Originally archived in 2 parts, I recombined the parts. I assume it was done that way for ease in distributing on cassette tape. My show notes are a big longer than I normally might do, but there’s a lot that Jack shares. Plus audio clips from the radio show are mixed in.
Part 1 opens with a clip of a classic Jack Benny moment, with one of Rochester shaving Jack with Duz laundry soap.
In the interview, Jack meanders through several topics including comparing his on air persona to his real life, and, differences in radio and television mediums, that he still learns from the work of others. Giving a nod to the then popular show Laugh In, and techniques that he had done years before.
Jack claims to have always been a forward looking person, and is interested in modern venues. He fells that radio is a bygone era, and has no desire to return to it, or revive it. I’ll bet if he were still around today, he’d be all over podcasting, or Youtube with plenty of fresh material.
He tells abut his start in radio, giving up a $1500 per week salary with the Earl Carrol Vanities. OK, I’ll take his word for it, but memories can get jumbled, and it was a long time prior to this interview, but other sources make it out that his salary was more like $1500 per month. Still a huge wage for the initial years after the stock market crash of 1929. Jack tries to make the comparrison that amount was about equal to $15k today. Well, probably not in the early 1970’s when this interview took place, but something like that today. Again, I can’t blame him since by his own admission in the interview Jack claims to not have a good head for business. Instead, he admits his area of expertise as being in his comedy career. At this stage of the game, he is confident in his success, comedy writing, and that he is less concerned over money than ever.
Asked to reflect, Jack talks about pivotal moments of his early career. Learn how he accedentally fell into comedy during his service in the Navy, and how he first became known as Jack Benny.
Taking a break, we’re treated with a clip about Jack dealing with his dual sided personality. Should he give in to being cheap, or not? Features Don Wilson and Frank Nelson. Jack talks about his violin playing. His learning as a child and how he returned to it after leaving it for comedy, and the serious effort he puts into it. The segment ends with a clip of Mel Blanc as Professor Lablanc, and one of Jack’s frustrating violin practice sessions. Why does the agonized violin teacher stick around for the torture? Easy, Jack has his pants.
Part 2 of the interview starts with Jack remembering how the feud with Fred Allen came about. In real llife the two were friends, and Jack shares words of admiration for Fred. He felt the jokes were good when he got a laugh, but funnier when Fred got the upperhand.
A series of clips from a memorable appearance on Fred’s show is shared. It ends with a famous scene of a game show where Jack wins prizes and is King for the Day. But Fred gets not only Jack’s coat but his ppants as well.
Jack comes back to talk about the relationship he cultivates with his writers. He claims to always give them credit, something not all comedians do.
Enjoy another clip, this one of Rochester giving Jack a hair cut, and talking about stinginess, and a little about the script writing schedule. The schedule is a fairly accurate depiction, as his writers support in other interviews when they talk about the same thing.
Jack tells abut his hobbies that keep him busy and the things he enjoys. Learn more details about the Maxwell, and how Love in Bloom became his theme song. Other beginnings include Jack’s first appearance in Ed Sullivan’s program. He claims it was in 1932, but some radio logs indicate it might have been in 1931.
Jack has no regrets about the path he pursued, in particular not sticking with the violin, and getting into acting. He considers himself an actor who does comedy. He also tells how he comes up with jokes from real life events, and observing his surroundings. If he has regrets at all it’s in having his mother not living to see his success, or his father passing before having a high school named for him.
Still looking back, Jack tells about actually being born in Chicago, and a little about his early days in vaudeville and the Navy. Learn how Jack arrived at using Jack Benny as his stage name. He discusses the number of Jews in show biz, and the loss brought on by Hitler. Also about his thoughts on education.
What do you think? Has Jack finally made it? No regrets, and no looking back.