Phil Harris and His Phil-harmonic Orchestra.
Joke: The show opens with an extended sequence of Jack discussing how much he never brags about how great he is.
Joke: Two of Phil's left-handed compliments of Jack's performance is that he "stood out like a sore thumb", and he was "great, regardless".
Mary: "Oh Jack, who played the role of the casa?"
Mary: "Oh, no Casa Role".
Joke: The song of the jungle turns out to be "Jungle Bells". (Jungle Bells, Jungle Bells, jungle all the way...)
4. 10/25/36 PREVIEWS ROMEO AND JULIET (28:57)
Orchestra Opening: The orchestra opens with
"Bojangles of Harlem", from "Swing Time".
Everyone talks more about Jack's movie and how many times Jack has seen it without being bored. They talk a bit about the reaction to Anthony Adverse. Jack claims to have been offered $4000 per week to play the role on stage. The figure rises goes up another thousand every time he repeats the story. They talk a bit about movie stars and how dopey Kenny is (with Kenny taking both sides of the argument). The orchestra plays "South Island Magic". Phil introduces Ben Blue, his orchestra's arranger, whose shtick seems to consist of giggling a lot. At 13:30, Don actually has to be reminded that he hasn't butted in with a Jell-O commercial yet. Kenny sings Jerome Kearns' "Make Believe". At 17:00, Jack announces the play "Romeo & Juliet" (a double feature), but it turns out to be a trailer-style preview of next Sunday's play. The sponsor, Lawton Campbell of General Foods, calls to tell them that they can't do Romeo & Juliet. Jack puts his foot down and swears to do the play even if it gets him fired, but immediately starts looking for a way to weasel out of the threat. Jack finally lets the rest of the cast leave early, calls the sponsor back and caves in. Mr. Campbell wants Jack to do an old fashioned Minstrel Show next week, apparently not giving a fig for how the show is going to be perceived in 2012.
Play: Romeo and Juliet. Not the entire story, just highlights, similar to a movie trailer.
Don: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you the star of two Paramount Pictures, Jack Benny."
Jack: "Oh Don, you got my introduction wrong. It's not the star of two Paramount Pictures, it's the star of many Paramount Pictures."
Don: "I'm sorry, Jack, my error. So now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you the star of too many Paramount Pictures, Jack Benny."
Another Name For The Band: Phil Harris and his Harristocrats.
5. 11/01/36 DOC BENNY'S MINSTRELS--ROMEO AND JULIET (29:11)
Orchestra Opening:The orchestra opens with
"Alabama Barbecue" from "The 27th Edition of The Cotton Club
Everyone talks about what they did on Halloween. Jack played "Love in Bloom" on his violin under open windows. Jack went to Phil's party. For a costume, he put 40 candles on his head and dressed as a birthday cake. Don dressed as a dish of Jell-O. Mary dressed as a Rummage Sale. Kenny washed the dishes. Kenny is about to vote for the first time, so everyone discusses elections. Jack announces that they're going ahead with the Minstrel Show, and the play begins extremely early (less than 6 minutes into the program), after the orchestra plays "When A Lady Meets a Gentleman Down South". Kenny sings "Caroline" during the play. Jack sings "Asleep in the Deep". Near the end, Jack announces that every Minstrel Show needs an "afterfeed", and sneaks a playlet into that spot, called "Boy Meets Girl on a Balcony". This turns out to be a Southern-fried version of Romeo & Juliet, which takes place in Chattanooga, TN. The orchestra closes with "The Night is Young" from "Hasta Manana" (?).
Play: "Doc Benny's Minstrels", with a Southern Fried version of Romeo & Juliet as the "afterfeed". The play takes place in Sponge Cake, Missouri, on July 1, 1906.
Don's Introduction: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you that leftover ghost from Halloween, Jack Benny."
Note: A joke that doesn't translate well today with modern voting machines. Kenny is about to vote and wants to know if he has to actually take a shower when he goes into the booth and closes the curtain. Few if any places in the country still use voting booths like that.
Political Incorrectness: To get made up for the minstrel show, Jack tells Don to pass out the burnt cork, to be used for the blackface they would be doing if this show had a visual element (Burnt Cork was also the name of Rochester's real life race horse in the 1940's). Jack tells Kenny he's going to play the part of "an N man" (never heard that term before). When Jack asks if Kenny if he's ready for the minstrel show, Kenny replies "Am I? I haven't washed my face all week." Apart from these, there are no actual references to race in the episode.
Minstrel Show: The first time I listened to the Benny Shows, a few years ago, I had expected the worst after hearing that racial humor was toned down after World War II. When I heard them, I found that there was precious little to tone down in most of them, even in Rochester's scenes. Racial jokes were few and far between, and those that existed were mostly harmless. About the "worst" one I remember is a scene in which Jack was sparring with Rochester to train for his fight with Fred Allen. Each accidentally gave the other a black eye, but Rochester insisted that you'd have to touch his to prove it. Jokes like that have the same effect on 2012 audiences that King Kong had on 1930's audiences, but are mostly harmless. There's no disrespect or animosity behind them, they simply make reference to the fact that some people have different color skin than others. What changed after World War II is that even references to this fact were eliminated from the show.
However, everything I just said goes out the window when discussing Jack's two Minstrel Show episodes. There's simply no way to make them presentable to modern audiences. It's best to think of them as quaint relics of a bygone age (or alternately, as the two crazy Uncles that the Benny show keeps locked in its attic). Some may not find that good enough, and may want to know what a Minstrel Show is actually like, so I'm going to try to explain that.
The biggest objection modern audiences have to Minstrel Shows is white actors playing in blackface makeup. There is a brief reference to that, but since this is radio, no one actually does it.
When you take that out, what's left seems sort of like a black version of "King of the Hill" (which is probably very funny if you think about it). The show's main defining feature is a bunch of people standing around saying silly things in exaggerated Southern accents. In fact, if I hadn't been told that it was a Minstrel Show, I would probably have assumed that it was a parody of "Li'l Abner".
So, what have we got so far? It's a little bit like "King of the Hill". A little bit like "Li'l Abner". It's got a lot of County Fair-style humor, and homespun wisdom, vaguely reminiscent of "The Andy Griffith Show". It's even a bit, just a little bit mind you, like "Laugh-In". One joke goes something like "My boyfriend told me I was the 8th Wonder of the World." "What did you do?" "I told him what would happen to him if I caught him with any of the other seven!" One can easily imagine this same joke, told, word for word, in one of the dance scenes on "Laugh-In."
The most offensive thing about a Minstrel Show is the whole, not the sum of its parts. None of the characters in this show are offensive *in and of themselves*. But at the same time, every one of them, without exception, is a poorly educated, slightly shifty Southerner. If one lived at a time when every member of a given race or ethnic group was portrayed in exactly the same way in the media, one could easily come away with the impression that that's what that group of people is like *as a group*. Today, there's little chance of anyone getting that impression. Even if this show presents one picture, there are numerous alternative pictures in other media now. So, in one sense, the criticism of the Minstrel Show is less valid today than it was in 1936, yet the show is more offensive now than it was then. That probably says something about both time periods, but I'm not sure what.
So, what's the bottom line? Comedy-wise, is this show any good? Well... it's got a moment or two, and a couple of decent jokes, but it's not really my cup of tea. I've never been that big on rural humor in the first place, except maybe for "Andy Griffith", which was well written, and occasionally "Green Acres", which was so offbeat as to be almost Monty Python-esque. When I started listening to Doc Benny's Minstrels, the question I was interested in answering was "Is there anything here that's good enough to be worth trying to get a modern audience to have a look at it?" The answer to that is no, there isn't. So, a quaint relic of the past it must remain. Golden Age of Radio stations, take note. Please don't try to broadcast this episode.
Note: During the play, someone in the crowd asks if Johnny Green is there. Jack responds that Johnny is with The Fred Astaire Minstrels this year.
Jack Sings: Jack's rendition of "Asleep in the Deep" is one of the few times we ever hear Jack sing.
Note: Next week's play, "Girls Dormitory", is announced in advance.
Note: "Love in Bloom" is mentioned twice in this episode, but we still haven't actually heard it this season.
6. 11/08/36 GIRLS DORMITORY (8:31)
Orchestra Opening: The opening is lost.
The recording begins with Kenny in the middle of singing "Goodbye", which was a request from Mary's mother (somehow). Jack congratulates Kenny for his "Blackface dialect" the week before, but Phil says he didn't like it (at least SOMEBODY cares about being politically correct in 2012!). Jack announces the play "Girl's Dormitory". The orchestra starts playing an unidentified number, and the recording cuts out.
Play: "Girl's Dormitory", based on the 1936 movie of the same name, starring Herbert Marshall, Tyrone Power and Simone Simon.
Don's Introduction: [Lost]
Joke: Another fat joke. In the play "Girl's Dormitory", Don is playing the part of the dormitory.
Note: Ben Blue, the giggling musical arranger agrees to take a part in the play.
7. 11/15/36 BUCK BENNY RIDES AGAIN PART ONE (27:13)
Orchestra Opening:The orchestra opens with "You
On My Mind", from "Here Comes Carter".
Jack begins by doing the close for last week's program, which ran overtime. After closing last week's program, they hurriedly restart this one, and then talk about how much fun last week's play, Girls Dormitory was. This leads to a discussion of everyone's school days. Tonight is Kenny's 1 year anniversary, so everyone resolves to surprise him when he arrives. The orchestra plays "With Thee I Swing". Kenny arrives, and knows it's his anniversary, but not what it's his anniversary of. Kenny gives an incomprehensible acceptance speech, then sings "Talking Through My Heart" from "The Big Broadcast of 1937". Despite enormous hints, Kenny is unable to guess that Jack has given him roller skates as a present. The orchestra plays "Zuzu, the Darnedest Thing" [?] from "Pigskin Parade". Jack begins a Buck Benny western play, which is quickly interrupted when the sheriff enters to report that Kenny knocked over a pushcart on Hollywood Boulevard with his new skates. As the show ends, Mary skates into the same cart.
Play: "Buck Benny Rides Again, (Part 1)": (And since it's part 1, it should really be called "Buck Benny Rides").
Don's Introduction: And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you the man who got up on the wrong side of the program, Jack Benny."
Note: Jack describes Don as "an old cowhand", but the Buck Benny Theme Song "An old cowhand from the Rio Grande" is not used in this opening play.
Note: Lawyer Pat C. Flick shows up again, to represent the pushcart owner.
Note: In Buck Benny, Jack plays Buck, Mary is Daisy, and Phil is Sam. The Sheriff shows up in Part 1, but is not yet Andy Devine.
Trivia: The play takes place at the "Bar-O, Bar-O, But Don't Pay Back-O" Ranch.
Note: Phil claims to have gone to school in Alabama, where he once had to walk to school through 10 miles of cotton. (Don claims to have eaten through 10 miles of Jell-0. In real life, Phil came from Indiana.
Note: Don takes offense that nobody asked him about his school days. In later years, Don will be assigned the intellectual jokes.
Note: Kenny Baker's real anniversary was November 3, not November 15.
Note: Kenny's girlfriend is now named Lina. She doesn't talk, but she giggles a lot. She eventually disappears without a trace, but the best bet is that she eloped with Ben Blue.
Flub: A big blooper about 9:40, which causes Jack to ask "What kind of line was that???"
Running Joke: Another "What are you laughing at?" joke at 10:30. (but not worth transcribing as it’s incomprehensible out of context).
Joke: After wrapping up last week's episode, Don re-starts the current one with "The Jell-O Program, starring You-Know-Who, with Hoozits and his Orchestra. The orchestra opens the program with "Whatchamacallit" from the picture of the same name." If you’re looking for a great .wav to play at Windows Startup, give this one strong consideration.
Joke: When Jack closes last week's program, he expresses the hope that nobody thought the program was really ending, and tuned out. Don reassures Jack by telling him that nobody listens to anything he says anyway. (Hmmm…)
Joke: "Manys the time Hickey and I played hooky just to play hockey." "You're a little hokey there, Jack."
8. 11/22/36 BUCK BENNY RIDES AGAIN PART TWO (29:04)
Orchestra Opening: The orchestra opens with
"Plenty of Money and You" from "The Golddiggers of
They discuss Jack's vacation in Palm Springs, and everyone discusses their plans for Thanksgiving. Mary uncorks a Thanksgiving poem. Phil Harris is late, so Jack conducts the next number, "One, Two, Button My Shoe" from "Pennies From Heaven" without him. Jack is upset that Phil is late, but seems more jealous about stories that the reason Phil is late is because he was out with so many women last night. Kenny arrives at 10:00, announcing that he's just won a turkey. He saw Phil at the Brown Derby with another woman, too. Phil finally arrives about 11:30. Jack bawls him out for being late, but spends more time making snide remarks about his love life than talking about his tardiness. Kenny sings "Your Eyes Have Told Me So. Jack introduces the play, but before they can begin, Carol Lombard calls to make a date with Phil. Casanova Harris And His Orchestra plays "I'm Sorry, Dear". The play begins, as a thrilling tale about cattle rustlers, but is interrupted by Ginger Rogers calling Phil for a date. By the time the call is over, there's no need to hunt the rustled cattle, as they've all returned, meaning that Phil literally talked on the phone till the cows came home. (But amazingly, nobody thinks to use this joke).
Play: "Buck Benny Rides Again (Part 2)", or "One Man On A Horse".
Don's Introduction: "And now, ladies and gentleman, we bring to you your friend, my friend and Jack Benny's friend, Jack Benny."
Buck Benny Intro: "I will play the part of Sheriff Buck Benny, as tough an hombre as ever stepped into a pair of boots. A rootin', tootin', shootin', hifalutin', snootin', brutin'... well, that gives you a rough idea."
Names For The Band: Don Juan and His Orchestra. Casanova and His Orchestra.
Note: Buck Benny has a theme song this week, but it still isn't “An Old Cowhand From the Rio Grande”. Ben Blue shows up in Buck Benny. The villain is Rattlesnake Lawler.
Trivia: Daisy's last name is Carson. Buck is the Sheriff of Cactus County.
Note: This marks the first attempt to make Don the intellectual of the group. At the show's open, he asks Jack about his mood in such complicated terms that Jack can't understand him.
Mary's Poem: Jack comments that Mary had promised not to write any poems this season, but she pops out a Thanksgiving poem anyway.
"Oh Thanksgiving, Oh Thanksgiving,
You are sure my favorite day.
How I love your festive spirit,
Gosh, gee whiz, oh boy, I'll say.
Jack: Well, you asked for it.
Mary: Thanksgiving, you are sure a treat,
How we love to eat and eat.
Cause for dinner, we're sure there is
Turkey, stuffing, and cran-berr-is.
Jack: I knew it.
Don: Mary, try to get Jell-O in there some place.
Mary: I will.
Your friends sit around the table,
and eat much more than they are able.
Then your relatives, they come,
and what's left over, they take hum.
Jack: Take hum??
Don: Don't forget, Mary.
Mary: Oh, you do it, Don.
"But your dinner's not complete,
without Jell-O, rich and sweet.
And its flavor so delicious... uh... uh... uh...
And its flavor so delicious
Jack: Are you stuck, Don?
Don: No, no, I'll get it.
And its flavor so delicious
Mary: Eat it there, or take it with youse.
Flub: Big flub about 4:30, over the attempt to say "a big fat turkey".
Unintentional Humor: Don asks the reasons for Jack's exhilaration and sparkling effervescence. Jack doesn't understand. Don rephrases the question by asking what motivates this cause of sudden exuberance. Jack still doesn't get it. Don rephrases it again: "What makes you so gay?" Thirty years later, a question like that would have provoked a joke about Jack's walk.
Note: Ben Blue giggles his way through some more lines again. The character is just not getting over.
Joke: Jack tries to lead the orchestra in Phil's absence, and accidentally jump starts it by waving the baton at the wrong moment. (funnier than it sounds)
Joke: Jack: "I'm a pretty regular fellow, and I don’t care anything about your private life, which seems to be very public. But an artist must maintain a certain amount of dignity. Why, what would people think if they saw me out with a half a dozen different girls?"
Mary: "They'd think you were Phil Harris."
Jack: "I'll bet he thinks I'm jealous. Why, I can sit down at the phone right now and call 10 girls."
Mary: "That's nothing, Phil can sit down at the phone and have 10 girls call him."
Joke: Daisy's father is down in the cyclone cellar reading Gone With the Wind.
9. 11/29/36 BUCK BENNY RIDES AGAIN PART THREE (26:46)
Orchestra Opening: The orchestra opens with
"Curly Top" from "Curly Top".
Jack and Don talk about how pleasant Don's introduction was this week, but it quickly turns nasty. Phil is late to the broadcast again, and Jack is once again annoyed. They talk about Thanksgiving and Phil. Jack decides to call Phil, impersonate Mae West, make a date with him, and then break it, but Phil isn't fooled, because the real Mae West is with him at the time. The orchestra plays "Who's That Knocking at My Heart?" from Jack's upcoming film "College Holiday". Kenny arrives, and just saw Phil at the drugstore with another girl. The Knocking Man drops by selling Thanksgiving Cards. Phil finally shows up, fresh from dates with Mae West and Garbo. Kenny sings "I'll Sing You a Thousand Love Songs", from "Cain and Mabel". Jack rides Phil until it a fight nearly breaks out, then tries to pick a fight with Kenny instead (he’s safer). Jack announces an English Drawing Room play, entitled "Lady Windemere's Fandance", until a fan letter implores him to have another go at Buck Benny. Jack changes the play, last-second. Phil and Jack argue about the size of Phil's part (in the play!), as the orchestra plays.
Play: "Buck Benny Rides Again (Part 3)", or "Three Weeks On a Horse". Setting, Frank Carson's Ranch House in Sudden Death Valley, TX.
Don's Introduction: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, through the courtesy of NBC, we bring your our Master of Ceremonies, through the courtesy of Paramount, Jack Benny, through the courtesy of Jell-0."
Buck's Introduction: "I will play the part of Sheriff Buck Benny, as tough an hombre as ever slapped an Umday in the Aleyay. [some kind of Pig Latin, but I don't think I heard it right.] Just a two-fisted, quick-triggered marksman who shoots from the hip and never misses.
Trivia: The Buck Benny theme this week is "Glow Worm".
Trivia: Phil's home phone number is Oxford-7071.
Trivia: Lady Windemere's Fandance is to take place in Worcestershire on the Sauce.
Trivia: Kenny plays Buck's horse, Partner.
Trivia: This episode introduces Cactus Face Elmer as Buck Benny's antagonist. It's also one of the only episodes where he actually appears.
Names For The Band: Phil Harris' Meal Tickets. Hollywood's Heartthrob And His Orchestra. _____ And His Orchestra.
Note: At about 8:50, Kenny does the same wishbone joke (wishing that there was meat on it) used in "Blackadder's Christmas Carol" in 1989.
Joke: The Knocking Man does a special delivery at 13:30. Jack breaks the 4th wall and comments that it's the same voice as the card salesman.
Joke: "Kenny, pass out the bandanas." "Shall I peel them?"
Joke: "Texas is one of the finest states in the Union, even if it did only get one star."
Jack: "Look out the window and tell me how many head of cattle you've got left."
Phil: "I can't tell you, Buck. They're facing the other way."
[Sound of someone falling.]
"Hello Buck, are you hurt?"
"It was you who fell down the stairs. [Not me.]"
"It was? Ouch!!"
Flub: At about 23:00, the line "Well, shut my Texas Trap!", which doesn't sound all that funny on paper, nearly bowls Don Wilson over.
10. 12/06/36 MONEY AIN'T EVERYTHING (29:07)
Orchestra Opening: The orchestra opens with "I'm
In A Dancing Mood" from "This'll Make You Whistle".
Everyone discusses a black eye Jack got in a scuffle with a gas station attendant. Phil is late again, and everyone else discusses the blossoming feud between Jack and Phil. Phil and Kenny arrive about 5 minutes in, but Jack picks on Kenny again rather than risk a fight with Phil. Phil tries to apologize, but Jack thinks Phil just wants to get his guard down so he can pop him one. The orchestra plays "I'm In Love With a Brand New Baby". Jack and Phil keep at it until Don interrupts with a Jell-O commercial, because Jell-O brings everybody together! Except for Jack and Phil, that is. Mary takes a phone call from Mama, and tells her about the feud. Kenny sings "Close to Me". Jack announces that Buck Benny is being discontinued, due to an inability to track down Cactus Face Elmer. In its place, he presents a society drama. The orchestra plays "Vote For Mr. Rhythm" from "The Big Broadcast of 1937". The play begins, but is interrupted by a telegram from Frank Carson, saying that Cactus Face Elmer has been spotted. Buck Benny rides again! The orchestra closes with "Just One Of Those Things", from "Jubilee". Jack is having a party at the Trocadero tonight, and conspicuously invites everyone except Phil.
Play: "Money Ain't Everything", or "Oh Yeah?", another attempt at an English Drawing Room Drama.
Don: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you that... hey, Jack?"
Don: "What's the matter with your eye?"
Jack: "Nothing, why?"
Don: "Well, it looks kind of swollen and discolored."
Jack: "It's nothing, go on and introduce me, will you? This isn't television!"
Don: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you that genial fellow with the gray suit and the black eye, Jack Benny."
Names For The Band: Strangler Lewis and His Orchestra. The Jell-O Orchestra (conspicuously omitting Phil’s name).
Note: Jack mentions television in a 1936 program! Television was actually commercially available in some form in the US as far back as 1928, but probably the only person who could afford one was Jack himself.
Note: Jack says he'll be seeing his Phoenix friends next Tuesday.
Note: In the play, Jack takes the role of J. Stuyvesant Shnorer, which is just too goofy a name not to make note of. Shnorer's yacht, the Bad Check, is said to be bouncing all over the Mediterranean.
Note: At 21:30, Mary gets a surprisingly big laugh with the line "[I've been] up on the poop deck drinking pop".
Joke: "Hello, Peter." "That's pater."
11. 12/13/36 BUCK SHOT (28:36)
ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with
"All's Fair In Love and War" from "The Golddiggers of
Phil is on time, but Jack is late this time. Don and Mary think he's upset over how he's been mis-treated (whatever way that is), but Phil doesn't care. Don calls Jack at home, but Jack says they don't need him, and refuses to show up. The orchestra plays "Lost on the Moon". They re-start the program with Phil as MC, who manages to get big laughs even the most awful of jokes. Jack comes back, claiming to be looking for the hat he's wearing, but really hoping to be asked to come back to the program. When nobody asks, he agrees to come anyway, but sets new rules: No tardiness, no wisecracks, no personal phone calls. He immediately breaks that last rule when Carol Lombard calls him, but regrets it when he finds that she only wanted to ask him if Phil could leave early. Kenny sings "Night and Day" from "The Gay Divorce". The orchestra plays "It's De-Lovely", from “Red, Hot and Blue”, and the play begins.
PLAY: "Buck Benny Rides Again (Part 4)", or "Is His Saddle Red!" "I'm An Old Cowhand From the Rio Grande" (complete with vocals) is established as the Buck Benny theme song in this episode. Buck trails Cactus Face to a cinema, where he is wounded in a shootout.
DON'S INTRODUCTION: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we present the man who every week spreads a little joy, a little cheer, a little sunshine, Jack "Pollyanna" Benny.
DON'S SECOND INTRODUCTION: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we present our new master of ceremonies, everybody's favorite, Phil Harris!"
BUCK'S INTRODUCTION: "I will again play the part of Sheriff Buck Benny, as tough an hombre as ever talked back to an orchestra leader. A rip snortin', rortin', cavortin', Charles Lortin', and Edward Everett Horton'! You ain't heard nortin' yet."
THE BIGGEST LAUGH: In later years, there seems to have been considerable discussion about the biggest laugh the Benny Show ever got on radio. Some seemed to think it was the exchange between Don Wilson and Dorothy Kirsten. Others thought it was "Dreer Pooson". Or "Chiss Wheeze Sandwich". Or even "Your Money Or Your Life". All of these are wrong. Hands down, the biggest, longest, loudest laugh that the Benny Show ever got comes at the end of this program, when Andy Devine says "This is the last number of the 11th program in the new *Jelly* series, and on behalf of Jack Benny who was shot, I want to thank me for being here tonight." The laugh builds, starting with a few scattered laughs, then spreads to Don Wilson, who is unable to read the closing announcement with a straight face, and by the time the show goes off the air, the entire audience is in stitches. The flub was funny, but the crowd had already been warmed up by what was perhaps the best Benny Show ever made to date. There have been other big laughs, but this is the one that really brought the house down.
NAMES FOR THE BAND: A Man Who Doesn't Seem to Care If He Stays With This Organization or Not and his Orchestra.
TRIVIA: Jack's Phone Number is Granite-3414.
TRIVIA: Daisy is Buck's fiancée.
TRIVIA: As MC of the program, Phil also opens with the words "Jello, again."
GUEST CHARACTER: This episode marks the introduction of Andy Devine, as a semi-regular scratchy-voiced old coot-type character. He starts off as a sheriff in the Buck Benny sketch, but turns up in other places in the future. When he appears outside of Buck Benny, he seems to have no official role on the show at all, and usually appears because he just dropped in for a visit (in mid-show). Andy was well known before this appearance. He is called by his real name in the play, and gets a loud ovation when his name is mentioned. Jack comments that it was nice of Universal Studios to let him come help with this case. Universal is frequently mentioned in connection with Andy this season.
GUEST CHARACTER: Before there was Rochester, there was Hong. Jack's Chinese butler speaks scads of lyrical faux-Chinese at an auctioneer's pace, interspersed with occasional splats of English (i.e. "Phooey on you!").
NOTE TO MYSELF: I've always wanted to hear a foreign comedian try speaking in faux-English gibberish, just to see how we sound to them. I actually did hear a Hispanic comedian attempt this once, but his "faux-English" just consisted of tossing out random words ("Fire plug, sofa cushion, umbrella, perambulator, hasenpfeffer, et cetera). To really do this joke right, you'd need someone who could pick up on frequently repeated sounds and inflections that English speakers use without noticing.
JOKE: When Don telephones Jack's home, Hong gives Jack 20 seconds of completely incomprehensible faux Chinese babble, which Jack somehow understands, and replies "Okay, I'll take it." It's doubly funny a) that Jack understood it, and b) that it took so long just to say "You're wanted on the phone" in Chinese.
JOKE: Mary: "We need somebody to be the head of the program, and you're a swell head."
JOKE: Mary: "Hey Phil, why don't you pick on jokes your own age?"
JOKE: After Buck and the gang sing the theme song, Jack answers the phone thusly: "Hello? Yeah, this is the Sheriff's office. What's that, madam? You say there's a gang of rowdies disturbing the peace? We'll be over to put a stop to that immediately. Where do you live? Oh, right upstairs."
JOKE @ 19:30:
Jack: "Boys, there's been too much shootin' and thievin' goin' around these here parts. It’s getting’ so those outlaws are takin’ everything that isn’t nailed down.”
Don: "That's right, Sheriff."
Jack: Well, what're we gonna do?"
Kenny: "Nail everything down!"
JOKE: Sound gag at 22:40. Jack yells "Buck Benny Rides Again!", followed by a sound of hoof beats for several seconds, until Jack says "Open the door, Frank."
12. 12/20/36 OLD FASHIONED CHRISTMAS PARTY (28:56)
ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with "I Feel a Song Coming On." They talk about Jack's temper, and learn that he's got two personalities, a meek one and a volatile one. Asking around reveals the astonishing fact that everyone else in the cast has a dual personality too. The orchestra plays "You Can Tell She Comes From Dixie", which leads to Jack and Phil arguing some more. Don again makes a plea for Jack and Phil to make up, but Jack is still unwilling. Jack reads a poem from Ludwig Schmutz which expresses his feelings. Kenny sings "Summer Night" from "Sing Me a Love Song". Everyone exchanges Christmas presents. Don gives Jack a gold button hook, which will be great if button shoes ever come back in style. Jack gives Kenny the tie Kenny gave him last year, and gives Don a box of Jell-O. Jack gives Mary one earring (she gets the other one next year), and gives Phil a curling iron (Phil claims he doesn’t need it because his hair, like Frieda's, is naturally curly). The orchestra plays "Mutiny in the Brass Section" (not the real title). Jack sniffs about not receiving a present from Phil. Pat C. Flick drops in to give Jack a vest and pants (the coat costs $75). Andy Devine drops in, but it's too late to do a Buck Benny play tonight, so he leaves disappointed. Jack tries to cut out early for a party. Phil tries to make up their rift by giving Jack a platinum and diamond watch studded with diamonds. Jack gets misty-eyed, which gets Don misty-eyed, and everyone has a good Christmas bawl. The orchestra closes with "Here's Love In Your Eyes" from "The Big Broadcast of 1937", and Jack takes everyone out for a night on the town.
PLAY: None, the Christmas exchange took up that time.
DON'S INTRODUCTION: "And now we bring you a man who stands for good wholesome entertainment. Who stands for bright sparkling humor. In fact, a man who stands for almost anything: Jack Benny."
NAMES FOR THE BAND: Curly Harris, the Kink of Jazz.
JOKE: Jack: "If I ever lose my temper, I just hope I'm not around when it happens."
Don "There are two Don Wilsons, too."
Jack: "Oh, I can see that, Don. But a little dieting will take care of that."
Don: "Jack, you're laughing at my expanse."
JOKE: Jack gives Kenny the tie Kenny gave him last Christmas, but insists it's not the "same" tie. Mary agrees that it’s not, because now it's got spots on it.
Jack: "...I was going out on a party tonight, but I'd much rather be with the gang. Come on, let's all go out and make whoopee."
13. 12/27/36 BUCK BENNY RIDES AGAIN AND AGAIN (29:27)
ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with
"Hallelujah" from "Hit the Deck".
Everyone discusses their Christmas presents. Jack got a silk muffler from Mary, a woolen muffler from his sister Florence, and assorted mufflers from his aunt Molly (His neck had a very Merry Christmas). Don got a loud tie that he can't exchange because his loud wife gave it to him ("You'll just have to grin and wear it.") Jack's father gave him a checkbook and pen. Jack gave him a muffler. But Jack's favorite present is that watch he got from Phil. Since receiving it, Jack is now overprotective of Phil, and won't allow anyone to say a word against him, or to complain if he arrives late (which he has again, by the way). Kenny got a necktie with arms that had started out as a sweater. Mary reads a letter from Momma. Since Phil is late, Jack has Kenny sing early. Kenny sings "The Night is Young And You Are So Beautiful". A few people grumble about Jack playing favorites with Phil. Jack gets a New Year's Jello-Gram from The Knocking Man. Phil arrives late, but Jack forgives him because he admitted it. Jack strenuously (and repeatedly) denies that the watch Phil gave him has anything to do with his change of attitude. The orchestra plays "A Fine Romance". The play begins around 16:50.
PLAY: "Buck Benny Rides Again (Part 5)", or "Boy Meets Horse". Buck throws a New Year’s Eve party.
DON'S INTRODUCTION: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, Christmas being over we are left with broken ornaments, tattered tinsel, burned out bulbs, and Jack Benny!"
BUCK'S INTRODUCTION: "Again, I will play the part of Sheriff Buck Benny, as tough an hombre as ever held up a pair of socks with a garter snake. A rootin', tootin', hootin', shootin'... (rimshot from the band) You said it!"
NAMES FOR THE BAND: The Phil Harris Organization Without Their Sterling Leader at the Helm.
NOTE: The Jellogram is from
Fred Allen, Phil Baker, Stoopnagel and Bud, Jessica Dragonet, Rubinoff and
His Violin, Jack Pearl, The Easy Aces, Benny Rubin, and the Hall Johnson
Choir. Still no hint of a feud with Fred Allen. Stoopnagel and
Bud are in fact the names that Jack and Kenny briefly changed their own
names to on 11-3-35, due to the similarity of the names Benny and
Kenny. Amazingly, the writers remembered this, and must have put it
in the script to amuse themselves, because there’s no way anyone in the
audience should have been expected to get it.
(There was also a radio comedy duo popular at the time, "Stoopnagle and Budd" , played by Wilbur Budd Hulick and Frederick Chase Taylor. For the 1936-1937 season, Stoopnagle and Budd were with the agency Young & Rubicam, as was the Jack Benny Program, along with Fred Allen--BC)
NOTE: Andy Devine does not appear, but when previewing the next program, Don asks "Will Andy be on our program?"
JOKE: "Jellogram for Tack Benny."
"Hey Buck, this being New Year’s Eve, are you going to let the prisoners out for the night?"
"I don't have to. I let them out last New Year's Eve, and they haven't come back yet."
14. 01/03/37 MORE BUCK BENNY (28:36)
ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with "One
in a Million" from the picture of the same name.
The Knocking Man enters to deliver a New Year’s greeting. Everyone talks about the good times they've had on the show, and what they did on New Year's Eve. Jack and Phil were at the Troc with a girl, and Phil took Jack's girl home, but Jack shrugs it off. The Knocking Man comes by again. Mary forgot to write a poem for 1937, but starts writing one while Don is shilling for Jell-O. The Knocking Man comes by again. The orchestra plays "Under the Spell of the Voodoo Drum". Kenny arrives with his girlfriend, Lina the giggler, and sings "The Sweetheart Waltz" from "College Holiday." Jack introduces the play. The orchestra plays "Lorelei" from "Old Pappy English" and the play begins. Afterwards, the show closes with "A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody", and Jack dictates a cryptic wire to Fred Allen!
PLAY: "Buck Benny Rides Again (Part 6)", or "Is Top Row Worried?" Everyone visits Buck in the hospital, including Cactus Face Elmer!
Don: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you that...”
Jack: "Uh, hold it a minute, Don. ”
Don: "Oh sure Jack, sure. What is it?"
Jack: "Well, this being the first program of the New Year, I think you ought to inaugurate it by giving me a nice, friendly introduction."
Don: "Of course."
Jack: "You know what I mean, Don. Not too much, but something with a little dignity to it. You know, I'm tired of starting out each week with a strike against me."
Don: "Why certainly, certainly Jack. I'll be glad to. ”
Jack: "Thanks Don, go ahead."
"And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you that soul without a blemish..."
Don: "That rose without a thorn..."
Don: "That germ without a flaw..."
Jack: "That's gem!"
Don: "Oh yes, yes. That gem without a flaw, Jack Benny."
BUCK'S INTRODUCTION: "Again, I will play the part of Sheriff Buck Benny, as tough an hombre as ever shaved himself with a razorback hog. If Bob Burns is listening in, I only borrowed that joke. A battin', pattin', rattin', scattin', Latin from Manhattan!"
"Oh, You 1937!"
1937, oh 1937! Where have you been all these years?
And when did you leave Heaven?
What have you in store for us?
What will the future be?
For Jack and Phil and Kenny and Don,
And me, and me, and me?
Will all the girls still like Phil Harris?
Will Buck get Cactus Face? Who Carris?
Not me, or me, or me.
Will Wilson do our advertising,
about that, you know, so appetizing?
Will Jack another picture make?
Or will they catch on that he's a fake?
Will our sponsor stay our friend,
or will this New Year be the end?
Will Kenny's voice sound just as rich
as in nineteen thirty-sich?
So, don't feel sad, and don't feel blue,
You'll get just what's coming to you.
And happiness there sure will be,
For you and me and me and me.
Oh, you 1937...
That's all, I thank you.
GUEST STAR: Pat C. Flick, as Cactus Face Elmer.
NOTE: The Knocking Man character as such begins with this episode. The routine involves him knocking on the door, delivering a brief message, and then leaving. Shades of Laugh-In, but then repeating the act with a similar message several more times in the episode. In this episode (and the next few) his appearances all revolve around offering New Year’s greetings to Jack.
NOTE: Drunk jokes are in no way integral to Phil’s character at this point, but during the play, when Phil's character visits Buck in the hospital, he comments "It seems kinda funny you layin' down and me standing' up."
NOTE: One of the first drunk jokes about Phil Harris state that he just laid his baton down for a bottle of brandy, and will be following the baton any moment now.
NOTE: The Benny Allen Feud officially begins as of now. After the closing commercial, Jack dictates the following wire to Fred: "Dear Fred: I am NOT ashamed of myself. When I was 10 years old, I could play 'Flight of the Bumblebee' on my violin, too! Nyahhhhh! Signed, Jack Benny." No explanation is offered for this, but Mary comments that this mystery will also continue next week.
"He's a terror."
"Without the T."
"Your pappy's going to get in trouble with his actions. I'm surprised no one ain't punched him in the nose."
"They can't, it's always behind a jug."
15. 01/10/37 BUCK BENNY RIDES AGAIN (29:35)
ORCHESTRA OPENING:The orchestra opens with "Gee,
But You're Swell."
Everyone talks about the aspersions that were cast on Jack's violin playing during Fred Allen’s program. Everyone thinks Jack is taking it too seriously, and that Fred's show was hilarious. In fact, during this show, pretty much everyone comments on how funny Fred’s show was. Jack threatens to make Phil take back the watch if he keeps praising Fred Allen, but does not carry out this threat. However, he does institute a new rule that any of his cast that listens to Allen's show must NOT enjoy it. Don somehow perverts all of this into a Jell-O commercial. The Knocking Man knocks his way into our hearts again with another New Year's message. The orchestra plays "When My Dreamboat Comes Home". Jack brags about taking Carol Lombard on a moonlight drive on New Year's. Meanwhile, Kenny is still laughing at Fred Allen. A Mr. Buckingham Benny drops in to protest the Buck Benny sketches, saying that ever since they started, people have called him "Buck", including members of Jack's own cast. Kenny sings "Cashmere Song" [?]. Buckingham leaves in protest when Jack introduces the play.
PLAY: "Buck Benny Rides Again (Part 7)", or "Wait Until He Tries to Walk". Buck pursues Cactus Face to a haunted hotel.
DON'S INTRODUCTION: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you America's boyfriend who can't get a date, Jack Benny."
BUCK'S INTRODUCTION: "Once again, I will play the part of Sheriff Buck Benny. As tough an hombre as ever wore a fright wig for a toupee."
GUEST STARS: Andy Devine of Universal as Sheriff Andy Devine. Benny Baker as Buckingham Benny.
THE BIGGEST LAUGHS: Jack got a surprisingly big laugh from the following exchange about 8 minutes into the program. On paper, it’s not very funny at all. It’s all in the delivery.
Jack: "What a party. You know, after the show was over, I took Miss Lombard out. I mean Carol. We went for a little drive."
Don: "Just the two of you?"
Jack: "No, Clark Gable went along. You know, for laughs. You see, he happens to be a friend of Carol's family. Also, a good friend of Carol's."
Mary: So good that Jack sat in the rumble seat."
Jack: "Who asked you??"
Phil: "Did you, Jack?"
Jack: "Well, I'm a sort of an outdoor man. You know, one sniff of monoxide and I'm a new man."
RUNNING JOKE: Just about everyone in this episode praises Fred Allen's last show, including Andy Devine and Buckingham Benny during the play.
Don: "Don't be so facetious."
Jack: "I won't."
Mary: "He would if he knew what it meant."
Buck: "They say that hotel is haunted. It's full of spirits."
Andy: "So is Pappy, and he ain't haunted."
RACIAL HUMOR: (More humor of the type that would have people fainting in the aisles today:)
Jack: "Wait. I see a figure standing out in front of [the hotel]."
Mary: "Maybe it's Andy [Devine]."
Jack: "Looks kinda dark, though."
Mary: "Then it must be Amos."
NOTE: (At about 21:00, there is a joke of the kind that was frequently used later on:)
Jack: "Those nags of mine are getting bigger laughs than I am."
Mary: "You'd better put a Mickey Finn in their oats."
Jack: "Ask me that again, gal, I've got a beast of an answer. Once more, this is a humdinger."
Mary: "You ought to put a Mickey Finn in their oats."
Jack: "I did and they liked it!
(This isn't very funny at all, but years later, this setup was used fairly often, in which Jack or Phil would hear an innocuous line, and ask the speaker to "Run that by me again", so that they can deliver a supposedly devastatingly funny punchline that they've belatedly thought of.)
UNINTENTIONAL HUMOR: "Gee, But you're Swell"????? That's a song title?? And I thought "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" was tame. It’s a very familiar tune too, which I’ve probably heard in cartoons without knowing what it was called. A Google Search reveals the words to this forgotten classic, and amazingly, the word "shucks" does not appear.
GEE BUT YOU'RE SWELL
Bater / Tobias 1936
as rec by Louis Jordan w Chick Webb & his Orch
Jan 15th 1937 New York
also rec by Benny Goodman & his Orch '36
Gee but you're swell,
When I say swell I mean you're lovely as well!
When I say lovely I mean glorious too,
I'm mad about you;
You're about the grandest thing that I ever knew!
You've got just what it takes,
And I'll admit I get the luckiest breaks!
And I mean lucky, for what else could it be
When a girl like you loves me?
I mean it, honestly gee,
But you're swell!
You've got just what it takes,
And I'll admit I get the luckiest breaks!
And I mean lucky, for what else could it be
When a girl like you loves me?
I mean it, honestly gee,
But you're swell!
16. 01/17/37 BUCK BENNY IN ENSENADA, MEXICO (30:18)
ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with "Life
Begins When You're In Love" and another funny Jell-O letter.
Jack is still miffed about Fred Allen's comments about his violin playing. Jack produces a photo to prove that he could play "The Bee" on the violin at age 10. The Knocking Man knocks by for another New Year's greeting. Kenny sings "Dapple in the Moonlight". Jack does another faux interview, this time with Oscar P. Fortu, a man hit in the face by a divot thrown by Harry Cooper at a golf tournament. The orchestra plays "Lady Be Good" from the picture of the same name, and the play begins.
PLAY: "Buck Benny Rides Again (Part 8)", or "The Horse That Jack Built". Buck trails Cactus Face to Ensenada and gets in another shootout.
DON'S INTRODUCTION: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you that violinist, with the accent on 'vile', Jack Benny."
BUCK'S INTRODUCTION: "Once again, I will enact the role of Sheriff Buck Benny, as tough an hombre as ever scratched his back with a wildcat."
GUEST STAR: Andy Devine, Buck Jones, Pat C. Flick (as Cactus Face Elmer)
UNINTENTIONAL HUMOR: In the opening commercial, Don reads a letter from a housewife whose husband came home with (Gasp!) **another brand of gelatin dessert**!!! Against her better judgment, she prepared it, but found that it didn't have the full rich taste of genuine Jell-O, and took twice as long to set. What makes the letter funny is that the woman asked for her name to be withheld (!). (As if she was thinking "If my friends find out about this, I'm dead.") No word on whether this couple's marriage survived.
NOTE: One of the first toupee jokes about Jack. Jack dismisses Fred Allen as a toothpaste salesman, and Mary says he could use one. "I said toothpaste, not toupee!"
NOTE: The faux celebrity interview is similar to the gas-pump-filler-upper interview from 10-4-36.
NOTE: Jack introduces the play as the 11th chapter of Buck Benny. It's actually Part 8, and the 10th week since the serial began.
NOTE: Two of the villains in Buck Benny are named after Jack's writers: Less-Faced Morrow, and Slim Beloin.
NOTE: After his horse whinnies, Buck makes a cryptic remark: "A good horse, even if he is bald-headed." Apparently this is a reference to the actor who voiced the whinny. It doesn't sound like Mel Blanc, but next year, Jack does mention that The Knocking Man was bald.
NOTE: Another drunk joke about Phil, but still no pattern to them. When Daisy's pappy (Phil) falls in the well, she says not to worry, because he *swims* like a fish too.
NOTE: In keeping with the current Fred-Allen-mania, Jack hears a faux Portland Hoffa voice coming over the radio on Andy Devine's horse.
NOTE: As in the 1-3-37 episode, Cactus Face has the odd habit of addressing people as "Poopsie". Apparently this was a Flick trademark outside of the Benny show.
FLUB: (At 4:00.)
Kenny: "Can I see the picture too... too, Jack?"
Jack: "Why? Why two too's??"
(At 18:52, Buck says:)
"Buck Jones is down at the Hotel [?] in Ensenada, Texas!"
A moment later, he corrects himself to say "We're on our way to Mexico, and this time we're going to bring back Cactus Face dead or alive!"
After the song, Don mentions that Buck and Andy are in Mexico, so Buck corrects himself again at 21:45 to say:
“I said Texas before, Andy. I meant Mexico."
Jack: "Let me tell you something. I played violin in concert halls long before I knew anything about Strawberry, Cherry, Orange, Lemon and Lime."
Don: "You left out Raspberry."
Mary: "I bet the audience didn't."
JOKE: When Buck, Buck and Andy, talk about their movies, Jack mentions making Big Broadcast and College Holiday. Buck Jones asks if they were Westerns, and Jack answers "No, I stepped out of character for those."
"CAN YOU SAY THAT IN 1937?": (Jack tries to find out where the bar room is:)
Jack: "String of Spanish".
Man: "Right down the hall, first door to your right."
Jack: I said the BAR Room!"
Man: "Oh, SECOND door to your right."
Buck Jones: "Don't tell ME what to do, I'm a REAL cowboy!"
17. 01/24/37 JACK PRACTICES 'THE BEE" (29:44)
ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with
"Right or Wrong" from "Happy Go Lucky".
Mary says "Jello again" this time, as Jack is missing. They find him in the next room practicing "The Bee" on his violin. Jack receives a telegram saying that a town in Florida has renamed itself in his honor (Off-Key West). Mary gives Kenny a joke to tell Jack, which he botches. Kenny sings "I've Got You Under My Skin" from "Born to Dance". Jack stews some more about Fred Allen, who is coming to California to make a picture. The Knocking Man delivers another New Year’s Greeting (but by this time who knows what year he’s talking about). Jack starts to introduce a play, but when Phil mentions that his mother and sister have come in from Mobile, Alabama for a visit, everyone leaves the show to have dinner with them. The orchestra plays "Goodnight my Love" from "Stowaway", and with everyone else gone, Don "tunes us in" to the action over at Phil's party.
PLAY: None. The play is replaced with a situation comedy scene of Jack and his cast having dinner with Phil's relatives. Everyone rides over on horses left over from Buck Benny.
DON'S INTRODUCTION: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a man who, as a child, had whooping cough, measles, and violin lessons, Jack Benny."
GUEST STARS: Andy Devine, "Mrs. Harris", "Lucy Belle Harris".
PHIL SINGS: In his first focal, Phil sings "De Lovely", from "Red, Hot & Blue". Mary and Andy toss in Jell-O themed verses of their own.
NOTE: At the end, Jack announces that next Sunday will be an Independence Day program in order to get rid of the backlog of otherwise unusable 4th of July jokes they've accumulated.
NOTE: The movie Allen was coming to California to make was probably "Sally, Irene and Mary" (1938).
NOTE: In real life, Phil Harris came from Indiana, but don’t tell anybody!
NOTE: Phil's sister is named Lucy Belle. Virtually every pleasurable experience in her entire life tickles her pink. The next week or two will focus on how Jack smitten Jack was with her, but their romance never goes anywhere.
NOTE: As with everyone in the entire universe lately, Phil's family comment on how great Fred Allen's show was.
Jack: "Allen isn't even his right name. You know that, Mary, don't you?"
Mary: "Is Benny yours?"
Jack: "Nobody worries me. Especially Allen."
Mary: "Oh yeah, then what happened to your fingernails?"
Jack: "I was hungry!!"
JOKE: Another joke aimed at whoever is doing the horse sounds effects. After a whinny, Jack comments "They look ALMOST like horses though, if you know what I mean."
Mrs. Harris: "Oh son, I be listenin' to y'all fo' a long, long time, and ah sho' am glad to make yo acquaintance, sho' 'nuff."
JOKE: "Kenny, throw a log in the fire and don't let go!"
18. 01/31/37 NEXT SUNDAY JACK WILL PLAY "THE BEE" (29:07)
ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with
"Everything is Rhythm In My Heart" from "First in
Everyone talks about racetracks, and how Jack is STILL rankled at Fred Allen. A delivery boy delivers Mary a special delivery letter from Momma, and laughs at Jack for not being able to play The Bee. The orchestra plays "Saint Louis Blues". Phil talks about how Lucy Belle liked meeting Jack, and is coming to the broadcast. Mary reads the letter from Momma. Kenny sings "Sweetheart, Let's Grow Old Together". The Knocking Man gets kicked out before he can deliver another New Year's greeting. Lucy Belle arrives. They talk, and the orchestra plays "Remember". Jack asks Phil to augment his orchestra with 30 more members next week, to back him up while he plays The Bee. Jack is tired, and cancels the 4th of July show, in order to leave early and go to bed. He dreams about an exchange with Fred Allen, which ends with Jack gunning Fred down in cold blood! Jack awakens happy.
PLAY: None. Jack leaves the show early for a situation comedy dream in which he has it out with Fred Allen, and shoots him.
DON'S INTRODUCTION: "And now we bring you our radiant master of ceremonies, with warmth in his heart, and a cold in his head, Jack Benny."
NAMES FOR THE BAND: Lucy Belle's Brother and His Orchestra.
GUEST STAR: Fred Allen is played by "Lind Hayes", probably Peter Lind Hayes, who later went on to play Genie the Magic Record.
NOTE: At the end of the show, Jack receives a congratulatory telegram from Alton Cook, radio editor of the New York World Telegram. For the 4th consecutive year, he has been voted America's Favorite Comedian by the radio editors of the US and Canada. The Jell-O Program was picked as the all-around favorite show for the 3rd consecutive year, and Don voted Best Studio Announcer.
NOTE: At the end of the show, Don reads a Red Cross announcement, asking for donations to help flood victims, but does not make clear to 2012 listeners what floods he's referring to.
JOKE: (Another good example of Jack's making weak jokes funnier by overselling them.)
Kenny: "Say, who was that "JB" [Allen] was kidding about last Wednesday night?"
Jack: "JB? Probably Jorge Burns. You know, he spells by ear. Anyway, I don't want to talk about him. Let's forget FA. That's short for "Fake", and that's what he is. Ha! Let him top that one!"
Mary: "Don't worry, he will."
JOKE: (A joke about Jack's affections for the fictional Lucy Belle Harris.)
(knock, knock, knock)
Jack: "Come in."
Mary: "That's your pulse."
Jack: "Mater is a Latin word meaning an ancestor on the maternal side. You get it?"
Kenny: "Yeah! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"
Jack: "What are you laughing at, Kenny? That's not a joke!"
Kenny: "I don't care, I'm not fussy."
Lucy Belle: "Thanks for those Poinsettias you sent me, Mr. Baker."
Kenny: "Shucks, I ordered flowers!"
Phil: "Jack, either respect my sister, or take up my option!"
JOKE: (When Jack leaves the show early:)
Jack: "Yawn! Excuse me, folks. I haven't been so sleepy since last Wednesday night between the hours of 9 and 10."
19. 02/07/37 THE STOLEN VIOLIN (28:44)
ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with "Boo
Jack just got back from a week in Palm Springs, and is still dreaming about Fred Allen, who called him "anemic" on his latest show. Tonight, Jack will play The Bee on his violin and show Fred up. Jack is jealous of a 10 year old who played it on Fred's show last week. Kenny bought a raffle ticket for a car, and is worried about how much it would cost him if he won. Phil has added the extra orchestra members to back up Jack. The Knocking Man comes to wish Jack a successful performance, rather than a happy New Year, for a change. The orchestra plays "Swing High, Swing Low", from the picture of the same name. Jack hopes Lucy Belle will come to hear his performance, and goes into the next room to call her, while Don covers for him with a Jell-O commercial. The others eavesdrop on Jack's phone call, which is quite mushy. Everyone ribs Jack, except Kenny, who understands baby talk from his experiences with his girlfriend, Lina the Giggler. Jack is annoyed that Fred called him anemic, so everyone tries to come up with anemia jokes to use on Fred. Kenny sings "Goodnight My Love". Lina, Mrs. Harris, and Lucy Belle show up to hear Jack's concert, and Mrs. Harris gives Jack cod liver oil to treat his anemia. Jack gets an UN-congratulatory telegram from Allen on his upcoming performance. The orchestra plays "Plumbing on Park Avenue", from "On the Avenue". Jack gets a congratulatory telegram from Bidey Talcott, the mayor of Waukegan. Vendors begin hawking their wares (including earmuffs) in preparation for Jack's performance. As Don announces Jack, Kenny announces that Jack's violin is gone! A mysterious stranger tries to identify the thief, but is gunned down! As the show ends, Jack gets a telegram from Cactus Face Elmer, offering to give himself up if Jack will give up the violin.
PLAY: None. Jack plays Schubert's "The Bee" on his violin, to answer the challenge Fred Allen posed by having a 10 year old play it on his program. He does not manage it, since the violin is stolen just before his performance.
DON'S INTRODUCTION: "And now ladies and gentlemen, after a week in the desert, we bring you that sun-baked comedian with the warmed over jokes, Jack Benny."
GUEST STARS: Andy Devine, "Lucy Belle", "Mrs. Harris", "Lina".
NOTE: Mancel "Bidey" Talcott, the Mayor of Waukegan receives his first mention. He's mentioned several times in the upcoming years, and even appeared on the show once, until he was defeated in his re-election bid in 1941. A picture of him can be seen at http://www.waukeganweb.net/pastmayors.html
NOTE: Near the end, Phil mentions that the time is 8:55, meaning that Jack's show went on the air at 8:30 pm.
1930's PRICES: Auto insurance costs $100 a year, and rent on a garage comes to $15-$20 per month.
Jack: "...I think it's hardly fair to compare [my violin playing] to [Jascha] Heifetz. I don't think Heifetz would approve of that."
Mary: "Don't worry, he'll get the gag."
Jack is irked at being called anemic by Fred Allen, and so everyone attempts to top it. What makes these jokes funny is that they’re all so utterly unfunny, yet everyone acts like school kids, laughing at them:
Jack: "That Allen is so anemic, that when he eats a blood orange, the veins jump up and down with glee!"
Andy: "Fred Allen is so pale that when he sleeps between two sheets, the bed looks empty."
Phil: "Fred Allen is so anemic that he has to stick out his tongue to get color in his face."
Kenny: "Fred Allen is so anemic that if you gave him a transfusion with whitewash, he'd still look better than Jack Benny!"
JOKE: (The telegram from Bidey Talcott:)
Mary: "Oh Jack, here's a wire from the Mayor of Waukegan."
Jack: "The mayor, eh? Not Bidey Talcott! I knew my old home town would come through. Good old Bidey, I used to go to school with him."
Kenny: "Why doesn't he ever come out here to see you?"
Mary: "He will, as soon as he graduates."
Jack: "Don't mind her, Bidey. What does he say in the wire, Mary?"
Mary: "He says that... 'Dear Jack. All Waukegan is proud of you tonight. Stop. Right after your broadcast, we are going to hang a picture or you in the City Hall'."
Jack: "Let me see that! It says hang a picture OF me, not OR me!"
20. 02/14/37 JACK'S BIRTHDAY (28:41)
ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with
"Swing the Jinx Away" from "Born to Dance".
Everyone congratulates Jack on his birthday (whichever one it is). The Knocking Man delivers a birthday poem. The rest of the cast took up a collection and used the money to see Jack in "College Holiday". Kenny baked a cake, Mary baked a potato. Don gives Jack a Jell-O, Mary reads him a birthday poem. Jack gets a birthday telegram from the Metropolitan Life Insurance company saying that he fooled them again. The orchestra plays "Riding High". Jack gets birthday greetings from the orchestra. Jack's violin is still missing, which prevents him from playing The Bee, and Phil's orchestra has no violins to loan him. Andy Devine stops by, now upset that Fred Allen has ribbed him too! As a result, Jack and Andy trade more "anemic" jokes about Fred. Andy gives Jack a combination necktie and suspenders. Jack gets an insulting birthday telegram from Fred Allen. Kenny sings "Carry Me Back to the Lone Prairie" from "Stars Over Broadway". Jack gets a birthday telegram from his dad. Ben Bernie drops in to wish Jack Happy Birthday. He and Jack trade veiled insults about their respective roles in pictures. The orchestra plays "Boop da Boop" [?]. Jack introduces their shortest ever play. Ben Bernie offers to loan Jack a violin so that he can play The Bee, but before he can return with it, is kidnapped by two men, one of whom looks like Jack's chauffeur! The orchestra closes with "Riding High" from "Red, Hot and Blue".
PLAY: "Highlights in the Life of Fred Allen". (A two second play, consisting only of a trumpet blare)
DON'S INTRODUCTION: "Ladies and gentlemen, on this same St. Valentine’s Day, many years ago, in the little town of Waukegan, Illinois, there was cause for great rejoicing, for on that day in a certain household, a little bundle of joy made its entrance into the world. So now, we bring you... [Everyone sings Happy Birthday to Jack]"
GUEST STARS: Andy Devine, Ben Bernie
MARY'S POEM: Mary reads Jack a birthday poem
NOTE: Jack lived in Waukegan, but was actually born in a hospital in Chicago.
NOTE: This is one of the rare birthday programs broadcast on Jack's actual birthday. Jack is 43 years old today, but you will not hear that age mentioned on this program.
NOTE: Don gives Jack a molded Jell-O with "Jack Beny" spelled out in sliced bananas. It only has one 'n' because he was hungry. Ben Bernie gives Jack a box of his favorite cigars. It's half empty because they're Ben's favorite too.
NOTE: Andy is still calling Jack "Jack". Later on, he calls him "Buck" exclusively.
NOTE: Jack and Mary are performing in a radio adaptation of "Brewster's Millions" tomorrow.
Don: "By the way, Jack, how old are you?"
Jack: "Well, I'm in the neighborhood of 35."
Mary: "I thought you moved from there."
Jack: "Yes, but not far. On a clear day, I can still see 35."
JOKE: (I'm not sure why anemia jokes are all the rage these last two weeks, but the craze continues:)
Jack: "He said I was so anemic that if I walked past a pack of bloodhounds, they wouldn't even look up."
Ben Bernie: "That guy Allen is so anemic that if you hit him in the face, he'd have to owe YOU a nosebleed."
21. 02/21/37 BUCK BENNY RIDES AGAIN (26:12)
ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with an
Everyone discusses Jack's role in "Brewster's Millions", with emphasis on the critic's reviews, and how out of character it was for Jack to play a free-spender. Mary has let the dramatic role go to her head, and adopted an English accent, which quickly infects everyone else. Kenny sings "When My Dreamboat Comes Home". Jack says he'll play The Bee when his violin is found by the Private Eye he hired. Jack and Mary are going to New York next week, and Jack is dreading meeting Fred Allen, who has now started talking about how cheap he is. The orchestra plays "She Ain't Got Rhythm". Jack starts to introduce another English drawing room play until Lawton Campbell of General Foods calls and makes him change it to Buck Benny. Jack resists on the grounds that he doesn't know where Cactus Face is hiding, but a sponsor beats an MC. Don plugs Jell-O to appease the sponsor, and the orchestra plays an unidentified number. In the semi-autobiographical play, Daisy is heading for New York, just as Mary is.
ORIGINAL PLAY: "Lady Guinevere's Bracelet", or "Ring Around The Wristpiece". (A drawing room drawing that takes place in Hamhocks on the Sauerkraut, England).
REPLACEMENT PLAY: "Buck Benny Rides Again (Part 9)", or "Theodora Goes Wild West". As Cactus Face's trail goes cold, Buck helps Daisy prepare for a train trip to New York."
DON'S INTRODUCTION: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you Waukegan's gift to the amusement world. That star of screen, radio and Brewster's Millions, Jack Benny."
"I will play the part of Sheriff Buck Benny, as tough an hombre as ever wore a wildcat for a muffler. A happy, snappy, nappy, don't give a rappy..."
Mary: "Are you zappy..."
Jack: "Shut your trappy."
NOTE: Jack insists that this is the 12th part of the Buck Benny Serial. It just seems that way.
Don: "Well Jack, I want to congratulate you in your excellent performance in the title role of Brewster's Millions Monday night. I was really surprised."
Jack: "Surprised? Why Don, you've seen me play legitimate parts in several pictures, haven’t you?"
Don: "Yes, but you were good Monday night."
Phil: "Say Jack?"
Jack: "Yes, Phil?"
Phil: "That part where you were throwing away money recklessly, that was rich. I got a kick out of that."
Jack: "You mean when I was spending money fast and furious?"
Phil: "Yessir, you certainly are an actor!"
(This is not the first, but is still a very early cheap joke. Cheap jokes are still not yet integral to Jack's character, and this is the first episode to do a series of them. The way Jack told the story later, the writers wrote a few cheap jokes about him, they went over well, so they did more, and it soon became one of his trademarks. If you look at these early episodes as a unit, you get a feel for just WHY those jokes went over so well. Very early on, Jack was established as comically vain and self-absorbed, laughing harder at his own jokes than they deserved to be laughed at. When they got around to doing cheap jokes about him, those jokes didn't feel artificial or tacked on, instead they naturally complemented what already existed. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world that a guy already well known for being grabby about credit and glory would be grabby about money too. The inherent believability that had already been built up is probably what helped the character of "Jack the Miser" go through the roof.)
Don: "Did you happen to read the newspaper reports on your Monday broadcast?"
Jack: "No I didn't, especially that one from Buffalo."
Kenny: "Say Mary, will you do me a favor?"
Mary: "Sure Kenny, what is it?"
Kenny: "When you come back from New York, would you mind bringing bring me some oysters?"
Jack: "Oysters? Can't you get oysters right here in town?"
Kenny: "Yes, but there's no "R" in Los Angeles."
Jack: "Well listen, Kenny. Then move to Burbank, and shut up, okay?"
Kenny: "I did move there."
Mary: "Then all you've got to do is just shut up."
JOKE: Cactus Face was spotted at the Bucket of Blood Barber Shop.
22. 02/28/37 JACK'S VIOLIN IS RETURNED (29:27)
ORCHESTRA OPENING: For the second time in as many
months, the orchestra opens with "Gee, But You're Swell".
Everyone misses Mary, who is away in New York. Jack reads a letter from her. Kenny brings Lina the Giggler with him. Lina tries to tell jokes, but bombs horribly. The orchestra plays "Melancholy Baby". Phil's band is understaffed since he lost his trombone player at the racetrack. Jack and Phil swap Racetrack Sob Stories until Don lifts their spirits up by reminding them of the virtues of Jell-O. A detective returns Jack's violin and claims the reward, which turns out to be a dollar. As Jack prepares to play “The Bee”, Kenny sings "The Night Is Young And You're So Beautiful". Jack makes clear that he has no hidden devices or tricks with which he might "Milli Vanilli" the song. Andy Devine arrives to watch the performance. Jack tunes up, and actually plays "The Bee! The orchestra plays "Pantomania" from "Swing High, Swing Low". Jack and Phil get a bit testy again, as Jack boasts about his fiddling, but Phil sniffs a bit about its quality. Mary calls, and Jack plans to go to New York next week to see her. All the cast agree to go, except Phil, who can't make it. The orchestra closes with "I've Got My Love to Keep You Warm".
PLAY: None. In lieu of a play, Jack plays "The Bee" on his violin.
GUEST STARS: Pat C. Flick as the Detective, Andy Devine as himself
DON'S INTRODUCTION: None. The episode opens with Jack reading a letter from Mary.
NOTE: Jack actually plays "The Bee"! And it sounds pretty good, with none of the scratches or shifting to violin exercises that characterized his later stuff. Phil sniffs that when Jack got to the "hard parts", he switched to "Plenty of Money and You", which is true, but if that's the worst you can say about a Benny violin performance, Jack is looking pretty good.
NOTE: Mary is absent. She telephones Jack at one point, but we don't hear her.
NOTE: With this episode, Andy Devine stops calling Jack "Jack", and begins calling him "Buck" exclusively.
NOTE: Mary's letter mentions her brother Hilliard (Marks), who was Producer of the Benny television show. Hilliard has been mentioned two or three times previously this season.
Mary: "This afternoon, while passing Radio City, I ran into Fred Allen. He spoke about you, and believe me, that's no way to talk in front of a lady. I was going to slap his face, but he was chewing tobacco, so I thought twice."
Since cheap jokes aren't Jack's specialty yet, there are a lot of them about Fred Allen in this episode. Fred plays such a conservative poker game that when he opens the pot, you can throw away four Kings. Jack once caught him sending out three white chips to be dyed.
JOKE: (Lina's jokes start off
promising, but bomb by the end. Example:)
Q: What's the difference between Mary Livingstone and the Queen Mary?
A: Mary Livingstone is a girl and the Queen Mary is a ship!
23. 03/07/37 FIGHT OF THE CENTURY (30:20)
ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with
"Plenty of Money and You" from "The Golddiggers of
Everyone talks about how swanky the Waldorf is. A Knocking Man, but not The Knocking Man welcomes Jack to the Waldorf. Mary shows up and everyone discusses what she's been doing alone in New York for a week. Phil stayed in Hollywood, but will join them when he's completed the picture he's working on. Jack meets Phil's Pinch Hitter, Abe Lyman, who does a lot of pinching and hitting to Jack. The orchestra plays "Plumbing on the Avenue", from "On the Avenue". Things get chillier between Abe and Jack, so Mary describes Abe to the audience, since he's the one she's been dating this last week. Don shamelessly works "Lyman" into a Jell-O commercial. Kenny arrives and gets off to a bad start with Lyman as well. Kenny sings "When the Poppies Bloom Again". Jack asks Stewart Canin, the boy who touched off the Benny/Allen feud by playing The Bee on Fred's show, to appear on his own show for questioning. Shleperman drops in, as he's now the House Detective at the Waldorf. Shlep seems to have more jobs at one time now than he ever did before. The orchestra plays "A Medley of Popular Tunes from The Bandwagon". Stewart Canin arrives, and Jack grills him about his exact age, unwilling to believe that someone so young could have played such a complex piece. Fred's show is revealed as a fraud, when, after intense cross-examination, it turns out that Stewart is actually 10 years and 4 months old.
PLAY: None. Jack's interview with Stewart Canin takes its place.
DON'S INTRODUCTION: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you the man who made The Bee Public Insect #1, Jack Benny."
GUEST STARS: Abe Lyman, Sam "Shleperman" Hearn, Stewart Canin. These last two are introduced separately at the end of the show.
NAMES FOR THE BAND: "The Gashouse Gang". "Abe Lyman and His ex-Californians."
NOTE: The episode is broadcast from the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria in New York.
NOTE: During cross-examination, it turns out that Stewart played "The Bee" on Fred's show on 12/30/1936, and 2/3/1937.
NOTE: With the show broadcasting from New York, Phil is absent, replaced by the local Abe Lyman and His Orchestra.
Since Lyman is in a couple of episodes consecutively here, they went to the trouble of developing a character for him. As a New Yorker, Lyman is portrayed as a tough-talking, cabbie type; always threatening to rearrange Jack's face for real or perceived slights (he even directed the opening number with a blackjack). When Jack returned to New York a year later, this character is continued when Lyman appears on the show again. However, the next time that Lyman appears, a year or so after that, he's portrayed as a neutral character, probably because they thought that by then no one would remember the Tough Guy Lyman character.
The piece that Stewart Canin played on Fred's show was in fact Schubert's "The Bee". In the 1-3-37 episode, Jack had mistakenly said that it was Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee", a completely different piece. This probably happened because, by all accounts, the Benny/Allen feud was not planned or orchestrated in advance. One of them made a crack about the other and the other responded to it on his own show. Because the two writing staffs did not collaborate, Jack's writers probably just misheard the title initially. To make things more confusing, “The Bee” was written by Francois Schubert, not the more well-known Franz Schubert, who was famous for not finishing symphonies. None of this confusion found its way onto the air, which is a shame, as some decent jokes could be written around it.
The opening number, "Plenty of Money and You" is the same number that Jack slipped into last week during the more difficult portions of The Bee. No attention is called to this fact, it’s like the Stutenagle and Bud joke; one where you just have to keep up or be left behind.
FLUB: At about 15:50, Mary flubs a line, but Jack insists that she do it again because it was such a good line. Turns out, it wasn't.
JOKE: The prices at the Waldorf are very balanced. Jack didn't pay a penny more for having his suit cleaned than he did for the suit. And if you stay at the Waldorf, be sure to go up to your room in the middle elevator, that's the one with the best floor show. If you ever stay at the Waldorf, and find yourself urgently in need of a punchline, consider using one of these two.
Jack: "Did you go to Radio City?"
Kenny: "No, New York is good enough for me."
24. 03/14/37 FROM THE HOTEL PIERRE (28:37)
ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with
"You" from "The Great Ziegfeld".
Everyone discusses how important Jack is (or isn’t) in New York, and why he's not broadcasting from the NBC Studios. Jack insists that it's crowded there, and that he'll stay in New York until he runs out of hotels. A rep from the hotel welcomes Jack and asks him not to mingle with the guests. Jack is still stewing over Fred Allen's remarks, as Mary just comes in from having had lunch with Fred and Portland. Lyman objects to his portrayal as a tough guy in the last episode, and threatens to rough Jack up if it happens again. The orchestra plays "I've Got Rhythm" from "Girl Crazy". Everyone talks about the upcoming Tax Day, and how Mary hasn't filed hers because she thought the letters from the government were fan mail. Shleperman drops in to audition for the singing spot, since Kenny is missing. Jack lets Mary sing instead, and adds a verse of his own. Jack's singing wakes the dead, or Fred Allen at least, who mistakes Jack's song for a wedding, and tries to object. Fred and Jack trade barbs, until things finally explode, and both go out into the hall to settle their differences. The orchestra plays "Hallelujah" from "Hit the Deck", as everyone waits to see who will come back the winner. After the song, Jack and Fred return, arm in arm, reminiscing about their experiences in vaudeville together.
PLAY: None. Fred Allen's visit takes up the time that would have been used.
DON'S INTRODUCTION: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a fellow who is a big man in Hollywood, a giant in Waukegan, but just another actor in New York, Jack Benny."
GUEST STARS: Fred Allen, Sam "Shleperman" Hearn.
MARY SINGS: In a rare vocal, Mary sings a song [title?].
JACK SINGS: In an even rarer vocal, Jack contributes a Jell-O themed verse to Mary's song.
FRED SINGS: Jack and Fred sing a duet at the end of the show. [Title?]
NAMES FOR THE BAND: "Abe Lyman and His Musical Muscle Men".
NOTE: Although Fred has appeared through imitators in the past, this is the first time that he's appeared on Jack's show in the anemic flesh.
NOTE: The program is broadcast from the Grand Ballroom of the Hotel Pierre, in New York.
NOTE: Phil is still absent, this episode, and so is Kenny, who's lost in Saint Louis.
NOTE: Harry Von Zell is Fred Allen's announcer this year.
JOKE: Fred Allen is so squeamish, he needs ether when he gets a manicure.
Fred: "If I was a horse... a pony even... and found out that any part of my tail was being used in your violin bow..."
(Do you really need to hear the punchline? After a setup like that, anything would be anti-climactic.)
Jack: "Look who's going to make a movie; the Great Lover. I suppose Gable and Taylor are losing a lot of sleep right now."
Fred: "Not if they're listening to this broadcast, they're not."
Fred: "I'll knock you flatter than the first eight minutes of this program!"
FLUB @ 16:45:
When Jack forgets his line, Fred says "Anything you say accidentally would be better than the script."
NOTE: The NBC Program Analysis Sheets for this episode note: From Hotel Pierre, N.Y.C.; Fred Allen guest; Shlepperman; Abe Lyman's orchestra; Kenny Baker not on; Mary Livingstone sings. (BC)
25. 03/21/37 FROM NEW YORK (28:51)
ORCHESTRA OPENING: For the third time in as many
months, the orchestra opens with "Gee, But You're Swell".
Everyone talks about Jack's carousing in New York. Abe lobs a few more threats Jack's way. Kenny talks about the picture he and Phil were making in California. They talk about Jack's tolerance to alcohol, and new-found love for Fred Allen. The orchestra plays "I've Got Your Love To Keep Me Warm", from "Army Avenue". Jack touches off another argument by seeming too happy when he mentions that this is Lyman's last episode. Bidey Talcott, the Mayor of Waukegan drops in. He and Jack reminisce about childhood days. The orchestra plays "Why?" Jack introduces the play. Kenny sings "For You" from "The King and the Chorus Girl", and the play begins.
PLAY: An unnamed play about growing up in Waukegan, a play about Jack's childhood days in his father's store. Jack plays his father (the unnamed Meyer Kubelsky), Junior O'Day plays Little Jackie Benny, Bidey Talcott plays little Bidey, Sam Hearn plays Shleperman, now a suit salesman.
DON'S INTRODUCTION: "And now, we bring you the man who came to New York for a rest, and has to go back to Hollywood to get it, Jack "Playboy" Benny."
GUEST STARS: Abe Lyman and His Orchestra, Mancel "Bidey" Talcott (Mayor of Waukegan), Sam "Shleperman" Hearn.
NOTE: With the show still in New York, Phil is still absent.
NOTE: The picture Kenny and Phil were working on together was "Turn Off the Moon" (1937).
JOKE: Waukegan has declared Jack Benny Day, and as a token of their esteem, the local merchants have agreed to call off all of Jack's old debts.
JOKE: Jack's "kayfabe" nickname as a child was "Toughie".
NOTE: Jack's father's tailor store is said to be "The Emporium" on South Genesee Street.
"Last night I had a gin fuzz."
"Fuzz? Jack, that's Gin Fizz."
"Fizz, Fuzz, who cares, as long as I get a headache."
Jack: "I need to find some place where I can be alone for a few hours."
Mary: "Why don't you find some place where your last picture is playing?"
JOKE: Jack claims to have been a Playboy in New York, but we're told that he went to Minsky's and fainted during the opening chorus. We’re also told that he had once fainted during an alcohol rub.
Jack: "Bidey, I'll bet the town has changed a lot since I've been there."
Bidey: "It sure has, Jack. Do you remember the blue suit that used to hang in the window in your father's store?"
Jack: "Yes, I sure do."
Bidey: "Well, there's a grey one there now."
Jack: "It's probably the same suit. I told Dad to buy an awning."
Bidey: "How do you do, Mr. Lyman?”
Abe: "Glad to know you, Your Majesty.”
Jack: "Hey, that's Your Honor!"
Abe: "Go on! Your Honor is a judge. I oughta know!"
26. 03/28/37 THE TRAIN PORTER (29:28)
ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with "I'm
Bubbling Over" from "Wake Up and Live".
This entire episode is a situation comedy about Jack's train trip home from New York. An unknown announcer sets the scene, since Don Wilson is one of the characters in the episode. The episode begins at the Dearborn Station in Chicago, and recounts their trip back to LA. The trip is largely uneventful, and the episode is mostly a compilation of set pieces and one-off train jokes. Somehow, the orchestra plays "Too Marvelous For Words" from "Ready, Willing and Able", and Kenny gets his own number in as well. Mary tries, unsuccessfully, to read one of her poems. Highlights include a stopover in Albuquerque, with a real Jewish-Indian merchant. Among the oddball characters Jack meets on the train is a train porter, who we later learn was Rochester Van Jones. The orchestra plays "Swing High, Swing Low", from the picture of the same name, as Jack eventually arrives back at The Jell-O Program (already in progress, with Phil hosting).
PLAY: None. The entire episode is a situation comedy.
DON'S INTRODUCTION: None. Although Don appears in the episode, an unknown announcer introduces the scene without introducing Jack specifically. Therefore, no "Jello again" in this episode, either.
GUEST STARS: Eddie Anderson as the Train Porter. Andy Devine. Pat C. Flick.
KENNY'S SONG: Since "The Show" this week is not "The Show", but only a sitcom about what Jack and Co. did in between shows, why would there be any reason for Kenny to sing a song? Jack neatly solves this problem by asking Kenny to sing the song that "**you're going to sing on the program**", to give Jack a chance to "preview" it. Except that the "preview" is actually the "view". Clever, huh? This solution immediately becomes the standard method of working a song from either Kenny or Dennis into a sitcom scene. Since they're supposed to be on a train when Kenny starts singing, Jack breaks the 4th wall by asking "Where are we getting the orchestra from???"
EDDIE ANDERSON: The porter is given no name in this episode, but his character went over so well that Eddie was later hired to play the role of Jack's butler, Rochester. Rochester is never "introduced" (unless it was in a Lost episode). One day, Jack simply calls for him, and Voila! He's there, without any explanation. The Train Porter character has a much stronger Southern accent than Rochester does, however the show later specifically states that they first met Rochester when he was working as a porter. This should have definitively answered the implicit question about whether the two characters are supposed to be the same person. HOWEVER, at a later point, they concocted a completely different origin story for Rochester, in which Jack met him when he was working as a cab driver for Amos & Andy. Later still, the Amos & Andy show did an episode in which Rochester (a total stranger) tried to borrow money from them. And in the 1937 Christmas Shopping episode, the Porter turns up again as an elevator operator, but nobody recognizes him as Rochester. So, what's the real truth behind Rochester's origin? Eenie, meenie, minie, moe...
NOTE: It's no wonder that Eddie was hired permanently. Like Bob Hope, virtually every word out of his mouth is ROFL funny, even if it's not at all funny on paper. But as a matter of fact, most of his lines in this episode are funny even on paper.
RACIAL HUMOR: Before I started listening to the entire Benny series, I had only heard a dozen or so episodes, all from the Lucky Strike era. I had heard that after the war, racial humor had been toned down, and wasn't sure what to expect from the early episodes.
Having listened to them all now, it seems that, with one or two exceptions, there wasn't much worth toning down. Racial references are mostly harmless, sometimes stereotypical, but never with any antipathy behind them. The Benny Show did what The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and countless others did: eliminating stereotypes meant eliminating race entirely, just to be on the safe side. It may be that the subject was simply too touchy to deal with, but not because the show did anything to make it touchier.
The Train Porter in this episode is a model of how to handle race relations. Race exists, but it simply isn't important. Black or White, tradespeople of all types spot Jack Benny and instinctively recognize that here is a guy whose nose it would be fun to tweak. The Porter is no different from any of the others in that respect. Nobody treats the Porter any differently. There's no suggestion from Jack or any of the cast that this guy is somehow different, or that Jack shouldn't take backtalk from this particular guy. The general rule of thumb is that when tradespeople bust Jack's chops, his cast either takes no notice, or sides against Jack. Nothing happens here to go against this formula. This episode is about as un-racist as it gets.
NOTE: Last week it was mentioned that Jack was going to Waukegan for Jack Benny Day after leaving New York. This is probably why he's now boarding a train in Chicago.
NOTE: Kenny opens next Thursday at the Paramount Theater.
TRAIN ANNOUNCEMENTS: Mel Blanc's announcements over a train station's loudspeakers later became one of the show's signature jokes. Mel isn't here yet, but PA announcements in train stations are still funny. Some examples:
"Train leaving on Track 7 for Kansas City, Dodge City, Sioux City, Carson City, Salt Lake City, and Potts Town. All aboard!"
"Train leaving for San Pedro, San Diego, San Jose, and San Francisco, starring Clark Gable and Jeanette McDonald! All aboard!"
“Train leaving for 1, 2, Kalamazoo, 3, 4, Baltimore, 5, 6, Battle Crix, 7, 8, Don't Be Late. All aboard!"
"Train leaving on Track 9 for Fort Madison, Kansas City, Strawberry, Raspberry, Wichita, Cherry, Orange, Lemon, Albuquerque and Lime. All aboard!"
"Apples, oranges, magazines and programs! Get your programs here! You can't tell one passenger from another without a program!"
Dear old Easter, Dear old Easter,
you are with us once again.
With your gorgeous Easter lilies,
and your products from the hem [?]
How I love your Easter bunnies,
some are wild and some are tame.
And your Jell-O so delicious,
how it wobbles on the train...
JOKE: It's already been mentioned, but that "Where are we getting the orchestra from?" line is hilarious.
Mary: "I'm so cold, I'm all geese pimpled."
Jack: "That's goose."
Mary: "Well, I've got more than one."
Jack: "Here you are, Red Cap. Here's fifty cents.
Porter: "This is a dime.
Jack: "Look at your script, not the coin!"
RACY HUMOR: Jack buys a copy of "The Nudist" because he likes the outdoor scenes. Mary buys him a pair of smoked glasses, for when he gets to page 10.
Jack: "What town is this?"
Kenny: "Waiting Room."
Jack: "Waiting Room, New Mexico, huh??"
JOKE: (It is impossible to convey on paper just how funny this sequence was, but here are the words...)
Jack: "Porter? Porter?"
Jack: What time do we get to Albuquerque?"
Porter: "I don't know, do we stop there?"
Jack: "Well, certainly we stop there!"
Porter: "My, my!"
Porter: "I'd better go and tell the Engineer about that."
Jack: "Yeah. Yeah, do that!"
Porter: What's the name of that town again?"
Porter: "Ha, ha, ha! 'Albuquerque'. What are they gonna think of next??"
Jack: "Hey, Porter?"
Jack: "How long do we stop here?"
Jack: "In Albuquerque!"
Porter: "Ha, ha, ha! There you go again!"
Kenny: "Say, Jack?"
Kenny: "What's this hanging around my neck?"
Jack: "That's a mail bag, and I told you to keep your head in!"
Jewish Indian Merchant: "This is a real rattlesnake poise (purse)."
Mary: "This one's moving."
Jewish Indian Merchant: "Take it, it'll be dead by sundown."
Andy: "I wish [Jack would] get here, I got a swell present for him... if he got me one."
Mary: "And then he went to his home town of Waukegan. They gave him a great big celebration. You'd think he was *leaving* town instead of coming in."
UNINTENTIONAL HUMOR: "Get a little gay with your menus, and serve this new and exciting salad, Jell-O Fruit Bowl!"
27. 04/04/37 BACK FROM NEW YORK (29:47)
ORCHESTRA OPENING: For the second time this year, the
orchestra opens with "Boo Hoo".
Everyone talks about how good they feel now that spring has sprung. Mary has a garden, Don has his ranch. Waukegan just planted a Jack Benny Elm in the town square. The orchestra plays "Boola Boola" [?] from "Top of the Town". Jack talks about how much better it is to work with Phil than Abe Lyman, but Phil likes Abe and thinks Jack just can't get along with anyone. Since they’re buddies again, Jack insists that his feud with Fred was all in fun, but everyone thinks Fred got more laughs from it than Jack did. Phil succeeds in getting Jack mad at Fred again by pointing out how he told jokes about Jack's anemia, while Don turns things around again by insisting Fred is Jack's best friend. Jack gets mad at Phil for causing trouble, and Mary insists that Phil is Jack's best friend. The argument is called off due to total confusion. Kenny sings "Turn Off the Moon". Jack and Phil gets testy again, Jack thinks Phil is trying to start a fight in order to ask for the watch back. Andy Devine drops in to talk about how things are going on the farm. The orchestra plays "Riding High" from "Red, Hot and Blue". Jack announces that they've received requests to repeat their most popular play from 1936, and asks the viewers to vote from a list he provides. Everyone leaves, except Andy, and Phil, who wasn't in any of those plays.
PLAY: None, the discussion with Andy and the Best Play Contest take up that time.
DON'S INTRODUCTION: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, spring is here, ah, beautiful spring, ringing with the butterflies, blossoms, wildflowers, April Showers, and..."
Jack: "Jack Benny!"
NAMES FOR THE BAND: Phil Harris and His Red Hot Asparagus.
NOTE: Jack tells Mary "Go away Gracie [Allen]", when she talks about raising mashed potatoes by putting vanishing cream on them and hitting them with a hammer.
NOTE: When Jack thinks Phil is a troublemaker, he comments "why I accepted that watch for Christmas, I'll never know." Since the feud with Fred was rather spontaneous, it seems likely that they had planned to do more with the Christmas watch angle, and had to back burner the angle when the Allen Feud came up.
NOTE: The listeners are allowed to vote for one of the following as Best Play of 1936:
1. Mutiny on the Jell-O (Unknown)
2. Code of the Hills (5-3-36)
3. Way Down East (Unknown)
4. Ahh, Wilderness (4-12-36)
5. Charlie Chan in Radio City (11-11-34)
6. Emperor Jones (Unknown)
7. Why Girls Leave Home (Unknown)
The winning play will be presented in about 4 weeks.
NOTE: For those of us who just can't stand the curiosity over which play won, the Wisconsin State Journal published on January 31, 1938, states: "Jack Benny listeners were requested last year to name the most popular parody the jester presented. The winner was "Emperor Jones", which Benny repeated. Runner-up was "Ah, Wilderness" and Benny will revive it in a few weeks." (BC)
On Don's ranch, he raises strawberries, raspberries, cherries, oranges, lemons, and limes. The ranch has six delicious acres, just look for the big red letters on the mailbox.
JOKE: (about Abe Lyman)
Jack: "He's gentle, all right. He slapped me on the back one night and my pants went to half-mast!"
Jack: "Anyway Kenny, I'm glad you're doing so well at the Paramount, and I hope your picture will be just as successful. What's the name of it again?"
Kenny: "Turn Off the Moon."
Jack: ""Turn Off the Moon". That's a nice title." You know, I'm starting my new picture in about two weeks. It's all about my career on the airwaves."
Kenny: "Oh yeah? What's the name of it?"
Mary: "Turn Off the Radio."
28. 04/11/37 GUESTS----BURNS AND ALLEN (29:49)
ORCHESTRA OPENING:The orchestra opens with
"All's Fair in Love and War" from "The Golddiggers of
Jack and Phil argue about each others fashion sense. Jack thinks it's another ploy to get the watch back. The Knocking Man delivers a letter from momma to Mary, and laughs at Jack's suit. Kenny sings "Moonlight Shadows" from "The Jungle Princess." Jack starts to announce a play, when Gracie Allen arrives to deliver a message from George Burns. Unfortunately, she’s forgotten the message. Jack announces another Buck Benny episode, but before they can get started, George shows up to give out tickets for his first Grape Nuts broadcast, tomorrow night. The play gets underway, but Gracie proves to be quite disruptive.
PLAY: "Buck Benny Rides Again (Part 10)" or "Ready, Willing and Lame". Buck tries once again to propose to Daisy.
DON'S INTRODUCTION: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you that Hollywood fashion plate whose pockets bulge from his tailor's bills, Jack Benny."
BUCK'S INTRO: None.
GUEST STARS: Gracie Allen and George Burns.
GRACIE ALLEN: Like Jack Benny, Burns & Allen started on the radio in 1932. Also like Jack, they began with a variety show format which eventually morphed into a sitcom. And, like Jack, their on-air personalities didn't spring up overnight; they underwent a deal of fine-tuning. In later years, Gracie specialized in what most writers describe as "illogical logic", but that description really doesn't make much sense, so let's try to explain it more precisely. Gracie Allen's later character specialized in *ambiguity*. If it were humanly possible to interpret a sentence more than one way, Gracie would always instantly see and assume the interpretation that no one else would have assumed. Oftentimes, it would be an interpretation that no one else would even realize existed. A typical George Burns joke that illustrates this: "Yesterday, I told Gracie there was a letter on the coffee, table, and asked her to mail it. Today I have to go to the Post Office and pick up our coffee table."
Burns & Allen took a lot longer to jell than Jack's show did. While Jack's show is very recognizable even as early as these 1936 shows, Burns & Allen never really realized their full potential until they moved to the sitcom format in 1941. Before that, they had a string of variety shows, similar to Jack's, but (IMO), not as good. It's worth asking why this should be so, when they had two big stars to the Benny show's one. One reason is that the Benny Shows tended to have a stronger supporting cast. Everyone on Jack's show has a clearly defined identity and role to play, while early Burns & Allen shows tended to have George, Gracie, and a cast of forgettables (Truman Bradley, Phil Regan, even Frank Parker, who had no more identity on Burns & Allen than he had on the Benny Show). Another factor is that Jack had better writers. I've always enjoyed hearing Fred Allen's appearances on the Benny Show, but can barely sit through any of Allen's own shows, simply because they're not as well written.
Another factor is that Jack's character jelled faster. In the 1930's, George and Gracie were only married off-air. On-Air, they were simply partners. At this point, Gracie's is not yet fully developed. Gracie herself has all the mannerisms, speech patterns and "talent" she had in later years, but her character is not yet fully developed. Her Ambiguous Humor style is not yet her trademark, and she spends most of her time in this episode spouting non sequitors and causing a general commotion (letting out Indian war whoops, playing with the orchestra's drums, et cetera). She is funny, but compared to what came later, her appearance in this episode is mildly disappointing.
NOTE: Burns & Allen appear as a promotional for their new program for Grape Nuts that began the next day. Jack himself broadcast for Grape Nuts from 1942-1944.
NOTE: Buck Benny takes place in Rump Steak, Texas this time.
NOTE: Hilliard Marks is mentioned again in Mary's letter.
NOTE: Jack will be at the Klein [?] Auditorium next Saturday night
FORGOTTEN HUMOR: Gracie identifies Jell-O's six delicious flavors as Strawberry, Raspberry, Cherry, Orange, Lemon and Tomato Juice. This would make no sense if you didn't know that Burns & Allen had been sponsored by Campbell's Tomato Juice for the 1935-6 season.
Jack: "Get a load of that sport coat Phil Harris is wearing.
Don: "It is loud, isn't it?
Jack: "Loud? It's the first time I ever saw a sunset with a belt in the back."
Kenny: "Awww, you always say I sing good."
Jack: "Well, you do, don't you?"
Kenny: "Yeah, but you don't have to rub it in."
Mary: "...We had a lovely Easter, except for one thing. Your brother Hilliard mixed the egg dyes in your father's derby. And when your father put his hat on, was his face red. Also, blue, green and yellow."
29. 04/18/37 LADY MILLICENT'S HUSBAND (30:01)
ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with
"Jamboree" from "Top of the Town".
Don beings the show by introducing their special guest star, a Hollywood movie star, named Mr. Jack Benny. Don interviews Mr. Benny about the stratospheric heights his career has reached, and the mesospheric... nay, exospheric heights that he will undoubtedly achieve in the near future. The orchestra plays "Hot Finality" from "Turn Off the Moon". Jack comes back as himself, and explains that he appeared as his own guest star because he was at Phil's Opening Tuesday and didn't get to say anything. Jack and Phil trade minor insults, which Jack thinks is another ploy to get the watch back. Andy Devine drops in and talks about his experience at Phil's opening. Kenny sings "Will You Remember?" Jack introduces the play. The orchestra plays "Big Boy Blue" [?]
PLAY: "Lady Millicent's Husband", or "Mutton, Mutton, Who's Got the Chop?" The second time Jack introduces the play, the subtitle is "Tea For Too Many".
Don: "And now... Phil, has our Guest Star arrived yet?"
Phil: "Yes, he just got here."
Don: "Ladies and gentlemen, as you all know, guest appearances of famous film celebrities on radio programs are all the vogue. So, contrary to our usual procedure, Jell-O brings you this evening, a personality whose meteoric rise to film stardom has been nothing short of phenomenal. It is my pleasure to introduce that famous Paramount Star and romantic screen lover, Mr. Jack Benny."
GUEST STARS: Andy Devine, Pat C. Flick.
NOTE: Jack says that an English Drawing Room Drama is new for the show, but there have in fact been previous attempts at such, such as "Lady Windemere's Fandance", and "Money Ain't Everything". Millicent Puffypants inherits a wad of cash, and has to deal with fortune hunters.
NOTE: The play takes place at Ketchup on the Vest, in London.
NOTE: In the interview, Mr. Jack Benny of Paramount Pictures talks about having been considered for the role of Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind.
NOTE: At one point, Pat C. Flick says "I resemble that remark", proving that that joke dates at least back to the 1930's.
JACK'S AGE: Mr. Benny claims to have just turned 31.
Phil: "I didn't realize what a beautiful head of hair you have until I saw it on the shelf."
JOKE: "As the curtain opens, we find Lord Puffypants in the Drawing Room, boring himself for a change."
"Oh Jeeves, have you seen Her Ladyship about?"
"She's in the Billiard Room, sir, waiting for her cue."
Jack: "Well, here's something of interest. Your cousin Ronald passed away."
Mary: "Ronnie? Why, I was talking to him yesterday afternoon."
Jack: "It must have been a rather dull chat. He died yesterday morning."
Mary: "Let me see that article. Well, the least they could have done is to keep it off the Amusements Page."
Jack: "Righto, he never amused me. I wonder how they could tell he was dead."
Mary: "Oh, they have a way, I suppose."
30. 04/25/37 IN THE SPRING TRA-LA (29:20)
ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with
"Hallelujah Sings With Rosie Now".
Jack makes a few cracks about Phil's band during the opening number, not realizing that his mike is open. Phil takes umbrage over the interruption. Jack tries to apologize, but no one seems to notice that he has. Jack observes that Don interrupts the opening number every week, but all agree that talking about how Jell-O is even richer than ever before is a valid excuse. The orchestra plays "Let's Get Together". Jack thinks this fight is another ploy to get the watch back. Jack starts to introduce a play about flies, but Mary's friend Thelma Snodgrass from Plainsfield, and her new husband, Sam arrive. Jack offers Sam some unsolicited marital advice, which gets them angry at him too. Kenny introduces his own song in the confusion, and the Knocking Man comes by for a quick quip. Kenny sings "Sweet is the Word For You", and Jack manages to inadvertently offend him too. Kenny leaves, and Jack doesn't feel like doing a play any more. Jack and Phil argue some more. Phil and Mary leave. Jack lets Don go too, and tries to entertain the crowd solo. Andy calls and invites Jack over to the ranch. The orchestra plays an unidentified song as Jack travels to Andy's. At Andy's house, Jack meets Andy's parents, but manages to offend them and Andy too. Jack excuses himself to go home, and promptly falls down the stairs.
PLAY: "In the Spring, Tra-La". A lover flies home, and finds that his sweetheart has flown. The play never gets off the ground, as friend Thelma's arrival interrupts it.
SITUATION COMEDY: A dinner scene with Andy Devine's parents takes the place of the play.
Don: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you our genial master of ceremonies, a man who..."
"Phil: A man who ought to keep his mouth shut!"
GUEST STARS: Andy Devine. Jessie Block and Eva Sulley as Sam and Thelma (and possibly Andy's parents as well).
NOTE: No "Jello again" this week, either.
NOTE: Jack plays a few bars of "Love in Bloom" when he tries to entertain solo. One of the few times we've heard the song even mentioned this season.
NOTE: Next week will celebrate Jack's 5th anniversary on the air.
Mary: Who ever heard of a fly wearing shoes?"
Kenny: I've heard of a shoe fly."
Thelma: "He looks a bit like Clark Gable, but not enough."
Andy: "We've got some nice homemade Apple Jack. Would you like some of that?"
Jack: "Is it strong?"
Andy: "Strong? We gave some to our cat and he got a job with Clyde Beatty."
31. 05/02/37 BUCK BENNY PARTY (29:13)
ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with
Jack discusses Don's Intro, and disavows its catch phrases, saying that the only ones he's known for are "Don't Give Up the Ship", and "Lafayette, we are here." Mary and Phil congratulate Jack on his anniversary. Phil promises not to spoil it now, but next week, watch out. Jack and Mary argue about how nervous Jack was on opening night. Mary reads him an anniversary poem written last year. Kenny officially enters now, despite having spoken previously. Before Kenny can sing, The Knocking Man comes by to offer congratulations. Kenny sings "September in the Rain". A congratulatory telegram arrives from Fibber McGee. Andy drops in to congratulate Jack. Andy gives Jack a leather billfold, and his Ma baked Jack a banana cream pie (in the billfold). Mr. Brown, from the Hollywood Scoop, stops in to interview Jack, and takes a group photo that shows the group much better than it shows Jack. The orchestra plays "How Could You?". Jack starts to introduce a Buck Benny play, but gets a congratulatory telegram from his sponsor.
PLAY: "Buck Benny Rides Again (Part 11)", or "Quick, Henry! The Liniment!" Buck is also celebrating his 5th anniversary as Sheriff. During the play, the Buck Benny Cast of Varmints sings "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off", complete with the obligatory Jell-O verse.
Don: "Ladies and gentlemen, today, May 2, 1937, marks an important occasion: the 5th anniversary of the radio debut of a man who has established himself in the hearts of millions."
Jack: "Uh, thank you, Don, don't underdo it."
Don: "In the past 5 years, Jack Benny has not only brought good wholesome entertainment into the homes of the American public, but he has made popular such famous expressions and national bywords as..."
Voice 1: "1933!
Jack's Voice: "Was you there, Charlie?"
Voice 1: "1934!
Jack's Voice: "You nasty man!"
Voice 1: "1935!
Jack's Voice: "Soooo? Oh, this'll kill you, Graham!"
Voice 1: "1936!
Jack's Voice: "Tally-Hoooooo!"
Don: "So now, ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, we bring you that great mind with everybody else's thoughts, Jack Benny!"
GUEST STARS: Andy Devine, Eddie Anderson.
MARY SINGS: In a rare vocal, Mary and Jack sing "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off", during the play. Andy lends his vocal talents (?) to the song, as well.
JACK SINGS: See previous.
NOTE: Eddie Anderson appears as Pierre, the waiter at Buck Benny's party. He's still not officially Rochester, but Jack asks if people remember him from the train. Rochester Pierre Van Jones??
NOTE: Buck Benny now takes place in Boiled Beet, Texas.
NOTE: Years, later, an extended sequence between Jack and Don is built around that phrase, "Don't Give Up the Ship."
NOTE: Mary claims that Jack was very nervous on the opening show of May 2, 1932, but she never appeared on the show until July 27.
NOTE: Jack gives Kenny's full name as Kenneth M. Baker. Kenny says the M stands for Eminent. In real life, Kenny's middle name was Laurence.
NOTE: Jack announces that next week they'll announce the winner in the Popular Play contest, announced on April 4. But, since next week's episode is apparently lost, I guess we'll never know.
RACIAL HUMOR: During the Jell-O verse of "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off", which extolls Jell-O's six delicious flavors, Pierre says "Make mine watermelon!" Watermelon Jell-O does actually exist now, but didn't back then.
Jack: "Go on Mary, read your poem."
Kenny: "Gee, I'm glad I'm not here yet."
Jack: "What's the title?"
Mary: "To Jack Benny on his 4th anniversary."
Jack: "This is my 5th."
Mary: "Well, I wrote it last year."
Jack: "Oh. Go ahead, read it, Mary."
"Oh, Jack Benny, Oh Jack Benny,
you're the one that we adore.
And we send you fondest wishes,
on anniversary #5.
I had 4 there.
Jack: "Oh yeah, four. It's my fault. Go ahead, Mary."
"You are sure one popular guy,
Why it is, I don't know why."
Jack: "Hmmm, fine grammar. Fine grammar, there."
On this anniversary, your fourth,
greetings come, East, West and North.
Jack: "Now, wait a minute, Mary, this is my FIFTH anniversary."
"On this anniversary, your fifth,
greetings come, East, West and Nifth.
Jack: "Nifth? Must be short for Nifty, there. Read on."
"Gee, I sure am in a fix.
I should have read this in 36.
But Jell-O with its many flavors,
is good for you and me and the neighbors.
Mary (reading telegram): Congratulations on this occasion. Stop. To me, you are not only the funniest, but the greatest personality on the air today."
Jack: Well, isn't that sweet. Who's it from, Mary?"
Mary: Fibber McGee."
Jack: Say, even he tells the truth once in a while!"
Reporter: "To what do you attribute your success?"
Jack: "Well, I owe it all to my cast."
Reporter: "Your cast, I see. Now Mr. Benny, as to salary..."
Mary: "He owes us that, too."
Jack: "Mary, isn't it marvelous how Marconi and I are always linked together?"
Mary: "Yeah. Ha, ha, ha, ha!"
Jack: "Mary, what are you laughing at?"
Mary: "Marconi and Cheese."
Jack: "I resent that!"
Phil: "Hey, don't call that Ham a Cheese!"
Buck: "Thanks for the information, Pierre. You know everything, don't you?"
Pierre: "I don't know where Albuquerque is."
Buck: "Hey, Albuquerque is a town!"
Pierre: "There you go again!"
Buck: "Hey, remember him, boys?"
Episodes 32-36 do not seem to circulate among collectors/fans. Copies
of this season's shows were donated to UCLA by the Benny family. The
following episode information regarding copies of the shows is from the Jack Benny Papers (Collection 134), Department
of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of
California, Los Angeles. The episode descriptions are taken directly from the UCLA Benny Papers Collection listings (BC).
32. 5/09/37 MOTHER'S DAY PROGRAM
Mother's day routine; Jack starts fight with Phil; Kentucky Derby; Mary reads wire from her mother requesting schoolroom play; sketch; Jack announces results of popular play contest, trailer of "Ah, Wilderness".
33. 5/16/37 AH, WILDERNESS
Vacation plans; announcement of sketch, Ah Wilderness
34. 5/23/37 JACK IS SICK, SO PHIL AND DON HOST THE SHOW
Jack did not broadcast because of illness. The NBC Program Analysis Sheets note: Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone off program tonight, due to illness. Program carried on by Trudy Wood, Kenny Baker and Phil Harris.
35. 5/30/37 MURDER AT MIDNIGHT PART ONE
Sick in bed routine; Dr. Baldy--pills; Mary gets phone call from her mother; sketch, Murder at Midnight (aka as "Death at Midnight")
36. 6/6/37 MURDER AT MIDNIGHT PART TWO
Jack reports that his watch is missing; colored fellow comes up to return it and claim rewards; sketch, Murder at Midnight--interrupted by appearance of man from finance company.
37. 06/13/37 MARY'S MOVIE (29:20)
ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with "Fine
Everyone talks about how Jack is getting over an illness. Jack has been working out to recover. Kenny has been working out with a trainer too, but it turns out to be an animal trainer. Phil is embarrassed that the wristwatch he gave Jack for Christmas was repossessed after he failed to keep up the payments. Mary gets a call from Paramount, asking her to come right away to shoot an important scene in her movie. Don asks if she can change her movie from "This Way, Please" to "This Way, Jell-O". As Mary leaves for Paramount, the orchestra plays "They All Laugh" from "Shall We Dance". Phil and Jack talk more about the watch. Phil offers to get Jack another present, Jack wants something he can nail down this time. Andy drops in to see how Jack is recovering. Jack says he'll soon be starring in "Artists and Models", and learns that they've been shooting it for six weeks. He calls Paramount, who claims they're saving him for the big finale, and decides he'd better get over there too. Everyone leaves the show to go to Paramount, except Kenny, who stays behind to sing "I Know Now", from "The Singing Marie".
PLAY: None, a situation comedy scene at Paramount takes the place of the play.
SITUATION COMEDY: A scene at Paramount where Jack and the gang try to find the soundstage, and then watch Mary shoot a scene, which is harried by various difficulties, including interruptions from Jack and the gang. This is another of those confusing situations in which the show leaves "The Show" to follow the action elsewhere. Presumably, while the real Jell-O show is following the action at Paramount, the fictitious Jell-O Show is still going on somewhere as an all-music program, since all the actors are away. This all almost makes sense until the end, when Kenny asks if they were really at Paramount, and Jack explains that it was all an illusion. Gee, I feel kind of let down after hearing that.
DON'S INTRODUCTION: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a man who looks twice as good as ever before, but "Oh, how he looked before!", Jack Benny!"
GUEST STAR: Andy Devine.
NAMES FOR THE BAND: Mr. Phil I.G. Harris, with "I.G." standing for "Indian Giver".
NOTE: Jack actually missed the (lost) 5/23/37 episode due to illness. With Jack out, the episode was all-music.
NOTE: The next Olympics are said to be in Japan in 1940. They were in fact scheduled for Tokyo, but were moved to Finland due to the outbreak of World War II, before being cancelled entirely. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1940_Summer_Olympics
NOTE: The Christmas Wristwatch angle that has been brewing since last December seems to have played itself out during those four lost episodes, and ended with the watch being repossessed.
NOTE: Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper are spotted at Paramount, but do not actually appear in the program.
NOTE: Jell-O Ice Cream now comes in five flavors: Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Lemon and Maple. Last year, Jell-O Ice Cream Mix came in Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Orange Pineapple and Tutti-Frutti.
Jack: "Kenny, you're positively silly."
Kenny: "Oh yeah, well I got a smart brother, and he's starving to death."
This joke is remarkably similar to a running joke on the Burns & Allen Spam Program, about the Sound Man character, a Harvard grad, ashamed of having to work as a lowly sound man, even though he supported his more successful brothers.
Andy: "Say, I hear you were pretty sick."
Jack: "Yes Andy, and I was kind of disappointed that you didn't send me anything."
Andy: "Well, I was gonna send you flowers, but Ma said let's wait and see which way he goes."
Andy: "About the only real exercise I get is helping Ma carry Pa up to bed."
Jack: "Why? Is the old boy that lazy?"
Andy: "Yep. Most every night he comes home dead lazy."
JOKE: (In a counterpart to the 5/2/37 joke, where Kenny speaks before he's arrived, Mary here speaks after she's left!)
Andy: "Say, where's Mary?"
Mary: "I'm over at Paramount, working on my picture."
Andy: "Go away, Mary. What were you saying, Andy?"
Jack: "I said where's Mary?"
Andy: "Oh, she had to go over to Paramount to work on her picture."
Jack: "You want to join us, Phil?"
Phil: "I'd like to, but who will lead the orchestra?"
Jack: "Awww, come on, after 37 weeks, they're not going to start looking at you now."
Kenny: "Say Jack, there's a man who looks just like Abraham Lincoln!"
Jack: "Well, he ought to, that's his statue!"
38. 06/20/37 JACK'S MOVIE (29:55)
ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with
Don explains that he connect Jack with Father's Day because the cast regards him as a Father Figure. This leads to discussions about Jack's Age. They talk a bit about Don’s Opening, when Jack gets a call from Paramount saying that they're ready to shoot his big scene. Jack has to leave the program early again to go film it. Kenny sings "Never in a Million Years", from "Wake Up and Live". Don transitions the action over to the scene at Paramount, where Jack goes through makeup, and then tries to film a scene. The orchestra plays an unidentified number.
PLAY: None, Jack leaves the show about 5 minutes in to go shoot a scene at Paramount.
SITUATION COMEDY: A scene with Jack in makeup, in which Rochester is first introduced. Later, Jack shoots a scene for "Artists and Models", and forgets his lines, despite the fact that his only line is "Hey!".
DON'S INTRODUCTION: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, this being Father's Day, we bring you Jack Benny!"
GUEST STARS: Andy Devine, Robert Emmitt Keith as The Director.
NOTE: Jack introduces Charlie Winninger, returning in his original role as Captain Henry of the Maxwell House Showboat program, starting July 8. The new Showboat Program also includes Jack Haley doing comedy. Nadine Potter, Thomas Thomas, and Virginia Merrill singing. With the music of Warren Hall, and Meredith Wilson.
ROCHESTER: Previously, Jack had no character living in his household. None was needed, since almost all the action took place in the studio. When someone from Jack's household was required, a one-off character was created (such as Hong the butler, the unnamed chauffeur, and the unnamed lady cook).
This may or may not be Rochester's debut show. Eddie had previously appeared as the Train Porter and Pierre the cook. In this show, he just shows up out of nowhere as Jack's butler when Jack calls for him at Paramount. However, according to jackbennyshow.com, Eddie made a third previous appearance on June 6 (a Lost Episode), which may or may not have been Rochester's debut. If this June 20th show is his debut, then he is given no introduction at all, they simply act as though he's always been there.
Rochester is not in every episode at this point, but appears often enough to be considered a regular character. The problem is still that Rochester is a member of Jack's household, and most of the action takes place in the studio, which makes it difficult to use him. They frequently get around this by having Jack receive a telephone call from Rochester during the show, telling him what's going on at home (these can be thought of as Jack's version of Mary's letters from Momma). Rochester's increasing popularity probably encouraged the writers to do more situation comedy scenes (which usually took place in Jack's house). Rochester may not be the only reason why the show eventually moved to a full situation comedy format, but he was probably one of the big reasons.
NOTE: This marks one of the first, if not the first times that Jack hums "Love in Bloom" to himself.
NOTE: Einstein is mentioned as being needed to understand the plot of Jack's movie, showing that he was famous even then.
Mary: "Dear Old Father, Dear Old Father,..."
Jack: "Mary, I've gotta go!"
Mary: "How I love to sing your praise.
And to bring you fondest greetings,
on this day of days, of days."
Jack: "Look Mary, I..."
Mary: "Neckties you get by the score,
some are new and some are tore,"
Mary: "And cigars you get, galore,
eenie, meenie, minie, more."
Jack: "Mary, even if this was good, I have to go."
Mary: "Uh, this is the last verse."
Mary: "Happy New Year, dear old Father..."
Jack: "New Year!?"
Mary: "How'd that get in there?
Happy, Happy, Dear old Father
when you're happy, I am too.
So be happy, dear old pappy,
get up and do the Suzy-Q."
Jack: "Suzy-Q?? Can I go now?"
Mary: "Uh, one more verse."
Jack: "Oh no, so long fellows!"
JOKE: Another example of Jack puffing his own jokes:
Mary: "Why do they always have Father's Day in the middle of the month?"
Jack: "So he can enjoy his present before he gets the bill. Wow!!"
Mary: "By the way, what did you send your father this year?"
Jack: "A check. You know me, Mary. A nice fat check. What did you send your dad?"
Mary: "A poem. He can't cash that either."
Kenny: "Jack, I had a heck of a time picking out a present for my father. I didn't know what to get him."
Jack: "Well, it's just a thought, Kenny. Why didn't you take him out and buy him a nice dinner?"
Kenny: "Oh, he hasn't got much of an appetite."
Jack: "He hasn't, huh? Well, why didn't you buy him a tie?"
Kenny: "He hasn't got much of a neck, either."
Jack: "Well, that is a problem. Say, why didn't you get him some handkerchiefs?"
Mary: "If he hasn’t got a nose, I'll scream."
JOKE: (Several people have Father's Day style greetings for Jack:)
Mary: "Hello Daddy, and I don't mean Sugar."
Kenny: "Hello Pop, and I don't mean Soda."
Phil: "Hello Jack, and I don't mean what you owe me."
RACIAL HUMOR: (This joke sort of sets up a sort of explanation for how Rochester sasses Jack and gets away with it.)
Jack: "Those are sports shoes! Where did you ever see sports shoes with a full dress suit?"
Rochester: "In the Harlem Esquire!"
Jack: "Well, run over to my dressing room and get my black ones."
Rochester: "White coat, black shoes, black pants. You is the most monotonous man I've ever worked for."
Jack: "I'd fire him if he didn't have an iron-bound contract."
EARLY TOUPEE JOKE:
Makeup Man: Should i put on your toupee?"
Jack: Oh, I don't think I need one. I have hair enough, don’t I?"
Makeup Man: Yes, if you're playing the part of a coconut."
39. 06/27/37 [EPISODE Lost]
The NBC Program Analysis Sheets note: Johnny Green; Andy Devine; last time for Jack Benny, Mary, Kenny, etc. (BC)