THE 1938-1939 SEASON
"THE JELL-O PROGRAM STARRING JACK BENNY" returns in it's Sunday evenings at 7:00pm EST time slot on the NBC radio network. Writers Ed Beloin and Bill Morrow also return. (and perform, as well)
CAST FOR THE 1938-1939 SEASON
Jack Benny: Master of Ceremonies //Mary Livingstone: Girlfriend? Supporting Player?//Rochester Van Jones: MC's Valet //Phil Harris: Orchestra Leader//Don Wilson: Announcer//Kenny Baker: Vocalist
NOTE: In this season Jack, Mary, Phil, Kenny and Don get a credit at the beginning of the program.
NOTE: The "Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny" finished 2nd overall in the Hooper Ratings for 1938-1939 (losing out AGAIN to the "Chase and Sanborn Hour Starring Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy"), with a year-end rating of 31.4.
This episode log/guide for the1938-1939 Season Review was written entirely by Graeme Cree
NOTE FROM BILL: Apparently Google Sites have a limit to how much information can be saved on a page. This season log pushed that limit, so I apologize that the text is a bit more "condensed" looking than the other season logs.
1. 10/02/38 PREPARING TO RETURN TO WORK (28:25)
The orchestra opens with nothing at all, and we go straight to a Sitcom Scene.
SITUATION COMEDY: A montage of scenes showing Jack's cast getting ready for opening night. Phil Harris's mom is trying to get him out the door but Phil can't find his curling iron. Kenny's mom is telling him to hold off on giving Jack a hotfoot until next week. Mary is on the phone, telling her mother that she has to go back to the show because they didn't fire Jack after all. Don's wife Lucy is helping him remember the six delicious flavors of Jell-O, and where the big red letters are. Jack is at home trying to get ready, but Rochester has burned his pants again while ironing them. And "The Show" begins at 4:45
THE SHOW: The orchestra opens with "Confidentially". Jack chides Don for the corny introduction. They discuss whether Jack is nervous starting off a new season. Phil arrives, and discusses his vacation. Phil talks about a summer gig he played in Waukegan, and a suit he bought from one of Jack’s friends. Mary arrives, and kisses Don and Phil, but is too embarrassed to kiss Jack in public. Everyone congratulates Mary on her performance in “Seven Keys to Bald Pate”, as Jack fishes for compliments on his performance as well. They wonder where Kenny is, and whether spending the summer in England might have changed him. The Knocking Man drops by for his usual quip. The orchestra plays “What Goes On Here In My Heart?”. Phil says he’s got an all-new band this year. Jack remembers that Phil’s old piano player owed him $15, and threatens to take it out of Phil’s salary. Kenneth Baker arrives, with his valet, having gone British over the summer. Kenny has something really racy for Jack’s eyes only, but it turns out to be G-rated postcards. Kenny refuses to sing without his tea, but then sings Irving Berlin’s “Remember”. Jack announces that next week’s play will be an adaptation of “Yellowjack”. The show closes with a “trailer” of next week’s play. Jack gets a congratulatory telegram from Fred Allen about the quality of his first program.
PLAY: This week’s play is a two minute preview of next week’s play, “Yellowjack”, similar to a movie trailer. In fact, if in future episodes, I comment that they did a trailer of next week's play, you need to know what that means.
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, after 13 weeks vacation, we set sail on the sea of joy. It is my pleasure to bring you the jolly skipper of the Good Ship Jell-O, Jack Benny!"
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Verna Felton
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Bill Morrow, Blanche Stewart
THE TINNY GONG: Starting with this episode, we frequently hear a very tinny gong struck whenever plays are announced, or important announcements made.
CONTINUITY ALERT: In the opening scene, there's another reference to Phil's curling iron. This is the second such reference since Phil claimed on 12/20/36 that he didn't use one. There will be more in the future, so can probably assume that the 12/20/36 claim was a lie.
CONTINUITY ALERT: Rochester's girlfriend in this episode is named Josephine. There’s no need to memorize that either.
NOTE: Phil bought a suit from “Julius”, one of Jack’s friends in Waukegan. This episode doesn’t mention that Jacks’ father owns a tailor’s shop.
NOTE: “Seven Keys to Baldpate” was a more or less dramatic radio gangster play that Jack, Mary and Cecil B. DeMille played in, starring as themselves. .mp3 copies of it are floating around, and it’s based on a 1935 movie of the same name, starring Gene Raymond and Margaret Callahan. Imdb’s description of the movie fits the play as well: “A writer, looking for some peace and quiet in order to finish a novel, takes a room at the Baldpate Inn. However, peace and quiet are the last things he gets, as there are some very strange goings-on at the establishment.” This is more or less the plot of Jack and Mary's version, although it is heavily customized to fit Jack's radio character.
NOTE: Kenny’s British butler is named “Higgins”. He is mentioned in this episode and the next before being forgotten.
NOTE: A new product is rolled out; Jell-O Pudding. Comes in Chocolate, Vanilla and Butterscotch. (But they don’t make a big deal about it having Three Delicious Flavors).
NOTE: The mosquitoes for the play will be trained by Busby Berkley, for whatever that’s worth.
NOTE: Joe Penner starts a new show next week, the same day as Kate Smith (for whatever THAT’S worth).
NOTE: Phil’s jovial greeting for Jack is still “Jack, Old Boy!”. Still no “Jackson” yet, but stay tuned. It's coming later this season.
BLOOPER: In the opening sitcom scene with his mother, Kenny acts completely normally. It’s only when he shows up on the show that he’s suddenly gone British.
TRIVIA: In the opening scene, Don’s wife is named Lucy. Presumably that was the name of Don’s real wife, but it sounds like the Lucy on the show is voiced by Blanche Stewart. Wikipedia doesn’t mention Don’s first wife, but says that he was married to his second wife, Peggy Ann Kent (daughter of 20th Century Fox President, Sidney Kent) from 1940-1942, and his third wife, Maria Radunska, from 1942-1949. His 4th wife was Lois Corbet, who is mentioned frequently in 1950's programs. Wiki doesn’t say when they married, but the following article implies that it was about 1950: http://tinyurl.com/9b3687d
JOKE: (At Phil's House)
Phil’s Mom: “Now, remember son, be nice to Mr. Benny. He might give you a raise this year.”
Phil: “He wouldn’t give me a raise if I could read music!”
JOKE: (At Kenny's House)
Kenny’s Mom: “Now Kenny, sing good tonight. And remember, be nice to Mr. Benny.”
Kenny: Awww, can’t I give him a hotfoot?”
JOKE: (At Mary's House)
Mary, on phone: “Yes, we’re all going to be together again, our whole gang.
No, no momma, they didn’t fire Jack… I don’t know why, they just didn’t!”
JOKE: (At Jack's House)
Jack: “You know, it’s a funny thing, but every time you press my pants, you burn a whole in them.”
Rochester: “Yeah, that is funny.”
Jack: “Well, don’t laugh. Oh well, I’ll put on an old pair so I won’t be late for breakfast. You know Rochester, sometimes I don’t know why I pay you.”
Rochester: “I don’t even know WHEN!”
Jack: “I told you I’d pay you as soon as I went back to work. Right now I’m short of cash.”
Rochester: “What’s that green stuff in your mattress? Grass?”
Jack: "Yes, it’s grass!”
Rochester: “Well, I mowed some of it last night.”
Rochester: “Say Boss, can I borrow your top hat tonight? I’m going to the grand opening of a chicken shack.”
(Rochester's love for chicken is something they've been trying to get laughs with. I don't find it particularly offensive, but it's just not very funny either. His love of craps and spiked punch, those things are funny. But chicken, no.)
JOKE: (Jack and Don get re-acquainted)
Jack: “But no kidding, Don, it’s good to see you again. Let me look at you. Say, you’ve lost some weight, haven’t you?”
Don: “Not so you could notice it.”
Jack: “I didn’t notice it, Don, I’m just making conversation, you know. You know, people always say that.”
Don: “Well, now that you mention it, Jack, I did go on a diet, and I’m two pounds lighter.”
Jack: “Two pounds lighter, eh? Well, that’s like taking a bucket of sand away from the Sahara desert.”
Don: “Well Jack, you look as though your vacation did you a lot of good. You look rested.”
Jack: “Yes, I had a nice rest. Of course, I had to cut my vacation short on account of the American Legion convention here. You know, I’m a legionnaire. I belong to the Lake Forest, Illinois Post.”
Don: “Lake Forest? Why, I thought your home was in Waukegan. How do you happen to belong to the Lake Forest Post?”
Jack: “Well Don, you see Lake Forest is 8 miles south of Waukegan, and that’s where the recruiting officers caught me. I figure you might as well be loyal to wherever you’re nabbed.”
Jack: “Well Phil, here you are, back on the job again. Is your orchestra rehearsed?”
Phil: “Yeah, they know when to laugh.”
Phil: “And to top it off, I haven’t had a drink in four months.”
Jack: “Aww, you’re kidding.”
Phil: “No, if you don’t believe it, look at me shake.”
Mary: “…And Phil, here’s [a kiss] for you.”
Phil: “Plant it, honey!”
Jack: “Phil, pull in your lips, you look like a Ubangi.”
Wikipedia has this note in their article on “Lip Plate”:
Ubangi misnomer: In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, African women wearing lip plates were brought to Europe and North America for exhibit in circuses and sideshows. Around 1930, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey promoted them as members of the Ubangi tribe, but the Ringling press agent admitted he picked that name from a map for its exotic sound. Nevertheless, the word Ubangi is still given this definition in English language dictionaries. The word was used in this way in the 1937 Marx Brothers film A Day at the Races.
Jack: “What you see in Harris, I don’t know. That guy would kiss anybody with a skirt on. Wouldn’t you, Phil?”
Phil: “Anybody but Harry Lauder.”
(Scottish singer/comedian Sir Harry Lauder has been covered previously in these logs. He seemed to get mentioned frequently in the pre-Jell-O days, but not so much lately. Perhaps he was between Farewell Tours at the time.)
Jack: “Can you imagine that, fellas? What does Kenny need with a valet?”
Mary: “He’s getting too old for his mother to dress him.”
Jack: “Say, I bet it was hard to get used to driving on the left side of the street, huh?”
Kenny: “Yeah! It took me about four cars!”
Jack: “Hey Kenny, did you get over to Paris?”
Kenny: “Did I? And Jack, have I got something to show you! Come here a minute, willya?”
Don: “What have you got, Kenny?”
Mary: “Yeah, what is it?”
Kenny: “Now, nobody can see ‘em but Jack. Come here, Jack! Look! Postcards!”
Kenny: And how! Look at this one, Jack!”
Jack: “Well, well, the Eiffel Tower! Wow!”
Kenny: “Ain’t that hot stuff?
Jack: “Gee, and get this one. Napoleon’s Tomb!”
Kenny: “Pretty risqué, huh?”
Jack: “Kenny, there’s nothing risqué about these cards!! They’re perfectly all right!”
Well, I can’t understand that. I bought ‘em in an alley.”
2. 10/09/38 MOVIE SPOOF (28:17)
The orchestra opens with “How Can I Thank You?”. Jack encourages Don to be more forceful when he’s got a gushy introduction to make, and not hold back. They discuss the reviews of last week’s premier episode, and whether it was Marvelous or just Terrific. Kenny comes in, back to normal and alone. (Higgins the valet took Kenny’s girl to the movies for him). Jack and Mary discuss going to the Ice Carnival at Pacific Auditorium the night before. Kenny sings “So Help Me”. Rochester arrives to play in the play, as they’re short of actors, but bemoans the lack of additional stipend for his efforts. The orchestra plays a surprise number (unidentified), and the play begins. After the play, the orchestra closes with “Pocketful of Dreams”.
PLAY: “Yellow Jack”, or “Boy Meets Mosquito”, a parody of the 1938 movie “Yellow Jack”, starring Robert Montgomery and Virginia Bruce. Jack is a doctor in Cuba, trying to isolate the cause of malaria. The Mumbling Man tells him it comes from mosquitoes, but is unable to impart enough details to him. Jack finally ascertains that it comes from the Steggamaya mosquito, but is unable to get a volunteer to take a Steggamaya bite.
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you our Master of Ceremonies. I could say he’s one of the greatest comedians of all time. I could say he’s one of the most glamorous lovers of the screen. I could say he’s an outstanding personality.”
Jack: “Well, why don’t you??”
Don: “All right, I will. Ladies and Gentlemen, Jack Benny!”
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Frank Nelson
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Pinto Colvig, Cliff Nazarro, Blanche Stewart
REVIEWS OF OPENING NIGHT:
Jimmy Fiddler gave them two bells and a tinkle.
"The Grapefruit Growers Journal" gave them three squirts.
"The Bartender’s Gazette" gave them three Mickeys.
TRIVIA: Phil’s hairdresser is named Maurice.
MORE TRIVIA: Joan Crawford, Eddie Cantor, and Heddy Lamarr were at the Ice Carnival.
NOTE: The Tinny Gong shows up again. It should be a regular feature for a while.
NOTE: Rochester’s last name is revealed to be Van Jones. (At least I think this is the first mention of it).
NOTE: Future fixture Frank Nelson has a minor guest spot in the play.
NOTE: The Mumbling Man is finally given a name, Dr. Nazarro, after the actor’s real name.
Jack: “But if you want to know something, I helped Hedy Lamarr on with her skates, and then I went all around the rink with her.”
Phil: “Did Jack really do that, Mary?”
Mary: “He had to, he got his finger caught in the strap.”
(This is a classic radio joke. They often tried to tell jokes that would conjure up a mental image, since the show itself had none. Usually, the mental image conjured up in such jokes was a cartoon-style image, as in this case. A joke like this wouldn’t be very funny at all on TV, but were used frequently on radio.)
BUCK BENNY INTROS: Kenny, Don and Rochester are all given Buck-Benny-style introductions for the play:
KENNY’S BUCK BENNY INTRO:
Jack: “Now, Kenny will play the part of Private O’Baker, as smart a soldier as ever threw a hand grenade and forgot to let go.”
DON’S BUCK BENNY INTRO:
Jack: “Now, Don Wilson will play the part of my associate, Dr. O’Wilson.”
Don: “As capable a surgeon as ever operated on a banana to embellish a dish of Jell-O.”
NOTE: This is as good a time as any to mention it, but I always take my Jell-O straight, maybe with whipped cream, but no other embellishments. Don's obsession with sliced bananas always makes me feel like I'm not doing it the right way.
ROCHESTER’S BUCK BENNY INTRO:
Jack: “Well anyway, Rochester, my butler, at no increase in salary, will play the part of Private Van Jones, of the United States Army.”
Rochester: “That’s me! As fast a soldier as ever won a hundred yard dash with a bullet!”
RACIAL HUMOR: (In the play)
Kenny: “Oh Doctor, Doctor!”
Jack: “Yes, Private Baker.”
Kenny: “I’ve just discovered another man with Yellow Fever!”
Jack: “You did? Where is he?”
Kenny: “Right here.”
Guy With Chinese Accent: “Hello, Mr. Blenny!”
Jack: “That’s my laundry man! Get him out of here!”
JOKE: (In the play)
Jack: “Now, come to the point, Doctor. Which one of these mosquitoes carries the deadly germ of Yellow Jack?”
Mumbling Man: “It’s the smallest one of all. A tiny insect called the Steggamaya.”
Don: “The Steggamaya?”
Jack: “This is very important, Doctor. Are you positive?”
Mumbling Man: “[Mumbles incoherently]”
Jack: “That’s all I want to know! At last, Dr. Wilson, our problems are over! All we have to do now his find a Steggamaya!”
Don: “But first we must find out where we can get hold of one.”
Jack: “That’s right, they may be ticklish!”
[pause, slight laughter]
Jack: “Next we must find a volunteer… (pause) I’ll wait for that one, folks!”
JOKE: (In the play)
Mary: “Pardon me, Dr. Benny. There’s a group of soldiers outside, and there’s volunteer among them.”
Jack: “What’s the group of soldiers for?”
Mary: “They’re dragging the volunteer.”
JOKE: (In the play)
Jack: "It is a dangerous assignment and you may not come out alive. Now, which of you men will be the first to volunteer?”
Kenny: “Not me, I’m a coward.”
Jack: “A coward?”
Rochester: “Shake, brother!”
JOKE: (In the play)
Jack: “How about you, Rochester? Will you volunteer to enter that room and be bitten by a Steggamaya?”
Rochester: “I wouldn’t go in that room if I was a cat with two down and seven to go!”
W.A.C. JOKE: (In the play, Jack refuses to take a Steggamaya bite)
Mary: “Why, Jack! You’re yellow!”
Phil: “Yes! You’re Yellow, Jack!”
[Everyone chants “Yellow, Jack!”]
Don: “And I’m Jell-O Jack! Strawberry, Raspberry, Cherry, Orange, Lemon and Lime!”
NOTE: There will be an All-Day Carnival and Garden Party at the New York World’s Fair grounds On Sunday, October 16.
NOTE: Tomorrow night, Al Pearce begins a new series of shows. Who's Al Pearce?
3. 10/16/38 FAREWELL TO THE OLD STUDIO 27:58)
The orchestra opens with "For No Rhyme Or Reason". Everyone discusses the fact that they're moving out of the studio they've been in for the past three years. Jack claims to be really broken up about it, the others discuss just how much sentiment Jack really has (or hasn't). In mid-show, the furniture movers come to move things out. The movers make a show of exerting themselves by moving light objects. Mary reads a Goodbye Poem to the studio. The orchestra plays "What Have You Got Against Me?" from "Artists and Models Abroad". Jack sang that song to Joan Bennett in the movie, and brags about how well he handled the love scenes, but Mary protests that Jack never even kissed Joan. The furniture movers keep trying to disassemble the studio while Jack brags about his love scenes. Don wants to know if Jack succeeded in mention Jell-O in the movie, as Don had requested. Jack did not, because the movie took place in Paris, and he didn't know how to order Jell-O in French. Don tries to tell him, but his French ain't so good either. Kenny finally arrives (he was delayed when the movers kept trying to pack him). Jack gets Kenny to sing before the movers can pack him again. Kenny sings "I've Got a Date With a Dream". Jack starts to introduce next week's play, but is interrupted by the arrival of the mayor of Van Nuys, Andy Devine. Andy talks about the vacation he took to Honolulu with Ma and Pa. Jack announces next week's play, then gets a call from Rochester, who threw another party, emptying out the refrigerator Jack had filled that morning. Jack gets into another argument with the movers until he finds out that one of them is Mr. Swallow, the head of NBC.
Don: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to announce that next week this program will move to the new NBC Studios on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. And so, tonight folks, let us bid adieu to this old room, where for three years, every Sunday night, you have heard that same old sweet voice saying…"
Jack: "Jell-O again, this is Jack Benny talking."
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Andy Devine,
MINOR ROLES: Ed Beloin, Elliott Lewis
MARY'S POEM: “"I've Got Those I-Hate-To-Leave-This-Studio-With-The-Fond-Memories-Where-I've-Spent-So-Many-Happy-Days Blues"
I feel so low and sad and blue.
I could bite my nails and say 'Boo Hoo'.
For today we move, this gang and me,
From NBC to NBC.
You may say what does it matter?
But here we've heard Jack's funny patter.
He brought a smile, a laugh, a roar,
And now and then, a great big snore.
When programs here we did begin,
Don Wilson only had one chin.
And little me was Sweet 16,
And Kenny looked like Bobby Green.
In my throat, there is a lump,
As we leave this dear old dump.
So, here's good luck and lots of joy,
From Flatfoot Mary, with a floy, floy.
(The last line is a reference to the song “Flat Foot Floogie with the Floy, Floy”. You'll hear a little more about this song.)
NOTE: The moving men are named Mervin and Laverne.
CONTINUITY ALERT: Rochester claims to have gone to college.
JOKE: (Jack is sentimental about leaving the old studio)
Don: "Now, wait a minute, Jack. I've got feelings. Why, I've got more sentiment in my little finger than you've got in your whole body!"
Jack: "Your little finger! I've seen legs of lamb that were smaller than that."
Jack: "And that was swell, Kenny. You were in excellent voice.
Kenny: "Thanks Jack, and it was white of you to admit it."
Jack: "Well, there's nothing white about it. You have a marvelous voice, and there's no getting away from it.
Jack: "Well, if it's so darn marvelous, what do you want to get away from it for?"
Jack: "I don't want to get away from it, I paid you a compliment, you little brat!"
Kenny: "You did?"
Kenny: "Bend over, Kenny."
Andy: "Hello, Curly! How are all the girls? Are they still chasing you?"
Phil: "They sure are, Andy."
Andy: "Well, if you get out of breath, let me know."
Andy: "I'd give you a kiss if I thought you'd appreciate it."
Mary: "I won't, so unpucker."
Jack: "Well, that's settled. We won't have to waste a sound effect there."
Andy: "Hello, Don."
Don: "Hello, Andy."
Both: "You've put on a little weight, haven't you?"
Jack: "Well, anyway Andy, I envy you…"
[Audience starts laughing at Andy's last joke]
Jack: "I should have waited a little bit, there. Sorry. Well, anyway Andy, I really envy you that trip [to Honolulu]. See, I remember when I was there and saw those beautiful hula dancers. Gee, they are gorgeous. But then, that's nothing compared with the marvelous scenery, the palm trees, the tropical flowers, and the coloring of the sky against the blue Pacific."
Andy: "Yessir, they sure can wiggle!
Jack: "Andy, I wish you'd keep up with the conversation. I was talking about the flowers and the scenery.
Andy: "Aww, I can enjoy that stuff when I'm on the Townshend Plan!"
(Note: Frances Townsend had proposed an old age plan in 1933).
Jack: "This is a real Hawaiian pineapple. I know because when I was over there, I used to look up and see thousands of them growing on the trees.
Don: "Why Jack, you couldn't have looked up, because pineapples don't grow on trees. They're plants, they grow right out of the ground."
Jack: "Well, this was years ago. I was short then. Don't tell me about pineapples."
Phil: "Jack, you must be thinking about coconuts."
Jack: "I'm NOT thinking of coconuts! I'm telling you, fellas, I used to look up and see the pineapples."
Phil: "Why, you couldn't have looked up and seen them!."
Jack: "I could too."
Phil: "Listen, a full grown pineapple plant is only three feet high. How tall were you at the time?"
Jack: "One foot six, and shut up!"
JOKE: (After Jack has finished chewing out Rochester)
Rochester: "Hey, boss?"
Rochester: "As long as you're coming home, would you bring my fan mail?"
Jack: "Yes, I'll bring it! Goodbye."
4. 10/23/38 ALGIERS (27:48)
The orchestra opens with "From Alpha to Omega" from "You Never Know". They discuss the amenities in the new NBC Studios. A tour group looking at the new studios comes through, and one lady gets fresh with Jack. The orchestra plays "The Yam". They argue about whether Jack does his own laundry. Jack starts to introduce the play, and another tour group comes through. Kenny gets in an argument with Jack and insults him, then keeps interrupting trying to apologize. Jack looks for someone to play Hedy Lamarr's part as Kenny sings "Two Sleepy People" from "Thanks For the Memories". Kenny keeps apologizing for being fresh, and the play begins. After the play, The Knocking Man drops by to voice his displeasure about not being used in the play.
PLAY: "Algiers", a parody of the movie of the same name, starring Charles Boyer and Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman: "That's Hedy!"). During the play, another tour group comes through, and the Mumbling Man tries to ask questions about the studio. In the play, Jack is a jewel thief whose girlfriend wants to kill him for being in love with Hedley Lamarr (That's Hedy!) Unfortunately, Hedley turns out to be Andy Devine. Jack's girlfriend tries to shoot him, but hits Hedley instead.
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, (musical fanfare) for the first time from the new NBC building in Hollywood, with its new studios, its new facilities, and its new equipment, we bring you that old foof, Jack Benny!"
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Bea Benaderet, Andy Devine
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Cliff Nazarro, Blanche Stewart
NOTE: Jack running his own laundry business is a frequent topic of humor in later years. Apparently, he doesn't have it at this point.
NOTE: Another mention of the fact that The Knocking Man is bald. They mention that frequently these days.
CONTINUITY NOTE: As per Jack’s request last week, Phil’s boys are wearing shoes this week.
JOKE: (They discuss the new studio)
Don: “You’re right, Jack. This place is absolutely the quintessence and penultimate of architectural symmetry.”
Jack: “What was that, Don?”
Don: “I said this place is a nut.”
Jack: Oh! Oh! Well, you didn’t have to make a fool out of me to do it."
(In 1934, this would have been a Don Bestor joke. Intellectual jokes are now usually assigned to Don Wilson.)
JOKE: (The new building)
Jack: “Did you notice all that beautiful woodwork in the front lobby?”
Don: “Did I? That’ what I call ritzy.”
Jack: “Ritzy? Why, I saw three termites working on it and they were in evening clothes.”
(Another classic “Radio Joke”, that wouldn’t work on TV, in which they try hard to create a mental image, but the image created is a cartoon image).
Jack: “Phil, you never worked in a place as swanky as this in your whole life. Why, this building has improved the whole neighborhood.”
Phil: “It sure has.”
Jack: “You bet it has.”
Phil: “When I walked in here tonight, a panhandler stopped me and gave me 50 cents.”
Jack: “Well, I’m glad they’re finally declaring dividends.”
Jack: "You know, Mary, as I was saying to Don just a few minutes ago, I said ‘Don, this place is absolutely the quintessence and penultimate of architectural symmetry’.”
Mary: “Well, Don was right.”
JOKE: (Another Classic “Radio Joke”)
Mary: “Why did they open this building so soon? Gee, the elevators aren’t even working yet.”
Jack: “Well, they must be working. I saw an elevator boy downstairs. What was he for?”
Mary: “Well, you press his nose and he takes up piggy-back.”
Jack: “That’s silly.”
Mary: “It’s fun, too.”
Jack: “But then, it takes time to finish a building like this. The cement floor in the lobby isn’t even dry yet.”
Mary: “I thought that rug was kinda wet.”
Jack: “Well, there was no excuse for that, Mary. Imagine walking through fresh cement. There was a sign right in front of it.”
Mary: “Yeah, that’s what I tripped over.”
Jack: “Oh. Well Mary, let me ask you something. If you walked through a corridor of fresh cement, how come you haven’t got any of it on your shoes or your stockings?”
Mary: “I don’t know, I don’t write this junk.”
Jack, ad-libbing: “Now you killed the whole illusion!”
Jack: “Say Phil, who’s that Chinaman sitting there in your brass section? Is he a new member of your band?”
Phil: “No, he’s waiting for our laundry.”
Jack: “Oh. Your laundry? I didn’t know you ever had any.”
NOTE: There’s an argument after this about whether Jack does his own laundry. (Jack was caught doing it, but denies it.) In later years there is a very visible joke about Jack not only doing his own laundry but making money on the side doing it for other stars.
FLUB: (Jack claims to have been bobbing for apples in the washtub where he was seen doing his own laundry.)
Phil: “Say Jack, why don’t you ever admit anything when you’re caught?”
Jack: “Listen Phil, it so happens that there WERE apples in that wash tub!”
Mary: “Well, they were under a lot of BVD’s.”
Jack: “(starts to change the subject) Now folks… (comes back to the subject) I’ll sue you some day, Mary!”
[Mary loses her composure over the absurdity of this comment]
Tour Guide: “This room can seat 325 people. Or 650, if they know each other well enough.”
Don: “Ladies and gentlemen, I bid all of you welcome to our new NBC studio. I think you will agree that it is the 8th Wonder of the World.”
Tour Guide: “Thank you. Can you name the other 7, Mr. Wilson?”
Don: “Yes. There’s Strawberry, Raspberry, Cherry, The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Orange, Lemon and Lime.”
JOKE: (Kenny steals one of Jack’s Running Gags)
Jack: “Kenny, you’ve got to stay right here and sing your song!”
Kenny: “Well, I want to see the building!”
Jack: "But you can’t sing while you’re roaming all around the studio. What are you, an artist or a tourist?”
Kenny: “I’m a Touring Troubadour, and shut up!”
NOTE: Jack’s qualifications for playing a Charles Boyer role in the play is having lived in the French Quarter of Waukegan. Frankly, I never new Waukegan was that big. I thought their French Quarter was a dime (rimshot).
Jack: “I did try very hard, folks, to get Miss Heddy Lamarr for our play tonight, to enact her original role. But unfortunately, she happens to be in Honolulu.”
Phil: “Why Jack, I saw her this afternoon at the Brown Derby.”
Jack: “Heddy Lamarr?? You saw Heddy?”
Phil: “Yes, Heddy and Feety, she was all there!”
JOKE: (In the play)
Don: "I must go, Pepe. But I’m warning you, stay out of the city. You’re wanted in six delicious countries! So, be careful.”
Jack: “Thank you, Inspector. I will look for the big red noses on the gendarmes.”
5. 10/30/38 JACK THROWS A HALLOWEEN PARTY (27:58)
The orchestra opens with "Rainbow Around the Moon". Don takes the show to Jack's House where Jack is throwing a Halloween Party. The scene switches to Jack's house. In the kitchen, Jack is overseeing Rochester's preparations, and trying to ensure that he doesn't serve overly large portions. When the gang arrives, music is plentiful, but food is scarce, until the cast discovers a turkey in the fridge that Jack had been saving for Thanksgiving, and decide to cook that.
PLAY: None, the entire episode is a sitcom.
SITUATION COMEDY: The entire episode is a sitcom about Jack's preparations for his Halloween Party, and the party itself. Jack repeatedly tries to keep Rochester from making the portions too large, and keep his cast from taking too many olives. Eventually they find a turkey in Jack's freezer, that he was saving for Thanksgiving, and make that over Jack's objections.
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, tonight we take you to Jack Benny's new home in Beverly Hills, where he's throwing a Halloween Party for his whole gang. Take it away, Beverly!"
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Andy Devine, Sam Hearn
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Blanche Stewart
ROCHESTER SINGS: Several people who rarely sing, sing in this episode. Rochester gets off a few bars in the kitchen in the opening scene.
PHIL SINGS: At the party, Phil sings "What Have You Got Against Me?" from "Artists and Models Abroad".
MARY AND ANDY SING: At the party, Mary and Andy Devine sing "What Have You Got Against Me?"
JACK SINGS: And finally, Don and Jack sing the obligatory Jell-O themed verse of "What Have You Got Against Me?"
NOTE: This episode marks one of the rare times that we hear Jell-O's six delicious flavors mentioned out of order (necessary, in order to make them rhyme in Don's verse of the song.)
NOTE: The .mp3 skips in several spots, showing that it was made off of a record.
NOTE: Ronnie Colman, Wally Dearing, Bobby Taylor, and the Barrymore Brothers are the neighborhood kids said to be playing pranks. This is the first mention of Ronald Colman living near Jack.
NOTE: Jack hires Rochester's brother, September to help with the party prep. Rochester was named Rochester because he was born in Rochester. September was named September because he was born in September. September is his middle name because he was born in the middle of the month.
WHY JACK DOESN’T FIRE ROCHESTER, EXPLANATION #2:
Jack: "If he didn't get so many laughs, I'd fire him".
NOTE: Barbara Whitney, the date that Phil brings to the party is the chambermaid at the Biltmore.
JOKE: (Party Prep)
Jack: "Now, slice that roast beef a little thinner."
Rochester: "I'm using a razor now."
Jack: "Well, sharpen it!"
Mary: "Remember last year when they put ink in your swimming pool?"
Jack: "Yes. And all the time I thought the water was too cold, you remember? Every time I took a swim, I turned blue."
Jack: "Rochester, I'm talking to Septy!"
(This line, out of context, is even funnier than the joke it was attached to. Jack has not only accepted the fact that Rochester has a brother named September, but has already shortened the name in his mind, for everyday use.)
JOKE: (Rochester recommends September for the job)
Rochester: "Oh, he can be trusted all right, he used to work in a bank."
Jack: "Oh, in a bank, eh? That's good enough for me. I'll give him $3 for helping out tonight."
Rochester: "Only $3?"
Jack: "Well, I bet that's more than he used to make in the bank."
Rochester: "Man, there was more than that stuck to his broom every day!"
Jack: "You just wait. If you want to know something, Mary, we're going to have a squab for dinner."
Mary: "One squab for the whole gang? What are you going to do? Wave it at them?"
Jack: "Answer the door, Rochester."
Rochester: "You answer it, September."
September: "Well, youse closer than I am."
Rochester: "No, I think you closer."
September: "No, no. You is."
Jack: "Well, we've got to open that door! Is there a surveyor in the house??"
JOKE: (Kenny has been playing Halloween pranks)
Jack: "Say, you're the regular hall kid. I suppose you've been out raising the dickens tonight, huh?"
Kenny: "Have I? You know, at my house tonight, I stuck a pin in our front doorbell so it would keep ringing all the time! Hee, hee, hee, hee! Oh boy, you should have heard it!"
Jack: "A pin in your own front doorbell? I bet your mother and father were mad, huh?"
Kenny: "No, they're away for the weekend."
Jack: "Kenny, that's the silliest thing I've ever heard of. You're the only guy in the world who would ring a doorbell to annoy someone in an empty house."
Kenny: "Well, that's nothing. When I go home tonight and open the door, a pail of water is gonna fall on me!"
Jack: "It is?"
Kenny: "Yeah! Oh boy, I can hardly wait!"
Kenny: "Say Jack, I'd like to clean up a little bit before dinner. Can I go upstairs and wash my hands?"
Mary: "Yeah, but it'll cost you a nickel to get in the bathroom."
Jack: Now Mary, you know better than that! So, don't pass any of those smart remarks!"
JOKE: (Breaking the 4th wall again. Kenny sings at Jack's house, so where does all that applause come from? You can ignore it or try to explain it)
Jack: "Say? Say Kenny, that song was simply wonderful, it was swell."
Kenny: "Oh, did you really like it, Jack?"
Jack: "I sure did, but say. I wonder where all that applause came from?"
Mary: "There's a seal in the goldfish bowl."
Jack: "Hey Rochester?"
Jack: "Where's that bowl of punch I made? I want it out here on the table so the guests can have a drink before dinner."
Rochester: "I'm afraid that punch is kinda weak, Boss."
Rochester: "Yessir, if you ask me, it could stand a gin transfusion."
(Over the years, Rochester pepping up party punch will become a running joke, culminating in jokes about Mary drinking his New Years Punch, and the next thing she remembered, she was playing Halfback in the Rose Bowl.)
6. 11/06/38 THE CROWD ROARS (27:58)
The orchestra opens with “The Little Song”. Everyone discusses Jack’s party last week. Phil complains about the sparse portions that were served. Everyone discusses how much time Jack made with Phil’s date, Barbara Whitney. Jack looks for compliments on his new house, and defends it against the occasional wisecrack. Kenny enjoyed the party, but says that Jack’s hot dogs gave him nightmares. Kenny sings “If I Loved You More”, and dedicates it to his pet rabbit, Oscar. Jack introduces this week’s play. The Knocking Man drops by to try to talk Jack out of playing a boxer. The orchestra plays “FDR Jones”, and the play begins.
PLAY: “The Crowd Roars” (Gong!) or “Button, Button, Who Hit Me on the Button?”, a parody of “The Crowd Roars” (1938), starring Robert Taylor, Edward Arnold, Frank Morgan, and Maureen O’Sullivan. Apparently, it has no connection with the 1932 movie of the same name. Jack is a boy who wants to be a prize fighter, but his father wants him to be a violinist. When he grows up, he goes into the ring, eventually meeting Kid Baker in a big showdown. The Mumbling Man tries to explain the rules for their fight, but isn’t quite clear about it. Jack loses the big one, retires, gets married, and now uses his violin to call the hogs.
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you that genial host of Beverly Hills, a man who is famous for his lavish and extravagant parties, Jack Benny!
MINOR ROLES: Cliff Arquette, Joe Franz, Cliff Nazarro
Don: “Hey Phil, wasn’t that a great party?”
Phil: “Boy, that was a party with a capital P.U.”
Jack: “Oh, Wilson was just telling me what a marvelous time he had at my party last Sunday night.”
Mary: “Oh, that guy has a good time just lacing his shoes.”
Jack: “He hasn’t seen ‘em in 10 years…”
Phil: “I’m not mad, I just think that affair you had was a washout, that’s all.”
Jack: “Is that so? You know, Mary, Phil doesn’t think a party’s a success unless all the guests go home in a patrol wagon.”
Phil: “Now, wait a minute, Jack. I’ve met some of the finest people in the world in patrol wagons.”
Jack: “Yeah, I can imagine.”
Phil: “That’s where you signed me up, remember?”
Jack: “Well, I was there by accident! I thought it was a sight-seeing bus!”
Phil: “A sight-seeing bus? Then why did you have your lawyer with you?”
Jack: “Because he’s never seen Chinatown, and shut up!”
Don: “But Jack, I saw a cement mixer in your kitchen. Now, what’s that for?”
Jack: “That cement mixer?”
Mary: “Jack makes his own Grape Nuts.”
(Jack’s sponsor changed from Jell-O to Grape Nuts in 1942. No one knew at the time that that would happen, but as both products are owned by General Foods, there would have been no problem in mentioning Grape Nuts now. In 1937-1938, the Grape Nuts Program was hosted by Burns and Allen.)
NOTE: Jack’s party hot dogs gave several of the cast nightmares. After eating them, Mary dreamed that she was being chased up the Empire State Building by Clark Gable, and that he didn’t catch her. Kenny dreamed he was President.
Jack: “Don’t tell me you had a nightmare too.”
Kenny: “Did I? You know what, Jack? I went to bed and dreamt I was President of the United States.”
Jack: “Oh, so you were President, eh?”
Kenny: “Yeah! Boy, was the country in a mess when I woke up!”
Jack: “That was “If I Loved You More”, sung by Kenny Baker. And Kenny, I could tell that came right from the heart. I’m sure Oscar, your pet rabbit, enjoyed it very much.”
Kenny: “He’d better, or I’ll eat him.”
FORGOTTEN HUMOR: In Kenny’s dream, his Vice President was Maxie Rosenbloom. Maxie “Slapsy Maxie” Rosenbloom was World Light Heavyweight Boxing Champion in the early 1930’s, and who later went into acting. His most notable part was a spot in Rod Serling’s “Requiem For a Heavyweight”.
Jack: “Now, Mary will play the part of Sheila, my sweetheart, as portrayed on the screen by Maureen O’Sullivan.”
Mary: “Why don’t you get her and leave me alone?”
Jack: “Well, if you want to know something, prima donna, I came darn near getting Maureen O’Sullivan.”
Mary: “Well, why didn’t you?”
Jack: “Well, unfortunately, she thinks I’m repulsive.”
JOKE: (A good example of the type of integrated commercials they do at this time. No longer do they just interrupt the proceedings, as they did with the old Word Association Commercials. At this point, they usually prefer to work them into the dialogue naturally, or, better still, not-so-naturally.)
Don: “Say Jack, I think it would be much better if I were your trainer, instead of the fight announcer.”
Jack: “You want to be my trainer, Don?”
Jack: “’Why’, said he, little knowing what was lurking in the shadows ahead. Why, Don?”
Don: “Because, with every meal, I’d see that you got a dish of tempting, delicious Jell-O! You’d start out with Strawberry, and have a different flavor each day of the week!”
Jack: “Oh, goody! But Don, there are SEVEN days of the week, and only six flavors! What would I have on Sundays, pray tell?”
Don: “On Sundays, you could go back to Strawberry, with sliced bananas as a double feature!”
Jack: “Eureka! I knew you’d come through!”
NOTE: Jack plays his famous violin exercises in this episode.
JOKE: (In the play, Jack wants to be a fighter, his dad wants him to be a violinist.)
Jack’s Dad: “Now, get going to your lessons. I don’t want to hear another word out of you!”
Jack: “Oh, all right.”
(starts to play a piece)
Jack’s Dad: “Hey! Wait till I get out of here!!”
JOKE: (In the play)
Phil: “I’ll get ya a fight pretty soon. But I’m warning you, Killer. You’d better start savin’ your dough. Why, you throw away your money like Diamond Jim Brady.”
Jack: “I don’t throw away my money!”
Phil: “I know, but this is the play.”
JOKE: (In the play)
Mary: “How are you shaping up, Killer?”
Jack: “Fine, look at these arms! They’re like steel!”
Mary: “What are those bumps on ‘em?”
NOTE: In the play, Jack is billed as Killer Benny, The Waukegan Wildcat. Kenny is billed as Kid Baker, the Glendale Assassin. Killer Benny weighs 196 pounds, Kid Baker is 93 and a quarter.
7. 11/13/38 JACK TRIES TO STEAL PHIL'S GIRL (27:40)
The orchestra opens with “It Serves You Right”. Jack was elected dog catcher on Election Day (he had thought he was running for mayor). Jack has been dating Barbara Whitney, the girl Phil brought to his Halloween party, and took her on a date to Wilshire Bowl, where Phil was playing. Jack expects Phil to be burned up about it, but Phil comes in smiling and happy. Phil insists he’s not upset. He went out with Barbara the next 3 nights, and she takes a lot of guys to the Wilshire Bowl. After a few minutes banter, Jack ends up being the one burned up about it, even though he got the girl. The orchestra plays “Ya Got Me”. Kenny comes in, but nobody notices him, except Don, who has nothing to say to him other than to extoll the virtues of Jell-O’s six delicious flavors. Jack is still burned up about some of the things Phil told Barbara about him. They learn that Barbara was seen out with another man, believed to be her Uncle Louie, but Jack is dubious. Jack decides to go to a psychic, to see how Barbara really feels about him, and leaves the program early. Kenny sings “Umbrella Man”.
PLAY: None. A Sitcom Scene takes the time.
SITUATION COMEDY: Jack leaves the program early to visit Madame Zombie, a psychic, to find out who Barbara Whitney really loves. Madame Zombie goes into a trance, but finds that Barbara really loves Uncle Louie. Jack denounces her as a fraud, when she can’t even name how many delicious flavors Jell-O has. Jack refuses to pay for the psychic reading, gets chased out by the bouncer, and breaks his ankle.
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, the political excitement being over, we bring you that prominent citizen of Beverly Hills, who was just elected dog catcher, Jack Benny!”
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Frank Nelson
MINOR ROLES: Ed Beloin
JELL-O HUMOR: Don’s opening commercial reads a letter from a woman who wanted to know how much Jell-0 their family ate, saved the front panels, and discovered that they’d used 161 packages of Jell-O in the last year. It’s a good testimonial, all right. But the letter conspicuously avoids any mention of how much of each delicious flavor this family ate. I would submit that even if the letter had contained such information, that it would have been edited out. The point of reading the letter was to plug Jell-O as a whole, and if the letter had said (for example) “We ate 100 boxes of Cherry, 100 of Lime, and 2 of Lemon”, that reading that fact over the air might have adversely affected the sales of Lemon Jello.
MARY’S HATS: Jack makes a crack about Mary’s Hat this week. It doesn’t mean much yet, just a stray, one-off joke. But stay tuned.
NAMES FOR THE BAND: “The Jell-O Orchestra, directed by a man who had best read the Want Ads.”
NOTE: Speaking of Lemon Jello, the Houston Astros had a pitcher named Mark Lemongello in the 1970’s. If only Jack had still been on the air for Jell-O, imagine the fun they could have had with that (he throws six delicious pitches, look for the big red letters on the uniform, yada, yada, yada).
JOKE: (Jack got elected)
Jack: “Oh well, I might as well make the best of it. Imagine ME Dog Catcher! With my bony legs!”
NOTE: The program mentions that Andy Devine is still Mayor of Van Nuys, while we're told that Al Jolson is Mayor of Encino. As mentioned previously, Andy was Honorary Mayor of Van Nuys from 1938-1957 (the program never mentions that Andy's title is only Honorary). According to this page, Jolson was Honorary Mayor of Encino for several years, as well as President of its Chamber of Commerce: http://historylosangeles.blogspot.com/2008/03/al-jolsons-encino-estate.html Apparently, Jack felt left out and wrote himself a part as Dog Catcher. The "Jack Benny, Dog Catcher" angle will be re-used in 1940.
NOTE: Jack makes money on the side by giving violin lessons on Tuesdays, but claims the real money is in selling supplies to the students.
MARY’S HATS: (Week 2) Last week, Jack made a crack about Mary wearing wild hats. It seemed to be a one-off joke, but Jack makes more this week. Apparently, they were experimenting with making this a trademark for Mary. Gossip columnist Hedda Hopper was famous for large, flamboyant hats, but I don't know if that started before or after this episode.
CONTINUITY ALERT: At 4:50, Jack claims that it was Don who brought Barbara Whitney to the party two weeks ago. In fact, it was Phil.
Mary: “Tell him what happened when Phil introduced you on the floor, Jack.”
Jack: “Oh well, that was just a dirty trick.”
Don: “What was it, Mary?”
Mary: “Well, Jack and Barbara were sitting at a table, so Phil asked Jack to stand up and take a bow.”
Jack: “Oh, Mary.”
Mary: “And when he did, the guitar player hit him with a tomahto.”
Jack: “You’d have got a bigger laugh if you’d said tomato!”
Jack: “I mean, you don’t have to get ritzy on this program!”
NOTE: Phil greets Jack with "Hiya, Jack Old Boy! How's my baby?" Still no "Jackson".
JOKE: (Jack argues about who Barbara Whitney Loves)
Jack: “Well, let me tell you something, smarty! It’s customary for a fella to send flowers to a girl, isn’t it?”
Jack: “Well, I haven’t seen Barbara since Monday night, and yesterday she sent me the most gorgeous box of roses you ever saw!”
Phil: “Ha, ha, ha! I know she did!”
Jack: “What are you laughing at?”
Phil: “I told her you were dead!”
Jack: “Oh, so that’s why that card had a black border! I thought it was something new.”
Phil: “What’s the matter with you, Jack? Haven’t you got a sense of humor?”
Jack: “Sense of humor? Phil, I don’t see anything funny in telling Barbara I was dead.”
Mary: “Oh, she’d have found out sooner or later.”
Mary: “Jack, you don’t think for a minute Phil really said that, do you?”
Jack: “Yes, I do. That guy would say anything! How about the time he told Carole Lombard that I wore a girdle? You were there!”
Mary: Yeah, and they were snapping you all night!“
(Another "Radio Joke", but this is a GOOD one.)
NOTE: "Umbrella Man" is named by Tom Lehrer as one of the inspirations for his song "The Old Dope Peddler": http://graeme.t15.org/lehrer/dopepedd.htm
POSSIBLE RACIAL HUMOR:
Jack: “Anyway, I feel funny about going to a fortune teller.”
Mary: “Well, this one is marvelous. She’ll tell you things that will you’re your hair stand up.”
Jack: “She will?”
Rochester: “She can’t do it to me!”
(I’m not sure if this is some kind of racial remark, or not. Judging from the movies “Buck Benny Rides Again” and “Love Thy Neighbor”, Rochester personally is a bit on the follicularly challenged side. If we’re not sure if it’s racial, best to go ahead and get offended, just to play it safe.)
JOKE: (Jack's Jalopy is becoming a fixture on the program)
Jack: “The way you drive, I’m surprised you don’t get a ticket!”
Rochester: “I’ll never get a ticket driving this car.”
Jack: “Why not?”
Rochester: “All the cops think it’s a mirage!”
NOTE: At 17:00, Jack’s car’s engine has the classic coffee-grinder sound effect, but no reference is made to its being a Maxwell. In fact, we haven’t heard the Maxwell mentioned for some time, come to think of it. During the war, Jack actually sells his Maxwell for scrap metal, and has a bizarre dream about bombing Tokyo in a bomber made from it. For a few years, they make reference to this fact, as Jack tries various alternate modes of transportation (including a cab, complete with meter). As late as 1946, Jack tells Ronald Colman that he sold the Maxwell for scrap during the war. Then, one day in the late 40’s, the Maxwell is back, with no explanation whatsoever. Suspiciously, the Maxwell returns just about the time Mel Blanc developed his Engine Noise Voice.
JOKE: (Jack's car again)
[Rochester stops the car, complete with the sound of skidding and broken plate glass]
Rochester: “Well, here we are!”
Jack: “Yes, right up against a telegraph pole.”
Rochester: “Well, we ought to have brakes. I’m tired of throwing that anchor out!”
NOTE: Madame Zombie works out of 1002 Dracula Drive.
NOTE: Frank Nelson, later a major fixture of the Benny Show, plays minor roles in the 30's. In this episode, he is the bouncer at Madame Zombie's.
JOKE: (Jack and Mary are in the dark at Madame Zombie’s, getting a psychic reading)
Mary: "Right now, I’d give $2 for a coal miner’s hat”
Jack: "Just put a candle on the one you’re wearing!”
(Another crack about Mary’s funny hats. They’re trying to build a good running gag out of this, but it doesn’t last much longer.)
WHAT ARE YOU LAUGHING AT JOKE:
Madame Zombie: Wait! Wait!”
Jack: "I’m waiting.”
Madame Zombie: "Now. Now, I’m in a trance! I see little things creeping and crawling about!”
Jack: “Little things?”
Mary: “Ha, ha, ha! Ha, ha, ha, ha!”
Jack: “Oh! What are you laughing at?”
Mary: “She’s got ants in her trance!”
Jack: “You’re a fake, Madame Zombie! You don’t know anything! You don’t even know how many flavors Jell-O has!”
Madame Zombie: “It has three!”
Jack: “You’re wrong!”
Madame Zombie: “Four!”
Madame Zombie: “Five!”
Madame Zombie: “Seven?”
JOKE: (Jack is returning home)
Jack: “Gosh, my ankle hurts. Drive slower, Rochester. ”
Rochester: “Okay, Boss. This is the last number of the 7th program in the new Jell-O Series. And we’ll be with you again next Sunday night at the same time.”
Jack: “Oooh, my ankle. Rochester, stop at the first drugstore we come to, will you? Mary, will you run in and get me some liniment?”
Mary: “Sure Jack, give me the money.”
Jack: “Oh, never mind, I’ve probably got some at home. Good night, folks.”
PLOTLINES TO NOWHERE: One recurring feature in the show is the tendency to set up plot elements that look like they’re going somewhere, but are then never mentioned again. Jack’s broken ankle will be forgotten next week. It wasn’t a springboard for a new ankle, er angle, just a setup for this one joke. One of the oddest ever “Plotlines to Nowhere” occurred on 2/14/37, when Ben Bernie was kidnapped at the end of the program before he could loan Jack a violin to play The Bee, and no mention was ever made of the incident again.
8. 11/20/38 TOO HOT TO HANDLE (28:21)
The orchestra opens with “No Wonder”. As the show opens, Jack is off in the next room, having a giggling conversation with Barbara Whitney. The others eavesdrop on it. Jack finally comes in beaming, and claiming he met an old friend in the corridor. The others confront him with the truth, but Jack concocts various stories to try to talk around it, finally swearing that he was talking to his tailor, “Honey Boy” Ginsburg, from Santa Barbara, not Barbara Whitney. This leads to a discussion about clothing, and Mary’s hats. Kenny walks in and asks if Jack bought that ring yet. Kenny is selling tickets to a Turkey Raffle, but has trouble making a sale to Jack. The phone rings, and it’s “Honey Boy Ginsburg” again. Jack tries to carry on a romantic conversation with Barbara while convincing his cast that he’s actually talking to his tailor. Let’s just say that it doesn’t go very well on either end of the call. Kenny sings “Little Town in Old County Down”, then continues trying to sell Jack a raffle ticket. Jack starts to cast the play, but Phil objects to Jack always taking the starring role for himself. Jack took a Robert Taylor role last week, and Clark Gable’s now, so why can’t Phil get a good role? In retaliation, Jack casts Phil as his boss, Phil Phathead. The Knocking Man drops by for his weekly quip. The orchestra plays “Jeepers, Creepers” and the play begins.
PLAY: “Too Hot to Handle”, or “Sleepy Time Down South Africa”, a parody of “Too Hot to Handle” (1938), starring Clark Gable and Myrna Loy. Jack is a newspaper photographer who lands a job in darkest Africa, looking for Mary’s brother, Ignatz Livingstone. They find Ignatz about to be eaten in a cannibal village. Ignatz turns out to be The Mumbling Man, and therefore unable to tell his story to Jack. Kannibal Kenny prepares to cook Jack, and somehow it all turns into a dance number. The End.
Don: "And now, ladies and gentlemen… Hey, Jack? Jack? Oh Phil, where’s Jack?”
Phil: “I don’t know, I got enough trouble takin’ track of my hillbillies.”
Mary: “Oh, I know where Jack is. He’s in the next room, talking to Barbara Whitney on the telephone. Oh boy, is he gaga about her.”
Don: “Well, she’s beautiful.”
Mary: “Yes, but it’s a shame the way Jack is falling for her. I think she’s nothing but a golddigger.”
Phil: “Well, she’ll have to use a dredge to get any outta him.”
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Cliff Nazarro, Blanche Stewart
AND SHUT UP JOKE: (Jack denies he was talking to Barbara Whitney).
Jack: “Well… well, why sure, I call him Honey. That happens to be his name: Honey Boy Ginsburg. Now, listen fellows, that was just a business call, so let’s forget it.”
Mary: “Well, if it was a business call, and he’s your tailor, why couldn’t he see you tonight?”
Jack: “Because he’s busy! He’s working on my suit, that’s why!”
Phil: “Well, if he’s working on your suit, why is he going to cooking school?”
Jack: “He’s making panties for lamb chops, and shut up!”
MARY’S HATS: (Week 3)
Jack: “Well Mary, if I were you, I wouldn’t pass on any remarks about anyone else’s apparel. Especially with that hat you’ve got on tonight. Where do you get ‘em all? You ought to see this one, folks, it looks like a birds eye view of a nit on a gnat!”
(This is the 3rd week in a row that Jack makes a point of knocking Mary’s hats. I heard an interview once with one of Jack’s writers, Balzer, or Josefsberg, or somebody, who claimed that they didn’t make an effort to create some of their best bits. Jack’s cheapness, the feud with Fred, they just happened. But this is one time I think they’re trying to manufacture a recurring shtick out of whole cloth. It doesn’t go very far, because how far can you get with visual gags on radio?)
MARY'S HATS: (Later, in the play)
Mary: “But Clark, what about clothes? I don’t know what to wear in Africa.”
Jack: “All you need is a ring in your nose, and THAT hat!”
Jack: “What’s that you’ve got in your hand?”
Kenny: “Well, I’m selling some tickets on a turkey… a turkey raffle! Do you want to buy one?”
Jack: “That was two turkeys, wasn’t it?”
Kenny, trying to cover for the ad-lib: “No, one ticket…”
Jack, getting back on track: “A turkey raffle! Well! Well!”
Kenny: “Awww, how about it, Jack? They’re only a half a dollar.”
Jack: “Isn’t that cute, Kenny running a raffle? Are you having any trouble selling tickets?”
Mary: “Not until now.”
Kenny: “Hey Jack, what about that raffle ticket?”
Jack: “Kenny, I’ll take care of that later.”
Kenny: “Well, you said you would right after my song. Why don’t you buy it now?”
Jack: “Oh… tell him why, Don.”
Don: “Because, if Jack took the time out to buy a raffle ticket, I wouldn’t be able to say that Jell-O is the most economical and popular dessert in America today.”
Jack: “See, Kenny?”
Don: “It is tempting, delightful, and comes in six delicious flavors. So, look for the big red letters on the box.”
Jack: “There you are, Kenny.”
Kenny: “I understand.”
RACIAL HUMOR: Jack introduces the cast as “Benny’s White-Faced Minstrels”. Because they’re doing a play that takes place in an African village. I don’t quite get the joke either, but it sounds like it’s supposed to make sense.
AD LIB: (Jack completely breaks Mary up with this one)
Jack: “Mary, you’re an aviatrix. In fact, you’re just as much at home in the air as you are on the ground.”
Mary: “That’s fine. I get dizzy when I eat a three-decker sandwich.”
Jack: “All right, you’ll only be acting, and we’ll get a better joke for tonight!”
(This is a reference to the fact that they recorded the program twice, once for the East Coast, and once for the West Coast. Obviously, this was the earlier recording. See also Fred Allen’s comment on 3/27/38 that he didn’t get on the earlier show at all.)
Kenny: A cannibal? What’s that?”
Jack: “A cannibal, Kenny, is the kind of a guy who’d go into a restaurant and order the waiter.”
JOKE: (Casting the play)
Don: “But Jack, I can’t play the part of a savage. I’m not vicious enough.”
Jack: “Don, you’ll be vicious if I have to cut your salary!”
NAMES FOR THE BAND: Colonel Corn and His Orchestra.
JOKE: (In the play)
Phil: “You call yourself a cameraman!”
Phil: “Why, you were on the SS Roxbury when it sank last year and you didn’t even get a shot of it.”
Jack: “Well, naturally. The captain hollered women and children first, and I felt young! Anyway, if you’d give me a little more dough, I could do better work.”
Phil: “More dough?”
Jack: “Yeah. My camera has been in the hock shop so much, the soundtrack is coming out in dialect. What do you expect, anyway?”
Phil: “I’ve had enough of your alibis, Clark. You’re through!”
Jack: “Aww, you can’t fire me, Chief. Imagine how my wife and kiddies will feel.”
Phil: “You haven’t got any wife and kiddies.”
Jack: “That’s why I said Imagine!”
JOKE: (In the play)
Phil: “Aww, you couldn’t find her brother. You haven’t got one chance in a million.”
Jack: “That’s what you said when I bought that ticket on the Irish sweepstakes.”
Phil: “Well, you didn’t win, did you?”
Jack: “No, but I turned green!”
(This joke appears to be total bluff. It makes no sense, but they delivered the lines as though it did, and the audience laughed.)
JOKE: (In the play)
Jack: “[string of unintelligible native-speak]”
Kannibal Kenny: “Would you mind saying that again?”
Jack: “Oh. He talks English.”
Kannibal Kenny: “Yes. I went to college. But I came back to the jungle to govern my people.”
Jack: “Now, listen. The white man you are holding prisoner is this girl’s brother. Now, I want you to release him immediately.”
Kannibal Kenny: “Oh, no. We’re going to eat him.”
Jack: “Eat him? Then you’re still a cannibal! What good did it do you to go to college?”
Kannibal Kenny: “I use a knife and fork now!”
NOTE: Don really blitzes his way through the closing announcement. Jack had said that they were short of time, so apparently, Don was really struggling to close out the show under the wire.
9. 11/27/38 FLASH BENNY, FOOTBALL COACH (30:13)
The orchestra opens with “This Can’t Be Love” from “The Boys From Syracuse”. Jack has a cold, and everyone discusses how heroic Jack has been dealing with it the last three days. They discover that Jack’s doctor is actually a chiropodist. Phil comes in to needle Jack about his illness. Phil visited Jack in the hospital, but brought him a can of Ken-L Ration, which Rochester made an omelet out of. Kenny comes in, laughing about how Jack looked in his nightgown (which was actually Mary’s). Jack asks about that Turkey Raffle that Kenny was selling tickets to, and is miffed to find that it was won by one Kenneth L. Baker. During his illness, Rochester put a mustard plaster on Jack’s chest, but they realize too late that he forgot to shave it first. Phil rips it off for Jack, and let’s just say the two of them do the Masochism Tango. Kenny sings “My Reverie”. Jack announces that next Sunday the program is broadcasting from Radio City, New York. Jack starts to cast the play when Rochester calls to warn that the cough medicine he’s been giving Jack all week is actually Hair Tonic. The orchestra plays “Girlfriend of the Whirling Dervish” (played by a boyfriend of anyone who’s got a girlfriend).
PLAY: “Hold That Line”, or “One Moment, Please”. In Toboggan Slide, Indiana, Jack’s team, Flatfoot, plays its annual game against Meatball Tech. At halftime, Coach Flash Benny’s team is losing 65-0, so Flash decides to put himself into the game for the second half. The play is interrupted when a telegram arrives from the Acme Hotel in New York, offering rooms for $6 a week, and baths on every floor (just follow the arrows). In the game's second half, Jack gets the ball, and makes a run for a touchdown, which somehow morphs into a horse race. To almost paraphrase Porky Pig, “That’s it, Folks.”
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a man who after lying flat on his back for three days with a bad cold…”
Don” “…Threw off the covers and said ‘Good heavens, it’s Sunday! The show must go on!’”
Jack: “Them was my words exactly.”
Don: “So now we bring you that heroic personality, that rugged thespian, that grand old trooper, Jack Benny!”
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Frank Nelson
MINOR ROLES: Ed Beloin
Jack: “My doctor told me that if my cold was one germ worse, I’d have found out if angels have dirty faces.”
Phil: “You mean you’d have found out if the Devil was a sissy.”
(A reference to the movie “Angels With Dirty Faces” (1938) starring James Cagney, Pat O’Brien, and Humphrey Bogart, and “The Devil is a Sissy” (1936, starring Freddie Bartholomew, Jackie Cooper, and Mickey Rooney.)
JOKE: (About Jack's illness)
Phil: “Well, I know you were sick. I came to visit you, didn’t I?”
Jack: “Sure you did. You knew I had a cold, so you figured I’d have a bottle of whiskey around!”
THE TURKEY RAFFLE: Yes, they followed up on that this week, and announced that Kenny himself had won his own raffle.
NOTE: Kenneth L. Baker was in fact Kenny’s real name. On 5/2/37, for the sake of a joke, he had claimed that it was Kenneth M. Baker.
BARBARA WHITNEY: She’s conspicuously absent this week. Has this subplot been dropped?
Jack: “I was in a very critical condition.”
Mary: “Well, it’s your own fault, Jack. Here you were, sick in bed for three days, and you wouldn’t even hire a nurse.”
Jack: “Now wait a minute, Mary, I HAD a nurse, and you know it!”
Mary: “Fine nurse! All you did was paint a red cross on Rochester’s coat.
FAILED HUMOR: The joke at 8:20, where Phil rips off Jack’s mustard plaster, is one of the more cringeworthy moments in the whole series. Whoever thought it was funny must have been sipping too much absinthe in New Orleans. For some real laughs, why didn’t they just scrape their fingernails across a chalkboard?
Don: “Jack, if you’ve got such a bad cold, what are you going to New York for? I understand they’re having pretty bad snowstorms back there.”
Jack: “Makes no difference, Don, I’ve got to be there next week.”
Phil: “Well, what’s all the rush about? What’s so important?”
Mary: “There’s a sale at Macy’s.”
Jack: “That’s not the ONLY reason I’m going!”
(Recall how in previous years, Jack would deny a joke like this. Now he admits it and tries to mitigate things.)
NOTE: Jack plans to meet with a director in New York about acting in Romeo & Juliet on Broadway.
Kenny: “Oh boy, New York! Say, I haven’t been there in two years!”
Jack: “Two years, huh?”
Kenny: “Yeah! Say, I bet the Empire State Building is wearing long pants now!”
CONTINUITY NOTE: They correctly remembered that Kenny didn’t go to New York with the show last time (3/27/38).
Mary: “Am I going to be in the football play?”
Jack: “Yes Mary, you’re going to be a beautiful co-ed, watching the game way up in the grandstand.”
Mary: “Oh no, I want to be down on the field where the dialogue is.”
Jack: “Well, I don’t know, Mary. We let you in the game last year, and every time the players went in the huddle, they came out with lipstick on.”
MARY’S HATS: (Week 4)
Jack: “Now, you can’t play [football].”
Mary: “Oh yeah? Well, you’ve got a fat chance of winning the game without Butch Livingstone.”
Jack: “Oh, all right, Butch. But if you’re going to play, take off that silly hat. Lest the cheering section give you the Bronx Salute! You ought to see this one, folks, it looks like a plate of borscht! It’s even got two potatoes in it.”
NAMES FOR THE BAND: Phil Harris and His Uneducated Collegians.
Rochester: “You know that cough medicine I’ve been giving you all week?”
Jack: “Yes, what about it?”
Rochester: “You ain’t never gonna have dandruff in your stomach!”
Jack: “Good heavens, Rochester! Did you give me that hair tonic? I told you a thousand times to read the label!”
Rochester: “I told you a thousand times I can’t read.”
Jack: “Hey, wait a minute. Do you know that mustard plaster you put on me this morning?”
Jack: “Well, I had an awful time getting it off. Why didn’t you shave my chest first?”
Rochester: “Shave you?”
Rochester: “Look Boss, I don’t mind being a butler, a chauffeur, and a nurse, but when I get a razor in my hand, it’s for defensive purposes only.”
(This is the second reference to Rochester carrying a razor (the first being that veiled reference on 3/27/38). I would never have recognized it as being racial at all if Wikipedia’s entry on Jack Benny didn’t mention Rochester carrying a razor as being a racial stereotype that was eliminated after the war. The only time I’ve ever heard such a thing was from the song “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown”, which of course came years later. Even in Leroy Brown, I never recognized it as a racial stereotype, I assumed that it was a stereotype specifically of people living in South Chicago or the tougher neighborhoods in New York. But okay, if they say it’s racial, then it’s racial. The show lost nothing when they eliminated them. As a Hustler/Wheeler Dealer type character, the gin drinking and crap shooting jokes fit Rochester’s character. The razor jokes do not.)
The next time you get the ball, run with it! Don’t truck on down!”
Phil: “Well, I got rhythm!”
(‘Truck on down’? Is that expression really as old as that?)
JOKE: (In the play)
Jack: “And you, Butch!
Mary: “What is it, Coach?”
Jack: “You’re a great help. On the last play, you were penalized 15 yards for holding!”
Mary: “Well, he was handsome.”
ACME HOTEL: The Acme Hotel later morphs into the Acme Plaza, a cut-rate dive that Jack stays in any time he goes to New York in later years.
FRANK NELSON: Nelson, later famous as the Yes Man (not to be confused with the Knocking or Mumbling Men) does play-by-play commentary on the game. In later years, Mel Blanc usually gets announcer roles.
NOTE: Jack comments that a football play is an annual thing on their show. As with murder mysteries, who knew?
JOKE: (In the play)
Jack: “Give me another ball, folks.”
Kenny: “Here’s a watermelon, Coach.”
Jack: “I don’t want that! We haven’t used a watermelon since we played Alabama!”
WHAT ARE YOU LAUGHING AT JOKE: (In the play)
Jack: “Now, listen Wilson. When the ball is snapped to me, I’ll throw it to Harris, he’ll pass it to you, and instead of going through center, you run around your own end!”
Mary: Ha, ah, ha, ha!”
Jack: “What are you laughing at?”
Mary: “He better take lunch, it’ll be a long trip!”
FLUB: At 29:34, Mary flubs her final line about buying galoshes in New York pretty badly, and cracks herself up over it. Jack delivers his punchline, but it’s no longer needed.
NOTE: Someone other than Don (a regular NBC announcer perhaps) does the closing announcement, possibly because the program was running so late that they had to cut away.
10. 12/04/38 MURDER AT THE MOVIES Benny 38-12-04 Murder at the Movies.mp3 (28:19)
The orchestra opens with “For No Rhyme or Reason”. Jack talks about how much colder it is in New York than California in December, and about visiting Fred Allen. Jack makes catty remarks about Fred’s apartment being full of hanging laundry, and Fred serving sardines for dinner. Phil arrives from the Astor Bar, where he’s staying in New York. Mary arrives and urges Jack to buy an overcoat if he’s cold, but Jack doesn’t want to spend $60 for a coat, when a can of Sterno is only a dime. Rosie Nicholson, an old girlfriend of Jack’s drops in and they discuss old times. Kenny comes in, impressed by seeing his first snowfall. Jack tries to explain where snow comes from. His explanation is pretty good, but it falls flat on Kenny. Jack casts the play, and gives himself the lead role again, which Phil again takes exception to. Kenny sings “Say It With a Kiss”.
PLAY: “Murder at the Movies”, or “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone”, another Captain O’Benny adventure. A man is shot at the movies. Captain O’Benny interrogates Mary, who tries to answer questions and sell tickets simultaneously. They are forced to buy tickets before going in to look for the murderer. They try to search the loges, but find their tickets are for the main floor, and have to pay to upgrade them. Once in the theater, O’Benny discovers that the theater is showing “Artists and Models”. The killer turns himself in, rather than watch it, but O’Benny stays behind to watch.
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, let us welcome to New York, that single ray of California sunshine. That shivering, quivering, ice-kissed comedian, Jack Benny!”
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, John Brown, Mary Kelly, Bill Morrow
NOTE: Jack, Mary, Fred and Portland Hoffa attended the dinner at Fred’s apartment.
NOTE: Phil shows up in New York this year! No need to use Abe Lyman as they have the last two seasons. However, they claim that Phil did not bring his regular band, and is using a new bunch of boys.
NOTE: Phil comments that he has 14 men in his band.
NOTE: In the play, Don asks Captain O’Benny why he doesn’t buy an overcoat.
NOTE: Phil claims to have been in kindergarten during the World War. Phil was born in 1904.
MARY’S HATS: (Week 5)
Mary: “Hello Jack, here’s your little glamour girl.”
Jack: “That’s it, Mary, keep bowing. Show your silly hat.”
Jack: “Every time I go out of the hotel, I just about freeze.”
Mary: “Well, no wonder, you came from California without an overcoat. Why don’t you buy one?”
Jack: “Oh, we’re only going to be here a couple of weeks. Why spend 50 or 60 dollars, you know?”
Mary: “That’s right, you can get a can of Sterno for a dime.”
Jack: “Yeah. Now Mary, if you don’t stop ribbing me, I’ll tear into that hat you’re wearing tonight. You ought to see this one, folks.
Mary: “I think it’s cute.”
Jack: “Yeah, it sure is. It looks like something a bride would bake.”
(Five weeks of this hat rack… et. They’re giving it a really good go of making a running joke out of this, and if it were TV, it probably would have worked. Sterno, of course, is a jellied alcohol substance, beloved by campers, intended to be burned right in the can that it comes in, used for heating or cooking purposes).
JOKE: (Jack meets an old girlfriend)
Jack: “Rosie, I haven’t seen you in years.”
Rosie: “I knew you were in town, Jack, so I just thought I’d come up and say hello.”
Jack: “I’m glad you did, you’re looking great. But Rosie, you’ve gained a little weight, haven’t you?”
Rosie: “Yeah, now I go with a guy that feeds me.”
JOKE: (Jack reminisces with his old girlfriend)
Jack: “Remember the time you gave me a lock of your hair?”
Rosie: “I’ll say.”
Mary: “Don’t you wish you had it now?”
NAMES FOR THE BAND: Phil Harris and His Van Stieden Orchestra
(No idea what this means, but it gets a really good laugh)
DON’S PLAY: (Don occasionally writes Jell-O playlets)
Jack: "And now folks, Don Wilson has an announcement of great important to make. Take it, Don!”
Don: “Ladies and gentlemen. The scene is the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Homer T. Griddle, in the thriving little town of East Orange, New Jersey. They have just finished their roast beef and are now enjoying their dessert. Let us tune in and hear what they have to say about our little product.”
Jack: “Gee darling, this is a swell dessert. It’s so appetizing. What do they call it?”
Rosie: “I’m glad you like it, Homer. It’s called…”
Jack: “My, it’s delicious. And tempting, too. Tell me, dear. Is this the only flavor it comes in?”
Rosie: “Lordy no, Honey. This economical dessert comes in…”
Jack: “Well, it’s simply wonderful. I hope you serve it often. Oh, sweetheart. Is there any way of telling this from other, similar desserts?”
Rosie: “Yes indeedy, precious. All you have to do is look for the…”
Jack: “Well, I must run along now. I have an appointment at the office.”
Rosie: “Where is your office?”
Jack: “It doesn’t say here. Goodbye, dear.”
Don: “Ladies and gentlemen, I venture to say that this happy couple were eating Jell-O. It is economical, easy to make, and comes in six delicious flavors!”
JOKE: (Jack gave an intellectual answer for a change!)
Jack: “He asked me a question and I answered it!”
Mary: “I know but ever since you bought that encyclopedia, you’ve been showing off!”
Jack: “I have not.”
Mary: “You have to. The other day I just asked you what time it was, and you told me how they make watches.”
(Too bad this is a one-shot. It would have made a good running joke.)
JOKE: (Jack and Rosie talk some more)
Rosie: “Say Jack, is that Kenny baker, your tenor singer?
Jack: “Oh, yes Rosie. Oh Kenny, this is Miss Nicholson, the girl I used to go with.”
Kenny: “Gee, do you live in New York, Miss Nicholson?”
Rosie: “Yes, I do.
Kenny: “Are you a Siren??”
AND SHUT UP JOKE: (Phil takes exception to Jack always taking the play's starring role)
Mary: “Stop arguing, Phil. Jack should be Police Captain, and nobody else.”
Phil: “Why should he be? Just give me one reason?”
Mary: “I’ll give you two. He’s got flat feet.”
Jack: “Now, wait a minute, Mary. My feet are not flat.”
Mary: “Go on, your footprints on the beach have fooled many a duck hunter.”
Jack: “Well, I can’t help that. Let’s see…”
Don: “Oh Jack, is it really true you purposely flattened your feet the day the United States entered the World War?”
Jack: “No Don, the World War had nothing to do with it. It was an accident.”
Phil: “An accident? How could you accidentally flatten your feet?”
Jack: “Because I was hanging out of a window at the time, and I was so surprised at the war news that I dropped!”
Phil: “That’s ridiculous. Why were you hanging out of a window?”
Jack: “Because we were a large family, and shut up!”
RACIAL HUMOR: (In the play)
Mary: “Better get over here right away, Cap. A fella was just murdered right in front of my box office. Gee, he was cute.”
Jack: “Murdered, eh? How do you know he’s dead?”
Mary: “He didn’t wink back.”
Jack: “I see, well tell me, when did this murder happen?”
Mary: “Three hours ago.”
Jack: “Three hours? Why didn’t you call me before?”
Mary: “I was selling a ticket to a Scotsman.”
JOKE: (In the play)
Jack: “Now, this may be dangerous, so take everything you need. Oh Harris, where’s your bulletproof vest?”
Phil: “At the cleaners, I’m going to a party tonight.”
JOKE: (In the play)
Police Radio: “Calling all cars. Calling all cars. Murder at the Bijou Theater. Also free dishes. That is all.”
Jack: “Step on it, Wilson, I’ve almost got a set.”
Phil: “Say Cap, can we stop by Joe’s Pawn Shop for a minute?”
Jack: “What for?”
Phil: “I want to pick up my gun.”
11. 12/11/38 CHRISTMAS SHOPPING IN NEW YORK (27:41)
The orchestra opens with “Hurray For Hollywood”. Don queries Jack about why he hasn’t bought an overcoat or raincoat yet, now that the winter cold has arrived. Jack asks if Don is selling clothes or Jell-O, which changes the subject fast. Jack tosses a few harangues at Fred Allen. Mary reads a letter from Momma. Kenny isn’t there to sing. Jack offers to play a violin solo, but the band claims not to know any of the pieces that Jack wants to play. Jack starts to order the orchestra to play their own number, but The Knocking Man comes by for his quip. The orchestra plays “Pocketful of Dreams”, with a vocal by Phil. Jack and Phil squabble. Jack asks everyone to stop knocking him, but Don denies that "everyone" applies to him. He never knocks Jack, he just says that Jell-O has six delicious flavors, which is the epitome of positive. Jack leaves Don in charge of the show so he can go do his Christmas Shopping, but before he can leave, he gets a call from Rochester. Roch discusses the party he just threw, and it turns out he's wearing the suit that Jack is looking for. The orchestra plays an unidentified number as Jack and Mary leave to go shopping.
PLAY: None, Jack leaves the show early.
SITUATION COMEDY: Christmas Shopping Episode, #2. Jack and Mary go to a department store to shop for presents, and have the usual series of shopping vignettes with funny salespeople and customers. Among the people Jacks meets are a persistent pickpocket, a Devil Tot, and a perfume salesman. Jack plans to get Don a razor, Kenny a necktie, Phil a chorus girl, and Mary something between a Rolls Royce and a compact (and we're not talking about cars here). Jack ends up getting roped into buying that overcoat after all, and ends up dealing with two overzealous coat salesmen.
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a man who came to New York in the middle of winter without an overcoat, and still hasn’t bought one, Jack Benny!”
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, John Brown, Charles Cantor, Mary Kelly, Bill Morrow
MISSING CAST: Kenny is not in this episode.
NOTE: The episode is broadcast from Radio City, New York.
NOTE: The sound quality of this episode is exceptionally good. It's one of the best-sounding 1930's episodes.
NOTE: Jack threatens to fatten up Graham McNamee to replace Don. McNamee (1888-1942) was one of the nation’s most recognizable announcers in the 1920’s.
FLUB: (The orchestra didn't laugh at Jack's joke)
Don: “Maybe they’re serious musicians.”
Jack: “Serious? Last Wednesday night, all Allen said was ‘Hello, Portie’, and those guys went into hysterics!”
Phil: Well, maybe… maybe they jumped their cue!”
Jack: “You nearly jumped yours just now!”
Jack: “Now, you know, I don’t mind Allen telling ‘em when to laugh and applaud. But when he throws lighted matches around to get ‘em to stamp their feet, that’s going too far!”
Mary: “Hello Applecart, what upset you now?”
JOKE: (Jack is too cheap to buy a winter coat)
Jack: “I tell you, I don’t need an overcoat. This blue suit keeps me plenty warm!”
Mary: “It ought to, you’ve got your gray one under it.”
Jack: “Anyway, you missed a wonderful treat. I saw that new Olsen and Johnson review.”
Don: “Oh, have they got a show here? What’s the name of it?”
Jack: “It’s called Heckzapoppin!”
Phil: “Not the night I saw it!”
(This is a reference to Olsen and Johnson's Hellzapoppin, a 1938 musical that was one of only three shows to run for more than 500 performances in the 1930’s. It was turned into a movie in 1941, with Olsen and Johnson joined by Martha Raye and Shemp Howard.)
LETTER FROM MOMMA: Mary reads one of her trademark “Letters from Momma” at 5:00.
NAMES FOR MOMMA: “What’s the Noel Coward of Plainfield got to say?”
NAMES FOR MOMMA: A running joke in Mary's letters from Momma is Jack's (inexplicable) tendency to give Momma an off-the-cuff nickname based on some contemporary personality or show. As Milt Josefsberg described it, if Jack's show was still going on in the 70's, he'd be calling Mary's mother "The Maude of Plainfield", or "The Towering Inferno of Plainfield."
NOTE: Momma signs her letter “Gypsy Rose Livingstone”. Mary's mother has the same inexplicable tendency to give herself topical nicknames that Jack does.
NOTE: The guy who eventually becomes Jack’s boarder, Mr. Billingsley, plays Phil’s piano player in this episode. Since Mr. Billingsley hasn't been introduced yet, that doesn't mean much.
PHIL SINGS: Phil adds a rare vocal to the orchestra’s second number, “Pocketful of Dreams”.
FORGOTTEN HUMOR: “The orchestra plays pocketful of dreams, with a vocal refrain by Phil Martinelli.”
(Okay, I’ve googled it, and can’t figure out who he’s talking about. I assume that that the Martinelli in question is not named Phil.
JOKE: (Phil just sang along with the orchestra's number)
Jack: “Now I know why you didn’t want me to play my violin, Phil. It was just so you could do a number yourself, you big ham!”
Phil: “Well, what if I did? Don’t be so jealous.”
Jack: “I’m not jealous. If I couldn’t sing better than that, I wouldn’t even attempt it! Me, jealous! Why should I be? I’ve got more money in the bank than you have. Haven’t I, Mary?”
Mary: “You’ve got more money in your sock than he has in the bank.”
AD-LIB/FLUB: (And we’re stretching a point here, calling it either an ad lib or a flub; Mary wants to go Christmas Shopping with Jack)
Mary: “Can I go with you, Jack?”
Jack: “Yeah, cause if I leave you here, you’re liable to say something about me.”
Mary: “All right, I’ll go with you and say it.”
[Jack makes a ridiculous sound in reply, that completely breaks Mary up]
JOKE: (Jack shoots the breeze with Rochester)
Jack: “What have you been doing?”
Rochester: “Well, last Wednesday night, some friends of mine threw a big banquet in my honor.”
Jack: “Oh, did you have a good time?”
Rochester: “I don’t know, it ain’t over yet.”
Jack: “It ain’t over yet?? Well, for heaven’s sake, how long is this party going to last?”
Rochester: “Until somebody with a blue coat knocks on the door with an axe.”
JOKE: (While Christmas shopping at the department store)
Jack: “Hey buddy, what are you doing with your hand in my pocket?”
Pickpocket: “I dunno, I guess I’m just an optimist.”
JOKE: (While Christmas shopping)
Mary: “What are you going to get for me, Jack?
Jack: “I’m not going to tell you, Mary, it’s a surprise. It’s something between a Rolls Royce and a compact.”
Mary: “I bet the last will be first.”
Jack: “Oh, I don’t know about that. Remember last Christmas? I gave you that lovely bottle of perfume.”
Mary: “Fine perfume, I put some on my handkerchief, and had to bury it!”
TRIVIA: Jack considers buying Mary a perfume called “Springtime in the Bronx”.
NOTE: Rochester brings a new girlfriend, Lucille Garbo, to the department store, but doesn’t know her last name.
MARY’S HATS: (Week 6) (This time in the coat department, Jack is ready to walk out without making a purchase)
Jack: "Come on Mary, let’s go!”
Mary: All right, Jack.”
Overzealous Salesman #1: “Oh, no you don’t! Grab him, Joe!”
Overzealous Salesman #2: “I got him!”
Jack: “Outta my way, you, outta my way!”
Overzealous Salesman #1: “All right Joe, let him have it!”
[sound of gunshots]
Jack: “Ha, ha! You missed me! What a sore loser!”
Mary: Oh Jack, he shot me right through my new hat!”
Jack: “Well no wonder, it looks like a wild duck!”
(I love this one, and not because the joke is the least bit funny. (It isn’t). The laughs are all in the situation. Here, Jack has been making jokes about Mary’s hats for 6 weeks now. This week she comes in wearing a hat that looks like a duck, and Jack doesn’t say one WORD about it for the whole half hour, until the very end, when two guys take a shot at it. Jack knows they were shooting at him, but somehow comes to the conclusion that the reason their stray shots ended up in Mary’s hat rather than somewhere else was because the hat looks like something somebody might shoot at deliberately. Funny, he never noticed that before, or foresaw the kind of attention that it might attract.)
NOTE: At the end of the program, Jack admits that he really does have an overcoat. I have no idea why they'd break the 4th wall that way. Maybe they were afraid Depression-era listeners would send their own coats to Jack, or something? Who knows?
NOTE: An unnamed NBC announcer closes out the program. Maybe they were running overtime again.
12. 12/18/38 RETURNING TO HOLLYWOOD (28:48)
An unidentified announcer announces the orchestra opening with "Your Eyes Are Bigger Than Your Heart". This guy does the opening commercial, as well, and transitions to a Sitcom Scene.
SITUATION COMEDY: Jack and his cast are on the train heading back to Hollywood. We see the usual vignette of funny scenes with passengers, cast, and train personnel. Jack forgets to tip a delivery boy, and Rochester doesn't remind him because he assumed it was deliberate. A kid gets fresh with Jack. Jack sends Rochester back for forgotten luggage, and we find that Jack has avoided buying an overcoat by using Rochester's . Rochester comes back with the bags, and gets picketed by the other porters for doing their job. Jack sends Rochester to look for Kenny, and meets a kid who owns stock in Amalgamated Rompers. Kenny is traveling on a kid's ticket, which he and Jack try to conceal from the conductor. The orchestra, wherever they are, plays an unidentified number. Don asks what happened to the Shakespearean play Jack was going to talk to the director about. Jack says it's been postponed, and that they'll do it in the spring. Jack meets another fresh kid who's so tough he thinks the Dead End Kids are sissies, yet still manages to stay G-rated himself (so the Dead End Kids must have been even milder!). Don talks in his sleep about Jell-O. Kenny sings the song he's going to do on the show ("I Go For That" from "Saint Louis Blues"). Andy meets them all at the Hollywood station. Jack wants to know if it rained in California while they're gone, but Andy won't talk in front of a microphone. The second obnoxious kid on the train turns out to be Andy's nephew. Andy talks more about how his Ma and Pa are doing. Jack tries to tear Rochester away from signing autographs long enough to get them all a cab.
UNIDENTIFIED GUY'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, Jack Benny and his gang, who are en route to from New York to Hollywood, have reached Chicago. Now, we pick them up at the station, where they are about to board the train going west. Take it away!"
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Andy Devine, Frank Nelson
MINOR ROLES: Ed Beloin, Joe Franz, Mel Ruick, Blanche Stewart
PLAY: No play, the whole episode is a sitcom.
Jack: “You know what, Rochester? I forgot to tip the taxi driver. Why didn’t you remind me?”
Rochester: “I thought it was premeditated.”
Conductor: "Train leaving on Track 5 for Memphis, New Orleans, Jacksonville, Palm Beach, Miami and Montreal! All aboard!"
Jack: "Montreal? Montreal is in Canada. It's nowhere near Miami!"
Conductor: "All right, so I make one little mistake."
Conductor: “Train leaving on Track 7 for Peoria, Emporia, Oscaloosa, Tuscaloosa, Toscanini, Beanie-Beanie, and Bum Elbow. All Aboard!”
Rochester: “Hey Boss! Boss, I found your bag!”
Jack: “That’s good. Hey, but what did you bring all those redcaps along with you for?”
Rochester: “I didn’t bring ‘em, they’re picketing me!”
JOKE: (Jack is still avoiding buying that new coat)
Mary: “Say Jack, I wish you’d take off Rochester’s coat. Everybody’s staring at you.”
Jack: “Mary, this ISN’T Rochester’s coat!”
Mary: “Oh no? Look at that Lodge button on the lapel.”
Jack: “Lodge button?”
Mary: “Yeah, since when do you belong to The Sons and Daughters of the Deep South?”
Jack: “I don’t belong, I’m just an HONORARY member!”
NOTE: Jack is still cheaping out on buying a coat even after admitting at the end of last week's program that he really had one. Very confusing. It's getting hard to tell when the 4th wall is up and when it's down around this joint!
Conductor: “Train leaving on Track 11 for White Sulfur Springs, Warm Springs, Palm Springs, Hot Springs, and Simmons Mattresses!
(Jack is so broken up by this one that he can’t deliver his next line with anywhere close to a straight face.)
Jack: “Simmons Mattresses?? Where’s that?”
Conductor: “Right next to Boulder Dreams.”
Jack: “I deserved that!”
JOKE: (Jack meets a sales clerk with odd enunciation)
Frank Nelson: “Yes sir, is there anything I can do FOR you?”
Jack: “I beg your pardon?”
Frank: “I said is there anything I can do FOR you?”
Jack: “Yes, we’d like to buy SOME magazines! What have you got there?”
Frank: “Well, we have the latest Cos-mop-a-litten.”
Frank: “Yes, and here’s the latest Li-bertie.”
Jack: “What do you want, Mary?”
Mary: “Oh, I’ll just take a box of Puh-PER-mints.”
Jack: “Mary, don’t encourage him.”
Frank: “Perhaps you’d like a good novel to read on the train.”
Jack: “A novel? Oh, I don’t know. Hey Mary, what’s that book over there by you?”
Jack: “The one that’s nailed up on the wall.”
Mary: “You Can’t Take It With You.”
JOKE: (Phil is late)
Jack: “Where were you?”
Phil: “I just stopped in for a shave and a haircut. And you know, Jack, it’s the first time I ever had a lady barber.”
Jack: “Oh yeah? Say, I’ll bet you had a lot of fun.”
Phil: “What, with a razor in her hand?”
Jack: “I see. Well, she certainly gave you a fine haircut. Get a load of it, Mary.”
Mary: “It looks like she cut off too much, and pasted it back.”
Conductor: Train leaving on Track 1 for Toledo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, East Orange, West Lemon, and Lime!”
Jack: “I bet Don put him up to that!”
Jack: “Look around the station and see if you can find Kenny Baker.”
Rochester: “I saw him wandering around here a little while ago and I thought he might be lost.”
Rochester: “So, I checked him in the Parcel Room.”
Jack: “Well, for heaven’s sake, go and get him! Here’s a dime!”
Rochester: “Oh, it’ll cost a quarter, I insured him.”
JOKE: (Jack is already making money on the side)
Kenny: “Hello, Jack. Say, have I got time to run out and get a sandwich?”
Jack: “No Kenny, you can eat on the train.”
Kenny: “Awww, I don’t like your sandwiches!”
JOKE: (Kenny is riding on a kid's ticket)
Conductor: “Three, four, five and a half. Five full tickets and one half fare.”
Jack: “That’s correct, right through the gate, everybody. Come along, Kenny dear!”
Kenny: “Yes, Uncle Jack!”
JOKE: (Kenny is still riding on a kid's ticket)
Jack: “…Kenny, but it wouldn’t hurt you to try and look a little younger.”
Mary: “Say Jack, as long as you’re going through with this, why don’t you give Kenny a teething ring?”
Jack: “A teething ring?”
Mary: “Yeah, he doesn’t look like a kid at all.”
Kenny: “Oh no? You ought to see the underwear he pinned on me.”
Conductor: Train leaving west on Track 9 for Kansas City, Dodge City, Las Vegas, Alber-Q-Q…”
Conductor: “…Aaaaaaand Shut Up!”
JOKE: (Kenny is still posing as a kid to ride cheaper)
Kenny: “I don’t know what you guys are complaining about. Every time the conductor comes by, I have to stick a lollipop in my mouth!”
Jack: “That’s too bad.”
Kenny: “Yeah, and another thing! I can blow my own nose!”
NOTE: There's been a mini angle about Jack talking to a director in New York about doing a Shakespearean play. However, this week the play in question has changed without explanation from Romeo & Juliet to Julius Caesar.
JOKE: (Mary is flirting with a fellow passenger)
Mary: “Oh, I’ll be glad to get home. Is this your first trip to California, Mr…. uh, Mr… I didn’t get your name.”
Passenger: “Thompson. Thompson!”
Mary: “Oh yes. Is this you first trip to California, Mr. Thompson?”
Passenger: “No, I’ve been there lots of times.”
Mary: “Well, you’ll just love it. I always say there’s no place like California. You know, I was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, but after all, New Jersey is New Jersey and California is California!”
Passenger: “So what?”
Mary: “Oh, you’re a card! Ha, ha, ha, ha! You’re such a distinguished looking man, Mr. Thompson. Uh, what business are you in?”
Passenger: “I’m a psychiatrist.”
Mary: “Oh, I’m glad I bumped into you, I’ve been having more trouble with my feet.”
Passenger: “Young lady, a psychiatrist is…”
Mary: “Oh, I’m in the radio business. You know, The Jell-O Program, starring Mary Livingstone and Stooges. Oh, we’re a riot! I’m famished, Mr. Thompson, are you hungry?”
Passenger: “No, I’m not.”
Mary: “Well, if you’d eat something, Mr. Thompson, you wouldn’t have a headache.”
Passenger: “I haven’t got a headache!”
Mary: “Oh, hello Jack.”
Jack: “Come here a minute, I want to talk to you.”
Mary: “Excuse me a minute.”
Jack: “All right Mary, come on with me. Who’s that fellow you were talking to?”
Mary: “Oh, some fresh guy trying to date me up.”
JOKE: (Jack and Phil eavesdrop on Rochester)
Phil: “Rochester is in the Drawing Room talking to the Porter. Boy, is he giving him a line!”
Jack: “Oh, he is, eh? Let’s listen.”
Rochester: “You know Sylvester, I used to be a porter myself, but I gave it up. There ain’t no future in it.”
Porter: “You’re right, Rochester. Say, how long you been Mr. Benny’s private secretary and personal adviser?”
Jack, listening: “Hmmm…”
Rochester: “About two years now. You know, Mr. Benny don’t make a move without consulting me. He calls me his Anthony Eden.”
Jack: “That’s just a big fib.”
Phil: “Quiet Jack, this is good!”
Porter: “Say Rochester, what kind of a man is your boss? Is he nice to work for?”
Rochester: “Oh, very pleasant, very pleasant. You ought to see how he throws his money away.”
Porter: “He does??”
Rochester: “Not far, but he throws it.”
Jack: “Wait till I get a hold of him!”
Porter: “One thing, Mr. Benny he sure does have funny radio programs.”
Rochester: “Well, he ought to, I write every word of ‘em.”
Jack: “That’s all I want to know!!"
(In this clip, Rochester admits to being a porter, but doesn’t specifically say he was THE porter from 3/28/37. In a 1940’s episode, Jack connects the dots a little farther by specifically saying that he met Rochester while he was a train porter. Obviously, Rochester was that porter. In the final Jell-O Program (5/31/42), they make it explicit. But we still have the slight problem that the porter shows up as an elevator operator, on 12/12/37, and nobody recognizes him as Rochester. To paraphrase Dennis Day, “they hire me for laughs, not for continuity”.)
Jack: “Rochester, are you sure you’ve got everything in the bag?”
Rochester: “Yes sir, and am I tired. When I go home, I’m going to bed, and won’t get up until 1939.”
Jack: “Well, you need a little rest, the way you’ve been dissipating on this trip. Look at those white circles under your eyes.”
JOKE: (Fred Allen has been telling stories about Jack again)
Jack: “And look, Rochester, you forgot to pack my blanket.”
Mary: “Is that the one Fred Allen said you took from the Sherry-Netherland hotel?”
Jack: “Mary, I didn’t take any blanket from the Sherry-Netherland!”
Mary: “Then what’s that ‘SN’ on there?”
Jack: “That’s where I bought it! Sach's 9th Avenue! So there.”
Phil: “Wait a minute. Sach's hasn’t got a store on 9th Avenue!”
Jack: “I’ll bet you $25 there’s a fellow named Sam Sachs who runs a store on 9th Avenue! And he sells blankets! Anyway, Allen’s got nerve saying I ever took anything out of a hotel.”
Mary: “Well, what about that little incident at the Ritz last year?”
Jack: “Never mind that.”
Phil: “What was it, Mary?”
Mary: “Well, Jack walked out of the Ritz with a chair and a floor lamp, and he told the house detective he was from the finance company.”
Jack: “I just did that for a laugh!”
Mary: “Well, those laughs looked very good in your living room.”
(This is one of Jack’s stock excuses, “I just did that for a laugh”, which he often uses to get out of difficult situations. It never works, but he often uses it.)
JOKE: (Jack tips!)
Jack: “Oh, that reminds me. Hey, Porter.”
Porter: “Yes sir!”
Jack: “Everything was fine. Here’s a tip for you.”
Porter: “Thank you, Mr. Benny. Wow! A $10 bill!”
Jack: “A $10 bill!?”
Rochester: “Here’s your glasses, Boss.”
Conductor: “Train leaving for Salt Lake City, Denver, Chicago, Cleveland, New Jersey, and Mars! All Aboard!”
NOTE: Rochester's girlfriend is still named Josephine.
NOTE: The closing commercial is about Jell-O pudding. For some reason, they never hawk the pudding during the program, only at the very end.
NOTE: Jack announces that for Christmas, he's giving Mary two tickets to "Artists and Models Abroad", which opens in key theaters next week.
VERDICT: As formulaic as they are, these train trip episodes almost always turn out well. The same is true of Christmas Shopping episodes, come to think of it.
EPISODE 13 Benny 38-12-25 Jack's Christmas Open House.mp3 (28:44)
The orchestra opens with "This Can't Be Love", and Don transitions straight to a sitcom scene at Jack's home. Take it away, Home!
PLAY: None, the entire episode is a sitcom again.
SITUATION COMEDY: This time it's a series of round-the-Christmas-tree vignettes. Jack is trimming the tree, waiting for his gang to arrive. Jack tries to track down a missing candy cane that Mary ate. Jack has trouble throughout the episode getting Rochester to answer the door while he's on top of a ladder decorating the tree. Jack falls off the tree several times throughout the episode. The orchestra arrives. Jack invited Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck, Clark Gable and Carol Lombard, Ronald Colman and Ginger Rogers, and others, but all of them either cable or phone their regrets (if you can call them regrets). Jack also invited Barbara Whitney (so, they haven't forgotten about her), the girl he took away from Phil (at least the way he tells it). Kenny arrives, and gives Jack a set of musical handkerchiefs that ring chimes when you blow your nose. Jack gets so annoyed at Rochester's inertia that he considers not giving him his present; a new vacuum. Kenny sings a double, "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem", and "Oh Come, All Ye Faithful". Don and Barbara arrive, sending Jack flying off the ladder again. Don flirted with Barbara on the way over, in a Jell-O-ey sort of way. Jack buys Barbara a pair of pink gloves, but denies that they're lace. Andy secretly arrives in the back. Jack instructs him to come down the chimney as Santa Claus later on and surprise the others. Andy gives Jack a combination salad fork and back scratcher. The orchestra plays an unidentified number, during which Don and Barbara and Mary and Kenny dance. Phil arrives with Joan Bennett in tow (Jack’s leading lady from “Artists and Models Abroad”), which sends Jack falling off the ladder again. Joan meets everyone again, and Jack sends Rochester to finish the turkey. Jack talks to Joan about "Artists and Models Abroad" and admits to seeing it 12 times. Jack leads Joan out to the mistletoe and kisses her, but is more enthusiastic about it than she is. Jack gives the cue for Andy to arrive, but Andy gets stuck in the chimney on the way down, so everyone else goes to dinner.
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, this being Christmas Day, we look in on Jack Benny's home in Beverly Hills, where he is holding Open House for all his friends. Take it away!!"
SPECIAL GUEST STARS: Joan Bennett
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Andy Devine
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin
MARY SINGS: (A Jingle Bells filksong)
"Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, jingle 'round the table,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rumble seat with Gable."
NOTE: Just in case anyone doesn't know, a rumble seat was an exterior rear seat on some pre-war automobiles that folded closed when not in use. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumble_seat
NOTE: At 3:30, The Knocking Man plays a squirrel on top of Jack's Christmas tree.
Jack: “Say Mary, this tree is beginning to look pretty good now, isn’t it?”
Mary: “That tree wouldn’t look good if Earl Carroll hung chorus girls on it.”
Jack: “Oh, I don’t know about that…”
JOKE: (Rochester's party punch is legendary)
Jack: “That Rochester doesn't think punch is any good unless you have to crawl away from the bowl!”
Mary: “Say Jack, who’s all coming over tonight, anyway?”
Jack: “Well, there’s our whole gang. Then I invited some very important people. Let’s see, Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck, Clark Gable and Carol Lombard, Ronald Colman and Ginger Rogers. Oh, a whole flock of them!”
Mary: “Well gee, I ought to run home and put on a dress with a lower back!”
Jack: “Lower back? It’s down to San Diego now!”
(Obviously, this joke is much funnier if you can visualize a map of California in your mind.)
Jack: “And, oh, Mary, you want to hear something terrific? I asked Barbara Whitney here as my guest.”
Mary: “Barbara Whitney?”
Jack: “Yes, you remember. The girl I took away from Phil Harris!”
Mary: “The girl you took away from Phil? Ha, ha, ha, ha!”
Jack: “What are you laughing at?”
Mary: “That’s like taking a hair away from John L. Lewis’ eyebrows.”
(Lewis was head of the United Mine Workers of America from 1920 to 1960. The guy hung onto the job like a King, didn’t he?)
JOKE: (Jack is trimming the tree)
Jack: “Mary, hold the ladder.
Jack: “And hold it tight. You remember what happened the last time I climbed a tree.”
Mary: “Yeah, you saw the Rose Bowl game.”
Jack: “I don’t mean that time!”
Kenny: “Wow, look at all those decorations! Hey Mary, what’s that round shiny thing on top?”
Mary: “Jack’s head.”
NOTE: In later years, Ronald Colman made several appearances on the show, and was referred to many times as Jack’s next door neighbor. But Colman is not yet a fixture on the show. In this episode, it’s mentioned that he lives BEHIND Jack, and Ronnie wonders how Jack got his address.
Andy: “Oh, say Buck. Here’s a little Christmas present that Ma sent you. I hope you like it.”
Jack: “Well, that was very sweet of her. What is it, Andy?”
Andy: “Well, it’s a combination salad fork and back scratcher.”
Jack: “Well… Say, there’s a comb on there too!”
Andy: “That’s for your hair. Are you, are, are… (laughs at the flub)
Jack: “Wait a minute, Andy. ‘Say, there’s a comb on there, too!’”
Andy: “That’s (laughs again) That’s for your hair as you’re going by!”
Jack: “Yes. But it’s too late now!”
Rochester: “What are we going to do with all this food in the kitchen?
Jack: “I don’t know, Rochester.”
Rochester: “Doggone, I’ll be eating so much cranberry sauce, I’ll be red in the face.”
Jack: “That’s a neat trick, if you can do it!”
(You know what? This probably isn’t racial humor at all. At least, the same joke, word for word, could be told by anybody in the cast. Political Correctness has conditioned us to think of anything involving Rochester as being racial. Probably he just got the line because he’s got the best delivery. On the other hand, it COULD be racial, and as long as the possibility is there, maybe we better get offended just to play it safe.)
Jack: “There’s the door, Rochester!”
Rochester: “Doggone, every time that bell rings, you’re up on the ladder.”
Jack: “Listen Rochester, you’d be trimming this tree yourself if you weren’t color blind!”
(This is an odd comment. It’s not funny, and I don’t remember any other references to Rochester being color blind. Wikipedia’s entry doesn’t say anything about Eddie Anderson being color blind. This is kind of a Mystery Line, neither funny nor true.)
Jack: “Merry Christmas, Phil!”
Phil: “Same to you, Jackson!”
(At LAST, the nickname “Jackson” makes its appearance, and we finally get to see where it came from. It was a present for Christmas 1938.)
NOTE: (Jack falls off the ladder again, when Joan Bennett enters)
Jack: “Oooh, my elbow!”
Joan: “Jack, what are you doing in that ridiculous position?”
Jack: “Who, me?”
Mary: “It’s an encore, but you don’t know it.”
JOKE: (Dinner is delayed)
Joan: “It’s okay Jack, I’m not hungry.”
Mary: “Well, there’s an unusual blonde.”
(This is pretty cool. The recent wave of blonde jokes has been about them being dumb. I’d almost forgotten this type of blonde joke. I know Joan Bennett primarily as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (a brunette), so I didn’t laugh until I Googled it and confirmed that Joan really was a blonde earlier in her career. You can’t be too careful about these things.)
NOTE: Jack and Joan reminisce about a scene where they were sitting on a park bench eating popcorn, but no reference is made to the Pineapple Upside-Down scene.
NOTE: Will we see Barbara Whitney again? It looks to me as though this story has run its course. Jack dates one of Phil’s dates to get his goat, but Phil doesn’t care because he’s got plenty more. Jack invites her as a Christmas date, and Phil trumps it by bringing along Jack’s most recent leading lady. Surely, this is the big payoff to the whole subplot.
14. 01/01/39 GOODBYE 1938, HELLO 1939 (29:05)
The orchestra opens with "No Wonder". Everyone discusses what they did on New Year's Eve. Don and his wife went to the Coconut Grove. Jack took Mary to the Wilshire bowl where Phil was playing. Jack and Phil argue about the poor seating that Jack got. Mary and Jack argue about the old fashioned tuxedo he wore. Jack cancels the raise he was considering he was giving his cast. Mary realizes she forgot to write a New Year's Poem, and so dashes one off again. Don tries to do a Jell-O commercial while she writes, but she keeps interrupting asking how words are spelled. The Knocking Man drops by for his own mini New Year's Poem. The orchestra plays "Say It With a Kiss". Phil denies being drunk when he bought Jack a porthole for Christmas. Kenny comes in fully recovered after staying up until 10 pm on New Year's Eve. Jack wants Mary to go to the Rose Bowl game with him, but she's embarrassed to be seen with him after he went to the last game in a raccoon coat, beanie, and Waukegan High School pennant. Phil wants to bet with Jack on the game, but at 2:1 odds, they can't agree on an amount. Phil wants $100 to $50, Jack wants 20 cents to a dime. Rochester calls, to say he still can't find Jack's tickets, and asking for the day off tomorrow to go to a wedding in Pasadena(!!). Kenny sings "I Promise You". Jack tries to cast the play, but is interrupted by everyone else asking questions about Kenny's mother. This week's play is an allegorical fantasy. Jack tries to explain the concept to Kenny, without much success. Jack has trouble getting the play going, as the others are engaged in an odd discussion about which of them has met Kenny’s mother. Somehow, the play begins anyway, but when it’s done, you wish they’d finished the discussion about Mrs. Baker instead.
PLAY: "The New Tenant", or "Goodbye '38, Hello '39". An allegorical fantasy in which Mr. and Mrs. 1938 prepare to depart this earth to make way for the New Year. The baby New Year seems a little old for the part, (at least February or March) but that might be dramatic license.
Don: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, this being the first day of the New Year, it behooves me to introduce the star of this program in a manner befitting his dignity and position.”
Don: “He is a man whose illustrious character and many fine qualities have my sincere admiration.”
Jack: “Oh, Don! Please!”
Don: “A man whose lovable nature and unselfish devotion to others…”
Mary: “Hey, Jack.”
Jack: “Quiet Mary, I want to hear this. Go ahead, Don.”
Don: “Whose unselfish devotion to others has endeared him to the hearts of his public.”
Jack: “How true.”
Don: “So, I bring you none other than that sparkling, scintillating, outstanding personality…”
Jack: “If it’s not me, I’ll kill myself.”
Don: “Jack Benny!”
(This sounds more like a pre-Christmas intro. For some reason, I thought he was going to introduce the janitor of the General Tire Program again. [see 4/6/34])
VIEWER MAIL: During the opening commercial, Don reads a letter from Mrs. C.C. Brown, who started buying Jell-O in 1902, and has used it exclusively ever since. I'd assume that she means "exclusively among gelatin desserts" rather than "exclusively among ALL desserts", but with some of these fanatics, you never know. As we know by now, Jell-O inspires some pretty fierce loyalty.
NOTE: Don's wife is mentioned but not named in this episode. Wikipedia has no information on Don's first wife, but says he married his second wife in November 1940. According to the 10/2/38 episode, Don's wife was named Lucy, but it's not clear if this was his first wife's real name, or just a stage character.
JOKE: (Jack and Don discuss what they did New Year's Eve)
Jack: “Well, that was nice. First a picture, then the Coconut Grove. I suppose you danced a lot.”
Don: “No, my wife left her shoes in the movie.”
Jack: “Well, there’s nothing like relaxing at the cinema. I often slip my shoes off, myself. But I’m getting so absent-minded, I’m not going to do it any more.”
Don: “You’re not?”
Jack: “No, the other night at Grauman’s Chinese, I was clear down to my underwear before the usher stopped me.”
JOKE: (New Year's Eve)
Jack: “I took Mary to the Wilshire Bowl. You know, where Phil Harris is playing.”
Don: “You did”
Phil: “Say, you had a pretty good time in my place last night, didn’t you Jackson?”
Yes, I had a nice time, Philson.”
(The Barbara Whitney angle seems to have petered out. The Mary’s Crazy Hats angle seems to have petered out. But something tells me this “Jackson” business is going places.)
JOKE: (Jack got lousy seats at the Wilshire Bowl).
Jack: “Listen Phil, the only people sitting behind me were from Pasadena. And they were HOME at the time! What a New Year’s Eve!”
Don: “Well Jack, maybe Phil couldn’t help it. New Year’s Eve is a big night, and, after all, first come, first served.”
Jack: “That’s what burns me up, Don, I was the first one in the place! I got there so early the manager asked me to help blow up the balloons! How do you like that?”
Phil: “Well, you got paid for it, didn’t you?”
Jack: “That’s not the point!”
JOKE/FLUB: (New Year's Eve again)
Mary: “I was so ashamed sitting next to you with that old-fashioned tuxedo you had on. Why don’t you buy a new one?”
Jack: “Oh, how often do I wear a tuxedo? And besides, it isn’t so old.”
Mary: “It isn’t?”
Mary: “Go on, I put my hand in your pocket and pulled out a program from Ford’s Theater.”
Jack: “Listen Mary, that suit might be a little out of style, but they’re still wearing single-breaded… uh…” (big laugh) Listen Mary, that suit might be a little out of style, but they’re still wearing single-breasted tuxedos.”
Mary: “Not with a belt in the back.”
Jack: “Incidentally fellas, this being the New Year, I was going to give you all a raise in salary, but the way you’ve been acting today, I’m not going to do it.”
Phil: “I’d be satisfied just to get my regular salary on time!”
Jack: “Now, wait a minute, Phil. Don’t give me that. I put your check in the mail every Monday morning.”
Phil: “Well, from now on, don’t pin it on a postcard! I don’t want people to know what I’m making!”
Mary: “All right, Jack, I’m all set.”
Jack: “Why Mary, is your poem finished already?”
Jack: "Gee, you work faster than George Bernard Shaw.”
Mary: "Well, his beard gets in his way.”
(First Shaw joke in a long time. In years past, Shaw jokes were a regular fixture.)
MARY'S POEM: “Goodbye 1938, Hello 1939
Oh Happy New Year, Happy New Year,
Please don’t be a sad and blue year.
These last 12 months have been sublime.
So, goodbye ’38, hello ’39.
I wonder who this coming yar
Will be our favorite movie star?
will it be Garbo or Sonia Hiney?
So goodbye 38, hello 39’ey.
What has this year in store for us?
For thee and thou and thy and thus?
Will Don get fatter, will Phil be gay?
Will Kenny get knowledge with a capital K?
I’d like to ask you if I dare,
Will Jack continue to lose his hair?
And when it’s gone, will it stay away?
Goodbye ’38, hello toupee.
Oh Happy New Year, Happy New Year,
Please don’t be a sad and blue year.
We will give you one more chance.
So goodbye Broadway, hello France.
NOTE: The Knocking Man is back to delivering New Years' Greetings to Jack. That's how he started out.
NOTE: After the second number, there's another mention of the fact that Phil isn't using the orchestra he started out with. I guess it was true in real life, because there's no joke attached to it.
JOKE: (Mary refuses to go to the Rose Bowl game with Jack)
Jack: “All right, you don’t have to go with me. I’ll take somebody else. You want to go with me, Kenny?”
Kenny: “Sure! But I’ll have to bring my girl along."
Jack: “I don’t see how, Kenny. I’ve only got two seats.”
Kenny: “Well, I’ll invite her anyway. Maybe we can lose her in the crowd.”
NOTE: The Rose Bowl game in question was Duke vs. USC, played on January 2, 1939. USC won 7-3.
JOKE: (Rochester telephones)
Rochester: “Hello Mr. Benny, this is Rochester.”
Jack: “Yeah, I was waiting for my call. Did you find my two tickets to the Rose Bowl game?”
Rochester: “No, I looked high and low. I can’t find ‘em anywhere.”
Jack: “Doggone it, that’s a shame. Well, keep on looking. They might be in the house. They MUST be in the house some place.”
Jack: “So long.”
Rochester: “So long. Say boss, can I have tomorrow off? I’ve got to go to a wedding in Pasadena.”
Jack: “A wedding in Pasadena!? Tell me Rochester, who’s getting married?”
Rochester: “Uhh…. What was that, Boss?”
Jack: “I said who’s getting married in Pasadena tomorrow?”
Rochester: “An aunt of mine.”
Jack: “An aunt of yours, eh? Who’s she marrying?”
Rochester: “Some fella that’s going to be my uncle.”
Jack: “Uh huh. I see. Now, at what time does this wedding take place?”
Rochester: “They kick off about 1:30!”
JOKE: (Jack suspects Rochester has nicked his tickets)
Jack: “Did you or did you not find those tickets?”
Rochester: “Sing, Kenny!”
MARY’S HATS: (Week 7)
Jack: “Well ma, it’s almost midnight, so put on that silly hat of yours, and let’s get going.”
(The Hat Racket is petering out. They don’t even bother to describe it this time. "Hey, Mary is wearing a hat. Take our word for it that it's funny." [canned laughter])
THE NEW YEAR’S FANTASY:
Now we come to a sore spot. There’s very little in the Benny Program that’s awful (at least since The Chevrolet Program ended). The New Year’s Fantasy is one of those very rare exceptions. There are so many features of Jack’s program that are talked about even today. The Racetrack Tout. Your Money Or Your Life. Professor LaBlanc. The feud with Fred Allen. Jack being perpetually 39. Jack’s violin playing. And dozens of others. But nobody talks about The New Year’s Fantasy. Even writer Milt Josefsberg’s long book about the program doesn’t say a word about it.
The first time I ever heard of the New Year’s fantasy was before I’d heard more than a dozen or so Benny radio programs. It was a DVD of one of his TV programs, in which he was going to re-enact the radio show. That sounded really interesting, until they came out with this atrociously bad routine that sounded like the kind of thing 3rd graders would do for a school play, but acted out by adults. There wasn’t one single laugh in it. Well okay, everyone has a bad night now and then. But when I listened to the entire 700+ radios shows in the car in 2010-2011, I discovered to my horror that this was an annual thing. They didn’t do it absolutely every year. I didn’t count how many they did. Perhaps a dozen. It felt like a hundred. Every time I got close to January episodes, I would think “Please don’t let them do the New Year’s Fantasy this year”. Sometimes I got my wish. Usually not. It was the only time in the whole year that you could listen to 10 minutes of a Benny Program without laughing.
The final Jell-O Program (in 1942) was a cavalcade of the show's most memorable bits over the years. Most of them were great moments indeed (Buck Benny, the Fred Allen feud, Rochester as the Porter), but the big finale to the program was… you guessed it: The New Year's Fantasy. Somebody must have loved this concept for there to have been so many of them, but who? Not the writers, Bill Morrow, and Ed Beloin. The concept continued after they had left the show. It must have been Jack himself. It’s his revenge for all those cracks we made about his violin.
Okay, so what’s so awful about The New Year’s Fantasy, you may ask. Maybe “awful” is too strong a word. “Tedious” might be a better one. The play is, as mentioned, like the kind of thing 3rd graders would do. In fact, if The New Year's Fantasy had been done with an all-kid guest cast, maybe it would have worked. A little. (Goodness knows the episodes they did with kids playing Jack and his cast both worked well).
In The New Year's Fantasy, all the characters in the play are human personifications of inanimate objects, concepts or ideals, such as Mars, The Old Year, The New Year, the United States, the months of the year, et cetera. All of these character say the kinds of things that those things and ideas might say if they were people.
All right. You might be able to build something good around that concept. The problem is that the jokes are not only unfunny, but painfully so. Nothing deep or insightful is ever said either. Most of it is Jack and the others moping around about how this old world could be doing better and making really facile observations about current events. For example, Jack is "The Old Year", and his house is the earth. With this concept, he might reference the then-current Sino-Japanese War by saying that the China in this house is all broken and smashed. (Did I say 3rd grade play?? Make that 2nd.) In later years, the concept will be expanded. Uncle Sam will become a regular character, and his wife Columbia will have 48 children.
So, apart from no laughs, and no insights, it's a great play. Jack’s “lovable old coot” voice was never one of his better accents. Current events were never Jack’s forte either. At his best, Jack Benny is timeless. Even when his actual references become dated, the humor is timeless. Current events wasn’t radio’s forte in those days either. Nothing controversial that might possibly offend an audience can be mentioned. Therefore, beyond alluding to the existence of a Spanish Civil War, broadcast standards prevent anything from actually being said about it. The really big stuff that was going on (Nazis, Czechoslovakia, Neville Chamberlain, Peace In Our Time (NOT!), isn’t even alluded to. Just as well, because I don’t think I could have handled hearing Jack saying “Them Nazzi fellers may be up to no good. Hee, hee, hee, hee.”
Okay, but even so, can this play possibly be as bad as I’m making out? Well, judge for yourself. I’ve taken the extraordinary step of transcribing the entire play, word for word. The introduction is kind of cute, but as for the actual play, just try to find a laugh in here somewhere. Just try! *****************************************************
SOMETHING GOOD ABOUT THE NEW YEAR’S FANTASY: I’m trying to think of at least one good thing to say about the play, just to show some semblance of balance. In that vein, the line about the bath tub flowing over and getting New England soaking wet almost works. A little. If you read the Wikipedia article above, you know that that those floods killed over 600 people and destroyed 57,000 homes. Not the kind of thing to make light of. But probably nobody took it that way. Probably New England listeners regarded it as a kind of dedication of sorts. (“Hey New England, just wanted you to know we’re still thinking about you.”) They probably appreciated the call-out. If more of the Fantasies were dedicated to providing New Year call outs to ordinary people, maybe they would have worked. The bit where Jack tries to explain the concept to Kenny or Dennis (“You know Jack, I read this play four times and I still can’t understand it.”) is something they go through every time they do this play. It's usually funny, but it takes place outside of the play itself.
NOTE: Jack closes the show with “Are you listening, Tommy?”. No idea who he’s talking to.
NOTE: At the closing, Jack announces that next week they’ll be doing an encore performance of “Snow White and the Seven Gangsters”, with a new Prince Charming this time. One small hint: the new prince Charming says “Hiya, Buck!” a lot.
NOTE: The last time out (4/24/38) Shleperman played Prince Charming. No reference to this fact is made either this week or the next. Shleperman hasn’t appeared yet this season, and there has been no reference to him so far, either. If Sam Hearn was temporarily unavailable, you’d think they could have done a decent “Where’s Shleperman?” angle, but presumably they didn’t know if he would be available again. (No point in searching for Shleperman if you can’t pay off in the end). Hearn does appear again on 4/2/39, so let’s make a little note on our Things To Do List, to see if he plays Shleperman or somebody else. (Hearn’s next recurring character, the Rube from Calabasas, doesn’t appear for several years). Shlep eventually does disappear without a trace, I’m just not sure exactly when.
15. 01/08/39 SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (28:54)
The orchestra opens with “It Serves You Right”. Jack basks in the introduction Don gives him until it turns out that Don and Phil had made a bet about whether Jack would fall for it if Don introduced him as a Ladies Man. Everyone discusses how homely Jack’s latest date was. Kenny comes in, late as usual, from talking to his girl. Jack announces they’re doing Snow White, and everyone expresses surprise, claiming not to have heard him announce it last week. Jack introduces the play, explaining again that since none of them look like dwarfs, they’re changing them to gangsters. (Not dwarf gangsters, just gangsters. This ain’t “The Perils of Penelope Pitstop”, you know.) They bring back the same witch from last year, but need a new Prince Charming, because the old one, whoever he was, is… I dunno. They just need a new Prince Charming, that's all. Kenny sings “One Song” from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. Jack praises Kenny's song, but Kenny manages to take the praise as an insult. Jack introduces the play, and as last time, explains that it will consist of 4 acts and 38 scenes (and if the last time is any indication, some of those scenes must have settled during shipping). And the play begins.
PLAY: “Snow White and the Seven Gangsters (1939 Version), a parody of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937), and a remake of “Snow White and the Seven Gangsters” (1938), performed on the Jell-O Program on 4/24/38. See below for a more detailed description of the remake.
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you that Don Juan, that Casanova, that answer to a maiden’s prayer, Jack Benny!”
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Andy Devine
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Bill Morrow, Cliff Nazarro, Blanche Stewart
NOTE: I can no longer hear the phrase “answer to a maiden’s prayer” without thinking of Rochester’s mangling of it on 5/29/38: “You’re the answer to a madman’s prayer.”
OPENING COMMERCIAL: “Shakespeare, who thought of everything, once said “All that glitters is not gold. Well, I have a new version of that: All that shimmers is not Jell-O.” (Shakespeare didn’t think of THAT, did he??) This is followed by another pitch about how Jell-O is a trademark, not a generic term for gelatin. And I like this commercial. It’s classy. And that line turns up in Lord of the Rings, too. (Shakespeare AND Tolkien? Even classier.) You can have a lot of fun with this line some day. You may have to hang onto it for a long time to be able to use it, but keep it in mind. And one day when you’re talking to an actor, or a group of people discussing Shakespeare, or some such, eventually, someone is going to say to you “All that glitters is not gold”, and when they do, reply back with “And all that shimmers is not Jell-O.” Don’t explain it, just say it. Then sit back and watch those baffled expressions.
NITPICK: Actually, Don is not quite right. Shakespeare did use the phrase, but he didn’t originate it. It may go back as far as Aesop. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_that_glitters_is_not_gold
NOTE: Jack’s dog-faced date is “Miss LaRose”. This name gets a laugh, but I’m not getting it. (Probably missing something obvious). Since Jack is dating someone new, Barbara Whitney seems to be officially gone now (and as for Dolores Del Schmutz, fuhgedaboutit.
JOKE: (Jack's date goes through the wringer)
Jack: “Miss LaRose may not be the most beautiful girl in the world, but she’s delightful company. And very refined.”
Mary: “Yeah, she’s the only girl I ever saw that ate a steak like it was corn on the cob.”
Jack: “Now, she wasn’t that bad.”
Mary: “Go on, she ordered a baked apple and bobbed for it!”
Kenny: “You want me, Jack?”
Jack: “Well, I don’t want you, Kenny, but you’re supposed to be here. Where have you been the last 15 minutes?”
Kenny: “I was outside in a telephone booth, talking to my girl.”
Kenny: “But somebody wanted to use the phone, so we had to get out.”
JOKE: (Did Jack announce Snow White last week or didn't he?)
Jack: "You know, folks, this has been the greatest waste of time since Fred Allen got a sponsor. Don. Don, I'm as sure that I mentioned Snow White last Sunday as you are that you said Jell-O has six delicious flavors; Strawberry, Raspberry, Cherry, Orange, Lemon and Lime."
Don: "Well, that convinces me, and look for the big red letters on the box!"
NOTE: The last is a good example of how far they've come since The Chevrolet Program in working product plugs into the show in a genial way.
Kenny: “Hey Phil, what’s a dwarf?”
Phil: “My salary with a beard on it.”
NOTE: Jack mentions that Walt Disney is in the audience tonight, and Ferdinand the Bull is with him (a reference to an 8 minute short that Disney released in November 1938).
Jack: “That was "One Song" from Snow White, sung by Kenny Baker. And thanks Kenny, that was certainly apropos.”
Kenny: “Apropos?? Who do you think you’re talking to??”
Jack: “Kenny, apropos means that your song fits the occasion!”
Jack: “As a special inducement for tonight only, we are going to give away to each and every listener, a genuine solid-gold soup knife.”
Phil: “A soup knife? What’s that for?”
Jack: “It’s for scraping it off of neckties.”
THE SNOW WHITE REMAKE: Apparently, there was much clamor for an encore performance of Seven Gangsters. Rather than re-broadcast the 4/24/38 episode, and give themselves a week off, they rewrote it. I’m not sure if that was for legal reasons, because they thought it would benefit from a rewrite, or (most likely) because they enjoyed it so much that they wanted to perform it again). Disney wanting to see it performed live probably had something to do with it too, assuming that he wasn’t there the last time.
The play follows the same basic scene structure as the original. 1) Scene in hideout with ‘Doc’ Benny and his gangsters. 2) Snow White and the Witch exchange banter. 3) Snow White and Charming. 4) Snow and the Witch again, Witch tries The Old Poisoned Apple Trick, but Snow runs away. 5) Snow White in the Woods. 6) Snow enters gangster hideout and, almost effortlessly, gets them to give up their lives of crime. (How does she do it? She asks them to.)
The play is lightly re-written, and I enjoyed it more this time out than before. Either the rewrite improved it, or it’s just the kind of play that’s better the second time around. A lot of the better jokes from the original are there. The Knocking Man delivering dynamite, and commenting that he had two arms when he started, that’s there. “Dopey, stop chewing that dynamite, you’ll blow your brains out. If I had any brains, I wouldn’t be chewing it,” that’s there. Dopey being so dopey that he picked Fred Allen’s pocket, that’s in there. Mary and Andy singing a duet of the Wishing Well song at the end, that’s there.
Phil claiming he used to be an orchestra leader, and Jack hotly denying it, that’s there, too. And lots of other jokes made the cut the second time around. Some jokes are altered. In the original version, Kenny asked Jack what a dwarf was, and was told it was a jockey with a long beard. In the new version, Kenny asks the same question of Phil, who says it’s “My salary with a beard”. The joke from the original, about Bashful taking a guy for a ride and going in separate cars is gone (too bad, I liked that one). In the new version, Bashful is played by The Mumbling Man in his biggest role yet (he even gets to sing a line or two!).
One alteration that didn’t work: In the old version, there was a line about 21 minutes in, in which Snow talks to a pretty little bird, who gives a loud, oafish grunt in reply. The audience must have been in a great mood, because they laughed so hard, it was a full 30 seconds before Mary could deliver her next line. This time, the grunt is replaced with a raspberry, and it barely gets a laugh at all, even though it’s arguably funnier than before. Despite the fact that the sound is completely different, Jack claims that it’s the same canary they had last year. (Nice try, Jack!) The bit where Snow nearly mistakes the skunk for a friendly woodland creature that she’d like to meet is replaced with a (less funny) joke in which the skunk is now a fox that won’t come near her because “you’ve got my brother around your neck”.
Both versions of the play contain the kinds of oddities peculiar to parodies. As in the movie, the Witch offers Snow a poisoned apple. But unlike the movie, Snow doesn’t eat it. Jack warns her not to. So the apple doesn't figure into the plot at all. I remember once reading a writer discussing writing technique, and commenting that if you show the audience a gun at the beginning of a scene, somebody had better use it before the scene is over. That probably goes for poisoned apples too. But, this is a parody, so the rules may be different. Even though the poisoned apple isn’t used, it reminds the audience of another show they’ve seen in which it WAS used, you see. So, who knows. Like many parodies, this one would make little sense to someone who hadn’t seen the original, but with such a famous movie, that's not a big issue.
Speaking of Jack warning Snow White not to eat the apple. I think I mentioned this last time, but in addition to playing ‘Doc’ Benny, Jack is a narrator of sorts, frequently butting in with commentary on the movie. In a way, this is a great idea. It's like Mystery Science Theater before Mystery Science Theater. Unfortunately, the execution of this great idea is poor. All Jack’s comments are lame, facile and mainly just tell the audience things they already know. (“Ooooh, she’s a meanie!”, just in case you didn’t know that someone called "Wicked Witch" was wicked. Or “Isn’t it lousy?” speaking of a song which everyone knew was lousy. “Don’t worry, he’s coming”, Jack assures the audience, just in case you didn’t know that Prince Charming would catch up with Snow White. These are the kind of comments Jack offers, and Tom Servo he ain't.) Jack also uses a technique later employed on "Wacky Races", "Penelope Pitstop" and other shows, of having the narrator engage in conversation with the characters. Hence the bit about warning Snow White not to eat the apple, so his narratorial conversations with the characters affect the plot.
The ending to the play is altered. In the new version, Prince Andy Charming sells his royal title to the Knocking Man, and returns to Van Nuys. Snow White and Prince Knocking go off together, leaving me with a slew of “knocking up” jokes that I don’t dare repeat.
CASTING THE PLAY:
Grumpy: An unknown Deep-Voiced Extra
Happy: Don Wilson (even more exuberant than usual)
Bashful: Mumbling Man
Sneezy: One of the regulars; his shtick is to say "Kerchoo" in an ordinary voice
Mary: Snow White
Prince Charming: Andy Devine
The Witch: One of the regulars (Blanche Stewart?)
SONGS FROM THE SNOW WHITE MOVIE THAT ARE FILKED IN THE PLAY:
One Song [Kenny, but he sings it straight]
Heigh Ho (To Rob the Bank We’ll Go) [The Gangsters]
Some Day [Mary and Andy]
Don't Whistle While You Work [The Gangsters]
Some Day [Mary and Prince Knocking]
I'm Wishing [Mary and Andy]
SNOW WHITE SONGS NOT FILKED IN THE PLAY:
"With a Smile and a Song"
"The Silly Song"
"Some Day My Prince Will Come"
NOTE: As last time, Snow White lives on Park Avenue. The gangster’s hideout is still on Long Island. In fact, if there weren’t a character called “The Witch”, I’d seriously question whether this could be called a fairy tale at all.
Snow White: “My stepmother says you’re not a real Prince. You are a real Prince, aren’t you?”
Prince Charming: “I’ll say I am! My blood is so blue, every time I cut my finger, I fill my fountain pen!”
NOTE: Since he’s played by Phil, Sleepy is also a Lady’s Man. Hearing that the new arrival is a girl wakes him up pronto.
Snow White: “Why do all you nice boys want to rob a bank? Money isn’t everything.”
Doc: “We’re not going after money, we’re going after blotters! Now, scram!”
JOKE: (The gangsters discuss their past lives)
Phil: “And I used to be an orchestra leader!”
Jack: “That’s a lie! What were you, Dopey?
Kenny: I used to be a beautiful baby!”
Jack: “Hmmm. But look at you now.”
JOKE: (The gangsters give up their lives of crime)
Phil: “Here’s my gun.”
Kenny: “Here’s mine too.”
Kenny: “Be careful, there’s water in it.”
NOTE: Mary gives the closing announcement, because Jack had to rush away to do another broadcast.
NOTE: With so much music in the play, the orchestra doesn’t play a number in the middle of the show.
FUN FACTS: Pinto Colvig, who played Sleepy in the movie version of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", appeared in a half dozen Benny shows between 1937 and 1942, but he did NOT appear in either of Jack's two Snow White plays. Go figure.
16. 01/15/39 JACK'S SCREEN GUILD THEATER PERFORMANCE (24:37)
The orchestra opens with “Go South, Young Man”. Frank Nelson (unnamed) gives the opening announcement, saying that they’re flashing back to the drugstore across the street 15 minutes ago.
SITUATION COMEDY: Jack and Mary are having a quick bite before the broadcast, and meet the usual array of funny sales people and customers. An annoying woman and Cuddles, her Pekinese give Jack fits. The two soda jerks get fresh. The Knocking Man comes in repeatedly, asking for two aspirin and a glass of water, until someone finally asks him why he’s doing it, when he gives his quip and leaves (it would have been quicker to just knock). Don orders all six delicious flavors of Jell-O, with sliced bananas. Jack and Mary get curious to see how much Don weighs, and induce him to step on the drugstore’s scale. However, it breaks down after tipping 300, which sends Jack and Mary running before the manager catches them. After they're gone, the soda jerks tune in to The Jell-O Program.
THE SHOW: The orchestra plays “Good to Be Played”. The cast arrives, and the Fictional Benny Program begins 11 minutes after the Real Benny Program has begun. Jack makes a few cracks about Fred Allen and asks why Don is limping. Did he have some kind of accident? Don tries to talk around it, but Jack explains what we just saw happen at the drugstore a few minutes ago (the Real audience knows about it, but the Fictional audience doesn’t, you see. Hopefully we’ve successfully drawn the distinction between the Real Program and Fictional Program previously, because if not, it’s too late now).
Everyone discusses a romantic part Jack did with Joan Crawford on The Screen Actors Guild last week. Jack tells the story, but Fred Allen told a different version on his program. Kenny arrives to find Jack and Phil arguing again. Jack had told Phil to get his own program if he didn’t like the way things were run here. Phil has started taking Jack up on it, and tried to recruit Kenny as his tenor. Phil tells Kenny it’s okay to sing on Jack’s show, but to hold back a little. Kenny sings “Deep in a Dream”. Kenny takes umbrage at another of Jack’s intended compliments, and Phil jumps in to defend “His” Tenor. They discuss Jack’s scene with Joan Crawford some more. Jack announces that next week’s play will be their version of The Encyclopedia Britannica. Rochester calls to report giving Joan Crawford a gift of a bottle of perfume from Jack, and adding a 1 to the price tag, to make it read $12.50. Rochester begs off picking Jack up at the studio by claiming the car is out of commission, but inconsistencies in his story send Jack running out of the story after him.
PLAY: No play, the two sitcom scenes take the time.
FRANK NELSON’S INTRO: “And now, ladies and gentlemen, we turn back the clock and take you to the drugstore across the street from the NBC Building here in Hollywood. The time is exactly 15 minutes before this broadcast. Take it away, drugstore!”
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, if you listened in to Fred Allen’s program last Wednesday night, I bring you a man who needs no further introduction, Jack Benny!”
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Frank Nelson
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Blanche Stewart
JOKE: (At the drugstore)
Jack: “Let’s see, I think I’ll take the Businessman’s Lunch.”
Radcliffe: “Are you a business man?”
Radcliffe: “Then you can’t have it!”
JOKE: (At the drugstore)
Radcliffe: “Hello Mary, what’ll it be today?”
Mary: “Oh, just a sandwich. I’ll have a peanut butter and jelly, olive, bacon, cheese, roast beef and turkey on whole wheat.”
Radcliffe: “Oh, Kilroy?
Kilroy: “Yes, Radcliffe?”
Radcliffe: “Hit the Jackpot on whole wheat.”
JOKE: (At the drugstore)
Mary: “Oh, here’s something good, Jack. A Dunker’s Special.”
Jack: “A Dunker’s Special? What’s that?”
Mary: “Coffee, Dougnnuts and Rubber gloves, 15 cents.”
JOKE: (At the drugstore)
Jack: “Cuddles, I’ll give you just 10… I’ll give you just 10 to let go of my garter! One… two,… three…”
Jack: “Oooh, my leg! Darnit, he ruined a perfectly good pair of garters.”
Mary: “Go on, you’ve had new elastic put in them 12 times.”
Jack: “Well, the metal isn’t the least bit rusty!”
JOKE: (At the drugstore)
Jack: “I’ll tell you what. Just bring me a cup of coffee.”
Radcliffe: “Sanka, Panka or Shmanka?”
Jack: “Look, just bring me a cup of coffee with no ad lib!”
JOKE: (At the drugstore)
Jack: “Oh, hello Kenny.”
Kenny: “Hiya Jack. I’ve got to grab something to eat quick. My girl’s waiting outside.”
Jack: “Your girl’s waiting outside? Why didn’t you bring her in?
Kenny: “She’s watching my bicycle.”
Jack: “Oh. Gee whiz, can’t you put a lock on the bicycle?”
Kenny: “No, I trust her.”
JOKE: (At the drugstore)
Radcliffe: “Hiya Kenny, what’ll it be?”
Kenny: “Oh, let’s see, uh, gimme a tuna fish sandwich on rye bread.”
Kenny: “No butter, no lettuce, and no mayonnaise.
Radcliffe: “Oh, Kilroy?”
Kilroy: “Yes, Radcliffe?”
Radcliffe: “No butter, no lettuce, and no mayonnaise.
Radcliffe: “One tuna on rye. No brush, no lather, no rub-in!”
Kenny: “Oh Jack, I just got on the scale, and how much do you think I weigh?”
Jack: “How much?”
Kenny: “103 pounds! Boy, have I been put onning weight!”
Jack: “You’ve been what??”
Kenny: “I said boy, have I been putting on weight.”
Jack: “You’ve been put onning weight??? (long laugh) 103 pounds and you’ve been putting on weight?”
Kenny: “Yeah, I only weighed 7 when I was born.”
JOKE: (Jack and Mary try to weigh Don on a public scale.)
Jack: “Here. I’ve got a penny.”
Mary: “Better put in a nickel.”
ANOTHER EARLY TELEVISION REFERENCE: (How early did they know about TV anyway, and what did they know??)
Jack: “Tell me, was Allen as witty as ever, or was he better?
Don: “Well Jack, I have to admit, he did get a lot of laughs at your expense.”
Jack: “Oh, he did? Well, I won’t have to worry about him long. Television will soon be here, and he’ll either have to have his face lifted, or get in the barrel and broadcast through a bunghole.
RACIAL HUMOR: There are a string of Chinese references about Fred Allen in this episode. It starts with:
Jack: “Don, he’s the only Irishman I ever saw that could eat in a Chinese restaurant and be mistaken for a waiter!”
It continues throughout the show. In the flashback scene, Fred’s theme song is “Chinatown”, and at one point, Jack calls him “That Mandarin” instead of “That Man.”
Actually, come to think of it, old Fred might have turned in a fairly convincing portrayal at that. If we try to rate occidental actors playing oriental roles on a scale of 1-10, with John Wayne’s portrayal of Genghis Khan in “The Conquerer” as a 1, and Leonard Strong’s portrayal of The Craw in “Get Smart” as a 10, Fred Allen might have managed a 7 or 8.
JOKE: (Don denies being fat)
Don: “Jack, I wish you hadn’t a-said that. Now people will get the idea that I’m REALLY fat.”
Jack: “Fat? Don, when you step into your shoes, your rubber heels spread out like pancake batter. I can’t understand how a guy can gain so much weight on the salaries I pay.”
JACKSON EXPLANATION #1:
Jack: “Hello, Phil.”
Phil: “Hiya Jackson, how’s the boy?”
Jack: “Jackson? Phil, every time I meet you lately, you call me Jackson. What’s the big idea?”
Phil: “Well, that’s as close as I can get to jackass and still be polite.”
Jack: “Ha, ha, that’s very funny. You know Phil, you’re clever enough to have your own program, which you better start looking for.”
(In all the years Phil called Jack Jackson, this is one of the few times he explains it. Remember this boys and girls, it WILL be on the final. Also remember that crack about Phil getting his own program, as a mini story arc will be built around it in the next couple of episodes.)
Jack: “I got that smart wire you sent me.”
Phil: “I didn’t send you any wire.”
Jack: “Not much. Who else would send me a 10 word telegram with 7 lousies in it? And another thing, Phil. Next time you send a wire from Pomona, don’t sign it George Bernard Shaw. He moved from there!”
(First Shaw joke in quite a while. Is he making a comeback?)
JOKE: (Jack discusses working with Joan Crawford)
Jack: “I wasn’t nervous at all. Naturally, I was a little keyed up working with Miss Crawford, but I was NOT nervous.”
Mary: “You weren’t?”
Mary: “Do you always sit down on chairs when they’re not there?”
Jack: “Oh, I just did that for a laugh, that’s all.”
(“I just did that for a laugh” is starting to become almost a signature excuse for Jack. It’s to him what “I didn’t do it, nobody saw me do it, you can’t prove anything” is to Bart Simpson.)
JOKE: (a minor mishap in Jack’s love scene)
Mary: “Well, Jack grabbed Joan in his arms and bent her over backwards.
Mary: “Then he bent her over a little further.”
Don: “Uh huh?”
Jack: “Now, Mary.”
Mary: “Then a little more.
Don: “And what happened?”
Mary: “Jack’s toupee fell right in her face, and she fainted.”
Jack: “Now Mary, that wasn’t my toupee at all, that was my beanie!”
Mary: “Well, it had a part in it.”
JOKE: (Jack bristles at Fred Allen's latest wisecracks)
Jack: “If he doesn’t learn to keep his mouth shut, I’m going to do something about it.”
Phil: “I wouldn’t get tough with him, Jack. You know, Allen’s a pretty athletic guy.”
Phil: “Sure, I saw a picture of him in a fan magazine the other day, and he was posing in tights and boxing gloves.”
Jack: “Yeah, but the hair on his chest said ‘Welcome’ on it.”
JOKE: (Phil is talking about getting his own show)
Jack: “That was very cute, Mary. When Phil has his own program, you’re going to be a big help to him.”
Mary: “We’ve got the first show all written.
Jack: “Oh, I see. And what are you going to call your little comedy act?”
Mary: “Mary and Phil: Corn As You like It.”
JOKE: (Phil tries to hire Kenny out from under Jack)
Kenny: “Here I am, Jack.”
Jack: “Oh. Where were you, Kenny?
Kenny: “I was over in the corner, counting my toes.”
Jack: “Counting your toes?
Kenny: “Yeah. I count and I count and I still get 22.”
Jack: “Kenny, either your arithmetic is bad or Ripley is waiting for you. And next time don’t come in here with such a silly routine at all.”
Kenny: “Well, I was just trying it out for Phil’s new show.”
Jack: “Listen Kenny, I just said that a while ago when I was mad. Phil isn’t going to have his own show.”
Kenny: “He is too, he offered me $8000 and car fare.”
Jack: “Oh. He’s very generous, is he? $8000 a week, huh?”
Kenny: “Not only that, I get extra money for writing the program.”
Jack: “Oh, you’re going to write the show too! Well, that ought to be worth listening to you?”
Kenny: “Yeah, not only that…”
Jack: “Oh, QUIET! Now, go ahead with your song.”
Kenny: “Wait a minute. Say Phil, is it all right if I sing on this program?”
Phil: “Sure kid, but hold back a little.”
NOTE: Mary says Phil’s writers are going to be Noel Coward and Maxie Rosenbloom.
JOKE: (Jack's scene with Joan Crawford)
Kenny: “Is Joan Crawford as beautiful as she looks?
Jack: “Why, of course she’s beautiful, and she’s marvelous to work with.”
Kenny: “Gee, I got so excited listening to the broadcast! Did you really kiss her?”
Jack: “Why, certainly I did.”
Phil: “Who held her?”
JOKE: (Jack's scene with Joan Crawford)
Jack: “As a little memento of the broadcast, I sent her a lovely bottle of perfume.”
Jack: “In fact, I sent Rochester over to her house with it this morning.”
Phil: “You were on the air with her a week ago. Why did you wait until today to send her perfume?”
Mary: “Rochester was making it.”
Jack: “He did nothing of the kind. I sent Joan some real imported stuff. It’s called La Lune Blure de Bouff de Lamour.”
Kenny: “What does that mean?”
Mary: “Love at Twilight, Also Removes Stains.”
NOTE: It’s Rochester’s turn to say “Jell-O again” this time, as the phone call begins. So far, in addition to Jack, the phrase has been used by Phil, Don, Mary, Rochester, and Georgie Jessell. When is Kenny going to get his turn??
JOKE: (Rochester claims the car isn't working but his story doesn't add up)
Jack: “By the way, Rochester, just a minute! I just thought of something. If the car is out of commission, and you can’t pick me up tonight, how did you get over to Miss Crawford’s house with that perfume?”
Rochester: “I’ll think of something before you get home! Goodbye!”
Jack: “Hmm, he better think of something!
Phil: “What’s the matter, Jack?”
Jack: “Listen Phil, you’ll not only have your own program, but you might also have a very good N Man!”
RACIAL HUMOR: N Man? That would have gone right past me if Jack hadn’t used the same term in the Doc Benny’s Minstrels episode (11/1/36). I suppose it was a slang term for African-American, but I’ve never heard it outside those two shows, and can’t find anything by googling it. Oh well, you know the rule by now. If you’re not sure if it’s offensive or not, get offended, just to play it safe.”
17. 01/22/39 JACK TELLS HOW HE SAVED FRED ALLEN'S LIFE (29:36)
The orchestra opens with “This is It”. Jack and Don talk about how Don knew Jack was a good looking baby (in his intro). Don says he saw Jack’s family album. Jack claims that for the first few months of his life, he was actually a length ahead of Robert Taylor in the good looks department! Mary disputes Jack’s neonatal charm. Kenny talks about what a smart baby he was, but nobody knows what happened to him after that. Phil is missing. He was upset about Jack’s comment that he should get his own show. Kenny sings “Penny Serenade”. Jack quizzes Kenny and Mary about Phil’s plans to get his own show. Phil arrives. Jack tries to schmooze about how cute the name “Jackson” is, but Phil says he’s leaving because they’ve been arguing so much lately, and because Jack is just hard to work with. Phil asks for one reason he should stay, and while Jack thinks about it, Don takes the opportunity to work in a long Jell-O Commercial.
Jack says Phil will need a sponsor to get his own show, but Phil says he’s got offers from Bixby’s Bubble Gum and McMillan’s Corn Plasters. Andy drops in to talk about his 320 pound girlfriend who giggles whenever he proposes. Phil asks to talk to Andy after the show about a little business proposition. The orchestra plays “This Can’t Be Love”. Jack tries again to announce their Encyclopedia Brittanica play, but Andy interrupts to ask if Jack heard Fred Allen on Wednesday. Allen threatened Jack and challenged him to a fight. Jack thinks Fred is being terribly ungrateful, considering that Jack once saved his life. Nobody wants to hear the story, but Jack coerces himself to tell it anyway.
SITUATION COMEDY: 12 years ago (1927) in Altoona, Pennsylvania, Jack and Fred are talking offstage during a vaudeville show. Fred is nervous about appearing in front of the crowd, so Jack suggests he tell a few jokes during his routine. Fred objects that he can’t think of anything clever to say. Fred goes out and juggles THREE clubs, dropping them. The crowd boos Fred, and clamors for Jack. Fred tries to juggle three clubs and a cannonball, and drops the cannonball on his own foot. Jack gallantly takes Freddie to the hospital, pays Fred’s entrance fee, and is told by Dr. Frank Nelson that Fred must have a blood transfusion immediately! Jack unhesitatingly offers his own blood to save Fred (no wonder he’s anemic later!). Fred gets filled up like a gas pump, complete with sound effects. Jack looks like a glass of milk afterwards, but it was worth it to save good old Fred. When Jack visits Fred in the hospital the next day, Fred is feeling much better, and thinking of jokes left and right after getting some of Jack’s blood. As his first joke, Fred offers Jack an exploding cigar. So, Jack’s blood not only saved Fred’s life, it made him a success on radio! Play, Phil!
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a man who used to be a beautiful baby, Jack Benny!”
SPECIAL GUEST STARS: Peter Lind Hayes,
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Andy Devine, Frank Nelson
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Blanche Stewart
Jack: “Gee, I really shouldn’t keep talking like this, but I was about the cutest little dickens in Waukegan. In fact, people from all around used to come to my father’s meat market just to see me.”
Don: “Meat market? Why, I thought your father ran a clothing store.”
Jack: “Well Don, it was a combination meat market and clothing store. On Saturdays we used to have a special: a pound of hamburger with two pair of pants.”
(Was that joke really good enough to be worth retconning Jack’s dad’s occupation??)
Don: “Jack, did I hear you had an argument with a cab driver in Toledo?”
Jack: “Yes, but of course that was years ago.”
Don: “What was the fight all about?”
Jack: “Oh, nothing. He just happened to say something that I didn’t like, and he hit me.”
Mary: “Say Don, when you were looking through that album, did you see the picture of Jack’s album on the big white horse?”
”Don: ‘Yes, I did.”
Jack: “That was my uncle Beaumont.”
Mary: “And did you see the tree in back with the rope dangling from it, and that big crowd of men standing around?”
Jack: “Mary, my uncle didn’t steal that horse! That was just a scene from a western movie he was making, called “The Code of the West”. It wasn’t a real hanging.”
Mary: “Ha, ha, ha, ha!”
Jack: “What are you laughing at?”
Mary: “Just the same, he never saw the preview.”
Jack: “Have you got any cute baby pictures, Kenny?”
Kenny: “None where I’m facing the camera.”
(A reference to the infamous bearskin rug photos often joked about in those days.)
Kenny: “You know, Jack. I wasn’t a very pretty kid but I was as smart as a whip.”
Jack: “Smart? I bet you were.”
Kenny: “All right, you can laugh. But when I was 12 years old, I recited the Gettysburg address.”
Jack: “At 12? What’s clever about that?”
Kenny: “Could Lincoln do it?”
JOKE: (Phil is getting his own show)
Jack: “Gee, I was only kidding. I didn’t mean anything by it.”
Mary: “Well, Phil took it pretty seriously, and he says he’s going to leave.”
Jack: “Leave me? Why, I made the guy! Why, when I picked him up, he was demonstrating curlers in a drugstore window.”
JOKE: (Phil is getting his own show)
Jack: “Kenny? Did Phil happen to say anything further to you about doing his own program?”
Kenny: “Yes, he mentioned it.”
Jack: “He did, huh? Well, what did he tell you?”
Kenny: “Plenty, but I ain’t no pigeon hole.”
Jack: “That’s stool pigeon!”
Jack: “Look Phil, I’m not begging you to stay on this program.”
Mary: “Then get up off your knees.”
Jack: “I’m not on my knees and I wish this was television so I could prove it.”
(Amazing how many references there have been to TV in 1930’s shows. Except for a few closed circuit broadcasts, what was there back then that the average person would have known about? Note to self to investigate this further.)
JOKE: (Jack tries to convince Phil to stay)
Phil: “Aww, come on. Why should I stick with you?”
Jack: “Well, for one thing, we’ve got a contract.”
Phil: “A fine contract. I supply the orchestra and when people throw money at us, I have to split it with you!”
JOKE: (Jack tries to convince Phil to stay)
Mary: “Aww Jack, what are you beefing about? If Phil wants to go, let him go.”
Mary: “You can get Abe Lyman to take his place.”
Jack: “Oh, that would be fine. Abe Lyman happens to be the cab driver that punched me in Toledo!”
(Good continuity, considering that we haven’t seen Abe’s tough-guy bandleader character in over a year.)
NAMES FOR THE BAND (If Phil leaves the show): Jack Benny and his Cut Rate Twelve.
JOKE: (Jack tries to convince Phil to stay)
Jack: “If he went out on his own, where would he get a sponsor?
Phil: “Don’t worry about me, I’ve got a sponsor.
Jack: “Oh, you have, eh? Well, who is it? I mean, what’s your product?”
Phil: “Bixby’s Bubble Gum.”
Jack: “Bixby’s Bubble Gum? I never heard of it.”
Phil: “Here, have a stick.”
Jack: “Keep it. Hmm. Bubble Gum.”
Phil: “That’s not the only offer I’ve had. I could have gone on the air for McMillan’s Corn Plasters.”
Jack: “Corn Plasters??”
Phil: “Yes, Corn Plasters!”
Jack: “Well, that would be more your style. Half the time you’re corny and the other half you’re plastered.”
NAMES FOR THE BAND: Smiling Phil Harris And His Rhythm Rascals.
Jack: “And Phil, that’s what I call real class. You know, that number had so much life and brilliance to it.”
Phil: “Thanks, but I’m leaving just the same.”
Jack: “Phil, I wasn’t trying to flatter you. That number was swell and I thought I should give you and the boys credit.”
Mary: “All of a sudden, the orchestra is good.”
Kenny: “Yeah, some obviousness!”
TRASH TALK: Old radio shows are full of odd insults and trash talk that would sound absurd today. (Things like “Allen’s face has so many wrinkles, the barber doesn’t use a comb, he uses a bookmark.) We’re going to start tracking some of these, just to get an overview of the state of the comic insult in 1939.
Andy: “He said he’s going to push your spine so far down your pants, you’re going to walk like a tripod.”
JOKE: (Fred has challenged Jack to a fight)
Jack: “How can he fight? In the first place, he’s terribly nearsighted.”
Jack: “Yes. I saw him at a party one night trying to make a date with a hall tree. I finally had to tell him that the umbrella stand was her little boy. That guy.”
Don: “No kidding, Jack. Are Allen’s eyes really that bad?”
Jack: “Bad? Don, to him Heddy Lamarr is just a gorgeous blur. I’d go in the ring with Allen any time.”
Mary: “Be careful, he might hit you from memory.”
Jack: “Twelve years ago, when we were in vaudeville together, I saved Fred Allen’s life. That’s why.”
Phil: “You saved his life?”
Jack: “Yes. Now, let’s forget it. I don’t want to talk about it.”
Jack: “Oh, no you don’t!!”
FORGOTTEN HUMOR: (In the flashback)
Jack: “What’s the matter, you seem a little nervous tonight, Freddie.”
Fred Allen: “Well gee, Mr. Benny, talking to a big star like you is quite a thrill for me.”
Jack: “Oh, don’t say that. Well Freddie, Fink’s Mules are about through, so it’s time for your act.”
(Fink’s Mules was literally a vaudeville act involving trained mules. Somebody loved the name, because references to this act are common in old radio shows when the subject of vaudeville comes up. See also this page: http://www.day3media.com/culture.html)
NOTE: In the sitcom scene, the nurse is named Miss Stewart, after Blanch Stewart, who played the role.
FORGOTTEN HUMOR: (As Jack gives the transfusion, a series of dings can be heard)
Jack: “Hey, take it easy, Doc! That’s not ketchup, you know! And don’t forget to wipe my windshield!
(since gas pumps no longer give off a ding to mark each dollar spent, few people would get this joke any more.)
Jack: “I’ll tell you something else, Mary. I’m the kind of a guy that, if Allen needed another transfusion, I’d be the first one to volunteer.”
Mary: “Go on, you haven’t any more blood than a piece of salt pork.”
(The anemia jokes return!)
18. 01/29/39 JACK GOES INTO TRAINING FOR A FIGHT WITH FRED ALLEN (29:16)
The orchestra opens with “Just One of Those Things”. Don starts to introduce Jack, but he isn’t there. They eavesdrop in Jack on the next room, trying to send a telegram. The operator keeps sending him to the wrong places (instead of Western Union, he gets to the Plumber’s Union and Western Meat Market). Jack finally gets Western Union. He sends a telegram threatening Allen if he mentions Jack Benny on his program again, and signs it “The Clutching Hand”. Jack returns to the program, and the orchestra plays “One O’Clock Jump”. Jack lets Don go ahead and introduce him. Jack tells everyone how cheap Fred Allen is. Phil announces that he’s not leaving the show after all, since Jack has always been a regular guy. And besides, he had sponsor trouble after Bixby turned out to be stark raving mad. Kenny comes in laughing at how homely the girl he just dated was. After more Fred Allen talk, Kenny sings “Please Come Out of Your Dream”. A telegram arrives collect, but Jack refuses to accept it. Jack starts to announce the play as their version of Paramount’s “Hopalong Cassidy” when his bodyguard, Aubrey Mulligan arrives. Jack explains that he’s not afraid of Allen, only of any thugs he might send around. They get Aubrey to read the Jell-O commercial. Rochester calls to say that a telegram just arrived; $8.86 collect. Jack says it’s from Fred, and not to pay for it, but it’s too late. Rochester says a man has been prowling around the house all day, so Jack leaves the program to check on it. The orchestra plays “Jeepers Creepers”, as Jack, Mary and Aubrey leave.
SITUATION COMEDY: Jack, Mary and Aubrey are walking along the sidewalk after Aubrey’s car ran out of gas, even though the gauge said Full. Aubrey leads them down a dark, romantic street. Jack realizes he forgot to ask Aubrey for references. They meet two friends of Aubrey’s, Doctor Thorndike, and Professor Kingsley, who both seem rather longshoreman-ish. Once they reach a dark enough place, they hold Jack up, taking his watch and pants. Jack fires Aubrey and makes a run for home past Barbara Stanwyck.
PLAY: “Hopalong Cassidy” (presumably a parody of the 1935 movie). Jack starts to introduce the play, but it’s never performed, as he leaves early.
DON'S SECOND INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you that suave comedian, that sophisticated humorist, that Clutching Hand, Jack Benny!”
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Andy Devine
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Blanche Stewart
FORGOTTEN HUMOR: (Jack is struggling with the operator to get connected to Western Union.)
Jack: “Well, congratulations. This is the longest conversation since Cohen on the Telephone!”
(Cohen on the Telephone was a 1913 comedy record based around a technique later perfected by Bob Newhart, in which you hear only one side of a phone conversation, and extrapolate from that what the other person is saying. It was reputedly the first comedy record to sell more than a million copies.
There’s a story in Milt Josefsberg’s book on Jack Benny about this album. In a 1940’s episode, Jack was musing to himself about a party he was about to hold, and decided that he really needed to buy himself some new records because his cast was getting tired of dancing to ‘Cohen on the Telephone’. According to the book, there was a big debate about whether or not to use the joke. Some of the writers hadn’t heard of the album. Others hand, but thought it was too old to get a laugh. Jack argued for the joke’s inclusion on the grounds that even if you hadn’t heard of it, it was a funny sounding title. (And I would add to that argument the fact that even if you haven’t heard of it, it’s obviously a spoken-word album of some kind, and so the idea of Jack making his cast dance to it is automatically funny.) According to the book, the joke stayed in, Cole Porter heard the show, and laughed so hard that he fell out of bed and broke his leg.
When the current episode was made, Jack’s writers were Bill Morrow and Ed Beloin (both of whom had moved on to other jobs by the time the 1940’s episode was made. Apparently Morrow and Beloin had no problems with doing a Cohen on the Telephone joke. And as far as I know, no Porters were harmed in the making of this episode.
Here’s a site with a pretty good copy of Cohen on the Telephone, with all the pops and hisses taken out: http://archive.org/details/JoeHayden-CohenOnTheTelephone
JOKE: (Jack is sending a threatening telegram to Fred Allen)
Jack: “Sign it ‘The Clutching Hand’. How much is that? Straight message?”
Telegraph Girl: “Just a moment, please.”
Phil: “The Clutching Hand? Where did Jack get that name?”
Mary: “Oh, you know his rheumatism.”
Don: “Quiet! Let’s go back!”
Jack: “How much is that, Miss? I haven’t got all day.”
Telegraph Girl: “That’ll be $2.46 for a straight message.”
Jack: “Fine. Send it collect.”
Telegraph Girl: “Thank you, Mr. Hand.”
JOKE: (A moment later, the operator calls back, too late)
Operator: “Hello, I got Western Union for you.”
Jack: “I just talked to Western Union! Young lady, how do you keep your job, anyway??”
Operator: “Well, right now I’m sitting on the boss’s lap.”
JOKE: (Jack is annoyed that the others eavesdropped on his conversation)
Jack: “Jell-O again, this is Jack Benny talking. 'Clutching Hand!' Don, what’s the matter with this gang, anyway? Can’t I even make a telephone call without everybody eavesdropping?”
Don: “Well Jack, it really wasn’t my idea.”
Jack: “Oh, it wasn’t?”
Phil: “No, I thought of it. You know me, I’m just a spy at heart.”
Jack: “Oh, you are? Well listen, Mata Harris…”
Jack: “If you want to know something, Mary, you’re nothing but a little snoop.”
Mary: “Well, at least I never sign a fake name to a telegram.”
Phil: “Yeah, where did you get that “Clutching Hand” stuff?”
Jack: “Phil, it so happens that that was my nickname when I was a kid. Everybody used to call me Clutching Hand Benny.”
Jack: “Because I never had a belt for my pants!”
(Previously, we were told that Jack’s childhood nicknames were Toughie, and Droopy. Now, it was Clutching Hand. Go figure.)
Don: “Well, I tuned in last Wednesday night and I thought he was exceptionally amusing.”
Jack: “Amusing? Don, I’ve listened to seashells that were more entertaining than Allen!”
(This one’s good. I must file it away for personal use, because I know it will come in useful some day.)
Don: “And, you know, Jack, there isn’t a week goes by that Allen doesn’t mention how tight you are.”
Jack: “He says I’m tight? He’s a fine one to talk. Any man that’ll tar and feather his straw hat so he can wear it in the winter time… well!”
Don: “No kidding, Jack. Is he really that stingy?”
Jack: “Stingy? You want to hear something, Don? I went over to his house one day and caught him painting cheese on mousetraps.”
JOKE: (Phil’s would-be sponsor turns out to be a few French Fries short of a Happy Meal)
Jack: “Say Mary, you had lunch with him a couple of times. Didn’t you notice he was nuts?”
Mary: “I’ll say. He used to order fruitcake and laugh at it.”
Kenny: “Oh, say Jack, not changing the subject, but did you hear FA last Wednesday night?”
Jack: “Yes, I heard FA and I thought he was LZ. Now let’s not bring that up again.”
Kenny: “Well gee, didn’t you laugh when he said your arm was like a buggy whip with fingers?”
Jack: “My arm looks like a buggy whip, eh? Well, he ought to know.”
Don: What do you mean he ought to know?”
Jack: “Don, when you’re riding behind a horse, and you take the buggy whip in your hand and hit something, well, he ought to know!”
JOKE: Aubrey Mulligan’s reading of the Jell-O commercial is priceless, but not funny in print.
JOKE: (Rochester paid for Fred Allen’s collect telegram)
Jack: “Paid for it? Where did you get $8.80?”
Rochester: “I ripped open the mattress and dipped into your reserve funds.”
(Before Jack’s vault came around, he kept his money in a lot of places, usually his shoe or his mattress).
JOKE: (Jack goes home to investigate reports of a prowler)
Mary: “Wait a minute, Jack. I’m going with you.”
Jack: “Nothing doing, Mary. There might be some rough stuff and you’re liable to get hurt.”
Mary: “Go on, I can run as fast as you can.”
JOKE: (Jack’s bodyguard meets two of his friends on the street, with professional titles, but bodyguard manners)
Aubrey: “Well, ain’t this a coincidence. Oh Professor this is Jack Benny.”
Jack: “How do you do, Professor?”
Professor Kingsley: “Hiya Buddy. Who’s the skoit?”
Mary: “Just call me Livvy the Lug.”
NOTE: Jack thanks the New York World Telegram Radio Editors Poll for the lovely tribute they paid to the Jell-O Program, Jack’s cast and himself. The last 5 years in a row, Jack has been named the best comedian on the air. This year they didn’t say exactly what honors he received.”
19. Benny 39-02-05 Jack Challenges Fred Allen to a Boxing Match.mp3 (29:45)
The orchestra opens with “Jubil-Eye” from “Paris Honeymoon”. Jack has been training a lot lately, but denies that it’s to fight Fred Allen. Phil is still working on getting his own show, with Bixby’s Bubble Gum as a sponsor. The bit from last week about Bixby being crazy seems forgotten. But Phil has a theme song picked out for the show, and sings it. Mary sings a Bubble Gum song too. They talk more about Jack’s fight with Fred Allen. Fred is mad that Jack called him nearsighted last week. The Knocking Man drops by for his quip. The orchestra plays “Umbrella Man”. Jack and Phil argue about whether Phil is corny. Don has written another Jell-O play. Kenny comes in talking about Fred Allen’s show last week. Kenny thinks Fred answered all of Jack’s criticisms, but Jack insists he didn’t answer the one about being a poor juggler. Andy calls. Jack asks to work out in his barn with the boxing gloves. Jack leaves the show early to go work out, so Kenny orders himself to sing “I Dream of Jeannie”, and we transition to a sitcom scene.
SITUATION COMEDY: Jack and Rochester are driving to Andy’s. Jack has Rochester cut the engine to coast down the hill, and they crash into Andy’s barn. Andy doesn’t mind too much. Pa crashes into it himself every Saturday night. Jack gets Rochester to put on the gloves and spar with him. Jack gives Rochester a black eye, and Rochester knocks Jack’s bridgework out during their sparring. As Jack recovers it, Rochester hides in the hayloft.
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, in this corner, at 143 pounds, we bring you that Waukegan Bomber, Jack Benny!”
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Bea Benaderet
MINOR ROLES: Wally Baker, Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Elliott Lewis, Blanche Stewart
Jack: “If we ever got in the ring together, I’d finish him faster than a Scotsman eating a paid up meal in a burning restaurant.”
Mary: “He said that when it came to fighting, you were dirtier than a Pittsburgh nudist.”
(A lot of these trash talk jokes come off as very stilted today, but there are a few, like this one, that are well worth remembering.)
JOKE: (Jack trains for his fight with Fred)
Don: “Oh Jack, what sort of training have you been doing? Anything strenuous?”
Jack: “Well, rather. I get up bright and early in the morning, and Rochester and I toss the ball back and forth. And then we run like mad around the back yard. Then I skip rope…”
Mary: “Do you make mud pies too?”
JOKE: (Jack trains for his fight with Fred)
Jack: “You know Don, I’ve also got a punching bag and a pair of 15 lb dumbbells.”
Don: “Fifteen pounders, huh? Well, how do you like working with them?
Jack: “I don’t know, Don, I can’t get them off the floor. I have a lot of fun, though, rolling them around.”
JOKE: (Toupee jokes are starting to make inroads. Jack get stuck hanging upside down on his trapeze all afternoon)
Don: “And what happened?”
Mary: “A bird built a nest in his toupee.”
Jack: “Well, that could happen to anybody. And besides, you know very well I don’t wear a toupee. That was my coonskin cap.”
Mary: “Well, it had a nice wave in it.”
Jack: “For a guy your age, you’re very flabby.”
Phil: “Oh, I don’t know.”
Jack: “You just don’t live right.”
Phil: “Oh, I don’t? Listen, Benny. I take a cold shower every morning… the minute I get home.”
PHIL SINGS: Phil sings the Bixby's Bubble Gum song.
MARY SINGS: Mary sings a Bixby's Bubble Gum song to the tune of "Thanks For the Memories".
Don: "You said he was nearsighted, and he claims he isn’t.”
Jack: "Oh, he isn’t, eh? Allen isn’t nearsighted, huh? Listen Don, I saw him in a restaurant one night dressed in Portland’s evening gown. So he’s either nearsighted or a female impersonator, and he can take his choice!”
KNOCKING MAN QUIP: (We haven’t actually transcribed one of these before. This one is typical of The Knocking Man’s Laugh-In-style Hit and Run joke.)
(knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock!)
Jack: “Wait a minute. Come in?”
Knocking Man: “Mr. Benny?”
Knocking Man: “I resent that crack you just made about Fred Allen!”
Jack: “Why, are you nearsighted?”
Knocking Man: “No, I’m a female impersonator. Goodbye!”
Jack: “What a pip! I wish he’d stick his head in a bucket of water and let it freeze! Play, Phil!”
NAMES FOR THE BAND: Phil Harris and His Musical Cobs
DON'S PLAY: Don writes another playlet, similar to the one he wrote on 12/4/38, in which an average American couple is enjoying are discussing the virtues of Jell-O. This time, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Average are eating dessert. Mrs. Average is running away with another man, but Joe is more interested in his dessert. He quickly dispatches Mary's lover, and comments about how tempting and economical Jell-O is to make.
JOKE: (Mary answers the phone)
Jack: "Who is it?"
Mary: "It's either Andy Devine or a concrete mixer."
JOKE: (Jack discusses his car)
Jack: “Why don’t you put air in the tires like I told you to?”
Rochester: “Well, the man in the filling station said we couldn’t have no more air until we bought some gas.”
Jack: “Don’t alibi. Now, the first chance you get, put some air into those tires.”
Rochester: “What’s the use? It just goes in one hole and out the other.”
JOKE: (Jack’s car has crashed into Andy’s barn)
Jack: “You know, Rochester, this is all your fault!
Rochester: “My fault?”
Jack: “Yes, and whatever the damage is, it’s going to come out of your salary.”
Rochester: “Doggone, I get docked more than the Queen Mary.”
Jack: “…and quit making goo-goo eyes at that chicken! It belongs to Andy!”
JOKE: (Jack comes out in boxing trunks)
Jack: “Well, here I am, fellas! How do I look?”
Rochester: “My, my!”
Jack: “Well, what’s the matter?”
Rochester: “Boss, when you peel off your clothes, there just ain’t nothing left.”
JOKE: (Jack is ready to spar)
Mary: “I thought you told me you had muscles.”
Jack: “Well, I have. Look when I pull up my arm. What do you see now?”
a hula dancer.”
Jack: “I’m not talking about my tattoo!! Mary, you annoy me. Why don’t you go milk a cow or something? Well, what do you say, Andy? How about putting on the boxing gloves and having a little slugging match with me?”
Andy: “Oh, no. Nothing doin’, Buck. Nothin’ doin’.”
Jack: “Ha, ha, ha! I don’t blame you.”
Mary: “I’ll put ‘em on with you.”
Jack: “Oh, shut up! You don’t think I’d fight a woman, do you?”
Mary: “You would if you thought you could win.”
Andy: “With you and Rochester sparring around, it looks like you’re shadow boxing.”
RACIAL HUMOR: (Jack and Rochester are sparring, to help Jack train for his fight with Fred Allen).
Jack: “I got you that time, Rochester! Boy, did I give you a black eye!”
Rochester: “Black eye?”
Rochester: “You’ll have to feel me to prove it!”
NOTE: At the end of the show, Mary invites Jack to Earl Carroll's, which he agrees to do even though he's in training. There's no real joke associated with it, so it sounds like a plug for the place.
NOTE: "It's the Strangest Thing" is from "Up the River". They must have played that at some point, but it wasn't announced until the end.
20. 02/12/39 LOVE FINDS ANNIE HARDY (28:49)
The orchestra opens with “Sing, My Heart”. Jack revels in his birthday greetings, and regrets that, being born in the same month as Washington, Lincoln and Longfellow, it’s so hard for him to be outstanding. Jack’s dad thought he’d grow up to be President. Jack fields the usual question of how old he is this year, and sidesteps it as usual. Don guesses that Jack is between 34 and 37, and Jack takes it. Mary comes in with a present, and Jack comments that it makes Phil and Don look awfully cheap for not getting him one too. They claim they didn’t know what he wanted, but Jack says Phil saw him in the locker room of the country club and knows darn well he needs underwear. (What kind of a guy ASKS for underwear for his birthday? Jack is weird sometimes.) Mary’s present is a silk necktie, with the silkworm still attached and finishing the job. Mary wrote a poem, and also wants to know how old Jack is, so he makes her take a guess, with predictable results. Mary reads her poem, and the Knocking Man drops by for his quip. The orchestra plays “I Better Get Some Shuteye”. Phil misuses the word “vitriolically” in an argument with Jack, and Don manages to turn it into a Jell-O commercial. Kenny comes by with a box of chocolate covered bananas for Jack. Nobody else wants any, so Kenny and Jack eat them alone. Rochester calls to wish Jack a happy birthday. Rochester says they received a box with a Polar Bear inside. The bear is in Jack’s shower now. Jack tells Rochester to get him out, but Roch is a little hesitant to do it. Kenny sings “Thanks For Everything”. Jack introduces the play.
PLAY: “Love Finds Annie Annie Hardy”, or “It’s About Time”. An old maid in Off Center, Indiana tries to get hitched to one of the three remaining suitors in town. Jack and Mary play Annie’s parents. Jack brings in a Miss Mildew… Muldoon to play the title role, and Don, Phil and Kenny are rivals for her hand. Jack invites them all over. Switch Harris jumps out the window. Tubby Wilson does the same at the mere suggestion of marrying her. Daffy Baker is almost interested, but Annie arrives, having already married The Mumbling Man. Mumbles tries to explain what happened, but is not quite clear about it.
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, Tuesday being Valentine’s Day and also Jack Benny’s birthday, let us welcome our little cupid with that old familiar greeting. Are you ready?”
[chorus of “Happy Birthday to Jack Benny”]
Jack, singing along with the final line: “Happy Birthday to me!”
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Cliff Nazarro, Blanche Stewart
VIEWER MAIL: Don reads another letter from a woman converted to the One True Gelatin. She writes that when she first tried Jell-O, she thought that the flavor came from fruit that she had added herself, but soon realized that it was coming from the Jell-O. Inspiring story. It makes you wonder, though. What was she doing, to make a mistake like that? Was she adding cherries to Cherry Jell-O, limes to Lime Jell-O, et cetera? Don't people usually add different kind of fruits? Don is always talking about adding sliced bananas (which is not one of the six delicious flavors) to Jell-O. Adding the same kind of fruit as the Jell-O flavor itself seems a bit like gilding the lily, doesn't it?
JOKE: (For a February birthday, Jack is in august company)
Jack: “Well, with Washington and Longfellow and Lincoln, it’s so hard for me to be outstanding. Really, it’s been a terrific struggle.”
Don: “I can imagine.”
Jack: “Of course, Don, I don’t want you to think for a minute I’m comparing myself to Lincoln or Washington.”
Phil: “Why not? Washington wore a wig too.”
Don: Well, all fathers have great plans for their children. Why, my dad thought I was going to grow up to be a jockey.”
Jack: “A jockey! Well, he must have looked at you through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars. A jockey, yet.”
Don: “Now, wait a minute, Jack. Don’t jump to conclusions. At the age of 17, I was nothing but skin and bones.”
Jack: “Well, those bones are certainly buried now.”
(Depending on the needs of the specific joke, Don was either born fat (he once claimed to have been 43 pounds at birth), or born skinny and gotten fat later).
JOKE: (Jack's age is a perennial sore spot, and he isn't even 39 yet)
Don: “I said how old will you be next Tuesday?”
Jack: “Well… come on Don, what would you think? Go ahead, give it a guess.”
Don: “Well, I don’t know, Jack. I’d say somewhere between 34 and 37.”
Jack: “You would?? Well, you didn’t quite hit it, Don, but it was almost a bullseye.”
Phil: “There’s bull in there somewhere.”
Jack: “Listen Phil, you’re hardly in a position to make any cracks about my age. Those bags under your eyes are so big your nose looks like a redcap.”
Jack: “On my 75th birthday, I’ll be able to go out on an all-night party, eat a Welsh (?) with pickles, and on the way home get run over by a milk wagon, and STILL look better than you do now.”
JOKE: (Mary got Jack a gift)
Jack: “Oh, that’s swell, Mary. But really, you shouldn’t have bought anything for me.”
Mary: “Why not?”
Jack: “Well, for one thing, it makes Phil and Don look so awfully cheap!”
JOKE: (Mary guesses Jack's age)
Jack: "Go ahead and guess."
Mary: "Okay. 30?"
Jack: "Shut up!"
MARY’S POEM: “Mary Livingstone’s Ode to Jack Benny, by Mary Livingstone”
Oh Jack Benny, Oh Jack Benny,
You’ve had birthdays, but how many?
Is it 21 or more?
Or twice that much, and more and more?
Years ago in old Waukegan,
In the state of Illinois,
A child was born into the Bennys,
And it wasn’t Myrna Loy.
Twas a boy, they called him Jackie,
And even then he looked quite wacky.
And the good old stork who brought him there,
Shot himself with a Windball Bear (?).
I see you Jack, at the age of two,
With golden curls and eyes of blue.
And then I see you three years old,
With silver threads among the gold.
At 12 you said you’d run away,
Unless the fiddle you could play.
And when you got one, what do you think?
Were you good or did you stink?
Oh Jack Benny, Oh Jack Benny,
You’ve had birthdays, but how many?
So happy returns, and all good wishes,
From us and Jell-O, so delicious.
JOKE: (Illiteracy is starting to become part of Phil's character)
Phil: “Wait a minute, Jack. I resent that vitriolically!”
Jack: “Vitriolically? Well, some stuff. Why Phil, you’re not only using the word wrong, but you don’t even know what it means.”
Phil: “I do too. I got it from my guitar player, didn’t I, Frankie?”
Frankie: “Yeah, I learned you a lot of things.”
NOTE: This episode has the first mention of Frankie, Phil's Guitar Player.
Phil, there isn’t one man in your orchestra who can handle a word of more than two syllables.”
Phil: “Is that so? Well, for your information, all the boys in my band went through college.
Jack: “Well, they didn’t get any on ‘em!”
JOKE: (Kenny gives Jack a birthday present)
Jack: “It was sweet of you to remember me, Kenny, but gee. You didn’t have to buy me anything.”
Kenny: “That’s what you said last year and you twisted my wrist.”
Kenny: “Boy, he sure tore into you.”
Phil: “Yeah. He said your feet were so flat your socks bagged at the arches.”
Jack: “Well Phil, I’m not even going to answer him. After all, the man is in bad shape. You know, he’s so weak and anemic. And on top of that, his blood circulation is so poor. It’s really pathetic.”
Don: “Allen has poor blood circulation, huh?”
Jack: “Poor? Don, ten years ago, a rattlesnake bit him on the ankle, and the poison has yet to reach his knees! I swear, fellas, he hasn’t got any more pulse than a snowman.
THE INTRODUCTION OF CARMICHAEL:
Jack: “Hey Rochester, wait a minute! What made you ask if we know any Eskimos?”
Rochester: “Well boss, a big box just came for you that said Happy Birthday on it.”
Rochester: “And when I opened it there was a polar bear inside.”
Jack: “A polar bear? Oh, it can’t be a real bear, it must be a rug.”
Rochester: “That’s what I thought until it slapped me down.”
Jack: “You mean you let that bear loose in my house? Where is he now?”
Rochester: “He’s in the bathroom, taking a cold shower!”
Jack: “In my bathroom? Rochester, you go right in there and get him out!”
Rochester: “Boss, I wouldn’t go in there well-armed, tired of living, and directly behind Frank Buck.”
Jack: “Oh, this sounds fantastic to me. Rochester, I’ll bet this whole thing is nothing but a figment of your imagination.”
Jack: “What’s that?”
Rochester: “The figment wants a towel.”
Jack: “Oh, my goodness!”
Rochester: “What am I going to do with this bear, anyway?”
Jack: “Put him back in the crate and have the cook look up some recipes. I’ll bet Fred Allen had something to do with this. Well Rochester, keep your eye on him, I’ll be home in about half an hour.”
Rochester: “Okay boss, I gotta run along now, there’s something’ breathing on my neck.”
Rochester: “Wait’ll I look around. Yep, that’s it! So long, boss!”
CARMICHAEL: This episode marks the beginning of one of the Benny show's odder trends: "Jack Has an Exotic Pet". It starts with Carmichael the Polar Bear (unnamed in this episode, but will be named by the next one). Presumably he was added as a sop to the kids, and as a way of telling more "radio jokes" (ones designed to create strong visual images in a medium without images. Jokes about Carmichael driving a car, sleeping in Jack's bed, and mauling Rochester certainly create visual images, but few of them are all that funny. As previously mentioned, the images that Radio Jokes conjure up are usually cartoon images, and the mental images I get of Jack when left to my own devices are never cartoon images. Carmichael is mentioned prominently in the next several episodes, then settles down to a role as an occasional "character". His high water mark is resolving the plot in the 1940 movie "Buck Benny Rides Again, but he sputters along for several years afterwards. (I couldn't even tell you the last time he was mentioned.
Carmichael routines are consistently "cute", but rarely if ever downright funny. On the other hand, they did manage to wring one really good running joke out of him (the whole "What happened to the Gas Man??" bit from 4/6/41, which is mentioned for years afterwards). The Gas Man Joke, and the whole idea of naming a bear "Carmichael" at all, may actually be the best two jokes they ever wrote for the big lug. After Carmichael fades away, Jack has a go with other exotic pets, such as an Ostrich named Trudy, and an unnamed Camel that mysteriously disappears right after Jack goes on the air for "Lucky Strike" (what a coincidence!) Eventually, Jack latches onto his most successful exotic pet; a parrot named Polly. Polly is successful because she is actually voiced (by Mel Blanc), meaning that she can not only be talked about, but can also participate in scenes in a limited way.
Carmichael has a web page at http://www.mustelid.com/otterhall/carmichael.html When I was in Las Vegas a year ago, my wife came across a life-sized Coca Cola bear in the Coke store. I said to her "Look, it's Carmichael!". And you know, it's kind of a weird feeling, telling a joke that you know only one person in the whole building is going to understand.
NOTE: Like Nancy Drew’s dog Togo, Carmichael appears out of thin air, and nothing is ever discovered about where he came from.
NOTE: Jack congratulates the Boy Scouts on the 29th anniversary of Scouting in America.
21. 02/19/39 CARMICHAEL, THE POLAR BEAR (28:18)
The orchestra opens with "It's All Yours." Jack objects to Don's introduction, and thinks he has a good chance for an Academy award even though his name hasn't come up yet. Jack thinks "Artists and Models Abroad" is worth an award. Don and Phil admit that they haven't seen it. Don was going to see it one night when it was raining, but it stopped raining. Kenny took his girl to see it, but doesn't know the plot because they were both neckin' like crazy. According to Don, Clark Gable and Jimmy Cagney are strong contenders for the award this year. Mary arrives, and puts no stock in Jack's chances either. Jack is upset that everyone thinks he's a flop. According to Mary, Jack is a bad sport, and went around drawing mustaches on Spencer Tracy's posters when he won last year. Jack's insistences that he's as good an actor as Tracy sends Don out in a huff for a smoke. (Was that a huff or a puff? Either way, Don doesn't blow the house down). Jack gets a semi-encouraging telegram from his father. The orchestra plays "Stardust". Kenny says "Stardust" brings back memories of when he was young and didn't know what life was all about. Don comes back and apologizes for losing his temper, but doesn't admit he was wrong, and still insists that it nauseates him when Jack claims to be as good as Tracy, Gable or Cagney. Jack insists that he is, but according to Mary, Fred Allen says that Jack can't act at all. Jack starts bragging again, which sends Kenny out for a smoke. Andy drops in with a late birthday present from Ma: a hand-painted sofa pillow (Ma cut off Pa's beard to stuff the pillow). The orchestra plays "Hold Tight". Andy asks if Jack really got a polar bear last week. Jack insists it's real, but he doesn't know where it came from. He'd thought Fred Allen had given him the bear until the bear turned Fred's program off. Andy wishes Jack luck in the Academy Awards, but can't stop laughing as he wishes. Jack announces that next week's play will be "Jesse James", a knockoff of the 1939 Darryl Zanuck movie. Rochester calls, ready to resign rather than be lady-in-waiting to that North Pole kitten upstairs. Jack wants to know what's wrong with Carmichael (some time in the last week, he gave the bear a name). Carmichael mauled Rochester a bit, and is now out driving Jack's car. Jack introduces next week's play, and does a trailer for it.
PLAY: A preview of "Jesse James". Another two-minute preview of next week's play.
Don: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, next Thursday evening, February the 23rd, the winners of the Academy Award for Distinguished Achievements in Motion Pictures will be announced."
Jack: "That's right!"
Don: "The recipients of this great honor for outstanding performances on the screen will receive gold statues, symbolic of their unquestioned ability."
Jack: "Yes, sir!"
Don: "So, tonight, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a man who hasn't a Chinaman's Chance, Jack Benny!"
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Andy Devine
MINOR ROLES: Ed Beloin, Blanche Stewart
NOTE: The 11th Annual Academy Awards was held at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles on February 23, 1939. Spencer Tracy got the Award for Best Actor for his performance in Boy's Town, followed by Charles Boyer (Algiers), James Cagney (Angels With Dirty Faces), Robert Donat (The Citadel), and Leslie Howard (Pygmalion). Jack played Charles Boyer's role in Algiers on 10/23/38, so he kinda sorta finished in the runner up spot if you look at it the right way.
NOTE: The whole bit about Jack hoping to get an Academy Award is odd. Didn't they announce the nominees in advance back then? Or are they stretching a point for the sake of the show?
JOKE: (Jack's Academy Award chances)
Don: You have to admit that your name hasn’t been mentioned in that connection.”
Jack: “Well, that doesn’t mean anything. I can always be a dark horse. Can’t I, Phil?”
Phil: “Not with that grey mane.”
JOKE: (Jack, on Jimmy Cagney’s chance for the Academy Award)
Jack: “That little guy? For what?”
Phil: “For what? Did you see him in Angels With Dirty Faces?”
Jack: “Yes, I did. You call that a performance?”
Phil: “I certainly do.”
Jack: “You take that scene where he was electrocuted. He didn’t get one laugh! Some performance.”
Phil: “Well, for heaven’s sake, you don’t expect a guy to get a laugh when he’s going to be electrocuted, do you?”
Jack: “I’d have got a laugh.”
Phil: “You’d have got applause!”
JOKE: (Spencer Tracy's chances for the Academy Award)
Don: “Why Jack Benny, what are you talking about?? Spencer Tracy is one of the greatest actors on the screen, today or any other day!”
Jack: “Oh, he is?”
Don: “Why certainly!”
Phil: “Of course he is.”
Mary: “That goes for me too!”
Kenny: “Down with Benny!!”
Jack: “Listen Kenny, I’m just as good as Spencer Tracy any day! All I need is a break!”
Don, angry: Oh, I can’t stand this! Ladies and gentlemen, the next time you go to your neighborhood grocer, ask him for a package of Jell-O! It comes in six delicious flavors, Strawberry, Raspberry, Cherry, Orange, Lemon and Lime! I’m going out for a smoke!”
(What do you want to bet that the cigarette Don goes out to smoke here is a Lucky Strike?)
TIP JOKE: (Snappy comebacks from delivery boys about Jack’s poor tips are another stock in trade. We really should have started tracking these earlier)
Jack: “Here buddy, here’s a nickel for you.”
Telegram Boy: “Gee thanks, Mr. Now I can get married.”
TELEGRAM FROM JACK’S DAD:
Mary, reading: “My dear boy: Everybody in Miami thinks you’re going to win the Academy Award.”
Mary, reading: “…but the sun is very hot down here.”
JOKE: (On Jack comparing himself to Spencer Tracy)
Phil: ”Well, Don’s right. You sound egotistical.”
Jack: “Oh, I do?”
Phil: “Gosh, I’m not the least bit jealous of Paul Whiteman or Stakowski.”
Jack: “Well, you would be if you were a musician! You’re a fine leader, Phil. You’re a fine leader, Phil. You have yet to conduct a number where you didn’t finish a minute ahead of the boys.
Phil: “Well, that’s the trouble with ‘em, they’re not good in the stretch.”
Jack: “Oh boy, how he tries to hog the cameras.”
Phil: “What do you mean?”
Jack: “Any man that would put a false face on the back of his head so he can appear in every scene… Well! And the way he photographs. What they have to go through to make up that pan of his.”
Don: “Quite a job, huh?”
Jack: “Job, it’s a government project! I’ll never understand why Universal Studios spends thousands of dollars to make up Boris Karloff when they could use Allen in the raw!”
JOKE: (Jack's chances for that Award just won't die down)
Jack: “Boy, will he be burned up when I win the Academy Award next week.”
Phil: “How do you know you’re going to win it?”
Jack: “Because I deserve it! I’m an actor, first, last and always!”
Mary: “You’re a ham, baked, boiled or fried.”
JOKE: (Kenny returns)
Jack: “Well, Mr. Baker, did you have a nice smoke?”
Jack: “That’s good.”
Kenny: “Boy, am I dizzy.”
Andy: “Did you hear Fred Allen Wednesday night?”
Jack: “Oh, him again. Why?”
Andy: “He said you were so cheap you put your long underwear away soaking wet so the moths would catch cold.”
Jack: “Oh, he said that, eh? Well, how would you like to know that Allen doesn’t wear any underwear at all!”
Andy: “He doesn’t?”
Jack: “No, when it gets real cold, he just pins his shirt tail around him and lets the rest of the world go by!”
Mary: “You didn’t say he was a rat?”
Jack: “Definitely not. All I said was if the Pied Piper ever came to New York and walked down the street, Allen would join in the parade.”
Jack: “And now, ladies and gentlemen, now that I have put Mr. A in his place, we’ll have a number by the orchestra. What are you going to play, Phil?”
Jack: “Guess? You mean now, or after the number is over?”
JOKE: (Phone conversation with the Rochmeister; Roch is unsure about taking care of Carmichael)
Rochester: “But when you expect me to be lady in waiting to that North Pole Kitten, I quit.”
Jack: “Now, don’t get excited, Rochester. In the first place, you can’t quit this minute. I haven’t paid you yet.”
Rochester: “That’s all right, I’ll just take some spoons.”
Jack: “You’ll do nothing of the kind. Now, tell me, what’s the matter with Carmichael?”
Jack: “That’s the bear. What’s wrong with him, Rochester?”
Rochester: “Well, every time I feed him, he wants to rumba with me.”
Jack: “Oh, he’s just being playful. Why don’t you dance with him?”
Rochester: “I did this morning, and when we got through, he applauded.”
Jack: “Applauded? Oh, that’s cute.”
Rochester: “Cute nothing. My head was between his paws.”
Jack: “Oh, that’s too bad.”
Rochester: “I’m all scratched up like a nearsighted berry picker.”
Jack: “Well look Rochester, you should have done what I told you to. I told you to put that polar bear in the garage.”
Rochester: “I did that a half hour ago. That’s no good.”
Jack: “Why not?
Rochester: “I looked out the window just now and he was driving by in the car.”
Jack: “Rochester, are you sure it was him?”
Rochester: “I’m positive, he waved at me.”
Jack: “Then it WAS Carmichael! My goodness Rochester, how are you going to get him back?”
Rochester: “Don’t worry boss, he can’t go far.”
Jack: “Why not?”
Rochester: “The car is nearly out of gas and he didn’t take any money with him.”
(Again, try to imagine this sequence told on television. It would bomb horribly there because there’s no need to try to create mental images on television. There are plenty of images on the screen already. But on radio, you can get a laugh with things like this because the audience is more involved and has to create the image themselves. If they have to figure something out, rather than just be told, they're more likely to laugh.)
Rochester: “If you win the Academy Award, will you give me a raise?”
Jack: “I certainly will. You’ll get a nice substantial increase.”
Rochester: “Man, I sure wish you was a better actor.”
Rochester: “Well, blow me down. Here comes Carmichael up the driveway. I bet he got a ticket.”
Jack: “A ticket? How do you know?”
Rochester: “He’s got a policeman in his mouth.”
JOKE: (Carmichael's potential is discussed)
Jack: “Say, you know what, fellas? I’ve got a regular gold mine in that bear. He can dance, drive a car and everything.”
Mary: “Gee, if he could lead an orchestra, you could shoot Phil Harris.”
NOTE: Irving Berlin's "You Never Know", and "It's All Yours" from "Stars in Your Eyes".
22. 02/26/39 JESSE JAMES PART ONE (28:28)
The orchestra opens with "San Francisco". Jack didn't win the Academy Award after all. He was surprised; Phil and Don weren't. Jack claims he wasn't a bit envious of Spencer Tracy for winning. Jack thinks he didn't win because he doesn't make enough pictures, and is he's now dickering to play the lead in Cecil B. DeMille's “Union Pacific”. Since this week's play is long, Jack introduces it only 5 minutes into the program. Phil objects again to Jack always taking the starring role, and so gets cast as Barshee, the villain. Jack hires one Mrs. Felton to play the part of his mother. Andy Devine is cast as Jesse James' brother Frank, but by the time the play starts, his name has been changed to "Juicy". Kenny sings "This Night Will Be My Souvenir", and the play begins.
PLAY: "Jesse James, Part 1" (Gong!!), a parody of "Jesse James" (1939), starring Tyrone Power, Henry Fonda, and Nancy Kelly, and directed by Darryl Zanuck. The plays takes place in I'mFrom, Missouri, where Jesse, Juicy, and his mother live. In the first scene, Jesse and Juicy are milking the cow in the barn. Jesse promises to take the cow down to the theater to see "Ferdinand the Bull". Barshee wants to buy the James' land at 7 cents an acre, but they ain't a sellin'. After this scene, there is an intermission during which the orchestra plays a medley of "I've Been Working on the Railroad" and "Oh, Susanna". Ten years later, the James family still haven't sold their land, and so the railroad has been built right through their house. Jesse's girlfriend Zerelda agrees to marry him even though he won't move, but as she does, two trains come through the house at the same time, even though there's only one track! After the resulting crash, the James' finally decide to move. Stay tuned for Part 2!
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, last Sunday night we brought you a man who thought he was going to win the Motion Picture Academy Award this year, and he didn't!"
Jack: "I was robbed!"
Don: "So, tonight we bring you the same man who thinks he's going to win it next year, Jack Benny!"
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Andy Devine, Verna Felton
MINOR ROLES: Ed Beloin
Jack: “Jell-O again, this is Jack Benny the optimist talking. And Don, weren’t you surprised when you picked up the paper Friday morning and found out I wasn’t on that list of winners?”
Don: “Well frankly Jack, I wasn’t.”
Jack: “Oh, well I was just testing. Phil… uh Phil, weren’t you surprised that I wasn’t on that list?”
Phil: “Yes and No.”
Jack: “What do you mean Yes and No?”
Phil: “Yes, we have no bananas, and No, I wasn’t surprised.”
Jack: “I ought to have my head examined. I’ve been doing comedy for 15 years, and I fall for a Yes and No!”
(Yes and No jokes seem to have fallen by the wayside these days, replaced by Good News/Bad News jokes).
JOKE: (The Awards are over, but the beefing isn't)
Don: “Jack, what in the world made you think you were in line for the award, anyway?”
Jack: “Well Don, I had every reason to suspect it. Because all through the dinner, people kept looking at me, and whispering, and then looking at me again.
In fact, I was the center of attraction.”
Mary: “Well no wonder, your toupee was favoring one ear.”
Jack: “Now Mary, I was NOT wearing a toupee.”
Mary: “You weren’t?”
Jack: “No, it just so happens that before the banquet, I had my hair cut by a barber with one short leg.”
Jack: “The Academy Award is over. And to tell you the truth, I was only kidding. I never expected to win it, anyway.”
Mary: “Not much. That’s all you were thinking of.”
Jack: “Who, me?”
Mary: “Yes, when the fellow next to you passed you the salt, you said ‘I accept this on behalf of Paramount’.”
Jack: “As a matter of fact, I’ve got the whole thing figured out. The reason I didn’t win the award is because I don’t make enough pictures.”
Phil: “You make enough for me!”
JOKE: (Time to cast the play)
Jack: “Now, I’m going to be Jesse James, and Mary, you’re going to be my sweetheart, Zerelda.”
Mary: “Your sweetheart?”
Jack: “Yes. We fall in love, get married, live together 20 years, and then I get shot.”
Phil: “Why does she wait so long?”
Jack: “Oh, go press your hair!
Jack: “She doesn’t shoot me, Phil. I’m shot by a dirty, lowdown traitor. A man who hates me.”
Kenny: “I bet he sells toothpaste on Wednesday night.”
Jack: “I know who you’re referring to, Kenny, and I don’t want that man’s name mentioned on this program. It takes all the class out of it. Now let’s see…”
Mary: “Who are you talking about, Jack?”
Jack: “I’m referring to an ex-juggler who talks through his nose, wraps his wallet in barbed wire, and is as yellow as those corny shoes he wears. That’s the gentleman I’m discussing. Incidentally Don, did you ever notice that pained expression on his face?”
Don: “Yes Jack, he always seems to be in agony. Why is that?”
Jack: “Well, he’s worn those same shoes since he was 12 years old, and in the meantime his feet have grown. Now, getting back to our play…”
Phil: “Same shoes? I don’t see how he can stand it.”
Jack: “Well, every two or three years, he has the buttons moved over. Now, getting back to our play…”
Don: “But Jack, when Allen takes his shoes off at night, how does he get them back on in the morning?”
Jack: “Who said he takes them off?? His toes haven’t wiggled since the Chicago fire!”
Jack: “Now, getting back to our play, Mary, you’re my sweetheart. Phil’s the villain…”
Kenny: “Say Jack, am I going to be in it?”
Jack: “Yes, Kenny. You’re going to be the president of the Saint Louis Midland Railroad. And you’re a shrewd, intelligent executive.”
Kenny: “Fine casting!”
Jack: “Well, that’s your part, Kenny. And you’re going to build a railroad all the way from Saint Louis to California!”
Mary: “He couldn’t build one around a Christmas tree.”
JELL-O: It's not transcribable, but around 9:00 in, Don does a great Jell-O commercial in a variety of different accents, to try to show his versatility as an actor for the play.
NOTE: Mrs. Felton is actress Verna Felton, who goes on to play Dennis Day's mother starting in Fall 1939. She's best known today for playing Wilma Flintstone's mother.
JOKE: (The Awards one last time)
Andy: “I was just thinking of you at the Academy Banquet last Thursday night.”
Jack: “Well, what about it?”
Andy: “I thought I’d die when you stuck your tongue out at Spencer Tracy.”
Jack: “I didn’t stick my tongue out at Tracy, my doctor was sitting across the room, and he wanted to know how I was feeling!”
JOKE: (In the play)
Jack: “These railroads won’t last. It’s just a fad. That’s all.
Andy: “That’s what they said about underwear and now everybody’s wearing it!
Jack: “All but me, I’m a holdout!”
JOKE: Hard to transcribe, but Verna Felton's Jell-O commercial at 24:30, while the train is going through her home is classic.
23. 03/05/39 JESSE JAMES PART TWO (28:37)
The orchestra opens with "Mister and Mrs. America". Jack discusses how badly the horse he bet on lost a race at Santa Anita. When Jack bemoans the $2 he lost, Mary repeatedly has to point out she had half of that action. Jack repeatedly insists that when he says "me", he means both of them. Kenny sings "Memory Lane". Jack casts the play, and Mary comments that Daryl Zanuck is in the audience tonight. Rochester calls to give an update on Carmichael, who's scratched up everything in the house, including Rochester. Rochester also doesn't understand the $2 Santa Anita story. If Miss Livingstone had a dollar of the bet, and Rochester had the other dollar, why is Jack so upset?? The orchestra plays "Casey Jones", and the play begins. Jack insists that Phil is banned from this week's play, but Phil says to wait and see.
PLAY: Jesse James, Part 2", a parody of "Jesse James" (1939). It's 10 years later. Jesse and Zerelda are married, and Jesse is now an outlaw. Juicy finds a $5000 wanted poster for Jesse, which Zerelda considers collecting. Jesse and Juicy rob a train. They find Fred Allen on the train, even though the play takes place in 1873, and rob him. Phil Harris turns up in the play without permission, and shoots Jesse! Jack takes so long to die that he takes the opportunity to join in a song about his demise, called "I'm Dying, Zerelda". Yep, that's the end, but it's certainly not the Living End.
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you that well-known plunger who lost $2 on the big race at Santa Anita yesterday, grief-stricken Jack Benny!"
SPECIAL GUEST STARS: Peter Lind Hayes
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Andy Devine
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Blanche Stewart
JOKE: (Jack's Racetrack Adventure)
Jack: “I don’t mind losing the $2, but when I put money on a horse, the least I expect is a run for my money.”
Don: “Well, I don’t blame you, Jack. Your horse came in last, didn’t he?”
Jack: Last? He came in AT last!”
JOKE: (Jack's Racetrack Adventure)
Jack: “Don, I didn’t mine the horse losing the race, but when he walked over to my box and said ‘do you want to make something out of it?’, that was too much!”
JOKE: (Jack lost $2 at Santa Anita)
Mary: “And you ran over to the ticket window and tried to get your money back.”
Jack: “All right now, let’s forget it."
Don: “Why, for heaven’s sake, Mary, how could Jack possibly get his money back?”
Mary: “He rolled up his pants and told the man he was under 21.”
Jack: “Why Mary Livingstone, I did not.”
Mary: “Then why did you make me grab the back of your neck to pull the wrinkles out of your face?”
JOKE: (While Jack gambled, Phil scored)
Jack: “I asked you how you did yesterday.”
Phil: “Oh, it was a great day for me, Jack. Did you see that gorgeous blonde I was with?”
Jack: “Yes sir, I’ll say I did. You had your arm around her all afternoon. Who was she?”
Phil: “Darned if I know.”
JOKE: (Phil as a ladies man)
Jack: “Sometimes I wish I had your nerve and technique. Boy, would I be a ladies man.”
Mary: “Ha, ha, ha, ha!”
Jack: “What’s so funny about that?”
Mary: “Romeo with Rheumatism.”
Jack: “Well, it was damp in those days, too!”
JOKE: (Kenny discusses his gambling technique)
Kenny: “Boy, did I clean up. I got a real system.”
Jack: “You have, eh? What is it?”
Kenny: “Well, I close my eyes and hold up my program. And then I take a pin and make a stab at it.”
Kenny: “And whatever horse I stick, that’s the one I play.
Jack: “Say, that’s very interesting. Who did you pick in the first race?”
Kenny: “A fat lady in front of me.”
(You see now, folks, this is a GOOD radio joke. Because it creates a real life image, not a cartoon one.)
AND SHUT UP JOKE: (Jack's Racetrack Adventure)
Jack: “Anyway, I’m better off than any of you fellows, because I only bet on one race.”
Phil: “Listen Jack, do you mean you go clear out to Santa Anita, and sit there all day just to bet on one race?”
Jack: “Yes, I do,”
Phil: “BOY, what a tightwad!”
Jack: “It’s not that, Phil, it’s just that I don’t care anything about gambling!”
Mary: “Well, if you don’t care anything about gambling, why are you always going out to the racetrack?”
Jack: “Because I like hot dogs! That’s why!”
Phil: “Well, if you’re not a gambler, why do you dress like one? Why do you wear that loud suit?”
Jack: “So the mustard won’t show, and shut up!”
JOKE: (Jack casts the play)
Jack: “And Kenny. Kenny, you’re going to have the same part you had last week. You’re going to be the president of the Saint Louis Midland Railroad.”
Kenny: “I want to be the engineer!”
Jack: “Kenny, you’re going to be the President!”
Kenny: “All right, but I’m going to have a whistle on my desk.”
Jack: “Well, suit yourself.”
Kenny: “I’m going to blow it, too!”
SPOOKY FORESHADOWING JOKE:
Jack: “And Don. Don, you’re going to be a salesman that I hold up on the train. And you’re going to have a satchel full of… guess what?”
Don: “Well, wait a minute, let’s see. Is it a bunch of little boxes?”
Don: “And do they have big red letters on them?”
Don: “And does it come in six delicious flavors?”
Jack: “You’re getting hot, Don.”
Don: And is it economical and easy to make?”
Jack: “Yes, now what is it?”
Don: “Grape Nuts.”
Jack: “It is not, it’s Jell-O!”
(When wartime sugar rationing forced General Foods to stop advertising Jell-O in 1942, Jack was switched over to the Grape Nuts Program from 1942-1944. Don already seems to have a clue about what his next great love affair will be.)
Jack: “Phil, where do you buy your neckties? From an Indian?”
NOTE: For a change, it’s Don who says "Curtain! Music" at the beginning of this play. Usually Jack does it.
JOKE: (In the play, Jesse James’ hideout is being raided)
Jesse: “That may be the law. Quick Zerelda, hide in the closet!”
Zerelda: “What for? We’re married?”
JOKE: (Jesse and Juicy are about to rob the train)
Jesse: “Well Juicy, she’ll be comin’ around the bend any minute now.”
Juicy: “Yep, and they’ll never recognize us with these baseball masks on.”
Jesse: “That’s right. You know, I think we ought to change our voices too.”
Juicy: “What are you talking about? Mine changes every 3 seconds.”
Jesse: “It sure does. And you ought to do something about that voice of yours, Juicy. It sounds like a man with squeaky shoes, walking on oyster shells, eating peanut brittle.”
ANOTHER CAN'T TELL SOMETHING FROM SOMETHING WITHOUT A PROGRAM JOKE:
Conductor: “Cards, candy and programs. You can’t tell Jesse from Juicy without a program.”
X-RATED HUMOR, 1930’s STYLE: (Jesse and Juicy are robbing the train)
Jesse: “Come here lady, you’re next.”
Old Maid: “Here I am!”
Juicy: “Say Jesse, she looks like an old maid, don’t she?”
Jesse: “Yeah. Where’s your money, lady?”
Old Maid: “I ain’t tellin! Yahoo!!!”
Jesse: “I think we better skip her.”
NOTE: Johnny Woods plays Fred Allen again.
EPISODE 24 Benny 39-03-12 Carmichael is Sick.mp3 (27:27)
The orchestra opens with “Fine and Dandy” (again). Jack introduces Don because it’s his 16th anniversary (more or less) on radio. Jack says nothing is too good for Don today, so Don tests it by asking for a raise. Jack sidesteps that question and asks if Don was always an announcer. Don says no, he started out on an exercise program as “Happy Don, the Muscle Builder”. Phil says he’s been in radio almost as long as Don, and talks about his own start, playing first jug with the Blue Ridge Blueboys. Don keeps pushing for that raise, and Jack keeps sidestepping it. Mary comes in with a letter from Momma. Cyril the Janitor heard it already and thinks Momma is funnier than Jack. Mary reads the letter. Kenny wishes his mother could be as smart as Mary’s. (Kenny’s own mother thinks he’s Frank Parker). Kenny sings “Begin the Beguine”. Mary recites a poem she wrote on the back of her tax check, and Don does an anniversary-themed Jell-O commercial. Jack announces the play. They had been going to do “The Life of Don Wilson”, but found it dull. They considered “The Life of Fred Allen”, but found it repulsive. Phil mentions seeing a picture on the cover of Radio Guide, showing Fred and Jack training for a fight. Rochester calls with an update on Carmichael. He tried to give Carmichael a bath, but took the bath himself. Jack says he’ll be right home, and leaves Don in charge of the show. Phil takes a nap, and orders the orchestra to play a soft number (unidentified).
SITUATION COMEDY: Jack leaves the show early to check on Carmichael. Kenny has never seen a Polar Bear, and Carmichael has never seen a tenor, so Jack brings Kenny along. Jack runs a red light on the way home and gets pulled over. Mary dares the officer to give Jack a ticket. When Jack says that he’s racing home to check on a sick polar bear, the officer tickets Jack for DWI as well. (Mary and Kenny don’t back up his story.) Jack gets a third ticket for sassing the officer. When they get home, they find Rochester has three cousins from Alabama living in the garage, and a “See the Polar Bear – 15 cents” sign out front. Jack goes in to find Carmichael asleep in bed, wearing Jack’s pajamas. Jack tries to force Carmichael to take his medicine, but Carmichael finds the stuff to be (ahem) un-bear-able, and runs out.
PLAY: Some are considered, but none are performed, as Jack leaves the show early.
Jack: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, I bring you a man…”
Don: “Hey, wait a minute, Jack. What’s the idea?”
Jack: “There’s going to be a little switch, Don. Tonight, I’m going to introduce you.”
Jack: “And now, ladies and gentlemen, I bring you a man who, today, is celebrating his 16th anniversary in radio. Here he is, folks. Three hundred pounds of sugar and spice and everything nice, Don Wilson!”
NITPICK: Okay, granted sugar and spice explain why a fat guy is fat better, than snips, snails and puppy-dog tails would. But just for the record, Jack gave Don a girl’s introduction.
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Mel Blanc
MINOR ROLES: Elliott Lewis
NOTE: They did a 15th Anniversary Show for Don on 3/6/38. On that occasion, the “Don’s Anniversary” angle took up the bulk of the show. This time it’s more of an afterthought. “Don’s Anniversary” shows won’t be done every year from now on, but they are an angle that the show repeatedly comes back to. Wikipedia’s entry on Don even shows a picture from a 1961 Benny TV Show celebrating Don’s 27th anniversary in broadcasting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Wilson_(announcer)
NOTE: 1961 was actually Don’s 27th year of working with Jack, not his 27th year in broadcasting. As you can tell from this episode, Don started in broadcasting in 1923, which would make 1961 his 38th year in broadcasting. It looks like Jack isn’t the only one whose age they deal with very gently.
NOTE: With this year’s anniversary show on March 12, and last year’s on March 6, it makes you wonder what day is Don’s actual anniversary.
NOTE: This year we're told that Don started out in radio on an exercise program. Last year we were told that he started out as a singer. As mentioned last time, the singer story is the true one. Don started out in 1923 as a singer on radio station KFEL in Denver.
JOKE: (Don discusses his (kayfabe) start in radio)
Don: “I used to start out the program by saying to my audience, bend over and touch your toes. Yes sir, and then I’d bend over with them.”
Jack: “Oh sure, sure, I can imagine.”
Don: “Now, wait a minute, Jack. I’m still pretty limber. I can bend over touch the floor right now.”
Jack: “Oh yeah? Don, if you were an old maid, you’d have to go down in the basement, stand on a barrel and bore a hole in the ceiling before you could look under the bed!”
JACKSON EXPLANATION #2:
Phil: “Hiya Jackson, what’s new?”
Jack: “Jackson again. Phil, why do you walk in here every Sunday night and call me Jackson?”
Phil: “Because asking you for a raise is like going up against a Stonewall.”
Phil: "You know Jack, I’ve been in this racket almost as long as Wilson.”
Jack: “You have? Oh, that’s right, Phil. You started out in radio with a Hillbilly band, didn’t you?”
Phil: “Yep. The Blue Ridge Blue Blowers: Wakes, weddings and feuds.”
Jack: “Oh were you the leader?”
Phil: “No, I played First Jug.”
JOKE: (For his anniversary, Don wants a raise)
Jack: “Raise! Raise! Don, keep your shirt on. Lest Ringling Brothers move under it.”
NAMES FOR MOMMA:
Jack: “What’s the B. Lilly of Plainfield got to say?”
NAMES FOR MOMMA: Momma signs the letter "Pygmalion Livingstone". Jack comments that at least she's topical (referring to the Leslie Howard movie of the year before).
NOTE: In the letter from Momma, Mary has a sister named Ruby, who just got married. In later years, her unmarried sister Babe would be mentioned prominently in these letters.
JOKE: (Mary is reading Momma’s letter)
Jack: “Boy, is she corny!”
Phil: “I don’t think so!”
Jack: “Of course not, you’re in the groove, too!”
(Forget the punchline, Phil’s wide-eyed “I don’t think so!” is the real laugh in this joke)
Kenny: “You know, Jack, Mary’s mother is a scream. I wish my mother was as smart as she is.”
Jack: “Why, isn’t your mother smart, Kenny?”
Kenny: “Not very, she thinks I’m Frank Parker.”
(It isn’t clear if this is a reference to Parker having been Jack’s singer before Kenny, or just to the fact that Parker is another famous singer.)
FORGOTTEN HUMOR: Some Bob & Ray fans may be aware that Kenny's song, "Begin the Beguine" is actually a Hawaiian number called "The Lovely Geranium Blooms on the Side of Your Embankment". I could not do justice to that without transcribing the whole sketch that it's based on, so maybe it would be better to just wonder what that could possibly mean.
Jack: “Say Phil, did you have much trouble making out you income tax?”
Phil: “No, with the salary you pay me, it was a pleasure.”
Jack: “Is that so? Phil, if I only paid you 35 cents a week, you should salaam every time you meet me on the street.”
Phil: “I’ll sa-lam you right now if you want it.”
MARY'S POEM: (Written on the back of her tax check)
"Rickety Rack, Rickety Rack. Here's my check for the income tax. If it bounces, let it slam, and give my love to Uncle Sam."
(I dee-double-dare anyone to write that on the back of their tax check. If you try it, drop me a postcard from Leavenworth to let me know how it went.)
Jack: “If that wasn‘t thrilling, I’m a Chinaman!”
Mary: “Here’s my laundry, Jack.”
Phil: ”Say Jack, speaking of Allen, I saw that picture of you on the front cover of Radio Guide, where you’re training to fight him.”
Jack: “Yes sir, and I looked pretty tough there, didn’t I?”
Phil: “You sure did, but I couldn’t figure out what you were holding in your right hand.”
Jack: “Oh, that was a flute. You see, Allen is a snake, and I have to charm him before I can hit him.”
RACIAL HUMOR: (Taking care of the bear)
Jack: “Well, look Rochester, there’s a mustard plaster in the cabinet, so you’d better put it on his chest. That’ll help.
Rochester: “On his chest? What about all that fur?”
Jack: “Well, naturally you’ll have to shave the fur off.”
Rochester: “Boss, if I ever get that close in with a razor, I’m going to get even!”
JOKE: (Jack's car has trouble driving home)
Mary: “Oh boy, what a car.”
Jack: “What’s the matter with it?”
Mary: “Every time you step on the gas, the radiator shoots up like Old Faithful.”
Jack: “Well, a little water isn’t going to kill you.”
Kenny: Yeee, boy am I enjoying this ride!”
Jack: “Are you, Kenny?
Kenny: “Yeah, I’m young and I can take it.”
NOTE: Oddly enough, Jack’s car hasn’t been referred to as a Maxwell for quite some time.
Jack: “Gee, I hope there’s nothing seriously wrong with Carmichael. You know, I’ve become attached to that bear. Gee, he’s just like a relative.”
Mary: “Yeah, all he does is eat and sleep.”
JOKE: (Jack is pulled over by a cop)
Jack: “Look officer, I’ve really got a good reason for being in such a rush. My polar bear is quite ill.”
Policeman: “Your what??”
Jack: “My polar bear, Carmichael. He’s sick in bed with a bad cold.”
Policeman: "Oh, you’re drunk too, huh?”
Jack: “No officer, I’m serious. Mary, you tell him. Haven’t I got a polar bear that’s sick in bed?”
Mary: “Oh Jack, think of another one.”
Jack: “What?? Kenny, tell the man. Do I or do I not own a polar bear?”
Kenny: “Which do you want me to say?”
JOKE: (The cop doesn't believe Jack's story!)
Policeman: “What do you think I am? An imbe-cile?”
Jack: “That’s imbecile!”
Policeman: ”Oh yeah? Here’s another ticket!”
Jack: “Fine. I’ve got two of them now.”
Kenny: “Get another one, we can all go!”
JOKE: (Carmichael is in bed wearing pajamas)
Jack: “Pajamas?? Rochester, if those are my new silk ones, I’m going to take $10 out of your salary this week.”
Rochester: “What do you mean ‘Out’? That’s it!”
JOKE: (Jack is trying to give Carmichael his cough medicine)
Jack: “Here, open his mouth and give it to him now.”
Rochester: “Boss, I wouldn’t open his mouth if my best friend was in there!”
FORGOTTEN SALES PITCH: The closing commercial says the best way to buy Jell-O is three packages at a time. Why?
NOTE: At program close, Jack congratulates the American Legion on their 25th anniversary, and says that it reminds him of his own heroic deeds in "The World War". This is 1939, so that name won't be good much longer.
25. 03/19/39 JACK HAS A COLD (28:44)
The orchestra opens with “This is It”. Jack is home in bed with a slight cold that he caught from Carmichael. Kenny thinks Jack shouldn’t have kissed him. With Jack gone, Phil, Don and Kenny will try to entertain the audience in their own inimitable fashion. Without introduction or fanfare, the program fades away to…
SITUATION COMEDY: …Jack’s home, where he is laid up, laid back and laid out. Rochester is playing nursemaid to both Jack and Carmichael. Jack wants to know where the nurse that he hired is, but she’s downstairs playing Fantan with the cook. Miss LaTush, the nurse, comes up to give Carmichael his hot toddy, but seems confused about which patient is Jack and which is Carmichael. Jack accuses Rochester of being a bigger sissy than Fred Allen. Allen’s name infuriates Carmichael, so Jack offers to play checkers with Carmichael again. Jack and Carmichael fight over the bananas. Mary comes in for a visit and says Rochester has a spot on the mantle reserved for Carmichael’s head. Jack wonders how the show is doing in his absence, and tunes in.
THE SHOW: Jack tunes in in time to hear Don’s Jell-O commercial. Phil is MC’ing the show, and being even cornier than usual. Kenny sings “A Little Bit of Heaven”, and talks about how funny Fred Allen was last Wednesday. At the mention of Fred, Carmichael turns off the radio.
SITUATION COMEDY: Back in the sickroom, Mary says that Fred claims to have had the REAL Jack Benny on his program last Wednesday, and that our Jack is just a faux Benny whose real name is Maxwell Stroud. According to Fred, a mixup at the hospital resulted in the switch. Jack says the story couldn’t be true because he was born in a taxi, not a hospital. Mary points out that all Jack’s belt buckles say M.S., but Jack insists that that stands for “Movie Star”. They trade a few barbs about how cheap Jack and Fred are. Minnie LaTush returns, and it turns out that she and Mary know each other from the Palomar where they used to go dancing. Miss LaTush wants to know if Mary is still at the May Company. Jack questions items on the monthly accounts, like $95 for caviar, which he doesn’t eat, but Rochester does. They tune back into the Jell-O Program.
THE SHOW: Phil is announcing a corny song, but ends up playing “Honolulu”. Phil announces an original western drama, “Buck Harris Rides Again”.
SITUATION COMEDY: Back at his house, Jack claims Phil stole the Buck Harris idea from him! (But I don’t remember Jack doing any plays entitled “Buck Harris Rides Again”). Dr. (Frank) Nelson drops in to check Jack out. Jack has M.S. tattooed on his chest, but claims it stands for Morris & Silver, his old vaudeville agents, who used to brand their clients). Jack has Dr. Nelson examine Carmichael as well, and discovers that Carmichael has Measles. Dr. Nelson leaves, and Jack tunes back in to the program. The Buck Harris play is in progress. Jack is so incensed that he wants to go to the studio and lay down the law, but Jack has caught the measles from Carmichael, so they listen in for a while.
PLAY: “Buck Harris Rides Again”. Buck romances his sweetheart Daisy Carson (played by Kenny, as they’re short of girls), and searches for the outlaw, Cactus Face Elmer. Since Pat C. Flick hasn't appeared on the show in quite some time, the trail is colder than Carmichael's nose. The show closes.
Don: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, every Sunday at this time, it is my custom to bring you Jack Benny. Tonight, however, Jack is confined to his house with a slight cold.”
Phil: “Slight? I went to see him this morning, and there was a man with a sickle sitting on his bed.”
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Mel Blanc, Frank Nelson
MINOR ROLES: Blanche Stewart
ROCHESTER SINGS: Rochester sings a few bars of "Jeepers, Creepers" as the sitcom scene opens.
Jack: “Well look, Rochester, what are you afraid of? He won’t bite your hand!”
Rochester: “He won’t?”
Jack: “Of course not, he’s tame, isn’t he?”
Rochester: “Well, I’m tame too, but I get hungry!”
Jack: “Rochester, you ought to be ashamed of yourself, being afraid of Carmichael. You’ve got a yellow streak clear down your back!”
Rochester: “Not any more, he scratched it off!”
NOTE: Jack mentions that Swing-Hai is his cook. Swing-Hai appeared on 6/26/38, but said he was quitting. This is the first time he's been mentioned since then.
Jack: “Where’s that nurse I hired, Rochester? She’s never around.”
Rochester: “I saw her down in the kitchen, playing Fantan with the cook.”
Jack: “She is? My goodness, she shouldn’t play cards with Swing-hai! He’s very lucky! For three weeks straight, he’s won his salary from me. What a gambler.”
Rochester: “Well, he might be all right at cards, but he don’t know how to handle them Mississipppi Marbles.”
Jack: “Oh, shooting dice, eh? Rochester, have you been taking Swing-hai’s money away from him again?”
Rochester: “Well, that ain’t fried rice I’ve been toting to the bank!”
JOKE: (Nurse LaTush treats both Jack and Carmichael)
Nurse LaTush: “Carmichael, drink this hot toddy!”
Carmichael: “Uh uh!”
Jack: “Gee, you certainly are a brave girl. How old are you, Miss LaTush?”
Nurse LaTush: “Just 20.”
Jack: “Twenty, eh?”
Rochester: “You better leave that bear alone so you can vote next year.”
RACIAL HUMOR: Jack explains that Carmichael hates Fred Allen because Fred is part Eskimo, and Eskimos and Polar Bears are natural enemies. I'm not sure if that should be classified as "Racial Humor" or "No Humor".
Jack: “And those pills you left here yesterday.”
Mary: “What pills?”
Jack: “Those pink ones you left on the dresser! I took all six of them and they didn’t do me a bit of good!”
Mary: “Ha, ha, ha, ha!”
Jack: “What are you laughing at?”
Mary: “Those were buttons for my new dress!”
Jack: “Buttons?? You had them in a bottle, and the label said ‘Aspirin’!”
Mary: “That’s my dressmaker: Madame Aspirin.”
FORGOTTEN HUMOR: (Jack is home in bed, and wants to listen to the program going on without him)
Jack: “I can just see Phil Harris trying to run the whole show with that Hollywood and Vine chatter of his. Well, turn on the radio, and we’ll listen to it.”
Mary: “Okay, hand me the earphones.”
Jack: “Mary, I haven’t got that set any more!”
(I’m not sure what this means. Maybe a reference to a home made crystal radio set? I hope it’s funny, because I already laughed.)
JOKE: (Sick in bed, Jack tunes into the program)
Don, on radio: “…Orange, Lemon and Lime, so look for the big red letters on the box.”
Jack: “Oh darn, we missed Don’s commercial.”
Don, on radio: “I’ll gladly repeat it.”
Mary: “And you know what else, Jack?”
Mary: “Allen said you were so cheap you put your finger down a moth’s throat to get your cloth back.”
Jack: “Oh, he said that, eh? Well, he’s a fine one to talk. Any man that’ll open a can of sardines, eat the fish, use the can for a cigarette case, and then have the key made into a button hook… Well! Why, he’s had a case of bath soap for 12 years, and you can still read “Ivory” on it!”
NOTE: That bit about using a sardine can as a cigarette case and using the key as a button hook makes it into the 1940 movie "Love Thy Neighbor", where Fred says it about Jack. Or, at least, Jack says that Fred said it about him.
NOTE: This episode marks the first known reference to Mary having worked at the May Company (a well-known department store in those days) before coming to work with Jack. This becomes a big theme later.
JOKE: (Mary and Minnie reminisce)
Mary: “Say, Minnie. Remember the time we went to the masquerade and we dressed up as Hula dancers?”
Minnie: “I’ll say. And someone dropped a piece of ice down my back, and I won First Prize”
RACIAL HUMOR: (Jack is looking at entries in the account books)
Jack: “And all this scribbling and abbreviation. Look at this: PCTTHOMDO, $25. What in the world is that?”
Rochester: “You won’t like that one.”
Jack: “Never mind whether I like it or not. What does PCTTHOMDO stand for?”
Rochester: “Pork Chops To Take Home On My Day Off!”
WHY JACK DOESN’T FIRE ROCHESTER, EXPLANATION #3: (Rochester bought caviar and charged it to the family books.)
Jack: “Caviar, yet. What a guy.”
Mary: “Why don’t you fire him, Jack?”
Jack: “I can’t. he’s got some letters I wrote to Garbo, and he won’t give ‘em back!”
(I don’t get it, but it sounds funny)
PHIL'S CORNY SONGS: Phil announces a song called "Mother Feeds the Baby Garlic So She Can Find Him In The Dark".
JOKE: (Dr. Nelson is tapping Jack’s chest, and hits something solid)
Dr. Nelson: “My, what’s that?”
Jack: “It’s a bullet got in the war.”
Mary: “There’s a lot more in his back.”
NAMES FOR BUCK: In keeping with Mary's practice during the original Buck Benny plays of referring to Buck as "Tall, dark and something", Kenny calls Buck Harris "Tall, dark and puffy-eyed".
26. 03/26/39 GUEST ED SULLIVAN (29:47)
The orchestra opens with an unidentified number. Jack refuses to accept the Maxwell Stroud introduction, and demands that Don give him another one. Jack’s cold has gotten better. Jack and Don discuss the weather, and Don asks about Carmichael. Carmichael pulled out a tin cup while walking down Hollywood Boulevard, and Jack can’t figure where he got the idea. Jack thanks Don for taking over the show last week (no mention of Buck Harris). Mary wrote a Spring Poem. Nobody wants to hear it, but Mary insists. Phil announces another corny song. The orchestra plays “I’m Going to Get Some Shuteye.” Jack starts to announce the play. Kenny arrives, massively annoyed that he bought a ticket to the Irish Sweepstakes and didn’t win. Jack starts again to cast the play, but is interrupted by the arrival of radio columnist Ed Sullivan. Since Sullivan is Irish, Kenny tries to hit him up for the money he spent on his Irish Sweepstakes ticket. Sullivan is there to get the lowdown on this Maxwell Stroud business. Fred Allen had the real Jack Benny on his show last Wednesday, and a notary from Waukegan to prove it. Jack tells Ed to contact Mancel Talcott, the mayor of Waukegan. He knows who Jack is, and even planted the Jack Benny Elm in the Town Square. Ed tried, but couldn’t get Bidey to come out of the tree. Ed leaves, but says he’ll be back. Kenny sings “Deep Purple.”
PLAY: “[Sound of Gunshots]”, or “[Sound of Screams]”. Jack runs the Hotel Chafing Dish in Sterno, PA. Several mysterious visitors check in. Frank Nelson is a visitor who thinks he’s Napoleon. The Knocking Man is a visitor named Mr. Balddome, who keeps complaining about his folding bed being stuck closed (his wife is in it, but he doesn’t mention that right away). Kenny is a newlywed. Phil checks in as himself. Don is Junior Wilson, a widda boy who wants to grow up to be a wadio announcer and talk about six dewicious fwavors. Finally, Maxwell Stroud checks in! He’s on his way to New York to settle the hash of Fred Allen, for saying that he’s really Jack Benny. Ed Sullivan drops in to interview Maxwell Stroud, but Stroud is gunned down in his room before he can talk! The murderer leaves behind a handkerchief with the initials “FA”. Before Jack can reveal who FA is, he is shot also!
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you our Master of Ceremonies. That suave comedian and sophisticated humorist, Maxwell Stroud!”
DON’S SECOND INTRO: “And now, ladies and gentlemen, this being the first day of spring, we bring you that quince on the fruit tree of life, Jack Benny!”
SPECIAL GUEST STARS: Ed Sullivan
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Frank Nelson
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Elliott Lewis, Blanche Stewart
MARY’S POEM: “When It’s Springtime in the Rockies, I Will Throw Some Rocks At You”
Winter, you have gone away,
Where you are, I cannot say.
But spring is here, and birdies sing,
Gee I’m happy, pling, pling, pling.
I saw a robin not long ago,
Making a nest of grass and snow.
And then I saw an old blue jay,
Building his next in Jack’s toupee.
Yesterday I spent two hours,
Watching bees among the flowers.
Buzz, buzz, buzz, they were making honey,
And I got stung where it wasn’t funny.
You can have your spring with birds and bees,
I’ll take a dish of Jell-O, please.
It’s tempting, delicious, and oh so divine,
All off folks, it’s the end of the line.
Jack: "I want to thank you for taking my place on the program last week when I was sick in bed."
Phil: "That's all right, Jack. Say, those jokes of mine were pretty hot, weren't they?"
Jack: "Hot? They were warmed over, if that's what you mean. Hmm. 'Hot'. You've got the next line, Phil. Go ahead. What are you waiting for?"
Phil: "You just ain't modren, that's all."
Jack: "Modren?? What a combination. Corny and illiterate."
PHIL'S CORNY SONGS: "We Don't Know Where Mom Is, But We've Got Pop On Ice"
Jack: "Hmmm. I Don't Know Where Mom Is, But We've Got Pop On Ice! Phil, no kidding. How can you possibly be so corny?"
Phil: "Corny? I resent that, Jack. I'm high class."
Jack: "All right, then, have it your way. You're Cream of Corn."
JOKE: (Kenny didn't win the Irish Sweepstakes)
Kenny: "Two dollars and a half shot to Dante's Inferno!!"
Jack: "And now folks, getting back to our play, I will play the part of the Clerk. Or 'Clark', as they say in England."
Phil: "Or 'Cluck', as they say in Waukegan."
Jack: "Phil, have you so much money saved up that you can afford to ad-lib at random??"
Mary: "Say Jack, why don't you be the house detective?"
Jack: "Because I don't want to, I'm going to be the clerk."
Mary: "Gee, two flat feet gone to waste."
Jack: "Never mind that. Now, this murder mystery will go on immediately..."
Kenny: "I'll never eat another Irish potato, believe me!!"
Jack: "Kenny, will you forget about that Sweepstakes ticket???"
NOTE: Ed Sullivan is best remembered for his television variety show, "Toast of the Town/The Ed Sullivan Show", which ran from 1948-1971. (Elvis Presley's appearance on that show in 1956 is legendary). From that series, he was best known for jokes about his stiffness, lack of personality, and saying "We've got a really big shew", rather than "show". Legend also has it that Jack Benny's first appearance on radio was with Ed Sullivan, but this seems not to be the case (see notes to the 1932-3 season for more information. In 1939, Sullivan was known as a theater columnist.
Jack: "And oh yes, I want you to meet our young tenor, Kenny Baker. Kenny, this is Ed Sullivan."
Sullivan: "Hello, Kenny."
Kenny: "Oh, an Irishman, huh?? Gimme my $2.50 back!"
Jack: "Kenny! Mr. Sullivan has nothing to do with the Irish Sweepstakes. You see Ed, he's a little upset because he didn't win.
Sullivan: "Oh, come now, Kenny. I bought a ticket and I didn't win, either."
Kenny: "Oh, a sucker, huh??"
JACK AND ED'S HISTORY TOGETHER:
Jack: "You and I have been friends for a good many years. We started on our careers at the same time. We've palled around together from the bright lights of Broadway to the battle-scarred trenches of France."
Sullivan: "I don't remember that!"
Jack: "Well... we've stuck together through thick and thin, you and I, the two of us. We've called each other buddies. Now, whom do you believe? Me or the notary?"
Sullivan: "The notary, buddy."
Jack: "Well... maybe I didn't build it up enough. But look, Ed, regardless of what Allen said, you know my name has always been Jack Benny."
Sullivan: "Well, you could have changed it, you know. Take my case, for instance. My name wasn't always Sullivan."
Jack: "Oh no? What was it?"
Sullivan: "Yes. Edward H. Hooligan."
Jack: "Oh, what's the H for?"
CONTINUITY ALERT: Previous episodes have mentioned the fact that Jack’s name wasn’t always Jack Benny. The 1/24/37 episode references the fact that neither Jack nor Fred use their birth names. So, does the 3/27/38 episode, which features this exchange:
Fred: "The only big word you know is your right name."
Jack: "Well, what if I did reduce it a little? My right name wasn't so long."
FORGOTTEN HUMOR: Happy Hooligan was a well-known comic strip that ran from 1900 to 1932. http://toonopedia.com/hooligan.htm
Jack: “I’m the real Jack Benny, and you can tell your readers tomorrow that I’m not Maxwell Stroud!”
Sullivan: “Well, let me ask you something. What about that ring you’re wearing?”
Jack: “What about it?”
Sullivan: “Well, what does that M.S. stand for?”
Mary: “Mostly Silver.”
Jack: “It does not! The MS on my ring stands for Master of Seremonies!”
Sullivan: “Master of Ceremonies?? Ceremonies begins with a C!”
Jack: “In Russian? I got this ring in Moscow when I was playing Rasputin’s Rivoli!”
FACT CHECKING: According to comedifact.com, Jack’s statement about the Jack Benny Elm in Waukegan, is rated as “Mostly True”. Such an elm was planted in the town square in 1937, but there’s no evidence that Bidey Talcott himself planted it.
JOKE: (In the play)
Jack: “What seems to be the trouble, Miss LaBunce?”
Mary: “Mr. Fernsmith in 503 wants to send some money down to pay his bill.”
Jack: “Money? What’s wrong with that?”
Mary: “Two hours ago, he ordered some paper, green ink, and a picture of Lincoln.”
JOKE: (In the play, Kenny is a newlywed)
Jack: “Brunt, take this happy couple up to Suite 5B.”
Kenny: “Let’s hurry upstairs, honey! I don’t want to miss The Lone Ranger!”
Mary: “Good evening, Hotel Chafing Dish. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.”
Jack: “Who are you saying Yes to?”
Mary: “Our darling daughter.”
Jack: “Oh, how is Joanie?”
(This seems to be the first on-air reference to Jack and Mary’s adopted daughter, Joan Benny.)
JOKE: (In the play)
Jack: “Well, more business.”
Phil: “Good evening, I’d like to get a room.”
Jack: “Yes sir, what’s your name, please?”
Phil: “Phil Harris.”
Jack: “Oh, you better have baggage, brother!”
(This exchange highlights one of Phil’s weaknesses. Jack’s delivery can crack him up too easily. He laughs audibly at the way Jack says this, and can sometimes be heard laughing other times when he’s supposed to be annoyed. But, who can blame him?)
27. 04/02/39 APRILS FOOL'S GAGS (29:20)
The orchestra opens with “Mr. and Mrs. America” (again). Carole Lombard and Clark Gable were married three days ago. Jack explains that he thought that Carol Lombard meant to marry him, but when he got to her house, Clark Gable was there. To add insult to injury, Jack tore up all his old phone numbers on the way over to Carol's house. (Too bad they didn’t use that as a way to write Dolores Del Schmutz and Barbara Whitney out of the show). Rochester calls, but Jack is angry and refuses to talk to him for some reason. The marriage is discussed further. Clark and Carol offered to let Jack come along (what, on the honeymoon??), but he’s busy making his 'new movie' at Paramount. (What? Artists and Models in Space?) No, actually this one is called “Man About Town”, Jack’s first legitimate picture, and directed by Mark Sandrich. Jack is having trouble with Sandrich already. Sandrich is used to directing Fred Astaire, and so wants Jack jumping over furniture all through the movie. Phil is getting a part in Jack’s movie also. Kenny comes in, playing lame April Fools Jokes, such as telling Jack his shirt tail is out. The only problem is April Fool was yesterday, and Jack’s shirt tail really is out.
Jack gets an insulting telegram from Fred Allen about his new picture. Kenny sings “A Little Old Hot Dog Stand”. Jack and Mary argue about Fred Allen’s ability to ad lib. Rochester calls, and again, Jack refuses to talk to him. Don has written another Jell-O Play, which is performed around 13:45. Phil arrives, and has gone Hollywood, as a result of being included in Jack’s movie. Jack doesn’t understand how Phil got in such a classy picture at all. The orchestra plays “I Go For That”, with vocal accompaniments by Phil and Mary. The Knocking Man comes by to ask if Jack is Maxwell Stroud. Kenny gets annoyed at Phil and Mary singing, and says he won’t sing next week. Rochester calls again, and gets rebuffed again. Don wants to know the problem, and Jack admits that Rochester hocked his polar bear. (Like hocking a loogie, only worse!) Rochester pawned him for $30, and Jack didn’t even know until he saw Carmichael in the store window. Jack starts to announce the play, but Shleperman arrives, making his first appearance this season. Shelp hasn’t been by in a year, so they reminisce. Shlep is currently running a nightclub called “Shleperman’s Hawaiian Hacienda”. After Shlep's visit, there's no time for the play. Rochester calls again, saying he got Carmichael out of hock, but had to pawn Jack’s violin to get the money! This move proves popular with everyone except Jack.
PLAY: “Topper Takes an Aspirin”. The play is announced, but not performed.
DON'S INTRO: "And now, folks, as you all know, last Wednesday night, Clark Gable and Carol Lombard eloped in Kingman, Arizona, and were married. And so tonight, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you the man who held the ladder, Jack Benny!”
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Sam Hearn
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Elliott Lewis
JOKE: (Jack thought Carol Lombard had a thing for him)
Jack: “She’s always so nice when we meet on the street. And one time, during a dust storm, she winked at me.”
NOTE: “Man About Town” will have Dorothy Lamour, Edward Arnold, Binnie Barnes, 500 extras, and Phil Harris.
RADIO JOKE: (Filming Man About Town)
Jack: “Why, yesterday we shot a scene where I enter an English drawing room to talk to Edward Arnold. You see, he plays the part of Lord Arlington.”
Don: “I see.”
Jack: “Well anyway, instead of just walking up to him and saying hello, Sandrich made me leap over two divans, a love seat, and the Duchess of Twiffledom.”
Don: “Did you clear everything?”
Jack: “All but the Duchess. Every time I tried it, I wound up piggyback.”
APRIL FOOL GAGS:
Kenny: “Hiya, Jack. Say, your shirt tail is sticking out.”
Jack: “It is? Where?”
Kenny: “April Fool!! Ha, ha, ha, ha! Boy, did you fall for that one.”
Jack: “Kenny, in the first place, yesterday was April Fool’s Day, and in the second place, you didn’t fool me because my shirt is out.”
Mary: “Is that your shirt? I thought it was a Chinese Newspaper.”
Jack: “Well, it has been to the laundry a lot.”
APRIL FOOL GAGS:
Kenny: “Say, I sure pulled a good April Fool gag on my girl. She’d fall for anything.”
Jack: “What did you do, Kenny?”
Kenny: “Well, I called her up and I said ‘This is Robert Taylor speaking. Will you marry me?’”
Jack: “That’s cute. What did your girl say?”
Kenny: “She said Yes, just as soon as I get rid of that cluck I’m going with.”
APRIL FOOL GAGS:
Kenny: “You ought to hear the gag I pulled on my boss, boss, Mervyn LeRoy. I sent him a bomb! Yahoo!!”
Jack: “A bomb? Did he get it?”
Kenny: “I think so, I can’t find him."
Jack: “Why Kenny, you’re just making that up because I saw Mervyn LeRoy on the street this afternoon.”
Kenny: “All of him?”
(Since the Fall of 1937, every episode in which Kenny has appeared has ended with a mention that he appears through courtesy of Mervyn LeRoy Productions.)
Jack: "Here you are, boy. Here's a tip for you."
Telegram Boy: "A tip?”
Telegram Boy: "Hi Ho, Nickel!"
Jack: "Fresh guy! Don't believe him, folks, it was a quarter."
Mary: "It must be cheap material, it shrunk."
Mary: “Well, I think it’s marvelous the way Fred makes up his gags as he goes along.”
Jack: Oh, you do, eh?”
Mary: “Yes, he certainly knows how to ad lib.”
Jack: “Ad lib? He ad libs. He has to, he can’t read a script! Why, do you know, Don, he has nothing in his library but Life, Look and Click! I happen to know.”
Don: “Well Jack, if Allen can’t read, how does he order food from a menu in a restaurant?”
Jack: “He goes to a cafeteria where he can point! He took up juggling just so he wouldn’t drop a tray!”
Jack: “Rochester Van Jones, I’m not talking to you!”
Rochester: “You mean, I’m still on the blacklist?”
DON'S PLAY: A couple in the desert meets a starving man. They offer him various dishes, which he doesn't care for. They had made Jell-O, but it's all gone, and they won't make any more until tomorrow. The starving man says he'll come back tomorrow.
JOKE: (Jack thinks Phil isn’t classy enough to be in his movie)
Phil: “You should talk. You used to be a comedian in a burlesque show! Sliding Sam Benny!”
Jack: “Now, that’s what I call dreaming it up! Mary, have I ever been in a burlesque show?”
Mary: “Only as a customer.”
Jack: “There you are. I just went in there once to get my father. He’s nearsighted and thought it was Grand Opera.”
PHIL'S CORNY SONGS: “Never Mind the Bread, Sonny, Pop Will Be Home With The Bun.
PHIL SINGS: Phil accompanies the orchestra's second number with Mary.
MARY SINGS: See above.
JOKE: (Kenny is miffed that Phil and Mary sang)
Kenny: “Too many darn singers on this program. Don’t be surprised if I’m not here next Sunday!”
Jack: “You’ll be here next Sunday and like it!”
Kenny: “Well, I’ll be here but I won’t sing!”
Jack: “You’ll sing, too! Now, drop it. And now, folks…”
Kenny: “I won’t sing good!”
Jack: “And you’ll sing good!”
Kenny: “Not very!”
JOKE: (Jack saw Carmichael in a pawn shop)
Phil: “But Jack, how did you know it was your bear?”
Jack: “He was wearing my new wristwatch. Darn Rochester, he could have got $12 on that alone! I know!”
JOKE: (The fat's in the fire now)
Shleperman: “And Don Wilson! My, my. Tell me, were you always so big, or don’t I remember?”
Don: “Well Shlep, to tell you the truth, I did put on a pound here and there.”
Shleperman: “Here, I don’t mind, but there, it’s unbecoming.”
Jack: “You know, I haven’t seen you in over a year. What have you been doing with yourself?”
Shleperman: “I’ve been all over the country. North, South, East and Uptown. I was playing in vaudeville.”
Jack: “In vaudeville, eh? What kind of an act did you do?”
Shleperman: “I was a magician.”
Jack: “Oh, a magician? Were you a good one?”
Shleperman: “Sensational. You should see me pull the lining out of a hat.”
28. 04/09/39 FOUR GIRLS IN WHITE (28:43)
The orchestra opens with “It’s All Yours” from “Stars In Your Eyes”. Today is Easter. Everyone discusses Jack’s appearance in the Easter Parade, and the fact that he brought Carmichael with him. Jack claims he had no choice, as Carmichael had latched onto the seat of his pants and wouldn’t let go. Phil’s suit in the parade was especially loud, since he and Rochester have the same tailor. Mary comes in wearing a new dress. She says Jack told her to buy an Easter dress and send him the bill, but Jack denies it. Mary talks about Wendell Kendall, a college guy she flirted with during the parade, by dropping items to get his attention. Phil comes in, still affecting a hoity-toity accent over being in Jack’s movie. Jack and Phil argue which of them is the star of the picture, and Jack tries to bring them together by discussing their common love of Jell-O. Unfortunately, they argue all through his commercial, cause him to get the six delicious flavors wrong, which upsets Don too. The Knocking Man drops by for a quick Easter poem. The orchestra plays “Hold Tight”. Kenny comes in fresh from an Easter Egg hunt in which he found 5 eggs (three of them under a hen). Jack announces the play, but before they can begin, Wendell Kendall calls for Mary and gets into an argument with Jack. Kenny sings “I’m Building a Sailboat of Dreams”. Afterwards, Don, Kenny and Phil are in drag for the play, even though it’s a radio play, and the play begins. The girls gossip about Jack when he goes out for medical supplies.
PLAY: “Four Girls in White”, a parody of the movie of the same name (1939), starring Florence Rice, Una Merkel, Ann Rutherford, and Mary Howard (no relation to Moe, Curly or Shemp). Jack plays Dr. DeShnook, their teacher. The scene opens with a scene similar to “School Days, Part 3” (9/21/34), and “Tom Sawyer, Part 2” (5/29/38), in which Jack plays a teacher asking trivia questions of his class (this time it’s medical trivia). Afterwards, he takes his student nurses to observe an operation. Shleperman is about to have his tonsils removed (he’d only come in for a sliver in the finger, but they have a special today). The anesthetic makes Shleperman sing like Tweety Pie before putting him under. After the operation, Shlep wakes up with his accent altered from straight Jewish to Scottish-Jewish.
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a man who was the sensation of the Easter Parade this morning in his frock coat, white spats and beanie, Jack Benny!”
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Sam Hearn
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Blanche Stewart
NOTE: Jack says “Yipe!” in a high-pitched voice when hearing that Mary’s new dress cost $82.50 ($1318.24 in 2011 dollars). “Yipe!” will eventually become one of Jack’s minor catch phrases.
NOTE: At college, Wendell Kendall is majoring in Chemistry and Goldfish Swallowing (believe it or not, that was a fad in those days).
JOKE: (More Radio Jokes, courtesy of Carmichael)
Jack: “Don, there was one time when he embarrassed me something awful. Here we were, walking along Hollywood Boulevard. Oh, it was terrible.”
Don: “What happened?”
Jack: “Well, just as we got to Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Carmichael ran into the forecourt and put his footprints in the manager! Oh, I nearly died.”
Don: “Oh, that must have been embarrassing. Was the manager sore about it?”
Jack: “Don, where he told us to go is no place for a Polar Bear!”
Don: “Say Jack, did you see Phil Harris on the boulevard this morning? He had on the loudest suit I’ve ever seen in my life. It was really violent.”
Jack: “No, I didn’t see him Don, but I can imagine what Phil’s suit was like. You see, he and Rochester have the same tailor.”
Don: “Same tailor?”
Jack: “Well, he isn’t exactly a tailor, he specializes in beach umbrellas. A fellow by the name of Neon Cohen.”
JOKE: (Phil has gone Hollywood)
Jack: “Now, listen Phil, don’t be so highbrow. I remember when you led your orchestra with a rolled-up racing form!”
NOTE: It isn't transcribable, but Don's attempt to do a Jell-O commercial while Phil and Jack argue is classic.
JOKE: (Phil is still putting on airs)
Jack: “And Phil, I must admit that it’s more impressive when you conduct with your hands.”
Phil: “Is it really?”
Jack: “Yes, that phony diamond of yours shows up much better.”
Phil: “What do you mean phony? This ring cost me $12 on a punchboard!”
Jack: “Well, if you didn’t get a turkey with it, you got gypped!”
Jack: “Oh, hello Kenny. Why are you so late?"
Kenny: “Well, we had an Easter Egg hunt at our house this morning and I just got through.
Jack: “Oh, an Easter Egg hunt, eh? Say, that’s fun.”
Kenny: “Yeah! And you know what, Jack? I found 5 eggs all by myself."
Jack: “Five eggs, that’s marvelous! Where did you find them?”
Kenny: “Well, I found one under the sofa, one in back of the clock, and three under a hen.”
Jack: “Well, that’s some trick finding three eggs under a hen.”
Kenny: “If I’d have waited, I’d have got 4!”
JOKE: (Casting the play)
Jack: "Now, inasmuch as we are short of the fair sex on this program, Kenny Baker, Don Wilson, and Phil Harris will be nurses."
Phil: "You mean we gotta be girls?"
Jack: "You said it, sister. Now Mary, you're going to be a girl too."
Mary: "Okay, I'll talk in a high voice."
JOKE/RACIAL HUMOR: (Wendell Kendall is on the phone, trying to invite himself to Mary’s place.)
Mary: “Well, look Wendell, all I’ve got to eat in the house is ketchup. Why don’t you stop at the delicatessen and buy some sandwiches? Oh, you like ketchup.”
Jack: “Why don’t you ask him to bring his bagpipes? He can play while you’re fixing dinner.”
Mary: “Oh, shh! Say Wendell, after we eat, why don’t we see “Gunga-din”? It’s playing right near my house.”
[Mary hangs up]
Jack: “Oh, he’s going to take you to see “Gunga-din”, eh?”
Mary: “No, he’s going to bring the poem over and read it to me.”
Jack: “Oh, that’ll be ducky! There’s nothing like a poem with ketchup. Sing, Kenny!”
CONTINUITY ALERT: (They remembered last week's threat)
Jack: “That was “I’m Building a Sailboat of Dreams”, sung by Kenny Baker. And Kenny, now that your number is over, I’d like to remind you that last Sunday when you were mad, you said you weren’t going to sing at all today.”
Kenny: “I did not. I said I wasn’t going to sing good.”
Jack: “Well, you did sing good, so ha, ha!”
Kenny: “I could have done better, so ho, ho!”
NOTE: In the play, Don, Phil and Kenny play student nurses named "Dolores Wilson", "Phyllis Harris", and "Peaches Baker".
JOKE: (in the Classroom)
Jack: “You’re next, Marie.”
Mary: “Yes, Dr. DeShnook.”
Jack: “Now tell me, who was Louis Pasteur?”
Mary: “A very famous medical scientist.”
Jack: “Very good. And where did he do most of his work?”
Mary: “At Warner Brothers Studios.”
Jack: “That’s right, under the name of Paul Muni.”
(A reference to “The Story of Louis Pasteur” (1936), starring Paul Muni and Josephine Hutchinson.)
JOKE: (in the Classroom)
Jack: “Now Phyllis, name three well-known anesthetics.”
Phil: “What’s that, Doc?”
Jack: “I said name three well-known anesthetics.”
Phil: “Gas, ether and Joe Louis.”
Phil: “Gin is pretty good, too.”
JOKE: (in the Classroom)
Jack: “Now Peaches, can you tell us what is the world record for the itch?”
Kenny: “Seven years.”
Jack: “And who recently broke this record?”
Kenny: “Fred Allen!"
Jack: “Right! That’s very good, Peaches.”
Phil: “No kidding, Doc. Does Fred Allen really have the Seven Year Itch?
Jack: “That ain’t gold he’s digging for, Miss Harris!”
(This joke sounds like it’s based on some real world circumstance, but I have no idea what it is.)
JOKE: (In the operating room)
Jack: “Take it easy now. Be calm, and I’ll have your tonsils out in a jiffy.”
Shleperman: “What tonsils? I only got a sliver in my finger!”
Jack: “I’ve got a special today. Sliver and Tonsils, $75.”
ANOTHER "PROGRAMS" JOKE: (In the operating room)
Hawker: “Peanuts, popcorn and programs. You can’t tell a tonsil from an adenoid without a program!”
NOTE: The Wendell Kendall II bit seems a bit elaborate for something that will be forgotten by next week. Maybe they considered taking it further but didn’t get a good enough reaction.
29. 04/16/39 PHIL SHOOTS THE MOVIE 'MAN ABOUT TOWN' (29:26)
The orchestra opens with “Just One of Those Things”. Jack spent a week in Palm Springs. He fishes for compliments about how the rest made him look younger, and settles for breaking even. They discuss the skiviness and general wretchedness of the Bellview Auto Court, where Jack stayed. More discussion about how Phil has gone Hollywood over appearing in “Man About Town”. Jack pans Phil’s acting ability. The Knocking Man drops by for a quick quip about Jack’s co-star, Dorothy Lamour. Since Phil isn't there yet to conduct the orchestra's second number, Kenny sings “Heaven Can Wait” (but doesn't the orchestra play his numbers as well??). Kenny tells an awful joke about Brazil Nuts, that Phil sold him for $10 (marked down from $25). Kenny claims that Jack wrote “Pygmalion”. Jack insists that Phil is no writer, but Don reads a Jell-O commercial that Phil wrote. Phil arrives, and he’s still in a hoity-toity mood over being in the picture. Phil tries to compliment Jack, but lets slip that he’s been working on the picture all week. Jack had gone to Palm Springs, because the Director, Mark Sandrich had told them they were taking the week off. Outraged, Jack leaves the show early to go have it out with Sandrich.
PLAY: Jack starts to announce one, but it’s cancelled when Jack leaves the show early.
SITUATION COMEDY: Jack, Mary and Rochester are in Jack’s car, travelling to Paramount. Lots of cracks about Jack’s (unidentified) car (it hasn’t been called a Maxwell for some time now). Jack and Rochester argue about who will win the upcoming Louis-Roper fight. The argument gets animated, as Rochester tries to demonstrate how Louis will knock Roper out, and smashes the windshield in the process. Rochester loses control of the car, they crash into a lunch counter, and so decide to stop and have lunch. (It’s a much better scene than I’m making it sound).
Don: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you our sun kissed Master of Ceremonies, who has just returned from a week’s vacation in Palm Springs…”
Jack: “Yes, sir!”
Don: “Ah, he’s the picture of health, folks. Brown as a berry, with a magnificent coat of tan.”
Jack: “You know, I never freckle.”
Don: “Here he is, ladies and gentlemen, that perfect specimen, that bronze Adonis, Jack Benny!”
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Blanche Stewart
Jack: “Now Don, you know this tan on my face is very becoming.”
Don: “Oh yes, you have a nice color, Jack, but what are those round, white spots just above your eyebrows?”
Jack: “Oh, those white spots? Well, that’s Rochester’s fault. He’s so careless.”
Don: “Why, what happened?”
Jack: “You see, I was taking a sun bath and I gave Rochester a half a dollar to go out and buy me a cigar.”
Jack: “And when he came back, I was asleep, so he laid the change on my forehead.”
NOTE: The Bellview Auto Court is the Palm Springs version of the Acme Plaza, a similarly run-down dive where Jack stays in later years whenever he goes to New York.
JOKE: (Jack discusses the Bellview Auto Court)
Jack: “If you’re ever out that way and you want to live in a nice homey atmosphere, you stop at the Bellview. The beds are marvelous.”
Don: “But Jack, isn’t it a little too far from Palm Springs?”
Jack: “Why no, Don, it’s only a 10 minute walk.”
Mary: “Go on, it’s 15 minutes to the bathroom.”
Jack: “Not if you know the shortcut!”
JOKE: (Jack discusses the Bellview Auto Court)
Jack: “Oh, and by the way, they have a lunchroom there. And here’s a little tip for you, Don. (under his breath) If you go in there to eat, don’t order the #4 breakfast.“
Don: “Why not?”
Jack: “Because it’s a dime more than the #3, and the only difference is they trim the toast!”
JOKE: (Jack discusses the Bellview Auto Court)
Jack: “Listen Mary, it’s those little touches that make the Bellview unique among auto courts. It’s a swell little place.”
Mary: “Go on, you’d never have stopped there if they didn’t have “B” on the towels.”
Jack: “Oh yeah? Well, for your information, smarty, the towel at the Bellview was on a roller! So, don’t make up things.”
Don: “By the way, how is Phil as an actor? Has he improved any?”
Jack: “Don, I don’t like to be catty, but he’s got about as much acting ability as an unrehearsed sweepstakes winner in a newsreel!”
PHIL’S JELL-O COMMERCIAL:
Jack: “Phil Harris, an author! Harris is nothing but a bathed hillbilly! Why, he can’t write his own name without tracing it through a stencil.”
Don: “Now, wait a minute, Jack. Phil may be a little crude, but he’s got a lot of good ideas.”
Jack: “What do you mean, good ideas?”
Don: “Well, for instance, here’s a little thing he whipped up for me. Now, listen.”
Don: “Boys and girls, if you’re on the loose right now, why don’t you swing on down to that neighborhood grocer, and get yourselves some of that Jell-O? It’s right in the groove.”
Jack: “That’s Phil, all right.”
Don: “It comes in six goody flavors, and really hits the spot when it’s nestled among them sliced skidders.”
Jack: “Skidders?? What’s that?”
Jack: “Oh, oh.”
Don: “So, buy it palsys, because it’s economical, appetizing, and delisheroo.”
Don: “Yeah, man!”
Jack: “Delisherro! Mary, did you ever hear anything like that?”
Mary: “I thought it was right on the beam!”
TRIVIA: Jack claims to have worked at every studio except Republic (which operated from 1935 to 1959).
Jack, on the phone: “Now look, Mr. Hornblow. I’m the… I know! I know it’s going to be a good picture, and that’s why I want to be in it! Yes. Yes, but if… but if… but if… but if… I know, but… but… but, but… but…”
Mary: “Try ‘if’ again.”
PHIL’S CORNY SONGS: “I Call My Dog ‘Ginger’, Because She Always Snaps at Me.”
JOKE: (In the car)
Jack: “Please step on the gas, we’re barely crawling.”
Rochester: “Can’t help it, Boss. You’ve either got to get a new car or hoist the sail.”
JOKE: (In the car)
Mary: “Gee whiz Jack, why don’t you trade this car in?”
Jack: “Why should I? This car’s all right. And besides, it’s so easy on the gas. Gee, I get 27 miles to the gallon.”
Mary: “Twenty-seven miles?”
Rochester: “With a little water, 32.”
Jack: “Say Mary, look at that sign. Joe Louis and Jack Roper, Wrigley Field. Boy, that’s going to be some fight tomorrow night.”
Mary: “Are you going, Jack?”
Jack: “I certainly am.”
Rochester: “Say Boss, who do you think’s going to win that fight?”
Jack: “Well, personally I’d like to put a little bet on Roper.”
Rochester: “Mmm, mmm, pennies from heaven!”
Jack: “I can appreciate your loyalty, Rochester, but Jack Roper is a pretty tough guy. He’s got a vicious right and a terrific left. What a pair of arms!”
Rochester: “Well, Louis ain’t exactly a Venus deMilo.”
Jack: “Oh, so you’re pretty positive he’ll win, eh? How long do you think the fight will last?”
Rochester: “Well Boss, the main event goes on at 10 o’clock sharp, don’t it?”
Jack: “That’s right.”
Rochester: “Well, at 10:15, Brother Louis is scheduled to make a speech at our social club.”
Jack: “Oh, he is?”
Rochester: “And in full dress!”
NOTE: Again, Jack's Car is not called a Maxwell or anything else.
NOTE: People rave about Mel Blanc's wheezy, coughy Maxwell engine sound voice, but the regular coffee-grinder sound effect, complete with bicycle horn, that they use when Mel isn't around, is quite good too.
Jack: “Well, let me tell you something, Rochester. If you’re so sure Louis is going to win, I’d just like to bet you $10 that you’re wrong!”
Rochester: “Nothing doing, Boss! You still owe me five from the Dempsey-Firpo fight!”
(The Dempsey-Firpo fight was held in 1923. Their bet is hard to explain, considering that Jack and Rochester met in 1937.)
CONTINUITY ALERT!: At 26:10, just before Jack's car crashes into the fruit stand, we hear the sound of squealing brakes. A few minutes later they'd said that Jack's car didn't have brakes. (Of course, the sound could have come from another car trying to get out of Jack's way).
JOKE: (Jack’s car smashes into a lunch counter)
Waitress: “Good evening, folks. What’ll you have?”
Jack: “We don’t want anything, Miss! Are you all right, Mary? Mary, where are you??”
Mary: “Here I am, up at the counter! I’m hungry!”
Jack: “Gee, look at this car.”
Rochester: “My, my. What a mess.”
Jack: “Well, you’re responsible for the whole thing! Look, the front fenders are knocked off, the headlights are smashed, and we’ve got three flat tires.”
Rochester: “It’s unanimous now!”
NOTE: The Louis-Roper fight was a 10 round heavyweight championship held on April 17, 1939 (one day after the broadcast) at Wrigley Field (the one in Los Angeles that nobody remembers, not the one in Chicago that everyone knows. Rochester’s prediction was more or less correct. In this, his 6th title defense, Louis won by a first round KO (at 2:22 into the round). Roper also suffered first round knockouts at the hands of heavyweight champions James Braddock and Jack Dempsey. Despite this, he had a lifetime record of 63-43-10 (http://boxrec.com/list_bouts.php?human_id=010644&cat=boxer), was once Oriental Heavyweight Champion, and even had a decent sideline as a movie extra (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0740589/). Despite the jokes about him, Roper was probably glad of the exposure he got on this Benny show and the next one. You can see the whole Louis-Roper fight on YouTube, but be warned: it's shades of Bambi vs. Godzilla: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5_2CcnYfBg
RACIAL HUMOR?: The episode makes it fairly clear that Rochester’s enthusiasm for Louis is largely based on the fact that Louis is black. So, does that mean that Jack is supporting Roper because he’s white? Nope, they did a pretty good job steering away from that angle completely. There’s absolutely no indication in the episode that Jack’s backing of Roper is based on anything more than his legendary inability to pick a winner. That, and the fact that it’s harder to crack jokes about the fight if they both agree about it. Roper was a member of Louis’ legendary “Bum of the Month” club, and probably nobody seriously expected him to win.
NOTE: If Jack had known he could have seen the fight for free if he’d just managed to last until YouTube were invented, I’m sure he’d have found a way.
30. 04/23/39 GUESTS BINNIE BARNS AND MARK SANDRICH (28:36)
The orchestra opens with “That’s What We Do Over Here”. After the opening introduction, the show fades out to a…
SITUATION COMEDY: In Jack’s dressing room at Paramount, Rochester is singing a little song celebrating Joe Louis’ victory over Jack Roper last Monday. Jack needs a collar button, and goes next door to borrow one from Phil. Phil has a corny gold star on his dressing room door, which incenses Jack. Phil is not only still gone Hollywood, but he has his own butler now, who offers Jack tea and cornpone. Jack stews over how much better Phil’s dressing room is than his own. Jack returns to his own dressing room, and calls Mr. Hornblow, the studio head, to demand more amenities for his dressing room. Afterwards, he decides to see how The Jell-O Program is doing without him. Jack manages to turn on the broken down radio they supplied him…
THE SHOW: Back on the show, Don is reading Jell-O themed nursery rhymes (and by this time, Jack himself may be the only person listening. Kenny sings “Strange Enchantment” from “Man About Town”. Afterwards, Don continues with his Jell-O ditties. With absolutely no fears about losing his job to Don, Jack turns off the radio.
SITUATION COMEDY: Back at the studio, Twinkles, Jack’s makeup man comes in to get him ready for shooting. Rochester tries to collect the $10 he bet Jack on the Louis-Roper fight, but Jack tries to make excuses to avoid paying off. Jack eventually relents and says Rochester will get his money in the form of that new vacuum cleaner he doesn’t remember wanting. Kenny comes in. He’s gotten tired of doing Jell-O nursery rhymes and wants to see a movie being made. Jack tries to brag about the importance of his scene, but all Kenny seems to notice is how crummy Jack’s dressing room is. Jack goes off to shoot a scene, and the orchestra back on the Jell-O Program plays a number so loudly that we can hear it from here.
On the set, Jack learns that Phil had told Kenny that Jack was playing the part of a janitor in the movie. Jack confronts Phil about it, who claims that it was just a joke. Jack is so mad that he says he and Phil are through as friends. Kenny meets the cast of Jack’s movie, and seems to end up in all of their laps. They start to shoot the scene. Phil does his lines in the hoity-toity English accent (which sort of explains why he’s been using that same accent off the set so much recently. Jack gets in trouble with the director for trying to pad his part. The clapboard boy keeps yelling “QUIET ON THE SET!” every time someone breathes too loudly. Eventually, Jack refuses to do even his unpadded part. When Phil throws a line to him, he doesn’t respond because he’s not speaking to Phil after their argument. Jack walks off the set.
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, as you all know, Jack Benny and Phil Harris are busy working on a new Paramount picture, “Man About Town”, and will not be here today. So, in the meantime, Kenny and I are going to carry on, and try to entertain you with songs and jokes. And I’m sure that we’ll all have a good time…”
MINOR ROLES: Ed Beloin, Russell Hicks, Blanche Stewart
VIEWER MAIL: In the opening commercial, Don reads a letter about an Officer’s Dinner by the Sons of the American Legion in Philadelphia. They enclosed a menu, that included “Dessert a la Jack Benny”, and guess what they served. If you can’t guess, you don’t deserve to be listening to this program. (And no, it wasn’t “General Tire au gratin”).
ROCHESTER SINGS: Rochester sings a few bars as the sitcom scene opens.
NOTE: Jack meets Claudette Colbert in the hallway, but it's an impersonator. Even if you couldn't tell from the voice, the fact that she only has one line in the show should be a giveaway. I wonder what the etiquette is of having someone imitate a celebrity like this. Did Jack have to call Claudette up just to say "We're going to have someone claim to be you and say the words "Who is it?" on my show this week?" Ditto for the one line spoken by “Binnie Barnes”.
PHIL GOING HOLLYWOOD: In these last few episodes, when I've said that Phil goes Hollywood, it refers to him acting very highfalutin' about his importance as a movie star, and affecting a quasi-English accent. However, in each episode in which he's done this, the accent miraculously disappears after a few lines.
NOTE: Phil's Butler is named Elkins. Don't bother memorizing and destroying this information, just destroy it.
JOKE: (In Phil's Dressing Room)
Phil: “Who is it, anyway?”
Elkins: “It’s a gentleman about a collar button, sir.”
Phil: “Well, buy a couple and send him away.”
Jack: “Now, wait a minute, Phil. It’s me! Jack!”
Phil: “Roper or Benny?”
Jack: “Benny! Roper isn’t up yet!”
JOKE: (Phil's new butler)
Elkins: “Tea is served, Mr. Harris.”
Phil: “Thanks Elkins, I’m famished.”
Jack: “Gee. My goodness, what are those? Crumpets?”
Elkins: “No, that’s cornpone. Mr. Harris dotes on it.”
Jack: “That I can understand. Tea and cornpone! What a combination.”
Elkins: “Mr. Benny, will you have your tea in a cup or in a saucer?”
Jack: “Just bring it! How I drink it is my business!!
Jack: “The suit is a little roomy, but I like freedom in my clothes.”
Mary: “Well, you’ve certainly got it. You could bring the Liberty Bell in there.”
Rochester: “Hee hee, that’s a good one, Miss Livingstone!”
Jack: “You stay out of this, N Man!”
(This is something like the 3rd time we’ve heard the term “N Man” used on the show. Apparently N is short for Negro, which was a complete acceptable term in those days. But it comes out really badly for Jack to use it in a moment of anger. This might be #1 on my list of lines I’d like to alter.)
JOKE: (Jack phones the producer to complain about his dressing room)
Jack: “I know, but how come Phil Harris has a shower bath, and I have to wash in the fire bucket? Why, twice this week the brigade snatched it from right under me.”
RUNNING JOKE (BUT, BUT):
Immediately after the last joke, there’s another variation on the “But, but” joke, with Jack trying to get a word in with Mr. Hornblow. The punchline this time is Mary saying “Here we go again, folks.”
JOKE: (Jack is on the phone, complaining to the Producer about his dressing room)
Jack, on phone: “But look, Mr. Hornblow, I don’t want to stay in this dressing room. I haven’t got anything to sit on… Oh, that’s VERY funny!”
Jack: “Now look, Mr. Hornblow, here’s what I want. I want new chairs, a shower bath, Venetian blinds, a floor lamp…”
Mary: “Roller skates.”
Jack: “…Roller skates. Mary, I’m not talking to Santa Claus!!”
JOKE: (Jack is listening to the Jell-O Program on the radio.)
Don, on radio: “And now, folks, Kenny Baker, our popular young tenor will sing… what’s it going to be, Kenny?”
Kenny, on radio: “I’m going to sing a number called “Strange Enchantment”, from Paramount’s new picture, “Man About Town”, starring Phil Harris.”
Kenny, on radio: “You heard me!”
JELL-O MOTHER GOOSE: (As MC of the program in Jack's absence, Don is reading Jell-O themed nursery rhymes.)
Don: "Little Jack Horner sat in a corner, eating a dish of Jell-O. He stuck in his spoon, and started to croon: J-E-L-L-Ooooooo!"
Don: "Jack and Phil went up the hill to fetch a dish of Jell-O. Jack fell down and broke his crown, and Harris laughed like anything!"
Jack: “You know, Mary, it’s disgusting the way Phil tries to steal every scene in the picture. He’s always doing something to draw attention away from me.”
Mary: “Well, you don’t have to worry today with that suit you've got on.”
JOKE: (In the makeup room)
Rochester: “Hey Boss, here’s your makeup man.”
Jack: “My makeup man? Oh, yes. Hello, Twinkles.”
Twinkles: “Hello, Mr. Benny. Are we ready for our daily tussle with Father Time?”
JOKE: (Rochester' still trying to collect that debt)
Rochester: “Say, Boss?”
Jack: “What is it, Rochester?”
Rochester: “Are you in the mood to re-open our monetary discussion?”
Jack: “Rochester, if you’re referring to that $10 I bet you on the Louis-Roper fight, I do NOT owe it to you.”
Rochester: “Well, Louis knocked Roper out, didn’t he?”
Jack: “Not entirely. Roper went down but he started to get up.”
Rochester: “Man, can’t you tell the difference between getting up and bouncing??”
Jack: “You can talk all you want, Rochester, but you’re not getting the $10.”
Twinkles: “Oh, why don’t you pay him, Mr. Benny?”
Jack: “You stay out of this. Who do you think you are? Chamberlain? Just keep making me up, that’s all you’re supposed to do.”
Mary: “I never saw anybody like you, Jack. You’re always Welshing on bets.”
Jack: “I am not. Anyway, Rochester will get his $10. I’m going to buy him that new vacuum cleaner he wants.”
Rochester: “Who wants?”
Jack: “You wants, and keep still!”
(As you may have seen in the YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5_2CcnYfBg), Roper did indeed make an unsuccessful attempt to get up after being flattened. Chamberlain, of course, is the British Prime Minister most famous for giving Czechoslovakia to Hitler the year before. Jack’s quibble is irrelevant, of course. The bet was over who would win the fight, not whether or not Louis would win by KO.)
JOKE: (In the makeup chair)
Jack: “Ow! Twinkles, watch those tweezers! You’re awfully nervous today, aren’t you?”
Twinkles: “Well, you’d be nervous too if your wife had twins last night.”
Jack: “Oh, well, well! That’s marvelous. Congratulations.”
Twinkles: “Awww, it was nothing.”
JOKE: (In the makeup chair)
Jack: “Why don’t you concentrate on what you’re doing, Twinkles? My face is a mess!”
Mary: “Ha, ha, ha, ha!”
Jack: “What are you laughing at?”
Mary: “Twinkles Stinkles.”
JOKE: (On the set)
Jack: “Where’s Kenny?”
Mary: “Over there, on Dorothy Lamour’s lap.”
Jack: “Oh, yes. And there’s Edward Arnold. Oh look, there’s Binnie Barnes, too. She’s beautiful, isn’t she?”
Mary: “Oh, you think every blonde is beautiful.”
Jack: “I do not!”
Mary: “Name one!”
Jack: “Nelson Eddy! So, there!”
Rochester: “Did you call me, Boss?”
Jack: “Yes, where were you?”
Rochester: “I was over in the corner acclimating Mr. Harris’ butler. I’m teaching him Central Avenue ping-pong.”
Jack: “Rochester, I told you not to bring those dice to this studio. Now, throw ‘em out.”
Rochester: “Not unless somebody fades me!”
There’s a good bit at 22:00 in, in which Phil and Lady Crumleigh do 30 seconds or so of straight, English drawing room talk, and Jack pads his one line at the end from “You said it”, to “You said it, sister”.
NOTE: Daylight Savings Time goes into effect next week over SOME of these local stations. As we learned last year, California didn’t go on Daylight Savings Time in the 30’s.
Mary: “Say Jack, what’s Daylight Savings Time?”
Jack: “Well, you see, Mary…”
Mary: “I know, it’s pathos, yet mingled with comedy, and calls for every dramatic trick at your command.”
Jack: “That’s not it at all. Good night, folks.”
(This is how Jack had described the requirements of his performance in the movie)
NOTE: Jack credits Russell Hicks at the end for playing the part of Mark Sandrich. The part of Claudette Colbert is not credited, but may have Blanche Stewart.
NOTE: This episode presents a challenge of sorts. Without meaning to, it sort of lays down the gauntlet, and challenges the listener to come up with Jell-O themed nursery rhymes as atrociously bad as the ones Don reads on the show. Here are a few that I (ahem) “cooked" up:
Peter, Peter, Jell-O eater,
Had a wife and couldn't feed her;
He put her in a mold of strawberry Jell-O with sliced bananas,
And jumped in right after her.
Little Miss Muffet, sat on a tuffet,
Eating a dish of Jell-O.
Along came a spider, and sat down beside her,
And asked why "Dead Fly" wasn't one of the six delicious flavors.
Curly-locks, Curly-locks, wilt thou be mine?
Thou shalt not wash the dishes, nor yet feed the swine;
But sit on a cushion, and toe a fine line
And feed upon Strawberry, Raspberry, Cherry, Orange, Lemon, and Lime.
Simple Simon met a pieman,
Going to the fair;
Said Simple Simon to the pieman,
"Who cares about your ware, I've found a dessert that's tempting, economical, and comes in six delicious flavors, so look for the big red letters on the box!"
31. 04/30/39 JACK'S 7th ANNIVERSARY ON THE RADIO (28:25)
The orchestra opens with “Man About Town” from the picture of the same name. Don says he decided to do an anniversary show for Jack, when he got an anonymous letter telling him about it, an anonymous telegram reminding him, then a call from Jack asking how he liked his job. Jack denies that he's wearing the same suit he had on opening night. He also denies being nervous. On opening night, he shook because he was nervous, now he shakes without being nervous. Mary knew about the anniversary from an ad Jack put in the paper for a gardener, which talked more about Jack himself than the gardener. Mary got Jack a pair of woolen socks with zipper compartment for his money. Jack gets a telegram from his sister, Florence, which breaks off in mid-sentence because of her 10 word limit. Kenny walks in talking like Phil. Mary says Kenny gave her a wolf whistle at the drugstore earlier. Jack decries the influence Phil is having on Kenny. Jack doesn't want to tell Kenny about his anniversary, as nobody on this show would appreciate it. Don objects that he's always been loyal to Jack. Remember 5 years ago when they met, on the (cough, cough, ahem) show? Jack and Don end up arguing too, when they disagree about which of them thought of the slogan "Look for the big red letters on the box." The Knocking Man drops by to talk about his first appearance. Kenny sings "Our Love". Kenny is still talking in hipster jive, provoking more warnings from Jack to stay away from Phil. Jack gets a straight telegram from Fred Allen for a change, but Mary manages to twist it into an insult. Phil comes in, late. He and Kenny hip talk to each other. Jack starts to announce a play, but Phil says he's treating the whole cast to dinner at Shleperman's Hawaiian Cabana. Everyone leaves the show early, leaving the orchestra to finish out the show with music. The orchestra plays an unidentified number.
PLAY: None, it's cancelled when Phil treats the cast to dinner.
SITUATION COMEDY: Everyone is in a cab on the way to Shleps. When they arrive, Don, Phil and Kenny argue over which of them will pay the cab fare. Jack offers to and everyone instantly agrees before he can change his mind. At the restaurant, they meet Shlep's wife, and a belligerent drunk who seems to know Jack, but whom Jack can't remember. Shlep can't throw the drunk out, since his wife is the bouncer. Shlep announces that in honor of Jack's anniversary, he and Mary will do a song. Shleperman and Mary sing a duet. Phil suggests that Jack play a violin solo, and Jack lets himself get talked into it. Phil admits he hired the drunk to heckle Jack, as a joke.
Don: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to announce that this occasion is a gala event on our Jell-O Program. Today marks the 7th radio anniversary of our illustrious and beloved Master of Ceremonies?”
Jack: “Is it that long? Tempus Fugit!”
Don: “Exactly 7 years ago today, a young man walked into a small New York broadcasting studio and spoke into a microphone for the first time.”
Jack: “I was as nervous as a goldfish in a fraternity house. Gee!”
Don: “There he stood, ladies and gentlemen, wearing a brown suit, cloth top shoes, a straw hat, and a cane.”
Jack: “I finished with a dance in those days, folks.”
Don: “So now, without further ado, we bring you that same young man in that same brown suit, Jack Benny!”
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Sam Hearn
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Eddie Marr, Bill Morrow, Blanche Stewart
NOTE: Tempus Fugit is Latin for "Time flies". "Fugit" is probably short for fugitaboudit, or something.
NOTE: According to Don’s opening commercial, Jell-O began with just one (unnamed) flavor, and is now six. This doesn’t seem to be correct. Wikipedia’s entry on Jell-O says that Jell-O proper began in 1897 when cough syrup manufacturer Pearle Wait bought the patent for powdered gelatin and added strawberry, raspberry, orange and lemon flavoring to the powder. This jibes with that picture we found of the old Jell-O girl a while back, that had those same four flavors. According to wiki, Chocolate was added (but discontinued in 1927), as well as Cherry and Peach. By the time the Jell-O Program started, Lime had been added (around 1930-ish), in order to accommodate various add-in that cooks were using, and Peach fell by the wayside somewhere or other (although it’s back now). Chocolate is back also, albeit in the form of Jell-O Pudding.
NOTE: Despite Don’s claim that it was “exactly 7 years ago today”, the anniversary of Jack’s first Canada Dry program was May 2. See the Canada Dry program notes for more on when Jack's first appearance on radio really was.
Telegram Boy: “Telejeram for Jack Benny.”
Jack: “Telejeram? Take it, Mary. Here’s a tip for you, son.”
Telegram Boy: Oh, Joody, a nichel! So long!”
JOKE: (Kenny's been hanging around Phil too much)
Jack: “Oh, hello Kenny.”
Kenny: “Hiya Jackson, are ya right on the beam tonight? Are ya jivin’, kid?”
Kenny: “Are you whippin’ it up, Elmer?”
Jack: “I see. Kenny, I wish you’d stop hanging around our swing-happy maestro, Phil Harris! He’s a bad influence.”
Kenny: “Oh, I don’t know.”
Jack: “Well, I do. You used to be a beautiful baby, and now you’re a corny Joe.”
Kenny: “Oh yeah??”
Kenny: “Smell this flower in my buttonhole, and I’ll squirt your eye out!”
Jack: “Kenny, stop that immediately. And take off that badge, you’re not a Chicken Inspector! Hmmm, Chicken Inspector, yet.”
Kenny: “Phil’s got one! It says ‘Step up Sugar, here’s your Honey’!”
NOTE: This show is very circumspect about admitting that Jack ever worked for anyone other than Jell-O. Don and Jack talk about Jack's first night 7 years ago, but the name "Canada Dry" is never mentioned. Don talks about his first meeting with Jack (without mentioning General Tire), and then immediately jumps to discussing their first broadcast for Jell-O. If you didn't know, or weren't paying close attention, you might think he was still talking about their first meeting, or Jack's first night, but we all know better.
CONTINUITY ALERT: Don tells a fictitious story about his being nervous on their first night, and getting encouraging words from Jack. As we all remember, Don was quite dismissive of Jack at their real first meeting. On their first broadcast for Jell-O, they were veterans together. One thing Don says that is true, he comments that they were very formal in those days. It's true, Jack usually called Don "Wilson" back then, but this was to distinguish Don Wilson from Don Bestor.
CONTINUITY ALERT: Jack now claims that Don was quite thin when they first met. Here's how Jack described Don during their first season together: "He's a well-fed gentleman. Eats three meals a day, and has a corn beef sandwich rehearsal before each meal. He has the greatest collection of knives and forks you've ever seen, and carries a salt shaker in his vest pocket."
Don: “Jack, remember the day when you and I first met? Five years ago?”
Jack: “I certainly do, Don. I certainly do. Why, it seems like yesterday. I’ll never forget it.”
Don: “Remember when we did our first broadcast for Jell-O? You were standing out in the hall just before the program and I came up to you and said ‘May I speak to you for a minute, Mr. Benny?’ We used to be quite formal then.”
Jack: “Yeah. And I said ‘What is it, Slim?’ You were quite thin, too. Remember?”
Don: “I sure do.”
Jack: “I remember your very words, Don. You said ‘Gee, I’m nervous, Mr. Benny. I don’t think I can go on today’.”
Don: “And you said to me ‘Don’t be nervous, son. Just step up to the microphone and say ‘Jell-O has six delicious flavors; Strawberry, Raspberry, Cherry, Orange, Lemon and Lime’.”
Don: “You know, Jack, I’ve never forgotten that message.”
Mary: “Who has?”
JOKE: (Don is mad that Jack has claimed credit for "Look for the big red letters on the box")
Jack: “Look at him. He gets mad at the least little thing.”
Mary: “Oh, it’s your own fault, jack. You’re always taking credit for everything.”
Jack: “What do you mean?”
Mary: “Why, you even told me you were the one that suggested the San Francisco World’s Fair.”
Jack: “I did not! I merely said that I had three cousins who were fan dancers, and it would be nice if they had a place to work this summer! That’s all I said!”
Jack: “Now, go ahead and sing, Kenny, before this reaches serious proportions.”
Kenny: “Okay, Junior!”
[knocking at the door]
Jack: “Come in?”
Knocking Man: Mr. Benny?”
Knocking Man: “Remember the first time I knocked at your door three years ago?”
Knocking Man: “You thought I was nuts, didn’t you?”
Jack: “I certainly did.”
Knocking Man: “Well, I’m cured now! [makes a string of animal noises]”
Mary: “Say, Jack? While Kenny was singing, another wire came through. It was from Fred Allen.”
Jack: “From Fred Allen, eh? What does it say?”Mary: “It says ‘Dear Jackass’…”
Jack: “Gimme that wire! (looks at it) That’s ‘Dear Jack: As’ this is your 7th ann…”
[Big laugh and applause]
Jack: “She had to make it ‘Jackass’! (reads again) ‘As this is your 7th anniversary, I feel that you deserve a tribute. So, I raise my hand and salute you. Fred Allen.’ Well, there’s a novelty, Allen saluting me.”
Mary: “I bet he’s doing it in a novel way, too.”
JOKE: (Hipster Talk, Phil Style)
Phil: “Hiya Kenny, have you been swinging out the gate?”
Kenny: “What’d I tell ya, pal? We’ve been cutting a rug or two, but these alligators here don’t know nothin’ about jammin’.
Jack: “Oh, we don’t, eh?”
Phil: “Never mind, Kenny, we’ll go out later. I’ve got a couple of Jitter-Dolls lined up. We’ll take ‘em out for a twirl.”
Kenny: “Okay, but I’ve gotta be home by nine o’clock!”
Jack: “Phil, aren’t you ashamed of what you’re doing to Kenny?”
Phil: “No, what?”
Jack: “After all, he’s just a kid. If you’ve got a couple of Jitter-Dolls lined up, I’ll jam with you! I’m hep. I may not be an alligator, pal, but I can jive a bit. What do you say?”
Phil: “All right, Jack. What time to you have to be home?”
Jack: “I can stay out as late as I want to, smarty! My father’s in Miami!”
1930’s SLANG: Two phrases we hear a lot this season are “Cut a rug” (a slang term for dancing, which originated in the 1920’s, and died out some time in the 40’s), and “on the beam” which means, generally, “right”, “correct”, “cool” or “with it” in today’s slang. At least I hope that’s still today’s slang. That kind of talk was pretty groovy when I was growing up, but wouldn’t it be awful if MY slang wasn’t on the beam any more either??
JOKE: This isn’t the first reference this season to Jack’s dad living in Miami. Dad is (supposedly) present in the audience at the season finale in Waukegan, but he might have flown in for the occasion. They never come out and say so, but I’ve got a feeling that Jack’s dad’s clothing store is a thing of the past. And was a thing of the past even in 1939.
JOKE: (Outside Shleperman’s Restaurant)
Phil: “Hey, driver? Driver, how much is the cab fare?”
Cabbie: “That’ll be a dollar, 90 cents.”
Phil: “Okay, I got it.”
Don: “Wait a minute, Phil. Let me pay for the cab.”
Kenny: “Let me pay it! I’ve got the change right here.”
Jack: “Uh, no fellas. Let me pay it.”
Jack: “Hmmm… Here you are, driver.”
Cabbie: “You got hooked, didn’t you, Sporty?”
Shleperman: “Welcome to Hula Land. High class food for low class people.”
(Jokes like this are the main difference between Shleperman and the later character, Mr. Kitzel. Both characters got most of their laughs from their thick Jewish accent. But Kitzel was more of a wide-eyed innocent, while Shleperman would frequently toss in these not-so-veiled insults that would go right past you if you weren’t paying attention, because a) he didn’t say them in a nasty tone of voice, and b) he was right on to the next thing before you had time to think about it too much. They weren’t always insults, sometimes they were turns of phrase, like the one from 4/2/39 (“Were you a good magician?” “Sensational, you should have seen me pull the lining out of a hat”) that took a moment to register, and left you saying “Wait a minute, did he just say that??”
JOKE: (At the restaurant)
Shleperman: “Well, sit down everybody. Would you like a little refreshments before eating?”
Don: “Sure, I’ll have some Hawaiian Punch!”
Phil: “I’d like some too.”
Mary: “Me too.”
Kenny: “I want a dry martini!”
Jack: “Kenny, you’ll have a glass of milk!”
Kenny: “Okay, put an olive in it.”
NOTE: Re; the last joke. Just how old is Kenny supposed to be, anyway? Is he supposed to be a minor? Or is the joke that Jack just treats him like a minor because he acts like one? In real life, Kenny was 26 at this point, but that doesn’t mean anything. When Dennis Day was introduced, he was given a proper backstory, about him being a minor, and escorted to the studio by his mother in several early episodes, but we never really hear much of anything about Kenny. Looking at this joke and a lot of others, you really wonder just how many Jack Benny shows Dave Seville listened to when creating Alvin and the Chipmunks. With jokes like this, where Kenny says something outrageous, and gets shouted down by Jack, I almost expect Jack to yell “Alvin!!”. I’ve long suspected that Seville borrowed a lot of the Alvin and the Chipmunks shtick from a running joke Jack used in the 40’s, in which the Sportsmen Quartet would run amok singing a song, and Jack would try to quiet them down with “Wait a minute! Wait a minute!! WAIT A MINUTE!!” Change “Wait a minute” to “Alvin!!!” and what’s the difference?
SHLEPERMAN SINGS: Shleperman does a duet with Mary during the sitcom scene.
MARY SINGS: See above.
JACK PLAYS THE VIOLIN: Jack plays a fairly decent rendition of "Love in Bloom" on the violin, but is interrupted constantly by the drunk.
Mary: “Oh Jack, here’s another telegram that just came from you… for you!”
32. 05/07/39 KENTUCKY DERBY BET``` (29:07)
The orchestra opens with "Sing, My Heart" from "Love Affair". Jack and Don talk about how they hated sulfur and molasses when they were kids. Phil wants no part of the silly routine they're doing. Jack says Phil is a fine one to talk, after singing the "Three Little Fishies" song the other night. Mary gets them into an argument about whether Phil is knock-kneed and Jack bow-legged. Mary says she saw Kenny at the sandwich shop where they have a new waitress. Phil wants to go see immediately. Jack offers Phil a sandwich from his bucket instead. Kenny comes in, having had to eat a mountain of food before even getting the waitress' first name. Jack complains about Phil's corny ad-libs. Don ad-libs a Jell-O commercial that sounds pretty scripted to me. The Knocking Man drops by for a quip. The orchestra plays "Rose of the Rio Grande". Jack and Phil discuss the orchestra's number. Jack liked it, but Phil thinks it wasn't loud enough. Jack insists that they're so loud that they have three violins in the band that nobody knows about. Mary suggests adding a burglar alarm to the band. Kenny arrives, sick to his stomach from all the food he ate. Jack confiscates the waitress's phone number because Kenny is too young to go out with girls. Jack announces the play. The Kentucky Derby was yesterday, so the play will be about that, with everyone playing the part of horses. Andy arrives to pick up his girl, who just got a job as a waitress (oops!) Kenny sings "Penny Serenade". He wants to sing it mediocre, since Andy's girl requested it, but they convince him to go all out.
PLAY: “Weather Clear, Track Fast, Fine Play, Bum Cast”. The play opens in the paddock, where all the characters are horses. Phil is eating corn (naturally), and the others exchange horse talk. They argue about the race. Phil tries to date Mary Horse. Shleperman is the Arabian horse in the next stable. They all go out for the race. The race is run, and Andy wins it, even though nobody realized he was even running.
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, since spring is here and well underway, tonight we bring you a big dose of sulfur and molasses, Jack Benny!"
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Andy Devine, Sam Hearn, Frank Nelson
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Blanche Stewart
NOTE: Sulfur and Molasses is an old home remedy, once thought of as a kind of cure-all. Apparently, it does work as a laxative. Sounds like it would work as a purgative as well. http://www.ehow.com/way_5657368_sulfur-molasses-home-remedy.html
Jack : "You know Don, we can laugh now about sulfur and molasses, but when I was a kid, I hated that stuff, didn’t you?”
Don: “Oh, I sure did.”
Jack: “I remember every time my mother gave it to me, I used to go ‘Ugh’.”
Jack: “Yes. Oh, sometimes I’d go ‘Itch’! But, as a rule, I’d stick to Ugh. It was a colloquial expression in Waukegan.”
Don: “Well, tell me, Jack. Did you say ‘Ugh’ for cod liver oil, too?”
Jack: “Ugh for cod liver oil?? Heavens no, Don. For cod liver oil, the correct ejaculation is “Brrrrrr, Nagasaki!’.”
NOTE: "Three Little Fishies" was a popular song in those days, that featured a lot of baby talk. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=541HKD8alfg
CHINESE PROVERB: (An occasional running joke involves Jack quoting a faux Chinese proverb, probably inspired by the old “Confucius Says” jokes, and/or Charlie Chan movies. Here’s the first of them.)
Jack: “Well Phil, for your information, there’s an old Chinese proverb that says ‘Do not dump orchestra in ashcan until you are out of same’.”
CONTINUITY ALERT: Jack has a bucket full of sandwiches, and we're told that he's been bringing them to work since losing a hat in a restaurant 18 years ago. Ignore it, we've seen Jack at lunch counters before, and will again.
KNOCKING MAN QUIP:
[knock, knock, knock]
Knocking Man: “Mr. Benny?”
Knocking Man: “Is Phil Harris going to sing ‘Three Little Fishes’ tonight?”
Jack: “No, and who are you??”
Knocking Man: “Just a hungry college boy. Goodbye!”
NAMES FOR THE BAND: Phil Harris And His Miracle Mile Music Manglers.
JOKE: (Phil thinks his band isn’t loud enough)
Phil: Just the same, I need more sock to my music. More volume!”
Mary: “Why don’t you add a burglar alarm?”
JOKE: (Kenny is trying to get a date)
Kenny: “I’ve got her phone number. Right here on this card. Gee, she’s beautiful!”
Jack: “Gimme that number, Kenny. I’ll hold it for you until you grow up. Come on, give it to me!”
Kenny: “I won’t!”
Jack: “You give me that or I’ll tell your mother.”
Kenny: “All right. Here, ya stool pigeon!”
Jack: “That’s more like it.”
Mary: “Oh Jack, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
Jack: “Mary, I only took that phone number away from Kenny because he’s too young to be going out with girls.”
Mary: “Well, you’re too old, so give it to Phil.”
Phil: “Say Kenny, old pal. I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you bring your girlfriend over to the Wilshire Bowl tonight? I’ll let you lead my band.”
Mary: “You’d better hang your girl in the checkroom, Kenny.”
Jack: “You said it, Mary.”
Kenny: “And how! You know, Jack, the last time I brought a girl over to Phil’s place, Phil came home with us in a cab.”
Jack: “Well, I’ll bet you were plenty burned up.”
Kenny: “I’ll say, I had to sit up front with the driver where I couldn’t hear the radio!”
Jack: “Well Kenny, for your edification, there’s an old Chinese proverb that says ‘He who introduces girlfriend to Phil Harris had better carry spare’.”
JOKE: (Jack introduces the play)
Jack: “Now, in this turf drama, we will all play the parts of horses… I mean we will all play horses! Pardon me.”
Kenny: “This is silly. I’m not going to be a horse!”
Jack: “Kenny, if I can get down on my hands and knees, you can!”
Mary: “Only he can get up.”
JOKE: (In the stable)
Jack: “What are you reading?”
Mary: “A letter from my brother. He’s with Borden’s Dairy now.”
Jack: “Oh. Isn’t he pulling that ice wagon any more?”
Mary: “No, he got cold feet.
JOKE: (In the stable)
Phil: “Hey Heather, what are you doing after the race tonight?”
Mary: “Oh, nothing. Let’s go over to the Blue Moon Livery Stable. They have a marvelous floorshow.”
Jack: “They have? Who’s playing there?”
Mary: “Fink’s Mules.”
HORSE NAMES: Since all the cast are horses, they all have horse names:
Andy = Johnstown
Don = Galladon
Mary = Heather Broom
Jack = Technician
Kenny = On Location
Phil = El Chico
Shleperman = Abdul, the Arabian Horse
NOTE: For whatever it’s worth, Andy wins the race.
NOTE: Jack announces that next week's play will be Gunga-din.
FLUB: For some reason, Don completely breaks up laughing during the closing announcement, and an unidentified announcer has to jump in and finish it for him.
33. 05/14/39 GUNGA DIN (29:57)
The orchestra opens with "Hooray For Hollywood". It's Mother's Day. Jack takes issue with Don's introduction, and thinks Don is calling him a fussbudget. Phil thinks it fits, because he saw Jack being helped across the street by a Boy Scout the other day. Jack claims Phil isn't as sentimental as the others. Phil bought his mom a new corn cob pipe for Mother's Day. Mary bought her mother a bottle of Lamour Toujour Ocean Park perfume (made by Phil's Guitar Player). Kenny comes in, and Jack tries to give him hints about what day it is. Don turns the hints into a Jell-O Commercial. Kenny sings "For My Mother", and Jack wants to know how he had a Mother's Day song prepared if he didn't know that it was Mother's Day. Jack announces the play. Rochester calls. He doesn't want to teach Carmichael to roller skate, but Jack insists that he must because Jack wants to do a vaudeville act with Carmichael during the summer break. The orchestra plays either "Tiger Rag" or "Hindustan".
PLAY: "Gunga-din", a parody of the movie of the same name (1939) starring Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine. Jack plays Gunga, Mary reads a knock-off of the poem. The play takes place in East Cobra, India. In the first scene, Gunga is at home, being woken by his mother. The Knocking Man calls, as Gunga's dad. Gunga leaves home to join the army. In the next scene, Gunga is in the barracks. Phil assigns Jack and Kenny to spy on the enemy. Five days later, Jack and Kenny are dying of thirst in the desert. Kenny offers Jack some of his potato chips, but the offer isn't appreciated. They start to go mad from thirst, but Kenny enjoys it more than Jack does. They spot a roller skating polar bear, and believe it to be a mirage, until Rochester shows up announcing that he's succeeded in teaching Carmichael to skate.
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, this being Mother's Day, we bring you that little old lady, Jack Benny."
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Blanche Stewart
NOTE: I'm not clear on how they pick orchestral numbers. It seems that there are some numbers that get used over and over again, but always in the same position. "Hooray For Hollywood", for example, has been used several times, but always as the opening number (which has a Jell-O commercial in the middle), never as a later number where you can hear the whole song.
CONTINUITY NOTE: Jack claims to have been a Boy Scout, in the Panther Patrol in Waukegan. Don claims to have been in the Beaver Patrol in Denver. Phil says he was never in the Boy Scouts, but just went straight to the Elks.
NOTE: Phil claims that his family used to live in Possum Junction, Tennessee, but moved to Grub Hollow for the feudin' season. In real life, Phil was from Indiana.
JOKE: (Kenny needs a hint about what holiday this is)
Jack: “Kenny, who made you wash behind your ears when you were a kid?”
Kenny: “Nobody, I had curls.”
JOKE: (Kenny needs a hint about what holiday this is)
Look Kenny, it’s somebody’s day today. Now, who do you go to when you’re in trouble and everybody else has failed you? Who do you go to?”
Kenny: “Oh, I know! Mervyn LeRoy!”
NOTE: Kenny says his mother is named Mrs. J. Hotchkiss Baker.
Kenny: “Say Jack, what’s a loincloth?”
Jack: “A loincloth, Kenny, is a sarong with an inferiority complex.”
JOKE: (Casting the play)
Jack: “You will interpret the action of the play as it goes on, by reciting that famous poem by Rudyard Kipling.”
Mary: “What poem?”
Jack: “Oh, Mary, you remember. ‘You’re a better man than I am.’ Who is that?”
JOKE: (Casting the play)
Don: “Oh uh, Jack, have you got a part for me in this play?
Jack: “Well Don, I didn’t know just what to do with you. We need animals, but… but you’re too small for an elephant and too big for a mongoose.”
Don: “Well gee, I’d love to be in it. Couldn’t I be a hippopotamus?”
Jack: “Well Don, you’re hippy enough, and you certainly have a large potamus.”
JOKE: (Introducing the play)
Jack: “Now, the scene of our drama is the home of Mrs. Din. Where she lives with her three sons, Dizzy, Daffy and Gunga. The Dean Family.”
Phil: “What’s the matter with Sar?”
Phil: “Yes, Sar Din! Ha, ha, ha, ha!! Harris scores again!”
Jack: “Oh PhilIP! Isn’t that awful? Sar Din! Phil, the next time you pull an ad lib like that I’m going to put maple syrup in your hair curlers. What a gag!”
Phil: “Listen Jack, I pull that kinda stuff all the time at the Wilshire Bowl!”
Jack: “I know, that's why they took off the cover charge!”
Jack: “Look who wants to play “Scheherazade”, by Rimsky-Korsakov.”
Mary: “Well, he certainly surprised me.”
Jack: “Surprised you?? He didn’t even play it!”
Mary: “No, but he pronounced it.”
Jack: “That’s quite a feat. I bet he doesn’t even know the first eight bars of it.”
Phil: “I don’t? Get this, Jackson: “Scheherazade! Scheherazade! Bada, bada…”
Jack and Phil together: “…Bing, Bing, Bing!”
Jack: “Carmichael is very good at tricks. You taught him to bring in the mail, didn’t you?”
Rochester: “Yeah, but this morning he brought in the mailman!”
NOTE: Jack's mailman is named Mr. Jensen.
JOKE: (In the play)
Gunga’s Mum: “Being a magician is a very good trade.”
Jack: “Oh yeah? Look what happened to Papa. He climbed up a rope one day and that’s the last anybody ever saw of him.”
Gunga’s Mum: “I didn’t mind that so much, but there was a blonde with him.”
JOKE: (In the play)
Gunga’s Mum: “Now, sit down and eat your ground glass before it gets cold.”
Jack: “Ground glass again! Every morning for breakfast, it’s ground glass. Why can’t I swallow a sword once in a while?”
Gunga’s Mum: “You’re too bent over.”
Jack: “Well, I could straighten up for a nice juicy sword.”
Gunga’s Mom: “Why Gunga, how can you get in the army? You’ve got flat feet, and your chest is a little floy floy too!”
(It’s a scary thought, but if you’ve been reading these notes, you actually GET that joke!)
JOKE: (In the play, Mary jumps in before her cue)
Jack: “Well, if you want to know something, momma, I played my bugle on Major Gandhi’s Amateur Hour last night.”
Gunga’s Mum: “Well, how did you make out, Gunga?”
Mary: “He got the gonga.”
Jack: “You’re not in this.”
JOKE: (In the play)
Phil: “Now, listen boys! The Maj just gave me a buzz, and he was hotter than a torch! He said them bandits were jivin’ again.”
Phil: “Yeah, and they’ve been cuttin’ a rug once too often.”
Kenny: “Well, gee Cap, can’t we get ‘em in the groove?”
Phil: “Naw, they’re hep, bud. But if we can get ‘em on the downbeat, they’ll take it on the lam and we’ll be right back on the beam.”
Jack: “Hmmm. I don’t even understand that and I’m a Hindu!”
JOKE: (In the desert)
Jack: “Five days without water. Five long blistering days!”
Kenny: “It’s pretty hot at night, too.”
Jack: “I can’t stand it, Baker. I’m going crazy! Crazy, I tell you! I’m going mad!”
Kenny (flatly): “Me too.”
Jack: “Ooooh! Water! Water!”
Kenny: “Here, have some of my potato chips.”
THE POEM (Part 1): (Mary recites a mangled version of the Kipling poem at various points during the play).
Now, in India’s sunny clime,
Where I used to spend my time,
I knew a Hindu boy called Gunga-din.
His figure was appalin’,
He had arches that were fallen,
And a face that looked just like a soup tureen.
It was Din! Din! Din!
Take it Jack, and see you keep it clean!
THE POEM (Part 2):
So Gunga left his mommy,
And went to join the Ahmy,
A servant of her Majesty, the Queen.
So we find him in the Lancers,
Without his coat and pantsers,
And his bright new bugle slowly turning green.
It was Green! Green! Green!
You’re in the army now, you jelly bean!
THE POEM (Part 3):
So Gunga left with Baker,
Gosh, how their feet will acher,
On that hot and burning sand so far away.
I’ll bet you bet their bunions,
Will be crying just like onions,
Before they reach the Bandit’s hideaway.
For it’s Din! Din! Din!
With buzzards flying high above your beam.
With your courage and your daring,
And that smile you’re always wearing,
You’re a better man than I am, Bobby Bream!
It was Bream! Bream! Bream!...
THE POEM (Part 4):
So we leave them on the desert,
Till next week on Sunday night.
Will they reach their destination?
Will they die without a fight?
Well, tune in next Sunday evening,
And you’ll find out, I hope,
That Gunga is a hero, and that Baker is a dope.
So, it’s Dope! Dope! Dope!...
NOTE: Here are the original words to the poem: http://www.bartleby.com/103/48.html
34. 05/21/39 MORE GUNGA DIN (29:45)
The orchestra opens with "Roller Skating On a Rainbow". Jack says that their picture still has a week to film, thanks to some story problems involving a certain someone. Phil wins the girl at the end of the movie, but Jack thinks that as the star, he should. Phil is younger, but Jack is older, meaning that he has less time to score. Furthermore, Mr. Hornblow wants to use Rochester in the movie. Kenny comes in, fuming that he put a nickel in the apple machine, and a worm came out!! Mary agrees it's wrong for Phil to get the girl without being the star, so Phil should be the star. Mary gets a letter from Momma in the form of a telejeram this time. Kenny sings "Little Skipper". Kenny is still mad about the apple machine when Phil arrives. Jack beefs at Phil for being late, and for taking over the movie. Jack is still upset that Phil marries Dorothy Lamour in the movie. Phil insists that Dorothy wanted it that way. Jack is such a masculine brute, that she's afraid of him. Jack LOVES this excuse, and can't stop thinking about it. He has been working out a lot, you know, and doesn't know his own strength. Women are delicate, after all. Jack resolves to be more gentle and less of a caveman. (and if the show were made now, that caveman from the Geico commercials would be picketing NBC right now). Jack finally introduces the play when Mr. Hornblow calls. Jack cuts a deal in which he'll allow Rochester to be in the movie if he gets to get the girl at the end. Now, Phil is the one annoyed. The orchestra plays “The Lady’s In Love”. Jack avoids commenting on the number, as a compliment would go to Phil’s Head, and an insult would lead to a routine. The play begins.
PLAY: "Gunga-din, Part 2". Jack and Kenny are still dying of thirst in the desert. They come across a group of bandits plotting to attack the Bengal Lancers. Jack refuses to reveal the location of his men, so Phil tortures him by singing the "Three Little Fishies" song. Jack spills the secrets, but as a result of hearing the song, Jack's secrets come out in baby talk.
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you our own movie star who has just finished another epic at Paramount, and is nervously awaiting the preview, Jack Benny!"
MINOR ROLES: Ed Beloin
NOTE: According to Jack, Phil's band now has 18 members.
Jack: “Do you think it’s right for Phil to marry the girl when I’m the star?”
Mary: “Of course not.”
Jack: “You see?”
Mary: “Phil ought to be the star.”
Jack: “I don’t mean that. Imagine Phil winning the girl. Why, he’s not the marrying kind.”
Mary: “Oh, I don’t know about that.”
Jack: “Why Mary, you know very well that Phil is the type of a fella who plays with a woman’s emotions. Toys with her affections! Breaks her heart, and then when he’s through, discards her like an old shoe. You know the way that kind of a guy treats women.”
Mary: “Yes, and we love it.”
Mary: “Oh Jack, this letter is from momma.”
Jack: “How do you know?”
Mary: “The man on the stamp is laughing.”
NAMES FOR MOMMA: "What does the Ouija Board of Plainfield have to say?"
NAMES FOR MOMMA: Momma signs the letter "On the Beam" Livingstone.
NOTE: The telegram from Momma is dated May 19.
NOTE: In this letter from Momma, Mary has a sister named Ethel.
JOKE: (Kenny lost a nickel in a vending machine)
Jack: “Hey Kenny, if you can forget about your great financial loss in the apple machine, how about doing a song?”
Kenny: “Don’t get fresh or I won’t sing at all!
Jack: “What?? What did you say?”
Kenny: “I said if you want a nice fresh song, I’ll sing it all.” Jack: “Oh. I misunderstood you. Go ahead.”
JOKE: (Kenny lost a nickel in a vending machine)
Kenny: “Darn that apple machine!”
Jack: “Kenny, stop worrying about it. If it’ll make you any happier, I’ll take a nickel out of my pocket and give it to you right now.”
Mary: “Shall I phone the newsreels?”
Phil: “Are you still beefing about the picture? "
Jack: “No, I’m not beefing. "
Phil: “Why Jack, I wouldn’t even be in the picture if not for you. You asked me to be in it.”
Jack: “Phil, I asked you to be in one short scene at the opening. I didn’t expect you to stay for eight reels! You move in like a relative!”
Jack: “You know what really kills me. Here, I’m the star, and my stooge marries Dorothy Lamour. It doesn’t make sense.”
Phil: “But Jack, Dorothy wanted it that way!”
Jack: “What do you mean?”
Phil: “She said she doesn’t like to do love scenes with you.”
Jack: “Oh, she doesn’t, eh?”
Phil: “No, she claims you’re too masculine. You’re too rough! She says you’re the brute type.”
Jack: “Brute?... No kidding?? You mean… you mean Dorothy said that??”
Phil: “Why, sure. She said that when it comes to love scenes, you’re a regular caveman.”
Jack: (embarrassed) “Oh, I… (now interested) She said that??”
RUNNING JOKE (BUT, BUT): Another "But, but" joke between Jack and Mr. Hornblow. The punchline this time is that Don tries to do a Jell-O commercial over the joke.
THE BIGGEST LAUGHS: (In the play, this one gets a pretty big laugh)
Jack: “OOhh! I don’t think I can go on much longer, baker. The desert’s got me this time. Fourteen days on this burning sand without water. Fourteen days! You hear that, Baker?? Fourteen days without water!”
Kenny: “What's the record?”
Jack: “Two weeks without food or drink. Two weeks on this infernal desert. Fourteen days under this burning, blistering sun!”
Kenny: “Well, we got a nice tan.”
Jack: “I don’t need a tan, I’m a Hindu! What a desolate place this desert is. How far away from everything. I bet even Mrs. Roosevelt has never been here.”
JOKE: (On the desert)
Jack: “There are those buzzards again! They’re after us, Baker! They’re after us!”
Kenny (very flatly): “Yes, we must not let them get us. We’ve got a duty to perform and by heaven we’re gonna do it we must find the hideout of those bandits or die die like rats in this forsaken desert.”
Jack: “I knew I should have taken that line!”
NOTE: When Phil’s native bandits are chanting gibberish, one of the phrases that goes by is “Brrrr, Nagasaki”. A couple of weeks ago, Jack used this phrase as the sound he used to make when taking cod liver oil. Perhaps part of the lyrics to a song?
Jack: “Well, they’ll never attack our regiment. You remember what the Captain told me to do, Baker?”
Kenny: “Yeah, you’re supposed to blow your bugle as a warning.”
Jack: “And that’s just what I’m going to do.
Kenny: “Get hot, Gunga! One, two!”
[very sickly bugle blast]
Phil: “Did you hear that, men? Where did that bugle come from?”
Kenny: “Sears Roebuck, $1.98!”
JOKE: (In the play, Jack and Kenny have been caught by Phil, and are trying to maintain their cover.)
Jack: “Come on, Baker, let’s go.”
Kenny: “Ain’t we going to spy on the bandits first?”
Phil: “Spies, eh?? I knew it! Take ‘em to my temple, men!”
Jack: “Your temple?”
Phil: “Yes, there it is. That big white building over there.”
Jack: “Some temple: Wilshire Bowl, No Cover Charge”.
(This is not only nowhere near the first Wilshire Bowl joke, it’s also not the first to mention that the Bowl got rid of their cover charge. Jell-O isn’t the only thing they plug on this show, brother.)
JOKE: (Jack has been captured by the bandits)
Phil: “You’ll talk, brother. Where’s your regiment?”
I won’t tell. I won’t tell! Torture me, kill me. But my lips are sealed.”
Kenny: “Mine are chapped.”
THE POEM (Part 5):
Now, in India’s desert land,
Where there’s nothing but hot sand,
We find our punchdrunk hero, Gunga-din.
Private Baker is there with him,
They ain’t got water, they ain’t got rhythm,
And the buzzards up above them sure look mean.
So, it’s Din! Din! Din!
Take it Jack, I’m running out of steam!
THE POEM (Part 6):
So they reached the place at last,
Down by the mountain pass,
Where the bandits are alert, and oh what thugs.
So, let’s listen to their boss,
Which is played by Phil Harros,
As he tells his natives how to cut a rug.
So it’s Rug! Rug! Rug!
Take it Chief, you corny jitterbug.
THE POEM (Part 7):
So, they captured Gung and Baker,
And dragged them in the Bowl.
They couldn’t see the floorshow,
Because they sat behind a pole.
Now, Gunger is from hunger,
And his tongue’s a hangin’ out,
And Baker’s sittin’ with him,
What will happen? Let’s find out.
THE POEM (Part 8):
So, it’s Dween! Dween! Dween!
Those itta bitty fitties make oo scream.
Though we belted oo and fwayed oo,
I can hardly blame oo.
Oo’s a better man than I am, and I’m a girl!
NOTE: I’m really envious of a time when you could filk a work of classic literature in this kind of detail, and expect a general audience to get it.
35. 05/28/39 ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL (29:38)
The orchestra opens with “You’ve Got Everything”. Jack disputes Don’s introduction. He’s not a glamor boy, he’s an “Oomph Man”. Glamor Boys are all about looks, while Jack has charm and sex appeal as well. Rochester is now in Jack’s movie, and he's let it go to his head too. They talk some more about the movie, including Rochester’s part, and Phil’s annoyance at having the ending changed. Jack stops Kenny from playing poker with the band, because he’s too young to gamble. Don’s (unnamed) wife calls, but it’s a thinly veiled excuse for a Jell-O commercial. Kenny sings “Melancholy Moon” after failing to get Jack to go double or nothing (two songs or none). Jack announces the play. Rochester drops in to announce that Jack’s car has been stolen! The orchestra plays “Snug as a Bug”, from “The Gracie Allen Murder Case” with a vocal accompaniment by Phil, and the play begins.
PLAY: “The Story of Alexander Graham Bell”, a parody of the movie of the same name (1939). Jack and Phil are working on Jack’s new invention, the telephone. Mary repeatedly gets calls from her friends while the phone is being invented. The Knocking Man drops by, but realizes the play is in progress, and leaves again. Jack feels success is near, but needs more funding. He borrows four million dollars from his patron, Mr. Baker, but Kenny pays him in $1 bills. Four years later, Kenny is finished counting, but only makes it to $3,999,999.40. Six weeks later, Jack is ready for a public demonstration of the telephone. After several wrong numbers, he succeeds in contacting Shleperman in Baltimore. The line isn’t exactly clear, but close enough. Darryl Zanuck is present at the demonstration, and decides to buy the film rights.
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you Hollywood’s newest glamor boy, Jack Benny!”
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Sam Hearn
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Blanche Stewart
Jack: "Don, ever since we switched the ending of the picture “Man About Town”, and I marry Dorothy Lamour, Phil has been a wreck. He’s so jealous because I’m a Lady’s Man.”
Phil: “Me, jealous? Why, every girl you go out with regards you as a Big Brother.”
Jack: "Well, that’s part of my technique! I sneak up on ‘em!”
JOKE: (Rochester reacts to his movie role)
Don: “Oh, getting ritzy, huh?
Jack: "Ritzy? He bought a sport coat the other day with three belts in the back. Not only that, it’s getting so he won’t wear anything but silk underwear.”
Phil: “Well, it’s all right for [Rochester] to wear silk underwear, isn’t it?”
Jack: “Not when the monogram says JB!”
(I haven’t been keeping track, but this is quite probably the Benny Show’s first underwear-swapping joke. Until 1980 or so, most shows didn’t have any such jokes at all.).
WHY JACK DOESN’T FIRE ROCHESTER, EXPLANATION #4:
Don: “Jack, I can’t understand why you keep Rochester when he causes you so much trouble. Why don’t you fire him?”
Jack: “Oh, I can’t. You see, he found the treasure map of my back yard and he won’t give it back.”
Jack: “Dorothy happens to be very fond of me. In fact, the other day, she gave me an autographed sarong.”
(Lamour became famous for sarongs after making "The Jungle Princess" (1936))
Jack: “They call me the oomph Man because in this picture, I’m virile and rugged.”
Mary: “Oh yeah? Tell them what happened when you shot the wedding scene yesterday afternoon.”
Jack: “Oh well, that was just a novelty, that’s all. Something different.”
Don: “What was it, Mary?”
Phil: “Yeah, tell us.”
Mary: “Well… After Jack marries Dorothy, he’s supposed to pick her up in his arms and carry her across the threshold.”
Mary: “Well, Jack tried and tried, but he couldn’t lift her.”
Don: “And what happened?”
Mary: “She carried him across.”
Jack: “Mary, I told you it was just a novelty, something original!”
Jack: “Hey, Kenny! Kenny!”
Jack: “It’s time for your song.”
Kenny: “Wait’ll I get through. The drummer is teaching me how to play poker.”
Jack: “Well, tell him to give you your shirt back, and come over here.”
Jack: “Phil, I wish you’d tell your boys not to take advantage of Kenny. He’s too young to gamble.”
Kenny: “Oh yeah? I got over a thousand marbles hid in my mattress.”
Jack: “I don’t care what you’ve got, I don’t want you learning how to play cards.”
Kenny: “Hmm, I’ve got a fine chance to grow up around here.”
Jack: “Never mind, I don’t want any more gambling. Now, go ahead, young man, and sing your song.”
Kenny: “I will not.”
Jack: “You will too!”
Kenny: “I’ll tell you what. I’ll match you two songs or nothing.”
DON'S WIFE: Don's (unnamed) wife calls during the show, but isn't heard. In the season opener, Don's wife was named Lucy (played by Blanche Stewart). As mentioned previously, Wikipedia has no information on Don Wilson's first wife, and he didn't marry his second wife until November 1940. It's not clear when Don was married to his first wife, if he was still married to her in 1939, and not clear if Lucy was her real name, or if this was just a stage name.
JOKE: (Don can wring a Jell-O commercial out of anything.)
Jack: “It’s for you, Don, it’s your wife.”
Don: “Oh, thanks. Hello, dear… Yes, I know we’re having company for dinner… Oh, that’s up to you, dear. Any flavor will do… Well, Strawberry or Raspberry would be swell.”
Jack: “Don, we’ve got a long play to do!”
Don: “We haven’t had Cherry in a long time. What about Orange, darling?”
Jack: “Don, we’ve got a long play…”
Don: “Oh, I know! Let’s have Lemon!”
Jack: “Don’t forget Lime!! You might as well get ‘em all in!!”
JOKE: (Kenny’s got the gambling bug)
Jack: “Very good. That was “Melancholy Mood”, sung by Kenny Baker. And Kenny, that was a swell song, a natural for you.”
Kenny: “I threw a seven, huh?”
NOTE: For this play, the tinny gong is replaced with a dinging sound, reminiscent of a phone.
Jack: “Now, as you all know, Don Ameche portrayed the famous inventor in the picture. So, in our version, I, naturally will play the title role.”
Phil: “May I ask why?”
Jack: “Certainly. Now, this picture also featured…”
Phil: “I said why should you be Alexander Graham Bell?”
Jack: “Well, for one thing, Phil, the part fits me. I used to be an inventor myself. Wasn’t I, Mary?”
Mary: “Oh Jack, you weren’t the first one to think of putting a mousetrap in a wallet.”
Jack: “I don’t mean that. Years ago, when I was in the navy, I invented a chin rest for portholes.”
JOKE: (Jack casts the play)
Jack: ”And, as I was saying, Mary, you’re going to be my patient, loyal wife. We’ve had a hard struggle. I’m trying to invent the telephone. And everybody thinks I’m a madman. They think I’m eccentric. They think I’m crazy. But you. My little wife. What do you think?”
Mary: “What do YOU think??”
JOKE: (Phil has a Dr. McCoy moment)
Phil: “Hey Alexander, am I going to be in this?”
Jack: “Yes Phil, you’re going to be my assistant, who helps me invent the telephone.”
Phil: “But Jack, I’m a musician, not a mechanic!”
Jack: “Listen Phil, I’d rather have you tinker with my toaster than tamper with Tannhauser.”
JOKE: (The Maxwell (?) is stolen!)
Rochester: “Boss, remember when you and I were driving down to the studio in you car tonight?”
Rochester: “And, when the motor kept stalling, you got mad and said you wished somebody would steal this thing?”
Rochester: “Well, Hallelujah, you’re a pedestrian!”
Jack: “A pedestrian!?”
Rochester: “That’s from the Latin.”
Jack: “I know where it’s from! You mean to say somebody stole my car??”
Rochester: “Well, all I know is I parked the car in front of the studio and went across the street to buy a cigar.”
Jack: “Uh huh?”
Rochester: “And when I got back, there was nothing there but the anchor.”
CONTINUITY NOTE: At around 15:00, Rochester doesn't want to go near the Police Station because he's behind in his alimony. Jack expresses surprise that Rochester had ever been married, and Roch says that he has "repeatedly". I have no idea why they threw a joke like that in. According to Wiki, Rochester was married once, from 1932 to 1954, when his wife died. When this episode was broadcast, he was happily married, apparently to his first wife. No idea why they’d toss in a stray joke about him being a multiple divorcee, unless it was a setup for something they never picked up later.
NOTE: Just before the orchestra's second number, Jack casually identifies his car as a Maxwell. It's the first time we've heard that name in quite some time.
PHIL SINGS: Phil adds a chorus of "Snug as a Bug" to the orchestra's second number.
JOKE: (Alexander Graham Bell’s wife answers the phone)
Mary: “I’ll take it. Hello? Alexander Graham Bell’s residence? What? No, you can’t talk to him, he’s busy inventing the telephone. Goodbye.”
JOKE: (Jack is trying to get funding for the phone)
Kenny: “How much do you want?”
Jack: “Four million dollars.”
Jack: “Oh, I know. I know that sounds like a lot. But you’ve already given me $32. What’s four million more? What do you say? Why don’t you gamble with me?”
Kenny: “You said I was too young.”
Jack: “That was in the first routine!”
JOKE: (Jack is inventing the phone)
Jack, on phone: “Hello? Hello, Baltimore? Baltimore, hello! Baltimore, hello! Hello! Hello! Hello!”
Shleperman, on other end: “Hello, Straynger!”
Jack: “At last!! At last, at last! Professor Osgood, can you hear me?”
Jack: “I said, can you hear me? Am I coming over?”
Shleperman: “Don’t come over this week, ve got relatives!
36. 06/04/39 HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES PREVUE (28:57)The orchestra opens with “Hallelujah” from “Hit the Deck”. Jack disputes whether he can be compared to Paul Muni, but Don talks him into it. Mary votes no. Phil agrees that Jack is as good as Paul Muni, but can’t keep a straight face while saying it. Jack is annoyed that nobody asked if he got his car back. Kenny comes in, and agrees, without being asked, that Jack is as good as Paul Muni any day. Jack smells a rat. It turns out that the others have formed a BBUATHD Club (Build Benny Up And Then Tear Him Down). Jack asks if their club has a password, and amazingly the password is a virtual Jell-O commercial (except for the “virtual” part). The Knocking Man drops by to agree that Jack is as good as Muni. Kenny sings “New Moon and an Old Serenade”. Kenny threatens to tell Mervyn LeRoy if Jack doesn’t praise his efforts next week. Jack talks about how effective his own manager is in getting him gigs. Andy drops by to say that Ma and Pa are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. In addition, Ma and Pa are going entertain at their party by putting on a boxing match.
Jack’s car is still missing. Mary put an ad in the paper for a $75 reward, but thinks nobody will believe it. Andy wants to know why Jack doesn’t buy a new car, and brings in Andy Callahan, a friend of his who also sells cars to make his sales pitch. Jack gets rid of Callahan, but his sales patter has spread to Phil, who introduces the orchestra’s next number with it. The orchestra plays “My Heart Goes Still”. Jack announces that, at the request of several dogs, they’re doing their version of “The Hound of The Baskervilles.” This week’s play is another trailer version of next week’s play. Rochester calls to say that his weekly salary check was $2 south of the stipulated amount. Jack explains that since his car was stolen, Rochester is no longer serving as his chauffeur, thus his pay has been adjusted accordingly. Rochester threatens to overrule Jack’s decision with a felt tip pen, but is talked out of it. Jack is also annoyed that Jack shaved all of Carmichael’s fur off rather than just clipping him. Jack’s manager calls to say he’s got an opening for Jack to work in a restaurant tonight. They do the Baskervilles trailer, and the programs ends.
PLAY: Trailer for “The Hound of the Baskervilles”.
Don: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, may I present our versatile Master of Ceremonies. A comedian who, with one subtle gesture, one wistful look, can plumb the depths of your emotions.”
Jack: “I get right down to it.”
Don: “Why, only two weeks ago, he was Gunga-din in a loincloth, lost on the desert.”
Jack: “Water! Water! That’s what I want! Water!”
Don: “And, last week he was Alexander Graham Bell, inventing the telephone.”
Jack: “Operator! Operator! That’s what I want! Operator!”
Don: “So, tonight ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, we bring you the Paul Muni of radio, Jack Benny!”
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Andy Devine
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Leo Cleary, Blanche Stewart
Jack: “Yes, Phil.”
Phil: “This may be a surprise coming from me. But the dramatic stuff you’ve been doing on our program lately has been terrific.”
Jack: “No kidding?”
Phil: “Why, there isn’t one person who comes into the Wilshire Bowl and has a marvelous dinner for a dollar and a half with no cover charge, that doesn’t say Jack Benny’s sensational!”
JOKE: (Mervyn Leroy vs. Jack’s Manager)
Jack: “Oh, stop showing off just because you’ve got a manager. I’ve got a manager too.”
Mary: “Some manager. I saw him out in the hall a while ago, passing out cards.
Jack: “So what?”
Mary: “Jack Benny, Comedian. Available for weddings, smokers, and weenie bakes.”
Mary: “If he don’t make you laugh, you only pay half.”
CONTINUITY ALERT: Going by this episode, Andy's Ma and Pa were married in 1889. According to the 1/16/38 episode, they're both still alive in 1978. This would mean that were married for 89 years. The charts I can find don't even tell you what kind of gift you give for 89 years, so just for the sake of argument, I'm just going to refer to it as The Plutonium Anniversary.
Andy: “Say Buck, I meant to tell you. I was awful sorry you… you heard… [Andy breaks down into uncontrollable laughter]”
Jack: “That’s all right, Andy. Take it easy. Take it easy, will you?”
[Andy keeps laughing]
Jack: “And while you’re taking it easy, this isn’t an hour program!”
CONTINUITY ALERT: Andy Callahan sounds an awful lot like Jack's agent Steve Bradley, the guy who came up with the idea for the "I Can't Stand Jack Benny" Contest in the mid 40's.
NAMES FOR THE BAND: Phil Harris And His Internationally Famous Orchestra.
Jack: “That was My Heart Stood Still”, played by Phil Harris and His Internationally Famous Orchestra.”
Phil: “Internationally Famous?”
Jack: “Yes Phil, by that I mean that you’re just as famous in Tijuana as you are in San Diego.”
JOKE: (Rochester threatens to doctor Jack’s check to make up for a dock in pay).
Jack: “Don’t you dare tamper with that check. As soon as the car is found, you’ll get your full salary, and not before.”
Rochester: “My full salary is only $10.”
Jack: “Well, sure it is, but you get your room and board, don’t you?”
Rochester: “I can get that in jail.”
Jack: “Oh, you can?”
Rochester: “And more of it!”
RACIAL HUMOR: (Jack’s manager has been getting him a lot of small potatoes gigs lately).
Rochester: “Oh, Boss?”
Rochester: “I forgot to tell you, your manager called.”
Jack: “Oh, what does he want?”
Rochester: “He says there’s a new drive-in stand opening at 10 o’clock tonight, and you’ve got to be there in full dress.”
Jack: “Oh, okay, I’ll be there.”
Rochester: “Put on some burnt cork, I’ll be working with you!”
(Burnt Cork was a makeup used by black face comics. See also the 11/1/36 episode.)
37. 06/11/39 HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES (28:48)
The orchestra opens with “From Alpha to Omega”. For the first time since 6/14/36, Jack opens with a News Roundup. All the news in the roundup turns out to be Hollywood gossip, as this roundup is a parody of Hollywood Gossip Reporter Jimmy Fidler. The orchestra plays “Hooray for Spinach”. Kenny arrives late, because he fell down an elevator shaft. It’s not especially funny, but an excuse is an excuse. Jack announces that the Season Finale will broadcast from Waukegan, IL, along with the premier of “Man About Town”. Jack tries to introduce the play, but everyone else is more interested in what new clothes they’ll need to buy before the trip to Waukegan. Jack gets the play introduced. Momma calls from Plainfield for Mary. Mary tries to invite Momma to Waukegan for the premier, but Jack insists he’s too busy that week, so tell her to stay home. Kenny wants to know if Jack knows any Dames in Waukegan. Jack promises to fix him up. Jack takes Andy (who’s getting a little too into his role as the Hound of the Baskervilles) out for walkies, as Kenny sings “As the Angels Sing” and the play begins.
PLAY: “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, ostensibly based on the 1902 Sherlock Holmes novel, although it may be based on the 1939 movie of the same name (Basil Rathbone’s first outing as Holmes). It’s hard to tell though, because the play bears only passing resemblance to either one. Holmes is bored when Philip Baskerville’s fiancée arrives to announce that Sir Hugo Baskerville has been murdered, as the latest in a long line of moiders at Baskerville Hall. Before every death they hear the howling of a dog on the moors. Holmes and Watson check out the moors together (the moor the merrier), before going to Baskerville Hall. Jack questions the suspects as a spooky lady decides to hold a séance to ask Sir Hugo himself who killed him. They succeed in contacting Sir Hugo, but he turns out to be The Mumbling Man, and so unable to identify his killer (Funny, I thought that on stuffy English estates, EVERYBODY was The Mumbling Man). Before he can make another attempt, the séance operator comes on the line asking for another nickel. With time running short, Phil confesses to the murder, to wrap up the plot, and everyone realizes that they forgot to work the Hound into the story! If Doyle wrote this, he must have been drunk.
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, greetings from Hollywood. In just a moment, we’ll hear from your Hollywood Reporter, with his frank comments about motion pictures, radio, and the glamorous stars. A man who will startle you with his sensational scoops. And, here he is, folks. That human dynamo, Jimmy “Fidler” Benny!”
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Andy Devine, Frank Nelson
MINOR ROLES: Cliff Nazarro, Blanche Stewart
NOTE: I’ve read all 56 short stories and 4 novels that Conan Doyle wrote about Holmes, and have never quite understood the fascination people have with “Hound of the Baskervilles”. At the time it was a big thing because Holmes was “dead”, and this was the first new Holmes story in eight years. Holmes is still dead at the end of the book, as the story takes place before he had been killed off. It was another year before Doyle retconned Holmes’ death away, and really and truly brought him back.
FORGOTTEN HUMOR: Jimmy Fidler was a gossip reporter, who may possibly have appeared on radio. I don't know if he ever did an on-air feature that conveniently exactly matched the format of Jack's News Roundup, or if that was just Jack's way of adapting the sketch to their format.
JOKE: (Doing Jimmy Fidler)
Jack: "Attention, New York Reporter! Eddie Cantor, Comedian, noted for his five daughters, is in your town celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary. On their way back to California, Eddie and his wife Ida will spend a week at SON Valley.”
JOKE: (Doing Jimmy Fidler)
Jack: “Intimate notes from my Little Black Book! Observed recently coming out of Mazie’s fashionable beauty parlor in Beverly Hills, were Joan Bennett, Myrna Loy, Carol Lombard, Heddy Lamarr, and Phil Harris. When confronted, the popular bandleader claimed he made a mistake. The sign said Mazy’s Salon. But he thought it was Muzzy’s Salloon.”
JOKE: (Doing Jimmy Fidler)
Jack: “And now, word from our sponsor. Take it, Don.”
Don: “Jell-O. Take it, Jack.”
JOKE: (Doing Jimmy Fidler)
Jack: “Open letter to Fred Allen. Dear Mr. Allen. I understand you are going off the air shortly for a well deserved vacation in the rock-bound state of Maine. You’ve earned that vacation, Fred. And you need it. BOY, how you need it!”
WAC (Word Association Commercial): (Unlike the old WAC’s, Don supplies the word for this one himself.)
Jack: “Take it, Mr. Wilson!”
Don: “Ladies and Gentlemen, do you remember that old proverb, a rolling stone gathers no moss? Well, if you want a tempting and delicious desert, you “moss” get Jell-O.”
Jack: “Hey Phil, how’d you like my little takeoff on Jimmy Fidler? I had some pretty hot news there, didn’t I?”
Phil: “Hot news, nothing. I haven’t been to Mazie’s Beauty Parlor in two weeks!”
Jack: “You haven’t?
Mary: “Why, Phil Harris, I saw you in there last Thursday getting a permanent wave.
Jack: “Oh, then I was right about that little item. Imagine a man sitting in a beauty parlor getting his hair curled.”
Mary: “Why don’t you send yours over some time?”
NOTE: It's hard to say exactly when it happened, but jokes about Jack's toupee have officially arrived.
Jack: “Hey, Kenny! ”
Kenny: “Here I am, Jack. I was up on the roof taking a sunbath. ”
Jack: “Oh, up on the roof, eh?”
Kenny: “Gee, I’ve got a headache.”
Jack: “Well naturally, you stayed out in the hot sun too long.”
Kenny: “It wasn’t that, I fell down the elevator shaft.”
Don: “No kidding, Jack. Are we really going to Waukegan?”
Jack: “Yes sir, two weeks to the day, we’ll be in my little home town. Boy, what a hot time we’ll have!”
Phil: “We’ll have to have it before 9 pm!”
NOTE: This is the first time Jack has played Sherlock Holmes since "Who Killed Mr. X" on 6/9/33, when he and Shleper-Watson chased King Kong and ended up on the Russian Boulder... Border! (Python Reference. Don't ask.) This time Kenny plays Watson, and Andy plays the Hound.
NAMES FOR MOMMA:
Mary: “Oh gee, I bet it’s Momma.”
Jack: Yes, Tugboat Annie is on the wire.”
Mary, on phone: “Oh, hello momma. Gee, this is a surprise. What? You’ve been listening to the program? How is it? Oh, it does?”
Mary, on Phone: “We’re going to Waukegan, it’s Jack’s home town. Yes, he was born there, right above a clothing store.”
(In real life, Jack was born in a hospital in Chicago.)
JOKE: (Mary talks to Momma on the phone)
Mary, on phone: “Well, look Momma, I’ve got a great idea. Why don’t you and Papa come to visit me in Waukegan? We can spend a few days together, and you can see Jack’s new picture… Oh, I don’t know, I’ll find out. Say, Jack? (Whisper, whisper, whisper)”
Jack: “No! Certainly not!”
Mary: “No, Momma, no free dishes!”
JOKE: (In the play)
Jack, on phone: “Hello? Sherlock Holmes on this end. Are you on your end?”
JOKE: (In the play)
Jack: “I tell you, Watson, it’s so dull around here. The cases I’ve been getting lately are ridiculously simple. They’re not baffling enough. There’s no excitement.”
[sound of screaming]
Jack: “What’s that?”
Kenny: “It’s 12:30.”
JOKE: (In the play)
Mary: “Well, You see, Mr. Holmes, I’m engaged to Philip Baskerville, the son of Sir Hugo Baskerville.”
Jack: “Oh, Sir Hugo. I know him well. He’s quite a lively old boy.”
Mary: “Well, he’s calmed down considerably. He was murdered last night.”
Jack: “Well, that’ll do it every time. Now, are you sure Sir Hugo is dead?”
Mary: “I’m positive.”
Jack: “How do you know?”
Mary: “He doesn’t giggle when we dust him off.”
((May I interject briefly? I really love that line "Well, he's calmed down considerably. He was murdered last night"--BC))
JOKE: (In the play)
Jack: “Look at that coat of arms on the door. It says “In hope signum, multum peril”. What does that mean?”
Kenny: “No cover charge.”
Jack: “If this is the Wilshire Bowl, I’ll kill myself!”
JOKE: (In the play)
Mary: “And this is Dr. Wilson, our family physician.”
Jack: “Good evening, Doctor. Can you give us any information about the late Sir Hugo Baskerville?”
Don: “Yes, he was very fond of Jell-O.”
Jack: “Hmm. Make a note of it, Watson.”
Kenny: “Okay: Commercial taken care of.”
38. 06/18/39 FATHER'S DAY SHOW (28:38)
The orchestra opens with “Confidentially”. Vacation plans are discussed. Jack is taking Carmichael to Alaska for the summer (he has relatives in Skagway). Don is going to go on a diet and lose 10 pounds. Jack thinks Don should lose 50 or 60 for his health, but Don insists he’s not as fat as Jack says. Phil insists that Jack is no Adonis either, and the feeling is mutual. Everyone discusses the trip to Waukegan and where they’ll be staying. Mary got a wire from Momma saying she won’t be able to meet them there. It's Father's Day today. Mary sent cufflinks to her father for Father’s Day. Don sent his father some… take a guess. Kenny arrives, and has left his packed suitcase on the sidewalk outside, and painted “J Edgar Hoover” on it to discourage thieves. Kenny asks permission to whistle at girls, or at least wiggle his ears at them while in Waukegan, but Jack kiboshes any such plans. The Knocking Man drops by, slow on the quip for once, but quick in the stretch. Kenny sings “Don’t Worry About Me”. Jack says that he saw “The Mikado” and thought Kenny looked good in Technicolor. Kenny thought he was too darn pretty. Phil thinks that “The Mikado” is a western, which leads to a discussion about which of them knows more about music. Jack introduces the play. Rochester calls to say that he burned a hole in Jack’s white flannels while ironing them. Rochester objects to taking Carmichael to Waukegan, and would rather “rug him”. Rochester is unable to proceed, however, as he’s hiding in a box with Carmichael sitting on the lid. Jack tries again to introduce the play, but Don says they have no time to perform it, as the train leaves in 40 minutes. Everyone leaves the show early to catch the train. The orchestra plays an unidentified number.
PLAY: “Lavender and Old Louse” (presumably a parody of “Arsenic and Old Lace”, with Jack as Lavender, and Phil as the rest of the title. However, the play is never performed, as everyone leaves the show early to get to the railroad station.
SITUATION COMEDY: The cast is gathered at the Union Station to catch their train. Jack sends Don to look for Andy and Rochester. Kenny loses his suitcase. Jack tries to buy a book to read on the train from The Mumbling Man. Andy shows up, excited about his first train ride. Jack finally gets the tickets, and gets everyone boarded, but Jack makes Rochester and Carmichael sleep together.
NOTE: The Union Station opened in LA in May 1939, and is still there.
DON'S INTRO: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, this being Father’s Day, we bring you a man who is daddy to a polar bear, Jack Benny!”
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Andy Devine, Frank Nelson
MINOR ROLES: Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Cliff Nazarro, Blanche Stewart
NOTE: As Father's Day shows go, this one is pretty tepid. The holiday is little more than an afterthought in this show.
NOTE: For those who weren’t following along, the show is going to Waukegan for the finale, as well as to attend the premier of “Man About Town”, starring Phil Harris.
JOKE: (Summer plans)
Don: “Let me tell you something. When you see me next season, you’re due for a big surprise.”
Jack: “Well, what do you mean?”
Don: “Well, I’m going on a diet this summer and take off 10 pounds.”
Jack: “My, my!”
Don: “You’ll never know me.”
Jack: “Don, you could take 10 pounds off your lower lip and nobody would know it! You know, when you go on a diet, you ought to try to take off about 50 or 60 pounds. Why, you’ll even feel better.”
Don: “Jack, this may surprise you, but I’m not as fat as you think. What appears to be fat is really muscle.”
Jack: “Oh. Oh.”
Don: “My stomach, for instance, is as solid as the Rock of Gibralter.”
Jack: “Oh, it is? Well Don, I saw you playing golf the other day in nothing but a pair of shorts, and Gibralter was out of bounds!”
Jack: “Your nose looks like a pack mule with those bags hanging down each side!”
Don: “Where are we going to live when we get there, Jack?
Jack: “Well, you fellas are going to stay at the Hotel Wau-ke-gan. You stopped there last summer, didn’t you Phil?”
Jack: “Oh you’ll love it, Don. It’s a swell hotel. Very modern.”
Phil: “Go on, they’ve got a house detective there with a bow and arrow.”
Jack: “Is that so?”
Phil: “And if you’re not downstairs by 7 am, they send a maid up to see if you’re dead.”
NOTE: Jack mentions Aunt Clara, Aunt Molly, and Cousin Susie living in Waukegan. Real life relatives?
MARY'S BIRTHDAY POEM
Oh Daddy dear, oh Daddy dear.
I send you cufflinks with good cheer.
And when you hock them, which you'll do,
If you can't get five, go ahead, take two.
JOKE: (Father's Day presents)
Phil: “Say Jack, I sent a present to my father down in Tennessee that he’ll be crazy about. I sent him a vacation outfit.”
Jack: “A vacation outfit?”
Phil: “Yeah, a hammock, a jug and a flyswatter.”
Jack: “Well, he’s all set for the summer. What does he do in the winter, Phil?”
Phil: “Same thing, only we give him a blanket.”
JOKE: (Father's Day presents)
Don: “Say Jack, do you know what I sent my father for a present?”
Jack: “Yes Don, and I know how many flavors it has, so don’t get cute!”
[knock, knock, knock]
Jack: “Hold it, a minute. Come in?”
Knocking Man: “Mr. Benny?”
Knocking Man: “I just dropped by to wish you a very pleasant trip to Waukegan, and to tell you that I’ll miss you while you’re gone.”
Jack: “Well, thanks very much.”
Jack: “Well, what are you standing there for?”
Knocking Man: “Ain’t ya going to kiss me goodbye?”
Jack: “No, I’m not!!”
Jack: “Good looks never hurt anybody, least of all me.”
Mary: “May I say something, Jack?”
CONTINUITY ALERT: In discussing Kenny's appearance in "The Mikado", nobody seems to remember the discussion they previously had about this movie on 6/19/38, in which Jack initially thought that The Mikado was an Oriental jewel.
Jack: “You’re a fine musician, Phil. For you to pick up a baton, and lead an orchestra is perjury!”
Mary: “Why Jack Benny, you didn’t know what The Mikado was yourself until you saw the picture.”
Jack: “I didn’t know what The Mikado was?? Why, Mary Livingstone, before we went into the theater, I told you it was an Oriental story.”
Mary: “You told me Charlie Chan was in it, too!”
Jack: “All right, so I made one little mistake! But Phil has no excuse, he studied music.”
Phil: “That studying don’t mean nothing. Why, some of our greatest musical geniuses never studied music.”
Jack: “Name one!”
Phil: “Abe Lyman!”
Jack: “Oh, fine! Lyman is worse than you are! He directs his boys with a rawhide whip!”
(It’s been a while since we’ve seen Lyman around, but they’re keeping his character warm in case they need it again.)
CONTINUITY ALERT: Mary says that Jack took music lessons for 12 years, and all he can play is “Love in Bloom”. Of course, we’ve heard him take a whack at many other pieces before.
Jack: “Listen Mary, your opinion [of my violin playing] doesn’t matter very much. If you want to know something, I’ve been complimented by Haefetz!”
Phil: “Haefetz?? Why, Haefetz doesn’t even know you’re alive!”
Jack: “He does too, because he tried to shoot me once!”
JOKE: (Don can wring a Jell-O commercial out of anything)
Jack: “You know, I don’t like to pat myself on the back all the time, but there’s one instrument I’ve really mastered. Why, I can make a violin talk!”
Don: “You certainly can, Jack.”
Jack: “Thanks, Don.”
Don: “Why, many’s the time I’ve heard your violin say ‘I’m proud to snuggle under the chin of a man who works for Jell-O!”
Jack: “Oh, for Pete’s sake!”
Don: “Because Jell-O is economical, easy to make and comes in six delicious flavors, Strawberry, Raspberry, Cherry, Orange, Lemon and Lime.”
Jack: “You mean my violin even knows the flavors??”
Don: “Yes, sir!”
Jack: “Well, isn’t that AMAZING?”
Kenny: “This stuff is strictly for the kids!”
Jack, on phone: “Rochester, did you burn a hole in my new white flannels?”
Rochester: “It ain’t my fault, Boss. It’s that cheap material.”
Jack: “Cheap material? What are you talking about, I paid $45 for those pants!”
Rochester: “Forty-five dollars??”
Rochester: “Is this you, Boss??”
Rochester, on phone: “Doggone, I looked high and low for that fiddle, and I can’t find it nowhere.”
Jack, on phone: “Oh, well I suppose it never occurred to you to look in my violin case.”
Rochester: “I did, Boss.”
Rochester: “There ain’t nothin’ there but four strings and a fat termite.”
Jack, on phone: “Get everything together. My trunks, bags, violin and Carmichael, and head down to the station.”
Rochester, on phone: “Okay. Can I take a taxi?”
Jack: “What’s the matter, have the buses stopped running? Now, hang up and get going.”
Rochester: “Okay. Goodbye.”
Rochester: “Doggone, if I could get three dollars ahead, I’d quit this job.”
Jack: “What? What did you say??”
Rochester: “Didn’t I hang up?”
Jack: “No, you didn’t!!”
CONTINUITY ALERT: Phil's guitar player, Happy Bolliver, takes the cast to the station. In later years, Phil's frequently-mentioned guitar player was named Frankie.
NOTE: The Knocking Man is the train announcer this time.
Knocking Man: “All aboard! Train leaving on Track 3 for Santa Monica, Santa Clara, Santa Anita, Santa Barbara, and Santa Present To Your Dad, it’s Father’s Day. All aboard!”
JOKE: (At the station)
Jack: “Hey, Kenny! Kenny, where’s your suitcase?"
Kenny: “Somebody stole it!”
Jack: "Somebody stole it? Well, that’s awful. What are you going to wear on the train tonight? You haven’t got pyjamas or anything.”
Don: “I’ll lend him a pair of my pyjamas, Jack.”
Jack: “Just give him the uppers, Don. He can use it for a nightgown.”
Mary: “And tie a bell around his neck, he might get lost.”
Kenny: “Oh, this is too complicated. I’ll sleep raw.”
Jack: “I want seven round trip tickets to Waukegan, Illinois.”
Clerk: “Why don’t you buy one-way? You might like it there.”
Jack: “I know I’ll like it there, it’s my home town! But I gotta come back here, I’m in pictures.”
Clerk: “So was I, and look at me now.”
Jack: “Well, that’s your tough luck. Now, hurry up, I’ve gotta make a train.”
Clerk: “Okay, here you are.”
Jack: “And, oh yes. I want berths. I want four uppers and three lowers.”
Clerk: “Well, you know, the lowers are higher than the uppers.”
Jack: “I know, I did that in vaudeville 20 years ago! So, don’t start that routine!“
(It sounds vaguely familiar, but I can’t place that routine. I’ve got a feeling, though, that we’ve already heard pretty much the whole bit.)
Knocking Man, singing: “All aboard! Train leaving on Track 16 for Lou-is-ville, and Bow-ling Green. Nashville, Knoxville, Vicksburg too! And all points south on the Choo-Choo-Choo! All aboard!”
Mumbling Man: “How do you do, sir?”
Jack: How do you do? I’d like to get a book, please. A real good mystery story.”
Mumbling Man: Yes sir. Have you read “Phil Harris and His Gang are Murdered at the Wilshire Bowl?”
Jack: “No, but I know what you mean.”
Frank Nelson: “Pardon me, Mister?”
Jack: “Oh, now what?”
Nelson: “Can you tell me what time the airplane leaves here for San Francisco?”
Jack: “Airplane? I’m afraid you’re going to have a little trouble, buddy. Airplanes don’t leave from a railroad station.”
Nelson: “Oh, you’re one of those wise guys that knows everything.”
Jack: “I’m not a wise guy, but I know you can’t take an airplane from a railroad station!”
Nelson: “Oh yeah?”
Knocking Man: “All aboard! Airplane leaving on Track 8 for Bakersfield, Salinas, Oakland and San Francisco! All aboard!”
Nelson: “You see, you big smarty!”
Jack: “Oh, go pin your hair up! (Fresh guy)!”
Jack: “Did you bring your pyjamas?”
Andy: “Pyjamas? Doggone, can you sleep on a train?”
Jack: “Well, of course. Certainly.”
Andy: “Well, I’ll be darned. Can you eat too?
Mary: “Yeah, Jack brought sandwiches.”
Jack: “One more crack, and you won’t get any!... Where am I? Oh.”
[Big laugh, as Jack apparently lost his place in the script]
THE BIGGEST LAUGHS: (Andy had previously asked if you could actually eat and sleep on a train.)
Andy: “How long does it take to go to Waukegan, anyway?
Jack: “Well Andy, we’ll be on the train for two whole days and two nights.”
Andy: “We will??
Andy: “Say Buck, do they have…”
Jack: “Yes, yes, don’t worry!”
(This one gets a pretty big laugh, as well as applause. “Your Money or Your Life”, indeed! Imagine if Jack had had to tell people that the biggest laugh he ever got on radio was a bathroom joke. Narrow escape on this one.)
JACK: (At the station)
Jack: “Gee, I wish Rochester would get here. The train will be pulling out in a few minutes.”
Mary: “Well, it’s your own fault, making him look all over the house for that violin. Why do you want to take it to Waukegan, anyway?”
Jack: “Because my old violin teacher, Charlie Lindsay will be at the premier. And I want to show everyone in Waukegan what he’s done for me.”
Mary: “Well, that's the dirtiest trick I ever heard of!”
CONTINUITY ALERT: Jack mentions that his old violin teacher was Charlie Lindsay. In later years, Professor LaBlanc usually appears to be Jack's only violin teacher, although there are a few stray jokes about Jack's first violin teacher killing himself.
Knocking Man: “All aboard! Train leaving on Track 7 for Grub Hollow, Possum Junction, Squirrel Setter, Beaver Creek, Mud City, and Waukegan! All aboard!”
Jack: “Well Andy, are you thrilled, being on a train for the first time?”
Andy: “I sure am, but, say Buck, ain’t it dangerous goin’ through that Indian country?”
Jack: “Aww, no, Andy. I’ve been through it a hundred times, and I haven’t been scalped once.”
Mary: “You’d never know it.”
39. 06/25/39 FROM WAUKEGAN, ILLINOIS (28:48)
The orchestra opens with “Man About Town” from the picture of the same name. Jack says he spent the last four days renewing old acquaintances, and avoiding paying old debts. Phil got taken to the hoosgow for disturbing the peace. Jack says if Phil had called him, he could have had Bidey Talcott take care of it. Unfortunately, Bidey was in the slammer with him. Mary saw the house Jack was born in (now a fish market), and the famous Jack Benny Elm. Jack ran into one of his old girlfriends on Washington Street. The Knocking Man has made it to Waukegan too (despite saying goodbye last week). The orchestra plays “Rose of Washington Square” from the picture of the same name. Jack praises the orchestra’s performance. After the broadcast is the World Premier of “Man About Town”. All of the stars will be attending, including Dorothy Lamour, Hedda Hopper, Jack and Phil. Jack introduces Bidey Talcott for his third appearance on the show. As with happened to Kenny recently, Bidey’s parlance has also been Harrisized (meaning that it's a lot more jivin' and on the beam than it used to be). Bidey has a load of jokes that “Twitch” gave him to tell, but Jack insists that there’s no time. Don asks Bidey about the Jell-O eating habits of Waukeganites, but answers all the questions himself. Bidey leaves to get ready to go cut a rug with Phil. Kenny has flown back to Hollywood, and will not be on the show tonight, or ever again as it turns out, and so Phil and Mary plan to sing one of their duets. Before they can, Andy drops in to say hello. Andy spent the day hammering gavels with fellow mayor, Bidey. After chatting a bit, Andy leaves to go ride up and down in the hotel elevator for a while. Phil and Mary sing “The Lady’s in Love”, but Jack credits Kenny with the song anyway. Jack gives callouts to several friends in the audience, including his father. Since Jack started his musical career here in Waukegan, he wants to play a violin solo to impress his old violin teacher, Charlie Lindsay. Before he can, Rochester calls to complain about being cooped up with Carmichael. Jack is leaving tomorrow to see the Louis-Galindo fight, and have another argument similar to their one over Louis-Roper (Gee Jack, Louis even CALLED it his Bum of the Month Club! Wasn’t that a hint??) Rochester asks if he’s really off salary while the show is off the air (he is). Jack warms up and plays “Glowworm”, more or less. Jack threatens an encore, but they all have to leave to catch the opening of the movie.
Don: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, greetings from Waukegan. Our last broadcast of the season is coming to you from the stage of the Genesee Theater in Waukegan, Illinois.”
Jack: “Yes, sir! Jell-O again, folks…”
Don: “Please, Jack! Wait until I introduce you.”
Jack: “Oh, pardon me.”
Don: “On a certain Valentine’s Day many years, a stork flew over this fair city, and dropped a little bundle of joy. And who do you think this bundle was?”
Jack: “Uh, Jell-O again, this is…”
Don: “Jack! Please wait a minute!”
Jack: “Don, who was born here?? You or me? For heaven’s sake!”
Don: “So, without further ado, I bring you that local boy who surprised everybody by making good, Jack Benny!”
SPECIAL GUEST STARS: Mancel "Bidey" Talcott
RECURRING GUEST STARS: Andy Devine,
MINOR ROLES: Cast: Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin
THE JACK BENNY ELM:
Jack: "What else did you do, Mary?"
Mary: "Well, I went over to City Hall Park to see that elm tree they planted in your honor."
Jack: "Oh yes, did you see that elm tree?"
Mary: "I'll say. Ha, ha, ha, ha! Ha, ha, ah, ha!"
Jack: "What are you laughing at?"
Mary: "There was a squirrel in it signing autographs."
Don: You told me that you used to be quite a lady's man in this town. Have you seen any of your old girlfriends?"
Jack: "Have I? Why Don, only this morning I was walking down Washington Street, and who did I run into but Vivian Thompson? You know, when we were kids, she and I were kind of stuck on each other. I used to write her notes, and we used to give each other presents. In fact, I still have a lock of her hair."
Mary: "You ought to paste it on, brother."
(So, is this a real person or not? Could Jack tell a joke like this with Mary there if it were?)
And I'm so grateful for the way people here have treated me that I wrote a poem all about Waukegan."
Jack: "Well, that's a fine way to pay 'em back! But go ahead, let's hear it."
Don: "Well Jack, I'm going out in the hall for a glass of water."
Phil: "I'm going with you and I never touch it!"
Jack: "Come back of here, both of you! If I can take it, you can take it."
Jack: "What's the title of it?"
Mary: "To Waukegan, Where Jack Benny Was Born in the Year 18... [mutter, mutter]
Jack: "Never mind, never mind. Read the poem."
Mary: "Oh Waukegan, Oh Waukegan,
On the shores of Like Mi-chi-gan."
Mary: "Jack was born here in this place
He was very pretty, except his face."
Jack: I was pretty all over! Go ahead.!
Mary: "Once you were a little village,
Indians roamed here too and fro.
But now you are a great big city,
and you've got to buy beads in the 10 cent sto'."
Jack: "10 cent sto'??
Mary: "Sho nuff, honey."
Jack: "Well, we certainly got to Alabama fast! Continue. Continue, Mary."
Mary: "I like your parks, I like your streets. I like your homes, they are so neat. I like your lakes, I like your boats. Do sailors really…"
Both: "Know their oats?"
Mary: "So, oh Waukegan, oh Waukegan. We'll be sad when we are leavin'. But before we go, this kiss I give, to one and all, from Mary Liv."
JOKE: (The Knocking Man shows up in Waukegan despite saying goodbye before they left)
[knock, knock, knock]
Jack: "Hold it a minute. Come in."
Knocking Man: "Mr. Benny?"
Knocking Man: "Oh Waukegan, here am I. Did I walk or did I fly? Is this just a dream perchance? Oh gee whiz, I forgot my pants. Woo hoo!!"
Jack: "I'm going to shoot him during the Quail Season, folks! Play, Phil!"
Jack: "You know [Phil], if your boys played like that every week, I'd be proud that I was a member of the Musician's Union."
Mary: "I thought they threw you out."
Jack: "They did not. I'll show you my membership card, I've got it right here in my wallet."
Mary: "Oh, don't take off the barbed wire just for that."
Jack: "That's a fine way to talk, Mary, after the way I've been spending money on you. I took you to Nolan's restaurant every single night this week for dinner."
Mary: "Yes, and I know why we always went to Nolan's."
Jack: "Never mind.
Don: "Why, Mary?"
Mary: "Fifteen years ago, jack bought a meal ticket there and he had 8 punches left."
Jack: "Well, I can't carry it around with me forever! I'd like to take one of those punches and give it right to you, right on the nose!
[this last is obviously an ad-lib, as it broke both Jack and Mary up]
JOKE: (Jack and Phil are still sparring over their roles)
Jack: "You know, you're not the only one in the picture."
Phil: "I'm the only one with sex appeal."
Jack: "Well, if that isn't the hammiest remark I've ever heard. Listen brother, I've got more appeal than you any day, and I'll leave it to Mary."
Mary: "You better not!"
PHIL SINGS: With Kenny AWOE (Absent Without Explanation), Phil and Mary sing a duet of "The Lady's In Love".
MARY SINGS: See above.
NOTE: Last week, we were told that Kenny had packed his bags to come to Waukegan. Apparently he arrived, because Jack says that he had to return to Hollywood. By the time the next season starts, Kenny will be off the show, singing for Fred Allen, and replaced by Dennis Day. The full story of why kenny left is still not quite clear, but the split seems to have been fairly amicable, as they pass Kenny in the street in next season's opener, and explain that he can't say "Hi" back to them because he's on another show this year. No indication is given in this episode that Kenny won't be back.
NICKNAMES: Jack introduces Phil and Mary as "The Nightingale of the South" and "The Plainfield Thrush".
Phil: "Hey, Andy. Have you been down to Chicago yet? There's a town you ought to see.
Andy: "Chicago? Where's that?
Jack: "Oh Andy, you know. It's that big city with the tall buildings. You know, where we changed trains."
Andy: "Is that Chicago?"
Andy: "Well, doggone. Bidey told me that was South Waukegan."
Jack: "You know, folks, Andy's getting a terrific kick out of this trip. He's never been East before."
Phil: "He's never even been in a hotel before."
Jack: "How do you know, Phil?"
Phil: "I walked in his room this morning and he was making the bed!"
Jack: "Mary, do I know what I'm doing today?
Jack: "That 'No' wasn't in the script, folks."
JACK PLAYS THE VIOLIN: Jack scratches out "Glowworm" on the violin, claiming it's the first number he ever learned (although whether he's "learned" it at all is debatable, brother!)
JOKE: (Jack and Rochester on the phone)
Jack: "Rochester, how many times do I have to tell you not to interrupt me in the middle of a program? Now, what do you want?"
Rochester: "Well Boss, I'm tired of being cooped up in this hotel room with Carmichael."
Jack: "Oh, you are, eh?"
Rochester: "I want to get out in the sun. I'm losing my tan!"
JOKE: (Jack and Rochester on the phone)
Jack: "By the way, is [Carmichael] standing the heat all right?"
Rochester: "Yeah, but I think you ought to feed him more. All he had for breakfast was three fish, two eggs and a bottle of milk."
Jack: "Well, my goodness, wasn't that enough?"
Rochester: "I don't think so, I caught him putting marmalade on the bellboy."
Jack: "Oh, he was just clowning."
Rochester: "He was drooling, too."
JOKE: (Jack and Rochester on the phone)
Rochester: "When we start on our vacation, does that mean I'm off salary for 14 weeks?"
Jack: "It certainly does. You're just like me, Rochester. When I don't get it, you don't get it.:
Rochester: "When you GET it, I don't get it!"
NOTE: With the season closer, the show is off the air until October 8. With no Benny show to listen to, the Nazis get restless and invade Poland during the break (Gee, talk about "Idle Hands"). The war won't be mentioned on the show until the first episode of 1940.
NOTE: Jack thanks his writers, Bill Morrow and Ed Beloin at the end.
NOTE: This summer's Jell-O Summer Show will be "The Aldritch Family", which had previously appeared as a segment on The Kate Smith Program in the last year, with Ezra Stone as Henry Aldritch. This show was something of a hit itself, both on radio, and as a comic book, although I know very little about it, other than that Henry Aldritch was sort of The Archie Andrews Before Archie Andrews.