Friday, February 25, 2011

Review: Vox Pop

I think I'm different than most OTR fans.  The average fan seems to enjoy a good, old-fashioned mystery, a funny comedy or spooky tale to listen to more than anything else.  While I find myself enjoying all of those, what I enjoy most is a quiz program and I also love interviews.

I've always loved quiz programs.  When I was very little, I can remember sitting in front of the TV at my grandmother's house and watching Jeopardy!  With my parents I remember watching various game shows, too.
Parks Johnson (right) interviewing a citizen

I have a great love and admiration for Information Please and the Quiz Kids shows, among others.  And now I can add to that: Vox Pop.

Just introduced to the series a short while ago, I find that this is a series I really wish there were more of (there are only 15 circulating copies available, to my knowledge.) It's a quiz program/interview program done in the basic man-on-the-street style.

As the saying goes, people are funny - and people before a live microphone are even funnier. There's no telling what they will say under pressure! And the show is set up to give the participants a dollar for very easy questions.

For instance, "If I have seven bananas and ate all but four, how many would I have left?" Now that's an easy question that most first graders could answer. However, the show is ingeniously designed to make the participant fail and look stupid but all in a fun, good-natured way.  "Who is buried in Grant's tomb?" - I haven't heard that one but I read somewhere that one poor Vox Pop participant couldn't answer than one.  Somewhere, Groucho is smoking his cigar...

It seems that the participants don't know ahead of time (or don't seem to know, anyway) that the whole idea of the simple quiz is to confuse them, as they are led down those paths often by the talkative show shows, Parks Johnson, Wally Butterworth and in the later years of the show, Warren Hull.  Each host is congenial and clever.

Wally Butterworth (left)
Even when they drop a hint right in front of a participant or someone in a gathering crowd shouts out the answer, the questions move so quickly that the participants often still don't know the answer. There's always the $5 question too - it's a bit harder - and they gave away the money to the one who guessed the closest.

Vox Pop is all about the interview as well. A 70 year-old lady is asked her opinions about vanity and the opposite sex. Wally and Parks flirt with every young lady they can get in front of the microphone - they ask a female Olympic swimmer if she's ever seen pretty knees; they talk to a computer at the World's Fair in New York.  They talk to servicemen and to fat people (calling them 'robust), skinny people, bald men... basically, everyone is game (and described on air, probably to the embarrassment of some.)  The fact of the matter is - everything is done in the ribbing sort of way and if a participant is stupid - well, then he's just stupid (never said or implied - but it doesn't have to be.)

It's an incredible show, especially if you enjoy nostalgia as the opinion parts of each program reflect the thoughts of the average American in the early 1940's - a time when money was short and the World War was either on the horizon or in sight. It's also a time when a dollar bill was nothing to sneeze at.

I'd have to put it somewhere in my top 10 in my Top 75 list - but maybe I'm prejudiced about this type of show. I can find no flaws with it, other than it's a rapid-fire brain-twister of a program, because they cram the show with non-stop questions. There's a lot to absorb.

However, there's a large following of this show and even a couple of libraries who have some incredible collections of photos and original 78's.

If you belong to the Mystery Clubhouse, you can find the 15 known Vox Pop programs here. I amplified each program a bit to make them a bit louder.

1 comment:

  1. Your passion for quiz shows is apparent. I like those type shows, but, when fully awake. Heading for bed, a nice mystery or a good comedy is more appealing. But I do appreciate your passion for the quiz show.


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