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Ladies and Gentlemen this is our look why are reconvening the case for comedy. Ma'am would you please make an opening statement. If I did have to ever have to go on it I knew the stage manager was going to make that announcement I know I have to put my hands over my ears. It's devastating. People know it. Michigan State University radio presents the comic arts and essay and sound on the humor of our times featuring the comic the humorist the joke writer the clown the Dauntless individuals who work in the world of comedy. The spirit of the comic says flourished through the eight years older than theater itself. The comic spirit was known to the earliest mind and with undiminished vigor today has survived the long hard test of time. I'm confined in time or space the spirit travelled with strolling minstrels imparted zest to the maskers art and sparked the Jesters role at court this immortal
tradition commands respect as well as on a young comedian in the wings well may pause to absorb a touch of this ancient magic that has thrived in every human age winds that stir the waves of laughter and comic arts on stage. In the theater results are couched in basic terms it's either a hero or a flop. The former is vastly preferable as joy and warmly exclaims. Here it's much more fun to tell you right now that's the one that's really good really. I was in not only partially out of it just before that another bar called that thing with a cherry like and so it was such a thrill to be in a a show where the reviews were unanimously raves as many of the reviews were so good that we didn't believe that we thought of the next night or waited for the retraction because they were magnificent reviews and I think after a hotel last night I didn't buy a paper for about three weeks. It Was that upsetting. And the performers came out very
well it looked all posh not a review wise and everything but the people that are really hurt I think in a in a bomb or a flop are the writers because for instance potshot I was a book show and they spent four to five years writing the book and the music and it becomes you know their child their baby and after the show closes the performers go out hustle out into the audition and they get another job but they need the authors. What do they do they have to you know create another baby and then raise it and everything that takes more years it's much much harder for them than the performers I think. But it's easy for anyone to have a hit. I mean after the hit then that's the fun part. And one of the standby actor who must play a waiting role Miss Warley has experience of this to standing by for Carol Channing and it has its trying moments. Well it's a Number one she's never missed a show. Very healthy lady now. And she did for the first six months I had worked for Gower
Champion and David Merrick before I did the national comedy of carnival like a ballad role and so they that I was in Chicago at the time they called me and at that time they were in Washington just before they came into New York and I started there and I love it I love the music and I love the costumes. But I'll tell you the truth I really didn't I wasn't eager chomping at the bit to go on for her because it's there ain't scary going on for particularly a rule like that word so identified with the personality like Carol Channing. One night I must tell you I was in the audience going to watch the show and the stage manager came over the P.A. system and said Ladies and gentlemen we regret to announce that they're in the audience on their way home and I don't actually know me. I spend a million. Now as for my tickets and I drove 83 miles and I've got a parking lot and they they wouldn't let the stage manager continue they they work. It was scary it was really scary they started advancing towards the stage practically and the stage manager had to shout and say that the part of many FE is going to be played by BB It was a whole nother thing
altogether. And so finally when it all blew I flew that was close but the audience didn't care who knew that they would be upset at people chanting We're going to be in it. I left the theater with only That's Gary would have been terrible to go on for those people would break your heart. If I did after ever have to go on and I knew the stage manager was going to make that announcement I know why I have to put my hands over my ears. It's devastating. People are so cruel. Meanwhile they paid their money they want to see Carol Channing they're entitled. Aspiring actors never forget that spark of discovery may appear backstage. Broadway column Mr. Olson relates a case in point when a group of there's another guy he's going into movie acting of course it. Could continue but he told me that beyond 1968 he won't be doing any regular. Television anymore because. It's been. Concluded.
By many people Universal Pictures and you know as Greg would enjoy his movies Darren claimed 20 pictures. I mean the kind of maybe Walt Disney might have done and. It's possible you'll be together with Don Knotts who is also filming for that same company. And Andy pointed out to me. That this was curious to those two guys both started out in a No Time for Sergeants right around the street from my office here. I believe it was in a theater. Fifty second Street and in that show. Don played a small part in maybe two or three parts I'm not sure. And of course and he was a star and a first first time and anybody of importance saw Don not as nervous man routine which got to be so famous it was probably him and his dressing room showing it to Andy.
So I thought a great geyser hatched or foreigner route around the neighborhood. The spokesman for humor George Lewis himself recalls how he learned early on that the theater is an exacting taskmaster. Earlier in my career as a writer I found that there was a need for a group activity and I formed pretty much the whole theater group in New Jersey and I was just Oh as a kid just a kid then my feeling of course at that time was that I wanted to write plays and the best way to get them down was to do them yourself. So we formed a group which presented plays and I used to do a play a week on a radio station in new record with my own little group and that in turn led me into many public relations field. Again I was thinking that the important thing was to get your foot in the door. And I started to work with the Schubert company as a press agent. Main time
writing sketches for Broadway shows hoping that no machine of birds and the producers would give me an opportunity to meet with them and to show them my material and is to break into the running of the scene. It was at that time that they were doing the sons of. Johnson show I was impressed with Wilson Johnson and of course you get to know them very well and us who try material and I met Johnson and some of their writers and Broadway exposure and I realized then as I do that at the time it's a pretty tough place to break into and you know start at the top you start at the bottom and. Controversy will always rage around the robust comedy of the state
the rebel line in the rock us laugh may bring raised eyebrows now and then raised voices too from artists of other media like Author HLN Smith and now if you permit me to say so I would like to remark that there always has been a great deal of hypotheses about parody and literature. I used to be amused by the spectacle of the fancy paper tan the legitimate Satre in New York City. All of the better people the quality the high toned women with the expensive furs on all these people who are supposed to be the best mannered and best cultured people of our great and wonderful civilization year after year after year
attended opening night or if not opening night later nights at the legitimate theater. And most of the time the plays and the musicals of guarantee straight barnyard Vaal Garrity and barnyard unbowed or ID and yet the same people. What. Complain sometimes about the use of a four letter word in a book and say that this was frightful and this should not be permitted and so on and I was just saying I was never able to understand I have always saved a little quote from Stanley Walker who was talking about the Broadway theater and he said in the most sophisticated shows the one sure way to get a laugh is by a sly reference to functional matters. It is a toss up whether the
bed or the bathroom is more significant in American humor. Stanley Walker was a very smart guy he didn't go for my stuff he didn't think I was funny at all. I thought he was a smart man and. Well maybe not too smart in some directions but. He had quite a reputation as a as a newspaper man in New York and I respect that observation he made about the theater because I've had it for a long time too and I've never been able to understand why people have to be such hypocrites about Vaal Garrity because Vall Garrity is a good solid healthy thing and I am all for it and I'm going to continue to be vulgar and tell I come and get me and take me over and butt me in the hot squat it saying saying.
To my knowledge just as an actor to delivering a solo locally and humorous similarity between the simple joke and dramatic form is sharply drawn by Sam Levinson. There was drama in a joke. If you do not prepare the background it's like coming to a play late if you didn't see the first 10 minutes you don't catch the point of it. So you have to prepare that you have to be conscience conscious of what gets attention when the curtain goes up. The first line the first thing you say is to be an attention getter. You become aware of all these things you become aware of how long you can carry one job how long you can carry a performance. People do fade out on you after a while. So I've been doing this now around 20 years and then I'm not infallible you can go out and lay an egg. Sometimes your mind gets tired and I found that if a team kills jocks and kills your timing.
It does something to your performs your own lack of sharpness becomes a defect in the joke itself but the effect is like the 300 performance on Broadway after you've done the performance 300 times your geotagging may not be quite as great. There's an excitement in the unknown if you're telling a joke for the first time and it does very very well. And sometimes the second time it doesn't do well and you go back and find it was your own enthusiasm that first time that made that joke so great. I was thinking that you already knew the punch line and you didn't have you here which makes it an actor's art. By the third time you have to act out because of the audience especially if you don't have and they're not going to go away. That's as Shakespeare wisely wrote. All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players. The world is yet theater to the comic muse
and the stage remains the cradle and home of the comic arts. Sincere thanks to our guests Joanne Warley Earl Wilson George Allen Smith and Sam Levinson portions of this program were prerecorded. This is al of wire. I'll be back on the next program with a discussion on the backstage television aspects of the comic arts. The comic art series with Alice wire is produced by Michigan State University Radio in cooperation with the humor societies of America program consultant George Q. Lewis. Music by Gerry Tillman. Your announcer can be charter. For.
This program was distributed by the national educational radio network.
The comic arts
Episode Number
Episode 7 of 13
Producing Organization
Michigan State University
WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Series Description
For series info, see Item 3293. This prog.: Jo Anne Worley, Earl Wilson, George Q. Lewis, H. Allen Smith, Sam Levinson.
Media type
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Producing Organization: Michigan State University
Producing Organization: WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-12-7 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:14:55
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Chicago: “The comic arts; Episode 7 of 13,” 1968-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed March 2, 2024,
MLA: “The comic arts; Episode 7 of 13.” 1968-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. March 2, 2024. <>.
APA: The comic arts; Episode 7 of 13. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from