Thursday, 21 March 2013

Flying Fish and Whitecaps

Corny visual puns are handled several ways in old cartoons. Bugs Hardaway just plastered one in front of viewers and let it stand on its own as if it was really funny (and, generally, it wasn’t). Tex Avery and his writers liked sticking one on the screen, then commenting on it afterward as a topper. Bob Clampett and his storymen used a set-up line then the pun happily appeared. Some good examples are in “Pilgrim Porky” (1940). It features Porky captaining the Mayflower over the Atlantic from England to America.

There’s a shot of Porky looking onto the water. Bob Bruce’s narration: “On our leaside, we sight a group of flying fish.”

Cut to the “flying fish.” Carl Stalling plays “Man on the Flying Trapeze” in the background.

As a topper, we see they’re pulling a sign. Stalling plays “Umbrella Man” in the background.

No, I don’t know the origin of “Eat at Joe’s.”

Next scene, Bruce’s narration: “Suddenly, without warning, the sea becomes turbulent.”

“The waves grow choppy.”

“And whitecaps appear.” The narrator is proven correct when the waves tumble down from the sky and form little white cloth caps. Stalling plays an up-tempo wheezy version of “Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet.”

I liked the flying fish pun better. The fish have wide grins Clampett gave to just about every semi-crazed character back then.

Warren Foster wrote the cartoon and Norm McCabe received the only animation credit.


  1. This might be of interest (or not):'s_Diner_(placeholder_name)

  2. The sort of gagging that Terrytoons would do for decades.

  3. By 1940 you can tell that Clampett & Foster were just burned out with Porky, as about 75 percent of the stories barely use him at all other than as a connecting device. I can just picture Bob doing Daffy-like head stand and "Woo-Woo"-ing back flips when he got word later in the year from Leon he'd finally be able do some Porky-free Merrie Melodies.