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Thanksgiving with Jack Benny. It’s a safe bet that almost no one who is reading this blog for the first time will know who Jack Benny is. If you do, skip to the bottom, or hit the play button and forego the history lesson.
In the early days of radio, when radio was just beginning to be an entertainment medium, Comedy was a huge attraction to a lot of people. It offered distraction and relief from the dismal atmosphere of the Depression. At the time, most all comedians who came to Radio were originally stage performers from the form known as Vaudeville. They were great at sight-gags, but doing it over a microphone and into a radio was something else.
A handful of those Vaudeville Comedians understood the new medium was about words and not so much actions. And Jack Benny emerged as one of the most popular and enduring comedians of the 20th Century. His gift of comic-timing and delivery has served as a prototype and textbook model for every comedian since, and his comic situations have been the basis for practically all comedy since the 1930s.
He first came to radio in the 1930s, made the transition over to Television in the early 1950s and continued on as one of the most popular and best loved comedians right up until his death in 1974.
This Thanksgiving it’s a radio show (one of the last years before his Television transition), from November 29, 1953 featuring Benny and a cast of regulars who had been with him practically the entire time.
One caveat – during the 1930s Jack Benny was sponsored by Jell-O. By the 1940s and 1950s he was sponsored by Lucky Strike Cigarettes. Since Cigarette advertising wasn’t banned until 1970, it was prevalent over the airwaves. And because this is history, those commercials, which were part of the show, are left in. You can always hit the forward button.
In any event, here is one American institution celebrating another American institution during a time when Comedy was high on everyone’s list.
Enjoy and Happy Holiday.