The Stan Freberg Show: The Third Episode, when some running gags start

My experience of last week suggests that I’ve got the hang of linking to files that aren’t the first in an collection. Please say something if my posting here today, or any future ones, go wrong.

Here’s the rundown for the show this week. I haven’t yet decided whether this is better organized as a list, as a table, or some other syntactic scheme. If you have a thought how to organize this information, what the heck, let me know. Maybe I can work it.

Start Time Sketch
00:00 Cold Open. No riff on an old record; instead, it’s a woman demanding to speak her peace. This instead teases one of the coming sketches.
00:22 Opening Music. They have a mock advertiser this week, “Screen Finders Swim Fins”. Might be a teaser for the seal and the diving jokes later on. I suspect “Screen Finders” is a joke about something contemporary, but I don’t know what.
01:25 Introduction. Stan Freberg gets a smattering of applause and investigates the matter. He has an audience of seals and if the Funday Pawpet Show has never used that joke, then the world makes even less than no sense.
02:40 Interlude. The start of a running sketch for this week, as a man and woman listening to the show comment on it. He’s unimpressed; she thinks the trouble is he keeps missing all the setups.
03:50 Miss Universe Contest. Zuzu, Miss Jupiter, is upset. An alien wanting to enter is probably the first sketch to think of once you’ve decided to do a Miss Universe sketch. It’s set up in a way that could only work on radio, though, as Freberg keeps unspooling more bits of Zuzu’s anatomy. I do like Zuzu’s confident claim, “Some girls got curly antennas, other girls got cute suction cups. I got shapely wheels.”
06:08 Skin Divers Mandolin Club at Laguna Beach. The absurdist-club setup feels like a Bob and Ray premise to me. It’s another of those pieces built by radio’s techniques: declaring a thing exists and tossing in some special effects.
09:55 Music. Peggy Taylor sings “Cheek to Cheek”.
13:10 Leroy Straddle interviews Mrs Prill. I thought this was the woman who’d been carving a 400-foot Mary Margaret McBride statue last week but I … guess not? She represents the Upwards and Onwards Girls and gets into a lot of talk about tree frogs and birds in one of those nightmare arguments where one party doesn’t know what the dispute is.
17:24 The Zazzalov Family. Radio acrobats. Which is another bit about how you can do anything on radio by claiming you did it and having a sound effect. There’s a line about how the Zazzalov Family was Swiss. Freberg explains that “this way we don’t offend anyone”. So an eternal complaint among creative types is how the censor barely lets them do anything. And fair enough. But to get specific complaints. A lot of what network censors warned was to not needlessly insult races or nationalities. It’s hard to call that a bad scripting note. If the joke of making foreigners Swiss was a riff on the arbitrariness of specifying the ethnicities of characters where it’s not needed, then it works. If the joke was, oh gosh you can’t even laugh at the Romani anymore, then I’m not comfortable.
18:24 Interlude. That couple returns to discuss what they think of the show.
19:20 Robert E Tainter, historical researcher. Calls back to the Barbara Fritchie sketch last week and sets up the historical spoof. I’m not comfortable with the premise that he’s out to find the clay in every hero’s feet. I understand thinking it’s funny to suppose these historians who go about deflating historical mythologies are doing it to be spoilsports. But I’m also the sort of person who thinks we’re better off appreciating where even the greatest figures were screwed up, lost, and struggling on as best they could.
21:40 General Custer’s Scout. So one old-time radio drama I heard once had a life insurance company as sponsor. Their advertisement pitched that you should use the sort of foresight as General Custer and buy insurance with them. Have to say, there’s a lot of social attitudes that have changed from the 50s, but Custer-as-a-man-of-foresight? That’s a big swing. (And, yes, his end is more complicated than modern snarking about it suggests.) Anyway, sick jokes about how the Battle of the Little Bighorn developed have probably always been a solid premise. Here, we get a scout figuring to dig out before stuff gets really bad.
26:15 Robert E Tainter again. Connecting the runaway scout to Tainter with a pretty easy punch line.
27:15 Closing Remarks. I had wondered how the Incident at Los Voraces sketch was received at the time. If Freberg’s to be trusted here, pretty well, at least by the sorts of people who write in letters. He announces plans for another Fable of that kind. If my recollection from last time I listened through these shows holds up, they never quite get to one, at least not one as cutting as this.
27:45 Closing Music.
28:20 Interlude. Last words from that couple who’ve been listening to the show.

My recaps of all the episodes of The Stan Freberg Show should be at this link.

Author: Joseph Nebus

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

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