Sunday, 5 April 2015

I Just Happen To Have Some Gags...

How did Jack Benny find time to go on the air?

He always seems to have been all over North America, attending fund-raisers or banquets or some similar thing.

Here’s a 1950 newspaper story about Benny meeting up with a bunch of reporters. In New York City. On his birthday. He was in New York for a benefit for the Heart Fund and had broadcast a couple of his radio shows from the city. It claims he ad-libbed a speech at a lunch honouring him. It could be true. But I can’t help but thing he didn’t walk in unprepared.

Radio Ringside
Distributed by International News Service

New York, Feb. 16 —(INS)— Jack Benny claims he’s no good with the ad-libs and is lost without a script full of jokes.
He admits quite cheerfully all the charges that Fred Allen has made to that effect. He will even quote Allen’s remarks.
Which makes it all the more remarkable that Benny can make a very funny ad-lib speech, and in fact has done so many times during the last few weeks while he has been visiting New York.
Yesterday, just before taking the train back to Los Angeles, he outdid himself at a “Banshee" luncheon honoring Bill Hutchinson, Washington bureau chief for International News Service. The Banshees are a group of top newspapermen, and a lot of famous people were on hand to celebrate Hutchinson’s 30th anniversary with INS.
It was also Benny’s 56th birthday, and the Banshees took the opportunity to make him a life member of their organization. They gave him a handsome plaque to prove it. So Benny made a speech.
He said he had made a lot of speeches in behalf of such things as the Heart fund, the March of Dimes, etc., and it was nice, for a change, not to have to appeal for funds.
“Of course,” Jack added, “if any of you want to contribute something, it’s okay with me. It’s a long, expensive trip back to Los Angeles.”
Some photographers who were taking pictures moved him to remark that he hadn’t yet seen any pictures of himself in the New York papers.
“Except,” he added, “that I finally found one in the Daily Worker. But I still can’t understand how they got that hammer and sickle in my hand.”
Benny remarked that the government tax experts haven’t yet decided whether to approve his famous capital gains deal, under which he left NBC for CBS. He explained:
“I said it was a capital gains deal. They said the gain should go to the capital, which is in Washington.”
As for the plaque given him by the Banshees, he wondered whether he would have to give it to CBS Board Chairman William S. Paley.
“When he bought me,” said Benny, “he bought everything.”
Jack even tossed in a remark for the Waldorf Astoria hotel, where the luncheon was held. He said:
“It’s a nice hotel, but I can’t afford to stay in it. It’s the only hotel I know where you have to be shaved before they let you in the barber shop.”

1 comment:

  1. Jack did have a quick wit, which he used at times. However, like George Burns, his writers often provided "ready quips" for banquets, news reporters, and various public occasions.