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Old 04-17-2011, 12:16 AM
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bgadow bgadow is offline
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Location: Federalsburg, MD
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The Comedy Show

One of the most important shows I ever listened to was The Comedy Show with Jack Carney. The popular St. Louis disc jockey did a show each Saturday morning playing all comedy bits, and a version of it ended up as a nationally syndicated show. Running 2 hours weekly, it was sent out on 2 LP records which included commercials. I believe (and please correct me if I'm wrong) that stations did not have to pay for these shows, they only needed to sign a form stating that the show (and it's advertisements) had been played. Each week Jack would cover a different topic. It could be seasonal /topical (Christmas, spring cleaning, football, Labor Day) or could cover something like marriage, the military, animals, etc. There might be a year in review around New Year's. The material would come from a variety of sources including comedy albums, old time radio, some TV shows, etc. It was this program which first introduced me to old time radio. He played a lot of Jack Benny and listening to some of those bits had me hooked. I guess I was around 10 or 12 when I first heard the show, and soon I had found a place selling tapes of various programs. This opened up a whole new world for me; my collecting of old radios started at the same time.

In 1984, Jack Carney passed away unexpectedly. Initially his son John Carney took over the mic; I remember at least a couple of those first shows where the topic was simply "Comedy Greats". After a time, Dick Cavett was brought in as the new host. He seemed a natural, as he really sounded like he enjoyed what he was doing. The format stayed the same, with some tweaks over time. They added The Comedy Spot, which was a 5 minute daily program for stations to play somewhere on the schedule. This generally consisted of an introduction by Cavett, a couple commercials, then a short comedy routine (often edited down). These were fit onto the same 2 record set along with the weekly show. On some shows Cavett would have interviews with different people. (a man with a talent for making funny noises; Larry Gatlin & the Gatlin brothers) They began adding a "Funny Bone Favorite" towards the end of the show, featuring a comedian doing his/her bit from a comedy club. This didn't usually have anything to do with the topic of the show.

Eventually, later in the 80s, Cavett left the show. It was around this time that he started a syndicated, live talk show each weeknight and I suppose he couldn't do both. His replacement was Roy Firestone. I never quite warmed to Roy as host, though there was another issue that kept me away. I had a lot of trouble finding a station that carried The Comedy Show. Initially I had listened to it on WBZ Boston, and later WCBM Baltimore. At one point WCBM went bankrupt and off the air, and after that I was never able to find a reliable place to hear it. I believe WCAU Philadelphia carried it but they never came in very clear here. (too far away for line of sight, too close for skip?) I am not certain when the last show aired. I have never seen one of Firestone's shows on record, but have a number of the Cavett series and some of the Carney's. I also have a few shows that I recorded on cassette when I was kid, but they are very poor recordings. It's great to actually own those shows now, and be able to hear them loud and clear for the first time.

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Bryan

Last edited by bgadow; 04-17-2011 at 11:14 PM.
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