Friday, March 6, 2009

"The Last Gasp(s) Before the Death of Talk Radio"

For the uninitiated, Bob and Ray were a great radio comedy duo whose career spanned from 1946 - 1987. Listening to their material now, a lot of it is still "ahead of its time", although they're primarily spoofing shows that have been long forgotten.

Below is one of my very favorite Bob and Ray spoofs, a fake episode of a fake show called "Just Fancy Dan: The Plain Barber of Hartsdale." (Sorry for the crappy quality and the Microsoft signature "ding" towards the end. I couldn't figure out how to simply upload an mp3 except through this means.)

Bob and Ray - Just Fancy Dan

Radio feels to me like a once-great medium that is falling by the wayside. For many the use of a radio seems to be to hear a few songs sandwiched into 20-minute commercial breaks, or to listen to someone of your political leaning spew their opinions at you. By and large, very little happening in the way of innovation. However, with podcasting, it is easier now to find those shows that are doing interesting comedy.

A couple recommendations:

"Seven Second Delay" on WFMU, a freeform radio station out of Jersey City, calls itself "Stunt radio which subjects the radio audience to concepts and topics which mature adults should not have to endure." Each week they pick a new goal or theme or gimmick, and then spend an hour with that topic. Some classics are:
  • The Electroshock Show -- The hosts, Ken and Andy, recreate the famous Milgram experiment which tests the willingness of participants to obey authority. Ken and Andy take turns calling non-listeners and try to convince them to press a key on their phone which will automatically administer an electric shock to the other. Hilarity ensues.
  • The Toll Booth Show -- In which they ask callers on the New Jersey Turnpike to go to one specific toll booth and remark to the toll operator that they saw a UFO about a mile back. Hilarity ensues.
  • The Make You Say No Game -- In which Andy spends the entire hour challenging people on the street to talk to him for two minutes and try to avoid using the words "no" or "know". Sound boring? Think again, because hilarity ensues.
  • Reuniting The Beatles -- Which is too recent to be a classic, but I put it out there as a point of pride, because I know the guy who provided the original idea.
While I haven't listened much to "The New Phil Hendrie Show", his former show, which had a much different format, is nothing short of genius. Phil did a daily 3-hour show and spent much of that time interviewing dozens of characters (male, female, all different ages and ethnicities) that he also created and voiced--characters who were convincing enough to fool thousands of talk-radio listeners into calling up and getting into long, ridiculous debates with them. You have to pay $6.99 to register to access the site, but I don't think you'll feel let down. Go to the Character Clips section and listen to anything by Bobbie Dooley, Steve Bosell, Jim Sadler, or Don Parsley to get your money's worth. There's always a free clip posted on the site, although it's not always the best material. Just scroll down until you see it in the left-hand column. (The title for this post is stolen from the tagline of Phil Hendrie's show.)

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