Sunday, April 03, 2011

Bob and Ray Tonight: The Two and Only


The first part of a Bob and Ray appearance with a young David Letterman -- we'll have the second part, in which the boys do some actual material, tomorrow night

"I've discovered over the years that if you strike up a conversation with a perfect stranger, you usually get a pretty good news story."
-- reporter Wally Ballou, reporting live from Times Square,
about to get a scoop on a fast-breaking cranberry story

by Ken

I don't know what to say about Bob and Ray, except maybe that they were two of the funniest people who ever lived, and as a team . . . well, they were Bob and Ray. In the Letterman interview Dave brings up their 1970 Broadway show, Bob and Ray: The Two and Only, which remains one of my great memories. (In the decades since I've been trying to work up some sort of joke based on people seeing their understudies. I haven't made it yet.) So we're not going to do anything fancy this week, just watch some clips and listen to five excerpts from the Original Broadway Cast Album, recorded with a select invited audience in Columbia Records' 30th Street Studio.

In the Letterman clip Dave asks the boys about Bob's seminal character, Wally Ballou, a career-long victim of up-cutting, as we hear in our curtain-raising Two and Only clip. Bear in mind that the Times Square from which we hear Wally (real name: Wallace, we learn here) reporting is the chaotic, dangerous old Times Square I was just writing about.

Overture; Wally Ballou (Bob) and Hector Lassie (Ray); Introductory remarks; Wally covers a fast-breaking cranberry story in Times Square -- meet Floyd Smith the cranberry man (Ray)

TOMORROW in BOB AND RAY TONIGHT: The second, longer part of the Letterman appearance, and our next clip from Bob and Ray: The Two and Only

Check out the series to date




At 7:21 AM, Blogger Michael said...

Bob and Ray, you gotta love 'em!
Two old WGBH DJs make it big. My favorite off that album is Children's Menu, great stuff! Good call on the two funny men.

At 8:11 AM, Anonymous Barry Brenesal said...

You saw Bob and Ray: The Two and Only, too, Ken? My father and I, big fans of the pair, loved the show. I know some of the critics complained that it simply involved one big set and none of it was ever used, but they missed the point. The evening wasn't about a play. It was about Bob and Ray. And their like will not be seen or heard again.

At 10:00 AM, Blogger Doug Kahn said...

Are we getting the world famous Komodo Dragon Expert Daryll Dexter?

At 5:59 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

You bet I saw Bob and Ray: The Two and Only, Barry! One of the great evenings of my life!

And yes, Doug, the Komodo dragon expert is coming up tonight. Gosh, I didn't remember his name. In fact, I've listened to the clip a number of times in the last day or two and still didn't remember his name. That's true fandom.

But then, Bob and Ray fans don't usually come in the half-hearted variety.


At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Bill Freedman said...

Here's a grateful love letter I wrote to Bob on his 90th birthday. It expresses as well as I can, though not nearly well enough, my adoration and appreciation for these two remarkably funny men:

March 1, 2013

Dear Bob,
First, of course, I want to wish you a very enjoyable birthday and a very healthy, satisfying and joyful year. Many more of them, in fact.
But beyond that, I want to tell you that with the possible exception of my wife, my children and J.S. Bach, you and Ray have given me over the years--about 60 of them--more unalloyed joy, certainly more uncontrollable laughter than anything and anyone, still with us or long past.
I first encountered you and Ray on your ABC television program in the 50s, when I was a teenager (I'm 74 now, a retired literature prof.). My brother and I would literally roll on the floor, holding our sides with laughter, from start to finish: Charley Choo, Kim Kimonos, The alert attendant, On Top It's All Smokey, This is Your Bed, Wilbur Boomer; You made it, now lie in it, What's A Line (I think he rickshaw operaytah). These are all part of my adolescence, probably the very best thing about it, though admittedly they didn't have much competition at that afflicted stage of my life. The following day, after each program, my friend Fred and I would go over the entire previous evening's program, laughing all over again and often getting ourselves kicked out of high school class for our raucousness.
Some 45 - 50 years later, I came across your tapes and CDs in a bookstore in Vermont, and my life, already much improved, took a distinct upward turn. I bought them all over the next several years and have heard them all more than once, never tiring of them, laughing as hard and painfully as ever. After I lost my way on the road on several occasions, distracted by laughter, and nearly had an accident or two, I had to promise my wife I wouldn't listen to these recordings in the car. I did, but I cheat. I can't stay away, and neither can I resist recounting the funniest lines and routines to her, though I know she doesn't find them funny (what does she know?) and though she has begged me to stop. I can't. No more than I can stop praising and thanking you and Ray (posthumously; what a terrible loss, his early death) for your unique and remarkable senses of humor and for the immeasurable joy you've brought me over the years.
Over here, Todd. In Haifa, Israel.
With gratitude and real affection,

Bill Freedman


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