Did you know George Carlin started out as a DJ? So did his first partner, Jack Burns, who eventually teamed with Avery Schreiber. There’s no shortage of DJs who cut comedy records.
In the early ’70s, the hottest such comedy team was Bob Hudson and Ron Landry, who worked mornings on KGBS in Los Angeles. Their on-air act was so good that they did four records.
The Hudson and Landry albums were recorded live at the Pomona National Golf Club, most likely in the bar. Judging from the gales of laughter, it sounds like a well-oiled crowd.
(They also filmed an episode of “Get Smart” there in 1969. That’s where this screen grab is from.)
Having listened to three Hudson and Landry albums, I’m not sure there was four records’ worth of material. Even so, some of their bits deserved all those big laughs from the friendly folks in the lounge. Here are two. Not sure you could do the latter today, but things were different in 1972.
Bob Hudson retired from radio in 1988 and was 66 when he died in 1997.
Ron Landry became a TV comedy writer, working on “Flo,” “Benson,” “The Redd Foxx Show” and “Gimme A Break” among others, in the late ’70s and into the ’80s. He was 67 when he died in 2002.
Speaking of passings: Peter Bergman, another Los Angeles radio guy who became a comedian, died today. He was 72. To those hoping to hear some Firesign Theatre here, my apologies. Neither I nor my friends ever got into it.
The other day, I was listening to an old record from the ’70s and realized we usually played just one side of it, over and over, and rarely the other side.
It was this record.
It was one of the records we listened to in Jerry’s basement when we were in high school in the mid-’70s. But as I played it again the other night, it became clear that the most memorable bits were on the first side, which was called “This Side.” I flipped it over and listened to “That Side,” which again didn’t measure up to “This Side.”
Richard Pryor’s salacious, profane comedy was mind-blowing for a bunch of white kids from the middle of Wisconsin. Pryor may have been from Peoria, Illinois, not all that far from where we grew up, but his was a much different world than ours. Pryor had a keen eye and ear for those differences. His world was black and white, and he drew some sharp distinctions.
“White folks do things a lot different than niggers do. …
Black families be different.”
Here are two examples, recorded live in early 1974 at Don Cornelius’ Soul Train nightclub in San Francisco:
Laugh we did at the take-no-prisoners school of comedy that carried the National Lampoon brand in the early 1970s. It led directly to “Saturday Night Live,” which though sensational for its time was still fairly sanitized by the time it made it to TV in 1he fall of 1975.
Branches of that school included the outrageous National Lampoon magazine, “Lemmings,” an off-Broadway musical spoof of Woodstock (in which everyone goes to the Woodchuck Festival to commit mass suicide), and the “National Lampoon Radio Hour,” which so frequently trampled the boundaries of good taste that you marveled that they could put it on the radio at all.
Bits like this.
Both are from “National Lampoon Radio Dinner,” the first National Lampoon comedy album. Though much of the material is surprisingly gentle, it pulls no punches. Nothing was sacred, especially ’60s icons and ideals.
Released in 1972, its targets included Richard Nixon, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and a New Age reading that had unexpectedly became a radio hit and was seen on posters everywhere.
“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.”
If you are from that time, you may remember “Desiderata.” This is not that.
Part of the genius of “Deteriorata” was hiring Rose, then a 55-year-old New York actor and radio announcer, to do the narration. Rose played it straight, bringing the proper gravitas to the piece. Anything else would have killed the satire.
And reflect that whatever fortune may be your lot, It could only be worse in Milwaukee.
“Deteriorata” was written by was a 24-year-old Christopher Guest, who got to be pretty good at musical parodies. He was the musical director for “Radio Dinner” and wrote songs and skits for “Lemmings,” spoofing Bob Dylan in both. Of course, you best know Guest for writing and performing in “This Is Spinal Tap,” “Waiting For Guffman” and “A Mighty Wind.”
“Radio Dinner” did not lack for genius.
It was co-written and co-produced by Michael O’Donoghue, the dark savant who three years later became the first head writer on “Saturday Night Live.” His partner was National Lampoon editor Tony Hendra, who took Lennon quotes from a Rolling Stone interview and turned them into the savage parody “Magical Misery Tour (Bootleg Record).”
These are mp3s from my collection, taken from vinyl whenever possible. Enjoy. They are intended to encourage you to get out to the music stores, real or virtual, or out to support live music.
If you hold the copyright to something posted here, and you don't want it posted, please e-mail me at jeffash at new dot rr dot com and I'll remove it. Then again, who else is exposing your music to a new audience today?
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The text is copyright 2007-2013, Jeff Ash. Text from other sources, when excerpted, is credited.