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 Jack Benny Gags

4 MP3 CDs - 161 episodes

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All text on OTRCAT.com are ©2015 OTRCAT INC - All Rights Reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.

Jack Benny & Mary Livingston

A staple of comedy shows is the running gag. The most successful running gags become a kind of inside joke shared between the performers and the audience.

Jack Benny & Don WilsonWhen a show runs as long as the Jack Benny Program, there is room for a lot of gags to run!

The real humor of the Jack Benny Program was Jack Benny's Program was Jack's character. Jack Benny on the radio was everything that Jack Benny was not. On the radio Jack was a vain, miserly bachelor wrapped in his own neurosis. In real life Jack was a very happy man, madly in love with his wife, and generous to a fault. Most of the laughs on his program came when he allowed his supporting players to get the laughs at his expense, and Jack had a great cast of supporting characters to work with.

Following vaudeville tradition, the first thing Jack did when he got married was to write his wife into the act. On the program Mary Livingstone was a smart-aleck friend, but not quite a girl friend, which allowed Jack to try to date celebrities like Barbara Stanwyck. One recurring bit of Mary's was similar to Portland Hoffa's "Oh Mister Allen!" routines. When Mary first appeared she would read a letter from her mother in Plainfield, NJ. Mother usually had news about Mary's fictional sister, Babe. Mary did have a sister named Babe, Eddie Andersonbut she was nothing like the coal-mining, steel-foundry working, Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker described by Mary's mom. Babe did appear on the program a on a couple of occasions. (Jack had a secret provision in his will, after he passed away, a red rose was delivered to Mary every day for the rest her life. Although Mary and Jack played very well together, Mary in fact suffered from an almost crippling stage fright.)

Don Wilson was the announcer for the program, and often was the butt of Jack's jokes, usually about his weight. Band leader Phil Harris began his run with the show as a "jazz talking hep cat" with more than a few wise cracks for his boss. Jack often chided Phil for his fast life style, but Phil would wind up leaving the program to start a family show with his real-life bride, Alice Faye. In 1952 the band leader duties were taken over by Bing's kid brother, Bob Crosby.

One of the most popular recurring characters was Jack's butler and valet, Rochester. Eddie Anderson first appeared as a railroad Redcap and porter and later as a waiter. He made himself "At home" with the cast, joining in with the Jello jingle. The show received enough positive mail on Anderson's appearances that he was written in as Rochester, becoming the first African-American to have a recurring role on a radio program. Benny and Anderson have both taken criticism for Rochester perpetuating racial stereo-types. However it should be noted Rochester, even though he was a servant, was always treated as an equal by Benny both on and off the air.

Jack Benny Fred Allen FeudJack began playing the violin at the age of 6. His parents had hopes that he would become a classsical violinist, but is soon became obvious that Jack enjoyed playing but hated practicing. While in the Navy Jack was heckled during talent shows, and he realized that he had more success telling jokes using the violin as a prop. The violin, and Benny's atonal playing, became a trademark, although Benny became a quite accomplished player through the years.

The violin was the root of Benny and Fred Allen's famous "Feud". The feud was of course a put-on that began when Fred compared Benny's playing with a genius violinist appearing on his program. The remark was an ad-lib, but Benny thought it was incredibly funny and had his writers work it into the show. In addition to the violin feud, the Benny program used "Did you hear what Fred Allen said?" a number of times. What made the bits even funnier was the fact that Allen and Benny were close friends in real life.

Jack Benny & Ronald ColmansA device that often works well in situation comedy is the "Suffering Neighbor Dealing with the Crackpot Next Door." Jack Benny was able to make this work very well with the services of screen heart-throb Ronald Colman and his actress wife Benita Hume. The fact that the Colman's and the Benny's actually lived with-in walking distance of each other in Hombly Hills surely helped with the performance. It was a program with the Colman's that premiered the "Classic Jack Benny Joke": Jack borrows Ronald Colmans Oscar Statue to show Rochester, and is held up on the way home. When the crook tells Jack to hand over his "money or his life", Jack hesitates- "I'm thinking it over!" Their success with the comedy of the Jack Benny Show helped land the Colman's the lead roles in the Halls of Ivy, created by long-time Fibber McGee and Molly writer, Don Quinn. When Jack Benny took his program to TV, Jimmy Stewart and his wife Gloria took over the occasional "Suffering Neighbor" roles.

Mel BlancRadio can't use site gags the way movies and TV can, but Jack Benny had a one-man gag department with Mel Blanc, "the man of a thousand voices." Jack's famous Maxwell Automobile was written into the show to help show what a cheapskate Jack was- that he wouldn't by a more modern car (he traded a Stanley Steamer for the Maxwell, which had been out of production for ten years at the time). When the well rehearsed sound effect for the car didn't work, Mel quickly improvised a coughing wheezing sound. Jack liked Mel's ad-lib better than the original sound effect, so it stayed in the program. Another Mel Blanc routine for the program was as the Rail Road Station announcer announcing "Train leaving on Track Five for Anaheim, Azuza, and Cucamonga!" It is hard to decide which was funnier, the fact that no train would connect those cities or Blanc's pronouncing the last city "KOOK-a-Mong-ah" (Another part of the gag was the growing separation between the "KOOK" and the "a-Mong-ah", which got to the point that the cast had moved on to another sketch by the time the city was announced.) Another favorite running gag was Carmicheal the polar bear. Mel Blanc gets the credit for Carmicheal, but all he really contributed was a roar over in the back ground of a telephone call to the studio from Rochester telling Jack about a mysterious Christmas present. No one knew where the bear came from (but Jack was quick to blame Fred Allen.)

Jack Benny began his radio career in 1932, and worked full time until 1965, when he ended his regular TV series. Although he made a some appearances as a guest star and specials on his own afterward, he basically got out of the game on top. He shared an ambivalence towards TV with Fred Allen, jack stated "The camera was a man-eating monster... It gave a performer close-up exposure that, week after week, threatened his existence as an interesting entertainer."

Jack Benny was certainly always interesting and always entertaining.

See also:

Jack Benny Cast Photo

All text on OTRCAT.com are ©2015 OTRCAT INC - All Rights Reserved. Reproduction is prohibited.

Volume 1: 49 shows - total playtime 23 hours 34 minutes

Babe Livingstone
Jack Benny 361011 227 Anthony Adverse Part One
Jack Benny 361018 228 Anthony Adverse Part Two
Jack Benny 461215 600 Jack Learns Don Has Metal Tip Shoelaces So He Exchanges Gift

Benny v Nelson
Jack Benny 380501 295 Beverly Hills Home Under Construction
Jack Benny 381113 310 Jack Tries To Steal Phils Girl
Jack Benny 391112 1106 Jack Has A T
Jack Benny 401208 389 Don Is Mad And Walks Out
Jack Benny 441008 521 Jack Offers Frank Sinatra Dennis Job
Jack Benny 450225 541 From Fitzsimmons Hospital In Denver Colorado
Jack Benny 460324 1726 I Stand Cond
Jack Benny 461013 591 Jack And Mary Walk To Studio
Jack Benny 480215 643 Jacks Birthday Party
Jack Benny 500108 715 Drear Pooson Fluff

Carmichael the Polar Bear
Jack Benny 390212 323 Love Finds Annie Hardy
Jack Benny 390219 1021 Carmichael
Jack Benny 390618 341 Fathers Day Show
Jack Benny 391015 1102 Dennis Moth
Jack Benny 391112 1106 Jack Has A T
Jack Benny 410406 406 Quiz Kids Versus Jello Kids
Jack Benny 411207 424 Dr Jekyl And Mr Hyde Part Two
Jack Benny 420531 449 Cavalcade Of Last Eight Years For Jello

Christmas Shopping
Jack Benny 371212 275 Christmas Shopping
Jack Benny 391217 353 Christmas Shopping For Perfume And A Necktie
Jack Benny 441217 1612 Jack Meets F
Jack Benny 511202 785 Jack Buys Don Cuff Links For Christmas
Jack Benny 521214 825 Jack Buys A Gopher Trap For Don
Jack Benny 531213 864 Christmas Show From Palm Springs
Jack Benny 541205 900 Christmas Shopping

Colman Guest Shots
Jack Benny 430509 481 Jack Jams With Louis Armstrong
Jack Benny 451209 564 Jack Is Invited To Colmans For Dinner
Jack Benny 451223 566 English Butler
Jack Benny 460203 572 Contest Winners Names Announced
Jack Benny 460414 582 Violin Practice Interrupts Ronald Colmans Rehearsal
Jack Benny 460505 585 Leaving For Chicago On Train
Jack Benny 461117 596 Guests Ronald And Bonita Colman
Jack Benny 470216 609 Jacks Birthday Party
Jack Benny 470427 619 Leaving For Chicago
Jack Benny 471109 629 Corner Drug Store
Jack Benny 480201 641 Jack And Mary See Colmans Movie
Jack Benny 480328 649 Jack Is Robbed Of Ronald Colmans Oscar
Jack Benny 480425 653 Charlies Aunt
Jack Benny 481024 666 Colmans Have Dinner At Jacks
Jack Benny 490116 678 Jacks Scrapbook
Jack Benny 490306 685 A Day At Races
Jack Benny 491113 707 Last Weeks Mistakes
Jack Benny 510218 759 Jack Watches Tv
Jack Benny 510415 766 Irs Visits Jack Because He Spent Seventeen Dollars On Enter
Jack Benny 511028 780 Jack Loses His Song

Dennis Day
Jack Benny 391008 1101 Introducing

Volume 2: 43 shows - total playtime 21 hours 19 minutes

Don Wilson
Jack Benny 340406 121 Frank Parkers Music Store
Jack Benny 340720 136 Who Killed Mr Stooge Part Five
Jack Benny 450506 550 How Jack Found Don

Eddie Anderson
Jack Benny 370502 256 Buck Benny Party
Jack Benny 370606 261 Death At Midnight Part Two
Jack Benny 370620 838 Jacks Movie
Jack Benny 450311 543 How Jack Found Rochester
Jack Benny 501203 748 Grassreek Fluff

Jack as Guest on Other Shows
Fitch Bandwagon 470309 Phils Contract
Ford Theater -'49-03-04 61 Horn Blows At Midnight
Good News 380217 016 Jack Benny
L & A 390310 Give Jack Benny Honorary Degree
Lux 370215 120 Brewster's Millions
lux380928 186 Seven Keys to Baldpate
Mail Call 45-03-07 (135) Jack Benny, Paulette Goddard, Claudette Colbert, Jeannie Crain, Jinx Falkenburg (assembled)
Quiz Kids 410416 Guest Quiz Kid Little Jackie Benny
Screen Guild 390108 001 Variety Review
Screen Guild 401020jbenny
Take It Or Leave It 421108 Guest Jack Benny

Jack Benny is How Old
Jack Benny 360419 216 I Got A Heavy Date
Jack Benny 360517 734 Everybodys Not So Hot
Jack Benny 360517 Everybody's Not So Hot
Jack Benny 400225 1121 Birthday Par
Jack Benny 421220 461 George Washington Slept Here
Jack Benny 441210 530 From San Bernardino California
Jack Benny 460217 574 Rochester Lost At Sea Briefly
Jack Benny 461229 602 Jack Mary Gladys And Dennis Go To A Nightclub
Jack Benny 480215 643 Jacks Birthday Party

Jack is a Miser
Jack Benny 421206 459 Liberty Ship
Jack Benny 421213 460 From New York
Jack Benny 451028 558 Eightyfive Thousand Dollar Bet Jack Gets Heldup
Jack Benny 451104 559 Jack Is Sick In Bed After Being Robbed Of Ten Thousand Dollars
Jack Benny 451125 562 Tire Trouble
Jack Benny 460127 571 Contest Winners
Jack Benny 500409 2131 Fifty Cents

Kenny Baker
Jack Benny 351103 192 Kenny Bakers Debut

Larry Stevens
Jack Benny 441105 525 Guest Amos And Andy

Jack Benny 330101 070 Outstanding Achievements Of 1932 Review
Jack Benny 330331 082 She Done Him Right
Jack Benny 421018 452 Jack Gives Maxwell For Scrap

Mel Blanc
Jack Benny 360607 223 Jack Forms Bennymount Films
Jack Benny 390212 323 Love Finds Annie Hardy

Volume 3: 32 shows - total playtime 15 hours 36 minutes

Movie Spoofs
Jack Benny 400317 366 Hunchback Of Notre Dame
Jack Benny 430124 466 Mr Benny Goes To Washington
Jack Benny 431017 486 Casablanca
Jack Benny 461124 597 Killers
Jack Benny 470202 607 Its A Wonderful Life
Jack Benny 471102 628 Dark Passage Movie Skit
Jack Benny 490501 693 Treasure Of Sierra Madre
Jack Benny 510325 763 Sunset Boulevard
Jack Benny 510923 775 Captain Horatio Hornblower
Jack Benny 520928 814 High Noon
Jack Benny 530111 829 Road To Bali
Jack Benny 530308 2426 Snows Of Kilimanjaro
Jack Benny 531018 856 Wings Of Hawk

New Contracts
Jack Benny 480502 654 Guest Frank Sinatra
Jack Benny 490116 678 Jacks Scrapbook
Jack Benny 490123 679 Don Wont Sign His Contract
Jack Benny 490529 697 Cast Introduced
Jack Benny 500528 735 How Jack Met His Cast

Phil Harris
Jack Benny 361004 226 Phil Harris Introduced
Jack Benny 450401 546 How Jack Found Phil
Jack Benny 450930 554 Steve Bradley Wants To Be Jacks Publicity Man
Jack Benny 460106 568 Rose Bowl Game

Polly Parrot
Jack Benny 451014 556 Gaslight
Jack Benny 451021 557 Jack Dreams Of Race Horse Texas Sandman
Jack Benny 530927 853 Polly Goes To Psychiatrist

The Maxwells
Jack Benny 371024 268 Jack Buys Maxwell
Jack Benny 371031 905 Devine Farm
Jack Benny 380116 280 Driving Back From San Francisco
Jack Benny 401006 380 Jack Tells His Childhood Story
Jack Benny 421018 452 Jack Gives Maxwell For Scrap
Jack Benny 421108 455 Twink Family Part One
Jack Benny 520224 797 Jack Tries To Buy A Car

Volume 4: 37 shows - total playtime 17 hours 27 minutes

Vault, Race Track and Train Station
Jack Benny 380206 283 Jack Is Late
Jack Benny 381218 1012 Returning To
Jack Benny 390618 341 Fathers Day Show
Jack Benny 450107 534 Leaving For New York City
Jack Benny 450304 542 From Hollywood Train Station
Jack Benny 450513 1632 Jack Is Goin
Jack Benny 451230 567 End Of Contest
Jack Benny 460505 585 Leaving For Chicago On Train
Jack Benny 490403 689 American Heart Association
Jack Benny 500129 718 To New York On Train For Heart Fund Benefit
Jack Benny 500507 732 Jack Buys A New Suit For His Publicity Tour
Jack Benny 510401 764 Jack Leaves For New York To Do A Tv Show
Jack Benny 510603 773 Cast Sings Commercial
Jack Benny 511014 778 Jack Takes His Song To Publisher
Jack Benny 530125 831 Bets On Our Fancy
Jack Benny 550123 907 At Race Track
Jack Benny 550515 923 A Friend At Union Station

Violin Episodes
Jack Benny 360607 223 Jack Forms Bennymount Films
Jack Benny 380213 284 Robert Taylor Plays Cello
Jack Benny 401013 381 Phil Tries To Collect A World Series Bet
Jack Benny 421025 1404 Tales Of Man
Jack Benny 430117 465 Spoof On Information Please
Jack Benny 430131 467 From Quantico Virginia
Jack Benny 430509 481 Jack Jams With Louis Armstrong
Jack Benny 460217 574 Rochester Lost At Sea Briefly
Jack Benny 471123 631 Movie Of Jacks Life Thanksgiving Show
Jack Benny 471207 633 Jack Takes Violin Lessons And Goes To Vault
Jack Benny 481205 672 Professor La Blanc Gives Jack A Violin Lesson
Jack Benny 490515 695 Mary Is Sick
Jack Benny 500226 722 Whistler
Jack Benny 510218 759 Jack Watches Tv
Jack Benny 511014 778 Jack Takes His Song To Publisher
Jack Benny 511209 786 Quadalajara Trio Sings Jacks Song
Jack Benny 520210 795 To New York To Publish Jacks Song
Jack Benny 520217 796 Jack Dreams New York Symphony Plays His Song
Jack Benny 520316 800 Trying To Lose Weight In Steam Cabinet
Jack Benny 520323 Jack And Mary Go To Academy Awards



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