Sunday, 24 February 2013

Same Gags, Same Interview

Variations on the same gags. Jack Benny used them for years and years and years and people still loved them. And Jack used variations on the same stories he gave in interviews, too.

If you leaf through some of the wire stories about Jack, many talk about his writers and their length of service, how Jack wasn’t funny off stage, how he had to adjust his comedy. He even conducted several of these chats wearing pyjamas or a bathrobe. So perhaps you won’t see anything new in this piece that was designed to plug the start of Jack’s 1957-58 television season. It’s from the United Press.

Jack Benny Begins 26th Year On Air Sunday
United Press Hollywood Writer

HOLLYWOOD, Sept. 20. (UP)—Jack Benny, he of the blue eyes and 39-year-old dimples, began his 26th year of broadcasting last Sunday night when he returned to the video waves with his first show of the new season.
Unlike other firmly-established stars, the famed tightwad makes no claims of a "revamped format" or "big surprises." He will continue spoofing the stingy deadbeat he invented on radio in 1932.
“I guess 25 years of continuous comedy shows makes me the dean of the funnymen,” Jack sighed, drawing on a fresh cigar.
“And looking back through hundreds of shows, I can't come up with any formula for success. I can't even account for the fact that my show has stayed in TV's top 10 the past seven years when other shows folded.”
The comedian, dressed in pajamas, slippers and bathrobe, lolled on his bed. It was noon and he'd just completed a script conference.
“Maybe it's because my writers have stayed with me. Sam Perrin and George Balzer have been writing for me for 16 years. Hal Goldman and Al Gordon, the 'new kids.' have been at it for eight years.
“Then again, my cast has played a large part in the longevity of the program,” he grinned.
“Don Wilson has been with me since the old 'Jello' days — 25 years ago. Rochester has put in 21 years and Dennis Day is working on his 19th. The important thing is that I've used them all sparingly. Audiences haven't tired of them.
“I’ve used myself sparingly, too.
“I don't have to carry the ball. More often than not I give the funny lines to a supporting character and let them play the laughs off me.”
Jack, who doesn't make an attempt to be funny off screen, smoothed his hair and admitted the humor of his CBS-TV show has changed considerably in his quarter-century on the air.
You'd be surprised how carefully a comedian must watch the pulse of public humor. A joke or situation that was funny two or three years ago often won't be funny today. We have to keep up with the public.
“For instance,” he explained. “Fifteen years ago it was funny when I tipped a bellhop five cents. Today in order to get the same laugh the bellboy has to tip me.”

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