Monday, June 26, 2023

Bob And Ray, Keener Than Most Persons

 A book lent to me by a friend who I would guess was quite familiar with the duo. Me on the other hand, had "probably heard of them", but was totally unfamiliar. 

Since my family didn't have TV until '68 or '69 ( I know we had it in '69, because I watched the moon landing) my media awareness was minimal. Relatives had TV. and since I lived in the country, times spent with kids in town were minimal. The folks left us at grandma's house on Sunday nights as they went to evening church services, so Bonanza was a show that I was familiar with. 

B&R began in radio on the East coast. Since pretty much the only radio I heard was in the cow barn as we were milking, if it wasn't on WCCO at milking times, I didn't hear it. 

I was surprised that they were on Carson multiple times, but just realized that I didn't see all that many "Tonight Shows". On reflection, I probably watched more with Jay Leno than with Carson, and zero since. 

Thanks to YouTube, I watched a couple of their appearances. From that small sampling, and how the the book portrayed them, I would guess that fans of Seinfeld would generally like them,. It seemed that the key to their humor was their deadpan style and light hearted parodies about essentially nothing.  

As far as the book goes, the audience that would appreciate it these days would mostly be my age or older. Without significant knowledge of the golden age of radio giving way to television with all the stars of that age, the name dropping connections were often unclear to me. 

I remember that the Tonight Show was once hosted by Steve Allen, but again, I'd have to go to YouTube to see that. Tons of names that I sort of recollect in different contexts  ... Harry Morgan being familiar from MASH, and a little bit from Dragnet, but no contact with previous work. Most of the names I had a vague recollection of, probably from Carson, or picked up from infrequent snippets from shows like "The Hollywood Squares". Paul Lynde for one. 

Lots of name dropping, probably interesting to those much more familiar with media from that era.

That Ray could keep performing by precise scheduling for dialysis for a decade after kidney failure in the late '70s is quite amazing. 

The Cafe des Artistes in Manhattan (now closed) was mentioned as one of their old haunts. My wife and I dined there on and extravagant trip awarded by IBM in the early '90s. Odd connections are always fun.

The book made me think about how the progression of entertainment from Radio, to TV, to the Internet made our lives more and more shallow and isolated. Technology is a tool ... how it is used can have profound effects on our lives. In her later years my moms schedule was wedded to being able to see "Wheel of Fortune". As a child we were on a telephone party line and two neighbor ladies (that lived a mile apart) would spend about and hour discussing that days episode of "Days of Our Lives".  

We have only a short time on this earth, and eternity is forever. The "stars" of media, unlike Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, will not be long remembered. I'm reading "Samuel Johnson, The Struggle" about the author of the first dictionary of the English language,  living from 1709 to 1784. He was friends with Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, Edward Gibbon and many others that I wish I was more familiar with. 

How should we spend our short time on this earth? A topic that many historical figures have pondered. I'm suspicious that few of us will comment on our deathbeds; "I wish I had watched more TV". 

No comments:

Post a Comment