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The. Heritage of American humor. We have many sources of worthwhile laughter all influence our outlook on life from the early days comes a unique heritage for the 20th century American. Heritage enhanced by being shared. The University of North Dakota broadcasting service presents 50 dramatized essays on the American humor found in newspapers books and anthologies old and new from these the 20th century American can obtain a perspective on the intelligences attitudes styles and sensibilities of the American outlook as it concerns himself and his world neighbors. The heritage of American humor is produced by the University of North Dakota under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the
National Association of educational broadcasters. The writer narrator is Professor Joseph F. Smeal of the University of North Dakota Department of English program 13. Sly and the fabulous beasts. My somewhat foolhardy intention is to start today's program with one or two general remarks about humor. First then may we not say that humor tolerate fiction. Is an humorous business done with fictions with such misuses of reality as are found in puns burlesques tall tales parodies caricatures fables and irony. But some men will not tolerate fiction. They are in secure about the division between the realities and the fictions of the culture they inhabit. They are intolerant of fictions that do not ask to be believed and they hold that mere belief will change a fiction into a reality. Nevertheless I still hope that humor tolerates fiction. Oh that means that these men just mentioned are
humorless. And second to me not to say that humor tolerates fictions in order to reach reality. Humor contrasts fictions with reality in order to set off the nature of reality. Humor uses fictions to let men face painful realities from behind a screen of laughter humor uses fictions to mark the distinctions between Impossible impossible probable and improbable reality. Indeed as a special experience of reality that is accomplished through the use of fictions and third may we not say that humor tolerates fictions that are apparently invisibly and obviously fiction. For humor does not tolerate fictions that are believed to be realities fictions that cheat or mislead when one cannot tell whether a Communication is a lie or a joke. There is no humor. And one is not amused but irritated. So we may draw these generalisations about humor into one sentence which reads humor tolerates fictions which are known to be fiction and in order to reach realities Today we present examples of
those fictions that are called Animal fables. Animal fables are apparently. This is obviously fiction. In them contrary to fact or reality. Animals talk. Wear clothes and conduct business and social affairs. We all tolerate animal fables in the cartoons of our papers movies and television programs the Fables associated with Mickey Mouse Pogo rare rabbit crazy cat Archie and Mehetabel and other fabulous and sly beasts for our program we draw on a great body of animal fable that derives chiefly from the lions of the Caribbean from the Carolinas around even to Brazil and including the islands of that sea as well. For we should recall that while one great stream of immigration brought Europeans to the Americas another brought Africans and Africans are the great masters of animal fable. And when they had settled throughout the Caribbean they began developing fables that involve the animals of the Americas like the possum the
alligator and the Terrapin as well as the animals of Africa like the lion and those of Europe even like the fox. The examples of animal fable that we present today were gathered in the southeastern part of the United States by a newspaper man. Oh yeah I'd like to Georgia during the 1880s and 1890s was the first that we present is entitled Why the turkey buzzard Yes but. Turkey because it's honey if it is on the top of the head and you got hand a palm of your hand. You catch one of them and if you can hold your breath distinct long enough you'll see that I'm telling the truth. But I am blaming him for that. They get a mighty good reason for being bald headed. Today's man if you folks know what that reason is. So if you home on your grandma don't know aspect I had to tell you the best way to do that is to tell the tale to deale folks tell the children there was a time when Brad livin one side of a
hollow tree. One day while he was going around Ole Miss Turkey Buzzard. I'm not going to have to dope. And when she don't hear nothing she stuck her head in and look around to see and then to see him now you would know she would to same bird. She had a fine big top knot in the head. They didn't want to and imprison hands when the wind and blow if it is to run away. Yes if she had a fine topknot and she's pretty good looking. Well she peeped in she did then she see did they want nobody in there. Need a granddaddy skunk. No rattlesnake steak not a look in then and she walked and made herself much at home in a take home is busted long for her to fix her nest she didn't want nothing but 5 sticks and a handful leaves. She put down the street now no rugs No moved chairs around a wash no dishes because almost turkey buzzard is a scandale Yes housekeeper. Well along towards night maybe a little later where I had come home and I came most he's done he come a laughin he
been projecting with some of the other creatures and he was mad pleased with yourself when you first came you take no notice o Mr icky but as it came in a laugh and in the left where he'd want to laugh no more. But Bye-Bye going to take notice that everything weren't just like it ought to be somebody's been you know while I'm gone whatever it was he's got a mighty bad breath and Br'er Rabbit he keep still close to his my docking to holler but he keep on wiggling his nose and trying to sneeze. By and by you say I don't know who it was Don't Binya Auline always he better go see the doctor. But that is too much room is busted and she said I thank you kindly but I rather your underwear maken friends where somehow ever you go you know says Buzz it is that you are used to what we know you. Here and how the whole bridge was no use doing as well as you can spec a man to do. He's way from home when he ought to be there when he dares in the way men folks is monstrous drawn by rabid You know that yourself. I know what you say but when women gets out of sorts and has the all overs as you may
say the menfolks has to bear the brunt of a moment. You can put that down for effect. They went on that way in tonight's Putin's Putin 12 home is Turkey going to get sleepy. Nenshi say wherever if you took more time for sleep. You'd be a lot better off. Maybe so maybe so says buzzard but I can have my habits. I'm a light sleeper but I was blown so. And if you so much as move in during the night I'll have one eye open if that's the case very good. I'll thank you for to wake me if you hear a snake problem. They have many things I'm feared of and one of them is a snake. The law of snakes was all that troubled me that I'd be most unhappy Many and many's the time when I woke up and found a wild up in my britches leg and then only as Turkey Buzzard she saw in a flood of wings Dan darken saying wherever it gave me the creeps you told you that was the first night and the next day all missed because it had done took up abode in a lodging where Br'er Rabbit was livin at. He'd say nothing because he just wait in due time you can play some kind of prank on her and her family all to the need for it to
brace him up was to have a strong stomach against the smell and he thanked the loaded he got that. So time went on in is any kind of sound egg will hatch if you give it time. So Miss buzzard a catch in most for you know it. If you ain't had to live like a rabbit she has chatter eggs and I have a pair of mighty likely challenge if you can call a buzzard likely all the miss buzz it was monstrous proud of these young ones. Time to come was hard put to get him vittles. She'd fly off and holler for something to eat when they hear a come back and it got so after awhile it had to go hungry they were so ravenous and then she began to look sideways at brown rabbit. Well he knew mighty well what she thinking about what he eats enough and he come and go just like that one in the back part of her head. But all the time he know which he is planning to do and he acts accordingly. So he is how to Miss Bassett one day. I know you want to be kind of private when you raise in the family and as these two hollers industry I've got to make my home and you know what I do want to kind of Br'er Rabbit.
But it's mighty kind of you all the same to be thinking about you other people that's all right. This buzz that I've been raised that way before Briar Rabbit when India Holly he made show to do was mowed and when we get in and out he went and I didn't scratch about make a new bed and then get in it for to get it wrong. He sat there I would want to open it in one shot. He sat so still that almost buzzard got the idea to go on a brode and so when the children cry for dinner she say honey baby mama gone to get you a good warm dinner for no money to be fresh meat to you can. Well do to lend a cry was a discus day so hungry dey don't want to wait a minute but don't wear rabbit was second Dar listening and he allowed his self it'll taste mighty good when you does get it honey baby's And with that he skipped out from now on and went off to his laughin place. While the children's tolerable well that day but the next talk long before the crowd got to feeling like a wind bag. And then they set up a cry for more vittles and the Mammy got no vittles for the game. Br'er Rabbit went abroad might
assume that day and they had as full of fun and turnip greens he come home and went to bed but he'd sleep alone because he has some kind of no use and wake up in an open and shut is Popeye's kind of slow and with his mouth and nose and he can hear almost buzz a trumpet around of his front door kind of harmony cue onto itself and then he say oh yeah you got it right. Brevity nobody but me I got the idea that someone was bought the place and I just got up to see that everything was all. I got you here and my good reason given not out here you can see all handle that make Behravesh laugh because the morning sun was shining too and not whole Rattenbury rabbit's face. He laughed low to his self and saying in a whisper to god if you would want to get you updated if you hear my home and where rabbit here almost busted walking around at the end then he holler OK you know
I'm really was they gonna be like you know I'm going to run you know me to get out some of the money in my own house not getting you know somebody want to run you have heard me out. Wilma's buzz it ain't no mo San stand to believe Bear rabbit and she was just certain so that she was his meat so she say I'm the one to check you up and down and I'm going to keep you in that air you're done then and good. How would I meet often your bones both that lean and feed my chillen got you shot up would red plane ride and I'm going to keep you in the night where you ain't got no breath in you with that she went in her own house and sat down with the children for to wait to see what's going to happen and where AB he stays too for the longest case he's one of the most fidgety creature you ever laid your eyes on. He stay right stately did his turkey buzzard get tired of waiting and come out for to promenade up and down for the trun dope that you hear Br'er Rabbit say yes Joe believe mammy Haitian let me have this make you smell it you
move your grip do man make a brass bed I hear you say we're full get through with you you won't have no breath I promise you that but I had a dad on this bus it went back in her part of the house and so bare rabbit took a notion that he'd get out of there and pare back for the old and the new. At his back door he went and take time for to go to his laughin place no sir not him to do that he put off to a node Mister man had been clearing up new ground there was a tin bucket in what Mr. Manager left and gone off and forgotten wherever talked at and fill it full of red hot embers and he went to say I'm back home with it. When he got stuck his hand in Miss buzz Doe and lawand say this is buzzard I hope you don't had your DNA today and if you wait I got it right here for you and you mowed unwelcomed all lives in it you know mode and got the words out from his mouth foam is busted fluid out at him. She flew it out she did with Jean Flude for a photo she got the hot ashes over her head
and neck and the way she hop around was so scandalous that folks cause that kind of doomsday buzz a dance to list a entire summer day and she's got a little buzz in from that time on. None of the tribe is had any half it is on the head and not much on the neck and if you look right close you'll find that I'm telling the truth the plain truth. They look so bad on the head neck that you have to go get him a piece of rag for it to tie around and keep it from catching cold. This first example of sly and fabulous beasts in Ru murder makes me wonder always how much watching in the back country of Georgia how much looking and listening and smelling where the winds off the Caribbean stirred the pines how much snooping into hollow logs near where Mr. Mann been clearing up new ground and how much nest robbing had occurred before the story reached the form in which we know it. I wondered too about the watching mine that created the character of Miss buzzard who said I don't got you shot up at red clay and white and I'm going to keep you both day and night.
Or the character of rare rabbit of whom we now learn more from another fable but about that time that Wolf took a notion a notion that a bare rabbit can outdo all breadline that don't mean he can outdo Wolf. So Brad has chance one day while zone is rabid and a little rabs is happy can salad for dinner. He snuck in Bear Rabbit's house he didn't wait for the bear rabbit to come home. Well where rabbit had his out was yes and soon twas one of it went along for all he can to get a mighty quick I man and he took notice everything Matty still know when he got a little knight took notice to define Doe was on crack and just make him feel funny kids you know Dylan is all women and children out they always pulled the dough should catch did that. So I want to live now and he steps in as bad a cake he PPA any people dare you to teach you nothing. He listened to chimbley corner and listen under the window. It ETN nothing then he sought to wipe his mustache and study and he allowed to sell pot read know what went on up the chimbley the rafters
no booze in the lull the bed called no one a bit. I know pot grey rafted and I know bad code. But please gracious I'm going to find out who's in that house and I wind him they are not it. They always find a bell in the mill pond. Some folks would have rushed in and if they had they wouldn't have rushed out nomo cause they would've been nothing left but a little scrap or hide and a handful of hair. But Brother Rabbit got a better sense than that. All you ask anybody is to just give him a hand room and damn I can catch him is moden welcome to take him. That exactly the kind of man what a habit is. So he went off a little ways from the haves in the clamper Simmons stampin when he got a dad going to holler oh yeah the house ain't make no Anson where Wolf and I are behind a dope and his eyes wide he know what to make of that kind of doings.
Watch your radio. House ain't no answer and bramble from DIE behind a door so to make round like you get restless and a man would grab it out down to Simmons don't holla mo louder than before. Oh oh oh oh oh. House stands still and behind a door going to few chill streaking up and down here on his back and all his bone days you never hear no goings on like that. He put a crack in the dough but he can't you know COAS for the hay yos. Oh yes you want a go you know man if you had bread will move back out listen before oh you feel just like someone don't hit him under funny bone and Br'er Rabbit how less how does he can but still I mean get no answer and then he say quiet like show really something is the matter with that house kids all the time before what is it been holla back at me. Hey yo yo sip then grab it wait a bit and to quieten by and by hollow one mo time Oh oh oh oh oh brambles try to talk like you spec a house to talk and he holler back. And rapid want you to sell it you know I want you to know you got that gold and
bread will how horses e can. Who does make a Rabbit laughed a little more than he did wrap up a Simmons stamp and heard his ramble all day that you had a great time I know I know you can do all of that how I let you know I'll let you know where will come is slinking out and make a break for home headed dad Br'er Rabbit live a long time without any and a creature who's a pastor and. I suppose that it took more than a lot of close watching on the Pine Barrens in the back country of Georgia and Alabama when the warm humid winds were floating in from the Caribbean before the stories came to the form in which we know them. There are sophisticated stories and must have been retold and retold many times to get the Polish they show the rabbit for example has no character into colors such as he has become in the comic strips and animated cartoons of television. He's not eternally successful in a battle of wits with the other creatures of the animal fable.
His most famous setback for example came at the hands of Br'er Fox for bear Fox Arin are the fox was not quite as dull of wit as Mrs turkey buzzard or Mr Wolf where Fox feel he'd been tuck once too often. So I went and got him some time and mix it with turpentine and fixed up a contraption what he call a tar baby. Baby nice big road and he lay off down in the shadows and Bush is the kind of comfortable lead to see what the news was going to be. Well he didn't have to wait long because by and by he had come where rabbit pacing down the road and John Doe he came on Liberty keep it just as sassy as a jaybird where Foxley even lower where rabbit come a prancing along to at least buy a tar baby and then he fetch up on his behind legs like he was done to tar baby she sighed. She didn't bear Fox he lay low bare rabbit he says Martin. Now where does one tar baby ain't seen nothin in brown fox lay low. How does your symptoms seem to
get a fox he winked his eyes slow and lay low in the Tar Baby sheeting nothing there where rabbit he says says he Do you go on and if you do eat because if you will as I can I'll allow that tar baby stay still and where foxy lay low just listening. US stock up that's where you're with and I'm going to cure you that's what I'm going to do I'm going to learn you how to talk to spec but folks this is my last sack if you don't take off that hat and tell me Howdy I'm going to bust you wide open the tar baby ain't saying nothing. And very rapid keep on action and tar baby she keep on saying nothing. Well presently Brad drew back with his fish he did in the Libby Tucker side of the head right dies where he broke his molasses joke when his face stuck and he can't pull loose guitar Hylton with tar baby she still stay and BRAF oxy lay low if you don't let me loose I'll knock you again and so we say and with daddy after a wipe would you had a hand in that stuck tar baby she ain't say nothing and Grafx he lay low watching where rabbit turn to his feet for you saw me lose for walk it in actual stock not you but
to tar baby she ain't seen nothing she just held on and breath foxy lay low and so grab it lose the uses feet and then Br'er Rabbit squirrel out of the Tar Baby don't turn him lose. He better crank sided anybody'd in his head got stuck and then by half facts he says you look sort of stuck up too small and then brand Fox just rolled up and a big road laughed and laughed when he couldn't laugh No. The case may be made I suppose that some of the polish that these American animal fable show is due to their passing through the hands of the newspaper men in Georgia who published them. How much joy Chandler Harris may have contributed to this. It's difficult to determine given the South's almost universal practice of storytelling. Southerners are proverbially are tellers of tales. We have today one further example of these tales of sly and fabulous beasts to present a small boy whom Joel Chandler Harris imagined as the audience for these tales. One
day I heard the narrator of them chanting in that peculiar voice known around the Caribbean. A voice that lies between singin and say in money hair what you do so small can you see. And so the small boy asked whether Br'er Rabbit had to go clean away when he got loose from the tar baby. Did he have to go. Last gracious daddy didn't who you know nothing told the rabbit of destiny puttin down. What are you going away for a stage show and a close to his self to the pitch rubbed off in his yeah but many days fall he was lapping up and down the neighborhood same as Evan I don't know if he were most sassy and I am a foe. Seem like detail about how he got mixed up with the tar baby got round mongst the neighbors. Leastways Miz meadow and gals got win on it and the next time their rabbit paid him a visit Miss Meadows tackled them about it and the gals so to set up a monstrous giggle meant but brown rabbit he set up as cool as a cucumber he didn't let them run our own business man
don't ask me she was in detail MS meadows and the gals was in detail I give you is like you were given to me so bear rabbit he sighed. I did so at a lamp black and by and by cross his leg he didn't wink his eyes slow and up and say this is the lady's brother Fox was my daddy's riding hawse the 30 year maybe mo but 30 years that I knows on Jan where rabbit paid Miss Meadows and the gal Hispanics in tipis beaver and often much she did Jess and stiffen as stuck up as fast Dick and that was all that day the next day it was Br'er Fox come a cauldron and we began to laugh about brown rabbit meadows and a gals day ups and tells him about what Brown rabbits say then by a foxy grit is you sho nuff he did look mighty dumpy when he riz for to go up and he says as he ladies spew what you say but I make sure these words right here where you can see him and with that brass Fox match off and when he gotten the big road he shucked to do often his tail and made a straight shoot for the bear Rabbit's house when he got to where
rabbit was spec to name and was shut fast by a fox not nobody but you. Nobody answered. Then you knock again but man and then Br'er Rabbit holler out mighty wee hours I want you to run away with me. Walk Run away. I come after you. There's going to be a party altogether and I don't promise that I think you don't wear rabbit so he was to see him when a fox a bear rabbit was in and out I had it up and down was futile and contended where Rabbit said he can't walk by a fox and he told him where rabbits I have no where Fox Aina zones where rabbits ate and where Fox to drop him. Lowie won't buy my Brother Rabbit go if and where Fox told him on his back. Well by Fox said he would be a rabbit said he couldn't ride without a saddle to get the saddle where rabbit
splain he can't set and saddles Lissie got a bridle for the whole by well-bred Fox agreed to get a bridle but a rabbit said he can't ride without a blind by his rare fox be shy and it stumps along the road and fling him off so he get a brand by then by a rabbit. Say you go then where foxy riber rabbit most of the way up to Miss Meadows dough and then to buy a rabbit can walk the balance of the way and greed and read about that end got the saddle and bridle. It was by a rabbit note again where Fox was fixin for to play and he determined for it to do and by the time he comin and twist his mustache and so to rig up with the saddle and bridle on the look in his perch as a circus pony he tried up the dough and stand in a poem to Gran and chomp into bits seem like a showing of hos and where rabbit he Mountie didn't they amble off but can't see behind him with the by and rattle on but by and by if I have been a rabbit raise one is boots but you will know where every shot and left stirrup breadbox by my feel bare rabbit raises to the food.
What you do know pulling down my pants leg. But all that time where I was putting on his spurs and when he got close to Miss Meadows where Brad was going to get off and made a motion for it to stand still where rabbit slapped the sparrows in the grass Fox's flanks and you'd better believe he got over the ground and when he got the head to the house Miss Meadows and all the gals was a settin on the piazza instead of stopping at the gate where rabbit rid on by. Didn't then come galloping down the road and up to doss rock which he hit breath boxset and then he sauntered into the house he didn't shake the hands with again and sat there smoking his cigar same as a town man by and by drawing a long puff of smoke and then laid it out in a cloud and says ladies you know I don't tell you Brett Fox was a riding horse for our family. He's sort of losing his gait now but I suspect I can fit him all right and want to sell and wear rabbit so he grinned he did and the gals giggle and Miss Meadows she brings up the pony and our grandma Fox each fast and he can't help as. Such then are examples from the great body of animal fable known and
enjoyed around the shores of the Caribbean Sea and its islands. Wherever the negroes from Africa settled and adjusted themselves to the American frontier of their culture. The four stories are all from the collections published by Joel Chandler Harris in the latter years of the 19th century. They illustrate that variety of American humor that concerns itself with sly and fabulous beasts. We hope you have enjoyed them. Today as the voices Barbara Lee band or Lee Holton produced by Scott Bryce technical operation by John Buck quits. Thank you. We invite you to listen next week to the heritage of American humor a series of 15 dramatized essays written and narrated by Professor Joseph F. Smeal
of the University of North Dakota Department of English. He offers you a perspective on the relationship between the American humor found in newspapers books or anti witches and the American outlook from Colonial to recent times. The heritage of American humor is produced and recorded by the University of North Dakota broadcasting service under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center. And is being distributed by the National Association of educational broadcast. This is the NH Radio Network. The show.
Heritage of American humor
Sly and fabulous beasts
Producing Organization
University of North Dakota
KFJM (Radio Station : Grand Forks, N.D.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program, "Sly and Fabulous Beasts," focuses on humorous animal fables.
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Dramatic essays on the history and nature of American humor. Written by J.F.S. Smeall, assistant professor of English at the University of North Dakota and editor of the North Dakota Quarterly.
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Actor: Lee, Barbara
Narrator: Smeall, J.F.S.
Producing Organization: University of North Dakota
Producing Organization: KFJM (Radio Station : Grand Forks, N.D.)
Production Manager: Bryce, E. Scott
Writer: Smeall, J. F. S.
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-4-13 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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Duration: 00:29:30
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Chicago: “Heritage of American humor; Sly and fabulous beasts,” 1961-02-28, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 25, 2023,
MLA: “Heritage of American humor; Sly and fabulous beasts.” 1961-02-28. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 25, 2023. <>.
APA: Heritage of American humor; Sly and fabulous beasts. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from