Wednesday, December 30, 2009
TWO KINGS OF EARLY TV COMEDY - RARE EXCERPTS OF THE BOB & RAY SHOW - NBC-TV - CIRCA 1952
Bob Goulding and Ray Elliot, two mild mannered New Englanders with an acute understanding of human absurdity, were the founding fathers of subtle satire on early television.
While Sid Caesar ruled Saturday nights with lavish, sketch comedy driven by smart observation,and as Gleason sheathed his comedic bluster behind the facade of a sentimental character, Berle, Lucy, and Skelton launched a million laughs with laser-sharp, slapstick, silliness.
Long before stand-up comedians Bob Newhart and Shelly Berman made careers of holding hilarious, sitdown conversations with themselves on nightclub stages, Bob and Ray were creating characters who lived just beyond the city limits of logic, and imbuing them with aberrant behavior that made surreal situations seem almost normative and always hilarious.
The pair met at Boston's WHDH radio in 1946, when Elliott was a disc jockey and Goulding was a newscaster.When Red Sox baseball was delayed by rain, they would improvise comedy bits to fill the time. The station soon paired them for their own show, MATINEE WITH BOB & RAY.They created over a hundred, eccentric and enduring characters, from newsman/nebish Wally Ballou, to globetrotting matron,Mary Backstage, noble wife.
Bob & Ray's nuanced observation of post WWII, American life informed the bizarre situations within the unique universe of their weird and wonderful characters.
In 1951, NBC-TV brought them to New York and gave them a daily, 15 minute, comedy program, THE BOB AND RAY SHOW.It became the video village in which their family of imaginative, and imaginary, lunatics made their TV home.
They moved to become resident improvisers for MONITOR, the sprawling and kinetic radio service, devised by NBC's prolific,creative genius,Pat Weaver. In between live reports from airplanes crossing the Atlantic and big band remotes, they performed C.O.D.: comedy on demand. Their payoff was always grand!
Over a period of 30 years, they starred in series on NBC, CBS, and NPR.
They influenced generations of performers and entertained millions of appreciative audience members. Bob & Ray worked together from 1946 until Ray Goulding's death in 1990.
Today, Bob Elliott is 86 years old,lives in New England and is the patriarch of a performing family. His son, Chris,49, has been a long tenured writer and performer on both LATE NIGHT & THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN.His granddaughter Abby, AGE 22,is a versatile ,featured performer on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.
BOB & RAY'S extraordinary,insightful work lives on in a variety of media available at Bob&Ray.com
Below are two clips from the RRGOMES YOU TUBE site, that constitute one episode of the BOB & RAY SHOW, FROM NBC-TV in 1951.Note an appearance by a PRE-HONEYMOONERS, Audrey Meadows).Enjoy!!!!!!