Monday, December 27, 2010

The next few funniest shows and why

Harold Peary
The Great Gildersleeve is an all-around great show.  If not for Gildy and the Jolly Boys singing every 3 episodes, this show may hold for me a solid place in the top 5.  (Add to this that Harold Peary was replaced roughly midway through the show's run with not-as-funny Willard Waterman, who "watered" down the show's fun index, in my estimation.)

But when Peary is on there (and not courting women) he's great and no one can beat the rapport that Peary has with pretend nephew - however-old-he-was Walter Tetley, who was just hilarious every step of the way. If there were a radio comedian Hall of Fame and I were voting, the first person I would vote for would be Tetley.

In the periphery, the show boasts wishy-washy (but funny) Peavy, who runs the drugstore, Birdie, the genial-yet-sparky-mouth maid who sometimes "gives it back" to Gildy on one of Gildy's "bad days" and the old goat, Judge Hooker; Hooker is sometimes friend, sometimes foil to Gildersleeve.

Aside from the Waterman years, a darn funny show.

The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show is generally a lot of fun but here's where the shows drop down a notch.  Harris, (born: Wonga Phil Harris!) the Southern corn pone singer/band leader of Jack Benny fame, got his own show along with movie star wife, Alice Faye.

Phil "Curly" Harris
While Harris has a bunch of snappy one-liners it's really radio superstar Elliott Lewis that drives the show as Remley, the wayward guitarist of his band.  Lewis packs a dynamite punch as a great character actor in this series.  He's not hilarious but he's worth listening to (especially over smart-alecky Harris.)

Elliott Lewis (Remley)
Walter Tetley shows up in this show too as Julius Abruzio, a dame-wanting 15 (or so ?) year old kid who makes with the Brooklyneese wise cracks.  His character on this show is a just a little "too much" but is still fine.

I didn't really mention Faye at all because she is just kind of there.  If I were to give her a school grade for her overall performance, I'd give her a 60.

William Bendix as Riley
The Life of Riley is very predictable show but has it's good moments, thanks to the sheer stupidity of Chester A. Riley and a few decent characters thrown in, here and there (Digby O'Dell, the friendly undertaker, for example.)

Honorable Mention:

The Jack Benny Show is not really all that funny but it lasted so long that there are a few high spots.

Dennis Day
To me, almost all of those high spots belong to Mel Blanc and his incredible voice characterisms and to Dennis Day, who had to be among the most-talented people in Hollywood back in the day (he could sing, was a master of dialects and could imitate quite a few people.)

Benny, Mary Livingstone, Harris etc. were not particularly funny at all to me.  As I've said before: I still listen - I just don't laugh.


  1. One of my unsung heroes is Elliot Lewis (along with John Brown). He too is found in many shows. He is particurly funny in the Harris-Faye show. But I love his production of Broadway's My Beat. Love that show. Elliot and his wife(Jane Lewis-My Friend Irma), did On Stage, a very mild and slow moving show.

  2. I didn't realize Jane Lewis was -that- Jane Lewis!

    I also know the Lewis' had a radio show together but I have not heard it; they do different kinds of things. If I can find it and it's not already uploaded on the mystery forum, I will try and do that.


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