Sunday, 14 June 2015
Jack Benny Fan Fiction, 1935 Style
This was published in the Shortsville Enterprise, January 24, 1935. It reads more like an actual Benny script than a parody of one. For you casual fans of Benny, Frank Parker was Jack’s vocalist in the days before Dennis Day when the show was based in New York. Don Bestor was two orchestra leaders before Phil Harris. The Mysterious Voice was semi-regular routine on the show around 1934, played (I think) by William Edmunds, a former vaudevillian who specialised in Italian roles. Mary Livingstone milked the “O Labor Day” poem routine for much of one of the seasons.
For the record, the show never featured a version of “I’ll be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal You” (too bad) and “Alice in Wonderland” was never tried as a second-half sketch.
At the time, Benny’s show was written Harry Conn, who walked out in an ultimately failed bid to show he was the brains it all. The future bore out that he was mistaken, as Benny sailed along regularly on radio and TV for about 30 years without him.
By Don C. Perry
Script for Mr. Benny
(Dear Jack Benny:—This script, inspired by your Jello program, is coming to you through the courtesy of Main Street and its six delicious flavors of which the raspberry is most popular.)
Jack Benny—Jello, folks! We are bringing you this evening another of our famous one-act plays. Tonight's masterpiece will be that great children's drama, Benny in Wonderland. Mary Livingston will do her hair up in a ribbon and play the part of Alice. I will be the rabbit who hops along—
Frank Parker—Ah, drunk again, Jack?
Benny—So it's you, Parker. I thought I combed you out when I brushed my hair before coming into the studio. And I want you to understand that a couple of hops don’t make a glass of beer.
Frank—Yeah, but a couple of glasses of beer make you hop.
Mary—What's the difference as long as he's healthy?
Jack—As I was saying, folks, I will be the rabbit, Maestro Don Bestor will be the Dormouse (the rat!), Frank Parker will play the Duchess, and announcer Don Wilson will take the part of the Mad Hatter, which should come natural from him, as he is nuts, anyway.
Don Wilson—That's right, Jack. I'm nuts about Jello with its six delicious flavors which taste twice as good as ever before.
Jack—Don Bester and his Mousetraps will play "I’ll be Glad When You're Dead, You Rascal You."
Mysterious Voice (knocks on door)—Remember me, Mr. Benny?
M. V.—Do you want to buy a lettuce leaf?
M. V.—If you were really a rabbit, would you want to buy a lettuce leaf?
M. V.—Okay, Mr. Benny.
Jack—The scene, opens with Mary (Alice in Wonderland) Livingston asleep and dreaming that she is shrinking and falling down a long, black elevator shaft.
Mary—O! deary me, O! lackaday, O! Labor Day, O! Labor Day, when firecrackers boometh and skyrockets zizzeth—Say, where am I? In the zoo?
Jack—No, Alice, you are in Wonderland. I am the rabbit and I am late for an appointment to get my whiskers marcelled.
Mary—Take off those long ears, Jack, I know you.
Jack—But, Alice, those are my real ears.
Mary—Then all I've got to say is that this rabbit part must come natural for you.
Frank—Hello, Alice, I'm the Duchess.
Mary—I don't care what nationality you are. What is Bestor doing asleep in a cup of coffee? Who does he think he is, Eddie Cantor? This is the Jello program.
Jack—Don is playing the part of the Dormouse, the big cheese.
Don Wilson—And cheese makes a delightful accompaniment for Jello, bringing out the full piquancy of its six delicious flavors.
Mary—Oh, hello, Wilson. Have they got you in a padded cell, too?
Wilson—I am the Mad Hatter.
Mary—What's he mad about, Jack? There, there, Don, don't feel bad.
Jack—Come on, Parker, what about reading your script?
Frank (in a startled voice)—Off with her head; off with her head!
Mary—So you want to start something, eh?
(There is a sound of scuffling, blows and grunts.)
Frank—Oh, my eye!
Jack—Is this my head or a stratosphere balloon?
Mary—What's the difference as long as you're healthy?
Mysterious Voice—Don’t you want to buy a lettuce leaf, Mr. Benny? Jack—No!
M. V.—Well, would you like to buy an aspirin tablet?
M. V.—Okay, Mr. Benny!