The Stan Freberg Show: The Second Episode; Meet A The Abominable Snowman


Archive.org has this really nice system to embed media in other pages. Both videos and audio files. The scheme works really well if there’s a single file on the archive.org host page. If there’s multiple files on the page, though — if it’s an archive page with whole collection of something, like, every episode of a radio series — then it gets harder. The simple “Share This Item” link gives code that shares the whole collection. And that defaults to the first item in the collection. A bit of URL hacking can fix that. But I’m never completely sure I’m doing it right. So if you play this, and it’s just last week’s episode again, please let me know. I’ll try fixing it.

So here’s the rundown for this episode, from the 21st of July, 1957:

Start Time Sketch
00:00 Cold Open. Stan Freberg interrupts one of his own comedy records again; only the one, this time. This record is “John and Marsha”, his first comedy record. The original is a story, in which a woman says “John” and a man answers “Marsha”, and that’s basically it. The comedy’s all in the structure; for me, it works. But that’s also why the interrupting Freberg saying they have a lot to say to each other is a punch line.
00:40 Opening Theme. So now you see how this quiet bit of customization is going to go.
01:30 Interview with the Abominable Snowman. This instance of the Abominable Snowman turns out to be ten and a half feet tall and wears size 23 sneakers. I do, really, have a friend with enormously long feet in real life and I’m not sure they don’t wear size 23. Not quite that tall, though. The narrator’s introduction about how the show “goes everywhere, sees everything, does everyone” riffs on newsreel hype.
08:00 Great Moments In History: the story behind Barbara Fritchie. Quick little sketch based on a poem that I only know because of a Rocky and Bullwinkle sketch, this bit, and a sketch from the Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America albums. The sketch shows that sort of cheery, lightly cynical existentialism that at least I see all over cartoons of the era.
09:15 Song. Peggy Taylor sings “Birth of the Blues”.
13:00 Carving A New Statue At Mount Rushmore. Absurdist bit about carving a 400-foot oleomargarine statue. The sort of sketch you can only do on radio or the cartoons. Mary Mararet McBride did a daily housewife-advice chat show on radio for decades, including what sounds like an admirably eclectic line of interview subjects. This sounds all respectable enough, although by 1957 she’d been on the air for roughly a quarter-century. Likely she served well as an old-enough-to-be-square reference. My favorite line is the carver declaring of someone, “I hate her but she’s a lovely girl”.
16:00 Wrong number. The major sketch this piece, without the political energy of last week’s Incident at Los Voraces. It’s a simple slow-build, slow-burn sketch where a onetime common accident just keeps getting bigger. My favorite line is its most instantly dated, the man declaring he’s so tired he “wouldn’t go out to see Davey Crockett wrestle Marilyn Monroe”.
23:50 Stephen Foster Medley. Is there any dated comic premise more wonderfully dated than the late-50s/early-60s hate-on-rock-and-roll bit? I say there is only if you divide the early-60s-hate-on-the-Beatles into its own genre. This sketch revives a record-producer character from Freberg’s record “Sh-Boom”, mentioned early on, who’d helped a recording get to true modern greatness by avoiding problems like the audience being able to make out a word the singers were performing. This is the same premise, doing a rock-and-roll version of Stephen Foster songs. It’s more cleverly done than funny, and I don’t think just because Freberg writes for clever. Nor because the premise is hilariously dated, embedded as it is in a moment when American popular music styles changed to what is still the default mode, and writing from the perspective of the now-obsolete styles. I think Freberg (or his writers) got caught in an authenticity trap. They got so committed to making plausible arrangements that, actually, “Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair” set to the tune of “Rag Mop” works. I’ve been caught in this kind of authenticity trap myself. I suspect it’s caused by certain nerd personality traits. Particular strains of cleverness and industriousness and perfectionism can combine to where the goal becomes executing an idea perfectly. It’s easy to forget that you haven’t developed or escalated the idea past the original premise.
28:00 Closing Remarks. No teaser for next week; the first episode said the Barbara Fritchie bit would be here.

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

15 thoughts on “The Stan Freberg Show: The Second Episode; Meet A The Abominable Snowman”

        1. Now that’s really interesting; I would have thought Fred Allen a so-dated reference by the late 70s that nobody would even try making it. (For those somehow not up on old-time radio, Fred Allen didn’t have a regular radio series after about 1948 [*], and he died in 1956.) On the other hand, they had a lot of time to fill, and on a show like that it doesn’t matter much of what anybody’s saying, as long as everyone seems to be having a good time and it’s not too much longer until someone says “fanny”.

          This does remind me now that there was something someone (was it you?) asked might be a Fred Allen allusion in the 70s, and I thought it possible-but-not-likely. Maybe I was being too pessimistic.

          ([*] He was a semi-regular on The Big Show, 1950 to 1952, though.)

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    1. Yes, that’s exactly what I was thinking of.

      … It still seems weird, but I guess the 1970s did see this wave of nostalgia for Americana, and that does seem to be when the first good books about old-time radio nostalgia got printed. Also those picture books trying to give you the experience of watching the Marx Brothers movies, only by reading instead.

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  1. As for the Match Game reference Gene was trying to tell a contestant who Alf Landon was (an even more dated reference),Gene quoted Allen saying “As Maine goes so goes Vermont.” IMHO it was a very good impression.

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    1. Hah! I don’t know for sure that Fred Allen said that, but it does have his particular kind of snap to it. At least to my ears.

      It does suggest that it ought to be possible to find the original quote, if it is among the Fred Allen shows to survive. It’d have to be said either in late 1936 or, possibly, in the run-up to the 1940 election.

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