Lunedi Lunacy

While searching for a video clip I stumbled upon one that featured the late Mel Blanc – “the man of  a thousand voices”.  As these things do that led to randomly clicking on videos from a few of the many programmes that featured one of the greatest of “second bananas”.

Blanc was a regular with Jack Benny both on radio and television as a cast member and part of Benny’s creative team.   He play everything from Sy the Mexican to Professor LeBlank, Jack’s long-suffering violin teacher to Benny’s decrepit old Maxwell automobile.  Apparently the audio of the old clunker (the car not Jack) sputtering didn’t work during a live radio broadcast day so Blanc quickly imitated it with such success that it was added to his long list of characters.

Benny and he had a chemistry on stage that was one of the best in the business as this little sketch goes to show:

In the 1960s CBS tried to duplicate the success of their I Love Lucy by casting the gamine Belgian actress Annie Fargé in Angel.  Though Fargé was a huge success the show rated low and only ran for one season.  However it gave Blanc one of his funniest cameos in a long string of sit-com appearances:

And by the way Blanc’s name was Melvin Jerome Blank (thanks to Laurent for catching that one.)

Many people wouldn’t recognize Blanc but they’d recognize the voices of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, Speedy Gonzales, Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, the Tasmanian Devil, Pepé Le Pew and many of the other characters from Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies during that golden age of American animation.

I once had a French teacher tell me that if I wanted to get the proper cadence of French then listen to Pepé Le Pew – and that was part of Blanc’s success, he understood the rhythm, flow and stress of language.  And he knew how to make us laugh:

At his request his gravestone is inscribed:  THAT’S ALL FOLKS”.

On this day in 1905: Las Vegas is founded when 110 acres (0.45 km2), in what later would become downtown, are auctioned off.

Lunedi Lunacy

Last week we were making – as the saying goes – plans and provisions for the morrow.  We did this not for any deep dark reason but simply to make things easier at some future time.  As we went about the business of making arrangements this old Nichols and May sketch popped out of my sub-conscious.  It’s one of their classics and as I recall it raised the ire of the “grief” industry when they appeared on Jack Paar.

As I’ve mention on an earlier Lunedi Lunacy everyone in a Nichols and May sketch seems to live on Huguenot Walloon Drive. It cracks me – and usually the audience – up every time Mike Nichols says it. It is just one of those silly sounding combinations that hits the funny bone. But a bit of research revealed that a group of Huguenots from the Walloons first settled in New Netherlands (New York State) in 1624 and that the stamps issued in 1924 to commemorate the 300th anniversary of their landing are considered collectors items by stamp enthusiasts. I wonder if Nichols knew that or it was just a name that he pulled out of a hat?

On this day in 1710: The Statute of Anne, the first law regulating copyright, comes into force in Great Britain.

Lunedi Lunacy

Yes another British comedy snippet.  When you’re onto something good stay with it I always say – well okay I don’t always say it but frequently enough.  The late Victoria Wood was as brilliant a comedy writer as she was a performer and the person she wrote for most often was Julie Walters.   They had met each other at an audition for a drama school in Manchester – Julie got in, Victoria didn’t – but it wasn’t until 1978 that they formed the comic partnership that was to last four decades.

 

“It was the first time we worked together and it just went a bomb and someone said to me ‘do you want to write a play. So that was my magic moment.”

I’ve posted this little sketch before but it proves, if proof were needed, that Walters could handle physical comedy as deftly as the verbal zingers that Woods wrote for her.

 

I really don’t know how Celia Imrie and Duncan Preston kept straight faces as Walters wended her way across that dining room.

On this day in 1701:After being convicted of piracy and of murdering William Moore, Captain William Kidd is hanged in London, England. 

 

Lunedi Lunacy

In honour of our move to the New World a look into the golden age of steamship travel.

Looks a little less crowded than some of the economy cabins of a few airlines that will remain nameless. 


25 luglio – San Giacomo il Maggiore

Now Is the End

According to the calculations of an American Tele-evangelist the world is going to end later today. Apparently, like New Year’s Eve celebrations, its going to happen time zone by time zone at 6 PM local time starting somewhere between Pago Pago, American Samoa, and Nuku’alofa, Tonga. To celebrate (if that’s the word I’m looking for?) I thought I’d post this little gem from Beyond the Fringe.

Considering they did this back in 1962 its taken a bit of time for them to hit a winner!

21 maggio – San Cristóbal Magallanes Jara