Old time radio blog.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Satire At Its Best

If you like whacked-out comedy like Monty Python, the Marx Brothers, and the early National Lampoon movies like Animal House, you'll probably like Bob & Ray and The Goon Show. The former was an American comedy duo, the latter a British comedy troupe. Both dealt in high satire, although B&R's was so subtle sometimes you thought it was the real thing: two really dumb newsmen cluelessly reporting what was going on around them. The Goons, led by future film star Peter Sellers and wildman Spike Milligan, were far less subtle, mixing it up on subjects like the royal family, British military, detective and spy fiction, literary references, vaudeville tricks, and other assorted insanity. Both acts relied on their ability to come up with funny voices and making mountains out of molehills. Running characters for B&R included the nitwit field reporter Wally Ballou (Bob Elliott) and a subpar actress named Mary Backstayge (Ray Goulding); Milligan (I'm pretty sure) voiced a fey young man who usually played a lost dauphin or idiot child. Sellers did all those wacky voices he's now famous for, glommed on by John Lennon (listen to "Yellow Submarine"), David Letterman, Steve Martin, and other future fans. A little bit of Goonery goes a long way, I've found, but Bob & Ray on a roll is genius work.

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