Old time laughs

by Radio Somewhere

I have a confession. I love old radio comedy — even the corny stuff like The Great Gildersleeve! I like a lot of old radio shows, and there are plenty of podcast collections at iTunes. Relic Radio’s Legacy of Laughs is probably the best collection that doesn’t repeat itself too often, featuring episodes from sitcoms such as My Favorite Husband, Fibber McGee and Molly, Our Miss Brooks, and Duffy’s Tavern; and variety sketch shows with the likes of Stan Freberg (with the way-too-loud Banana Boat vocalist), Henry Morgan, Fred Allen, Jack Benny, Mel Blanc, and so on.

I don’t know why I love this stuff so much. I was born in England in 1962, so all of it is before my time and from a world so different from my own. But it’s a fascinating glimpse of cultural history, complete with the live messages from sponsors — often very cleverly slipped into the material itself! Every now and then, there is a patriotic message (sometimes a bit obnoxious by modern standards) at the end of the show urging Americans to rise to some occasion. (Many of these shows ran during World War II — more of a time of crisis than ours.) I suppose our modern equivalent on network TV would be one of the younger stars doing a 30-minute pitch at the end of the show urging kids to stay in school or stay away from drugs.

These old comedies are one of my bedtime staples — a nice change of pace from BBC Radio 4 comedy. They really take the sting out of a rotten day and set me up for a good night of sleep.