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I am I am. Ladies and Gentlemen this is al ago I are reconvening the case for comedy. Sir would you please make an opening statement. And if you have no place to plug. Your help to have some break good be bad for you can develop into being good. Michigan State University radio presents the comic arts an 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. You have a taste for humor and you like the comedy style you explore the field and you get some laughs and you flounder around for a while
may talk with the star between nightclub shows. Chat with a veteran actor backstage or swap stories with a video coming sooner or later if you have enough nerve. You ask how you get started in this comedy game. Then hands will shake sadly as the laughs fade away and the masters of mirth relate formidable fact of comedy life. Funny thing you want to be good but I'll tell you the truth. First you gotta find a place to be lousy. You hear this bit over and over again and come to believe that it's so. Take it from a man who really knows TV's star Danny Thomas. It's hard to develop MTV because you starred right on top. In Jordan the top measured by box office. You know in the old days when we played somewhere it depended
upon how many people we could draw and the type of people we could draw so when you made a $2 or $5 a night you were drawing a few people and they certainly got to be a little couldn't spend very much. And in cafes as friends and then when you got into the thousands of dollars for a week you obviously were not only drawing the quantity but the quality too. And then you went on and played there and you had to do then big box of it been this quality was not the problem was the Granny how many tickets could you sell now in television on any given Monday night. More people watch the nanny Thomas hour. Or you want to name in the other show but why should I know. Yeah but more people want blood. They make room for daddy. On any given Monday night. Then I have seen Gone With The Wind. In one night. In one half hour. That's frightening.
Now young comedian or comedienne comes along and it's presented on national television. That poor child. Has reached the a pretty mediated picture right then and there. And it's dead wrong. They have no place to flop. You have to have someplace to be bad before you can develop into being good. And that's why they come and go and television so quickly a guy comes in huge the whole rod in a 15 minute shot on TV that he could live 20 years and nightclubs in theaters with making the rounds. So you've just got to have someplace to be banging. What are the minor Lafley for the Rocky comic for the top comedy writer. Oh here we have discovered a classic frustrating all too familiar to those who labor in the comic arts a frustration echoed again in the words of Eloise MARTIN One thing I want to say never
getting off but you didn't have and I've never worked when I left but I have studied the comedy techniques of burlesque. I learned how to model what was in the late intake and things like that you know the comedian coming up today. They have no place in which to be a lot of the I mean there's no break in and America left in the old days we had vaudeville we had laughed and we had all these places you could go to break it but I used to go and study the comics and I remember Red Buttons when he was about 17 years old over here on Broadway beginning at a theater he was learning all of take things in the go the average the new comedian that I won't name any names. You're leading comedians are making powdered wigs they don't even know what these things are today. They don't have the background. Let me confess my ignorance what is a model with all right I'll give you a very good example of a smile but the theme of the Barbershop a man getting a shave he has a towel around his neck from a composer Mr. Schneider what you're How come by he runs down the street. Back at the proper speed front is what's the matter and the money was not small it. Did you see that I gave you the reverse of this is Fanny Brice's a maid she is deafening in the
living room there's a knock at the door of the Western Union man he says you just won a hundred thousand dollars on the Irish Sweepstakes. She goes right on dusting for a full minute. Finally it hit there why I am the delayed take these then you are classic and time proven techniques of sanity yet then I read the Riot Act that is so wonderful. He uses pay as Carlos where you look at the person look back and then you see you do the double take all forms of Skaro can be laid takes model it says reverse model where. And you're a comedian today for the most part don't know what they are and I suppose I found awfully smug if only because I'm a gold as I am that I happen to know what these things are because there is no brain left to go to today to study these techniques. You would undoubtedly agree then that for those who are trying to start are young people in the field if there were if there were a good central source of this information a library of some kind.
Drugs if you don't know what else is doing an awful lot to help people they have a comedy workshop in New York I've attended there and I've done it on my comedy routines and then everyone gives me the benefit of a constructive criticism that I do want to repeat myself and they are there. George Burns the comic said there's no place left in which to be allowed that you know you have to be meant to accept one of these people are they going to learn the craft. This is this is it. Technique to think years to develop. That's why Phil Silvers and Red Skelton red buttons are also great because they learned it in Burma. What do you think about the club date field as break in set or is there some kind of a bad place for as you say a kid to be a lousy trade. The brokers weren't looking for it unless you're on my shit because you can't wait again on the convention. They won't allow you to They'll only hire Trident through x. So where is the youngster today going to improve. He can perform. Maybe in the college musical but that that's no criterion because it's the kind of whether you're going to applaud for him even if he thinks right. So where is the person going to break
in today. Well this seems to be the nature of it the way it goes. But if don't ask in vaudeville are no more. And you can't try your wings in network TV. Where else can you go. New York television comic Chuck McCann and his partner Paul Ashley are quick to command the local video medium as a training ground and a place to experiment. We do a lot of television and most Herculean job. We we had a four hour show on the station which ran for four years and very successful. And because from our day we were doing a total of 13 14 hours of TV a week and you can eat up a lot of material. You can create and improvise. I don't I would recommend hardly any young prospective comedians out there that. Come of age and motion pictures that it seems that this is the road this is the way it's
going. This is the way. The map points. I would I would recommend them heartily to get me into the television medium you know through a children's show or a local television learn and experiment and experiment. Experimentation is very very important. We're still experimenting and we call this instant television so you walk in and you do it. We don't get much more personal. Maybe one run through we didn't even have to run through today you know he didn't finish today no. Glimmer of hope for the young banana. Get on a local TV show and swap out comedy across the board. Join a little theater group and hope for some comedy parts or tackle a season in summer stock. You'll find the straw hat theatre presents a sharp challenge to every skill you possess in the way of the actor's art
from the standpoint of the actor who's interested recently professionally. Again a great deal from some I think absolutely. Doing a play a week. Sometimes you are said you're told you have to play this mad Russian in this play and you say but I don't know Russian accent and I I don't think I could play this extreme extrovert they said you're the only person to play it you play it and so you just go to your room for about four hours and you get a character and you start to visualize this person or anyone you know was a Russian you tried to feel we call moments when you felt like this mad person or you try to understand what really teaches you to spread climaxes and the transitions and what are the key words and techniques for yourself and some of this is
no time to give you a characterization to give you you sink or swim and luckily all the groups I've been with. You look good and look for a place to break in and you sometimes wonder if you should try it at all. But then you get a bit of a break. A chance to talk with a great comedy actor of the American stage and screen who gives a fine perspective on entering the theatrical profession. Edward Everett Horton their interest in theater as you mentioned started and student days at Columbia University. And I also going back to Marcy that you got a job at what we sometimes call nowadays as a body being on the stage you're carrying it on. I deduce from this that you could give some fine words of encouragement to colleagues theater people and college actors about their possible career. Well of course the great thing we have to open overcome is the
parental objection you know if anything on here there's no security. And so many actors in the well there are so many lawyers there is no Many doctor the thing in any profession. And I think if you've gotten through high school and you don't know wild oats that you had to clean who'd been in some of the high school plays and if you get into college and you know you're thinking you know you're going on and you're still interested in the theater and there's no reason in the world why you shouldn't keep at it because what is lovely and even halfway successful life as an actor. So my figs are my my food destiny just thinking about it. Don't be discouraged and do everything you can to get up on your feet before people do you feel that a young actor at nowadays should keep his availability at a very broad basis that is if he has a chance to do some radio and television commercials all of these things add favorably to hide everything and all of the rules on experiment going in the chorus as I did when I was a kid there was nothing else. Then there were the local
companies all of the United States which were very anxious to bring in new talent. Nowadays of course in those days the the desire to be an actor was not felt by everybody or if it was it was squashed by the parents. But today we're seeing both if you're registered for a movie and so I want to know how bad it is to go around except these lovely little there's a bit springing up all over the United States and what they called a straw hat circuit now is one of the most important departments of the theatrical legitimately optical world. And this is what the this is closer to a grassroots theatre movement Yeah in America would you agree with that I would be. So that's the situation in the wondrous world of comedy. A rough one from the beginners viewpoint like looking for a needle in a haystack to find outlets where you can make mistakes get the feel of timing. Meet the people face to face and find out what it is like to get up in front of an
audience and make the fateful attempt. In short the tricky testing ground the first high hurdle along the path to the humor Hall of Fame some place to be lousy. Our thanks to our guests on today's program Danny Thomas Elouise Martin Chuck McKay and Paul actually Bill McGuire and Edward Everett Horton. This is Alan Grier. I'll be back on the next program with another perspective on America's sense of humor and the comic arts. The comic arts series we've always wire is produced by Michigan State University Radio in cooperation with the humor societies of America program consultant George Q. Lewis the music by Jerry Tillman. Your announcer can be charter. For.
This program was distributed by the national educational radio network.
The comic arts
Episode Number
Episode 4 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.: Danny Thomas, Eloise Martin, Chuck McCann, Paul Ashby, Bill McGuire, Edward Everett Horton.
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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: 68-12-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:14:50
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Chicago: “The comic arts; Episode 4 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 April 25, 2024,
MLA: “The comic arts; Episode 4 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. April 25, 2024. <>.
APA: The comic arts; Episode 4 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