Posted Bykurt on December 13, 2003 at 19:37:15:
In Reply to: Dennis Day's mother posted byLL on December 13, 2003 at 13:37:41:
Dennis Day's mother was a much funnier character when he was referring to her, which he did later on. Characters that are referred to, but not seen, are an old comic device, and used quite successfuly on Cheers with Norm's wife, and on Frasier with Niles' now-ex, Maris. George Gobel did much the same with Spooky Old Alice. Gracie Allen, of course, had her brother.
Redoubtable battle axes were a tried and true comic caricature, going back even before Shakespeare. As written for the Benny programs, Dennis' mother didn't completely fall into the sexist stereotype, just as Rochester can't always be classified strictly as a racial stereotype. They weren't there to get laughs for being themselves, with the laughs being at their expense. Their laughs always/usually derived from putting Jack in his place.
I think it was written by either Milt Josefsberg or Irving Fein that the character of Dennis' mother was created in case Dennis didn't quite catch on, and when he did, his mother receded.
Dennis' mother pops up in the 1943 season, and she's even louder and coarser than she was in the first season. I think she even decks someone.
I think the funniest exchange between Jack and Dennis' mother was in either the first or second program in which she appeared. Jack inquired about her age, and when he guessed 40, she quickly responds, "I'll take that." Jack's reply: "Take it? You SNAPPED at it!"