IJBFC Chat - November 1, 2009
(Name of message originator in  brackets at the beginning of each line)
[Maxwell] Hey Brad!
from Georgia] So how was Halloween? It rained and we didn't have a
single trick or treater. First time in years.
[Maxwell] Hiya boss!
[Laura Leff] Hi folks!
from Georgia] Hi, LL!
[ed] hi LL
[Maxwell] We had a lot more than last year (when
we had none).
[Laura Leff] It was beautiful here. We went
to a very nice open house of a friend of mine and had a good time.
from Georgia] We stayed at home and listened to the rain.
[ed] I had over 20+ kids ran out of candy at 7:30
[Laura Leff] His house has a great view of
the ocean, and we watched the sunset over the Pacific.
[Maxwell] Yesterday was our first rainless day in
a week, I think.
from Georgia] My birthday was last Tuesday; my son just remembered
tonight and called me to apologize for having forgotten it. I felt like Jack!
[ed] same here max
[Laura Leff] Any Beverly Hills Beavers?
[Laura Leff] Mazel tov, Brad!
[Maxwell] Our trick or treating hours were from
3:00-6:00 p.m. Kind of takes the fun out of it....
[Laura Leff] I saw a lot of kids out in
costume during daylight hours...when did that change happen?
from Georgia] We were in Key West last weekend and watched the sun
set in the Gulf from Mallory Square. Key West was very warm and drunk.
[ed] ours was 4-8 turned on front porch light and
the kids came up in seconds
[Maxwell] I think in the '80s or '90s.
[Maxwell] At least around here.
[Laura Leff] Key West was drunk or you were?
from Georgia] Key West. I don't drink myself.
[Laura Leff] That would be difficult.
[Maxwell] You should never drink yourself. You
should drink liquids.
from Georgia] It was the beginning of the Key West Fantasy Fest.
[Maxwell] So you fantasized about drinking
[Laura Leff] How's the new book doing?
[Laura Leff] I think it's supposed to be out
by now, is that right?
[Laura Leff] (A hush falls on the room)
from Georgia] Lots of good seafood down there, though. And six-toed
cats. I suppose the new books doing OK; they never tell me! It's gotten good
reviews, especially a starred review from School Library Journal.
[Laura Leff] That question was for Brad.
[Laura Leff] Great...congrats!
from Georgia] I'm currently working on a spec (non-contract) book
called "Bridget Berg is Queen of the Elves?"
[Laura Leff] Hey, here's a question for the
room (which I may repeat later)
[Maxwell] Well, is she or isn't she?
[Laura Leff] Brad - Sounds like Pan's
from Georgia] Contemporary fantasy. Bridget is part Irish, part
Jewish, and part fairy, though forty generations removed....
[Laura Leff] Has anyone here gotten the
specials from 1966 on and watched them recently?
[Laura Leff] Brad - Well, that sounds like
from Georgia] I watched the Birthday Special to see Eddie Carroll!
[Laura Leff] Brad - OK...now, you don't
remember anyone playing Mission Impossible, do you?
from Georgia] Hmmm...no.
[Laura Leff] OK, neither do I.
from Georgia] You mean playing the theme song?
[Laura Leff] Supposedly someone thinks that
the Kane Triplets were on a Benny special playing "Mission
Impossible". (Yes, the theme.) But it doesn't ring a bell for me.
[Laura Leff] I guess this would be a
question for Kay.
from Georgia] Not for me, either.
[Maxwell] If anybody knows, Kay would.
[Laura Leff] I'm wondering if it might have
happened on another celebrity's show, like Bob Hope.
[Laura Leff] Or even that Jack was a guest
on that show.
[Laura Leff] I know Jack did "The
Fugitive" on a Bob Hope special.
[Laura Leff] But I don't think it was done
on a Benny special.
[Laura Leff] OK, good. So it's not like,
"Laura you silly goose, it was so-n-so..."
[Laura Leff] Thanks
from Georgia] Let's see...MI began in 1966. Hm. Maybe Leonard Nimoy
[ed] or steven hill
from Georgia] Somebody call Kay!
[Laura Leff] Well, what thoughts on the show
[Maxwell] ed, you took the words right out of my
[ed] except on sundays
from Georgia] One of those early ones where Jack's character is still
like ungelled Jell-O. Pleasant, but Mary's "dumb" character is
[Maxwell] What's grating?
[Maxwell] Yeah, that did get to be annoying.
[Laura Leff] Carrots grated into Jell-O
[Laura Leff] Welcome back to the Harry Conn
from Georgia] I thought the endless repetition of "What's xxxx,
Jack?" was just annoying.
[Laura Leff] Makes you wonder how they'd
handle both her and Kenny being "dumb".
from Georgia] Mary worked much better when she settled into the
wise-cracking dame character.
[Laura Leff] Which she did to a degree in
[Maxwell] The world already had Gracie Allen and
[Laura Leff] And I think that's why they
went in that direction originally
[Laura Leff] How many "smart"
women comedians were there?
from Georgia] Kenny sort of oscillated in this show, too. Partly a
tentative Dennis Day "Yes, Please?" characterization, and then
suddenly brash: "Sing, Kenny." "Okay, Benny."
[Laura Leff] He did have a lovely voice,
[Laura Leff] Let's think about this for a
minute...what female types were there in 1935?
[Maxwell] Kenny Bakers voice came through the
courtesy of Mervyn Leroy Productions.
from Georgia] I didn't think the final skit was well suited to Jack,
though. He doesn't do overbearing very well.
[Laura Leff] The dumb girl, or "pest
girl" as the ads called Mary.
[ed] dennis was the perfect foil even better that
[Laura Leff] The mother
from Georgia] LL--Well, there was the Funny Lady herself, Ms. Bryce;
and Mae West, of course.
[Laura Leff] The girlfriend
[Laura Leff] Who was usually dumb
[Laura Leff] Or just quiet and supportive
[ed] mae west was off radio from 1937 to the mid
from Georgia] The wise-cracking, brash dame.
[Laura Leff] The Sapphire-type...kind of
loud, bossy wife
[ed] to hot for radio
[Maxwell] I'd say most women comedians (or
comediennes back then) were "dumb Doras" back then.
from Georgia] Well, if it's too hot for radio, she could always take
off a few clothes. Who's to know?
[Laura Leff] Who was doing the wise-cracking
brash dame at the time other than Mae West and Sophie Tucker?
from Georgia] Ann Sothern.
[Maxwell] Jean Harlow
[Laura Leff] OK, good point.
[Laura Leff] Do you think Mary could have
carried that off?
[Laura Leff] Her ultimate character was more
of a flat, puncturing type.
from Georgia] I dunno. She did a good Mae West voice.
[Maxwell] She was the pin to Jack's balloon.
[ed] there is one i can't remeber her daughter
played on the TV show "Soap"
[Maxwell] Judy Canova
[ed] oh yes she was a dumb dora
from Georgia] Judy Canova was more of the hick type, wasn't she?
[Laura Leff] Yeah, what Brad said.
[Maxwell] Brad, that's how I'd classify her, too.
[Laura Leff] Brash, but sort of rubeish.
from Georgia] Jest a girl whut cain't say "no".
[ed] she was funny though
from Georgia] Yes, she was!
[Maxwell] And a pretty darn good singer, too.
[Laura Leff] I remember hearing a show where
she and Jack were working together...odd mix.
from Georgia] I listened to a "Fibber McGee and Molly"
right after listening to tonight's show, roughly the same era. Molly had sort of
a Mary Livingstone vibe in that particular episode.
[Laura Leff] How so?
[ed] another one that comes to mind is my friend
from Georgia] She kept pricking Fibber's ego and cracking wise about
his supposed achievements.
[Laura Leff] Ah, more the later ML.
[ed] marie wilson
from Georgia] Yes, that's what I meant--the classic Mary.
[Laura Leff] I always thought Marie Wilson
was one of the ultimate "dumb Doras".
[Maxwell] LL ditto.
from Georgia] So what's the origin of "Dumb Dora?"
[ed] her poor friend jane (cathy lewis)
[Maxwell] Brad, as far as I know it was a
vaudeville expression for any dumb female act.
[Maxwell] Don't know where it originated, though.
from Georgia] Ah, just looked it up--it was a pre-Blondie comic strip
by Chic Young.
[Laura Leff] I'm sure the "dumb
female" must go back in theatre for hundreds of years...
[Laura Leff] Oh, the specific name. Got it.
[ed] ah another one penny singleton
[ed] and dumb dagwood
[Laura Leff] So of all these types we've
named that were in common use at the time, could Mary have done any of these?
[Maxwell] I'd say there's one difference between
Mollie and classic ML. Mollie was married and still supportive of Fibber, even
while she'd puncture his balloon when he deserved it (every week).
from Georgia] Comic strip reminds me: one gift my wife gave me for my
birthday was a copy of the 1937 Jell-O cookbook "starring" cartoons of
Jack and Mary narrating real groaners of jokes.
[Laura Leff] Yes, definitely not Beloin-Morrow
from Georgia] I think Mary's talents were very narrow--good in a
certain groove, but she didn't have as much acting ability as Dennis, say.
[Laura Leff] Sort of like the gag at the end
of tonight's show about "You can't cancel the elephants...and elephant
[Maxwell] Maybe the Jell-O cookbook was Harry
[Laura Leff] Could be...probably more likely
some wanna-be comedy writer at General Foods...
[Laura Leff] or the ad agency
[Laura Leff] OK...BRB...
[Maxwell] Most likely the ad agency.
from Georgia] JacK: Mary, I can't imagine why Jell-O is like a man
whose chair has been pulled out from under him. Mary: Because it sets faster!
[Maxwell] That has ad agency written all over it.
from Georgia] Jack: Mary, why is Jell-O like snow falling in Hot
Springs, Virginia? Mary: Because it dissolves in water.
from Georgia] We don't need any more, do we?
[Laura Leff] Aw...and I just grabbed my copy
to do that...
[Laura Leff] Oh well.
[Laura Leff] Jack: I can't guess, Mary! Why
is Jell-O like a fellow with two steam yachts? Mary: Because it's EXTRA RICH!
[Maxwell] As a chemistry teacher, I protest! Snow
can't dissolve in water because snow IS water!
[Laura Leff] OK, I did my part.
from Georgia] I think I will prepare the tart cranberry Jell-O salad
for Thanksgiving, though. It looks like such a grand dessert, shimmering with
color and filled with fruity goodness.
[Laura Leff] Let's find some really
disgusting recipe in here, what say...
[Maxwell] Nobody ever uses the word
"grand" anymore to describe something really good.
[Laura Leff] Ooh...jellied waldorf salad.
[Maxwell] I don't like waldorf salad to begin
with, so I'm already disgusted.
[Laura Leff] Lemon Jell-O, hot water, 4t
vinegar, 1/2t salt
from Georgia] The Calfornia Special's kind of nauseating. Cherries
[Laura Leff] 1c diced celery, 1c diced
apples, 1/4c pecan meats, 1/4c mayonnaise
[Laura Leff] Jellied Loganberry
Cooler...where can you get logaberry juice any more?
[Maxwell] You have to squeeze it from the
[Laura Leff] OMG...supper salad ring
from Georgia] About the show . . . I did think the changing names of
Jack's character in the skit was sort of amusing. But now I don't remember what
the names were!
[Laura Leff] 1 pkg lime jell-O, 1c hot
water, 1/8t salt
from Georgia] For my writers' group meeting on Halloween, I made
green deviled eggs. Someone else brought the ham.
[Laura Leff] 1 1/2c grapefruit sections, 1
cup grapefruit juice and water, tuna fish salad
[Maxwell] Was the ham green, too?
from Georgia] Gag, Laura. No, regular pink ham.
[Laura Leff] What's India relish?
[Maxwell] Made with India ink.
from Georgia] It's a piquant pickle made from ink. Aw, Max....
[Laura Leff] Ah, there's even a picture of
the supper salad ring. Mmmm-hhhhmmmm
from Georgia] I used to make cottage cheese and grape jelly
sandwiches, but I don't think I'd care for the supper ring.
[Laura Leff] I'll spare you the salmon mold
[Maxwell] I still like my mom's Jell-O salad:
Lime Jell-O, ginger ale, and nuts.
from Georgia] It's so hard to find moldy salmon these days.
[Laura Leff] Yes, it looks like the ad
agency took all the catch phrases about Jell-O and reverse engineered jokes
from Georgia] I've actually tried a few of the Jell-O desserts Don
touts from time to time. They range from all right to what the heck was I
loss due to technical issue…sorry)
[Maxwell] Bumper sticker seen in Minnesota: When
Lutefisk is outlawed, only outlaws will have Lutefisk.
[Laura Leff] Hmmm...that sounds more like
something from Finland.
from Georgia] Lutefisk is a Lutheran dish.To make them sorry for
from Georgia] Norwegian and Danish, I think.
[Maxwell] Swedes eat it too. My grandmother (or
her mother) used to make it.
[Laura Leff] Well, the bits of protein in
sleazy jelly is a pretty good description of gefilte fish as well. At least the
kind you get in jars.
[Laura Leff] I should have just said Nordic.
[Maxwell] Fortunately that family tradition
stopped before I was born.
from Georgia] I'm sorry I derailed us with the Jell-O book! Barbara
also found somewhere a DVD of "The Slowest Gun in the West," the Phil
Silvers/Jack Benny TV western.
[Laura Leff] Sounds like the preservation of
fish element is the same between gefilte and Lute
[Laura Leff] Brad - Oh yes...have you seen
it? It's pretty good.
from Georgia] Haven't viewed it yet--too busy this week (I have an
extra class at school this fall).
[Laura Leff] You'll enjoy it.
[Laura Leff] Well, sorry that no one seemed
to enjoy the show for tonight...dare I ask if there are any more comments on it?
from Georgia] I have a vague memory of having seen it when younger.
Jack is Chicken Finsterwald, I think, a cowardly gunslinger, and Silvers is the
Silver Dollar Kid.
from Georgia] LL--I thought it was pleasant, not inspired.
[Laura Leff] Brad - Yup, you've got it.
from Georgia] It comes from the era when Jack was still finding his
way into character.
[Maxwell] LL I enjoyed the show. I think you can
appreciate it for what it is...the ultimate characters not fully developed yet.
[Laura Leff] And I guess that's why I enjoy
it. Kind of like looking into the back of a watch that's only partially
from Georgia] There's a kind of . . . I'm not sure . . . a sense that
Jack is trying to toe the line and keep things moving. Little of the wonderful
looseness of the best shows.
[Maxwell] That's why it's so sad to me that
almost all of 1936 is missing. I'd love to listen to the development that
occurred that year.
from Georgia] Me, too.
[Laura Leff] Maxwell - 1936 or 1935?
[Maxwell] '35. 5 is right next to 6.
[Laura Leff] Yeah...having read the scripts,
there's a LOT going on in 1935, like the whole "Love in Bloom" as
Jack's theme song.
from Georgia] I had a bizarre dream one day last week about listening
to some classic play being done on radio with Jack and Frank Nelson as the major
actors, but I cannot rememberwhich play it was!
from Georgia] One night last week, I mean.
from Georgia] I can't sleep in the day.
[Laura Leff] Brad - Sorry Wrong Number
[Maxwell] I was going through that year awhile
back in "39 Forever" and was wishing I could have heard that
stuff...especially the "Love in Bloom" plot.
[Laura Leff] I remember reading over them
and saying, "Doggone it that we don't have these shows!"
[Laura Leff] Of course, I said that about
the Canada Dry series too.
from Georgia] Maybe it was "Waiting for Godot."
[Laura Leff] Or The Odd Couple
from Georgia] No, that was with Groucho Marx and Jack.
[Laura Leff] Or The Sunshine Boys
[Laura Leff] Brad - Yeah, knew someone was
going to say that.
[Laura Leff] We've been watching "The
Muppet Show" recently and noting all the similarities to the Benny show.
But I'm not the first person to point that out.
from Georgia] Do you think Jack's shows improved when they got away
from wordplay and more into character comedy?
[Laura Leff] Well, they always did some of
[Laura Leff] Like Mary's dumb character.
from Georgia] LL--I think I told you that Heather Henson (who's a
friend of my daughter's) said that one of the great disappointments in her dad's
life was that he could never work out a Muppet show with Jack.
[Laura Leff] Brad - Oh yes, I know. I watch
those shows and Dan probably gets tired of hearing me wonder aloud what Jack on
the show would have been.
[Maxwell] I can picture Jack playing violin with
from Georgia] Lord knows I can never resist a pun, but they're better
as seasoning than a main course. I like the comedy when personality drives it, I
[Laura Leff] And pointing out lines and bits
directly taken from Jack (e.g., Kermit saying "Now cut that out!")
from Georgia] Weren't the Muppets and Jack on a "Tonight"
show together once?
[Laura Leff] Gee...there seem to be a flock
of great horned owls outside all hooting away. Wonder if they were here last
night for effect...
from Georgia] Kermit has a very Jack-like vibe at times as the emcee.
[Laura Leff] Brad - Yup.
[Laura Leff] Yup on Tonight Show.
[Laura Leff] Agreed on the puns vs.
character...been noticing that the Muppet Show is a bit heavy on the puns, which
get predictable very quickly.
from Georgia] I kind of remember some Gonzo the Great stunt going
badly awry and Kermit looking at the audience and saying, "Now that I
didn't expect at all." Very Jack-like line.
[Laura Leff] Or even Groucho
from Georgia] Did I ever tell you I got to meet the real Gonzo about
a year ago?
[Laura Leff] No...do tell
ed has logged out.
[Laura Leff] The voice of, or the
from Georgia] Dave Goelz, who performs Gonzo, brought him to a
Christmas performance of "Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas" in Atlanta
[Laura Leff] Very cool...kids must have
from Georgia] I got to speak with "Gonzo." I told him I
admired his performance as Charles Dickens in "The Muppet Christmas
from Georgia] He replied, "Thank you. You're weird. I like
[Laura Leff] I'm weird. I'm still more
impressed that you met Patrick Troughton.
from Georgia] My daughter later got to speak to Goelz when he came to
the Atlanta Puppetry Arts Center, where she works. He remembered her from the
night before and asked, "Is the weird guy your dad?" She proudly
answered, "Yes, that's where I get it."
[Laura Leff] Well, small group
tonight...shall we call it good and give you back more of your evening?
[Laura Leff] Brad - I'll bet!
from Georgia] OK. I'm watching "Nicholas Nickleby" on TCM.
from Georgia] Sir Cedric Hardwicke is in it.
[Laura Leff] Any requests for next month?
from Georgia] But so far not the inevitable Hans Conried.
[Maxwell] Sounds good to me. I want to watch the
Next Iron Chef at 8:00.
[Laura Leff] Brad - Oh an older one! Now
you've got my attention.
[Laura Leff] Recently enjoyed both Hardwicke
and Troughton in Richard III.
from Georgia] Oh, how about the un-aired CBS Christmas show the first
year Jack moved to that network?
[Laura Leff] Brad - Sure...can do that.
[Maxwell] Sounds like a good one.
[Laura Leff] Or...I"m not sure I've got
it as an MP3.
[Laura Leff] I've got it as WAV.
from Georgia] Oops. Shame. All those dirty jokes they told, knowing
it wasn't going out on the air.;)
[Laura Leff] Yeah right.
from Georgia] That should have been
[Laura Leff] Been doing this chat for so
many years and we've done so many of the "obvious" ones
[Laura Leff] Xmas shopping, Colmans for
dinner, Harris/Faye Santa Claus...
[Laura Leff] Was thinking about Fred Allen's
"Santa Claus Sits Down" episode
from Georgia] Oh, I remembered--I dreamed about Jack as Scrooge and
Frank Nelson as all the ghosts in "A Christmas Carol!" and Rochester
was Roch Cratchitt!
[Maxwell] Now that's a dream I'd like to see.
[Laura Leff] Sounds like you've been
watching the Rich Little version (but Jack was Bob Cratchitt)
from Georgia] Dennis was Nephew Fred. Don was the Christmas Goose. He
touted the Jell-O dessert...nah, I don't remember that much of the dream.
[Laura Leff] OK, I'll come up with
something. Nothing too early, I promise.
from Georgia] OK, we trust you!
[Laura Leff] Glad you still do after this
[Maxwell] This month's wasn't all that bad!
from Georgia] It wasn't as bad as it sounded.
[Laura Leff] Like Wagner's music
ed has logged in.
ed has entered this room.
from Georgia] Exactly!
[Laura Leff] OK, thanks much folks! See you
[Maxwell] See ya!
from Georgia] Good night, all.