Bob & Ray Present: How to Impress a Waitress

OK, clearly I need some cheering up. On top of everything else it’s wet & miserable out, so my big plans for this afternoon are on hold until such time as I can get up the courage to go out there. Next year I think I may plan my winter oliday vacation in August.

Meanwhile, have a Bob & Ray skit, from Boston circa fall 1949.

Both halves of that august comedy team were born and raised locally — Bob in the middle-class Boston suburbs, Ray in the nearby blue-collar city of Lowell. Meaning that to their ears, it was the rest of the country that was ripe for parody. Especially the Midwest, which evidently had the advantage of being available for close study in the form of Ray’s wife, who hailed from Ohio.
Accents were also a particular concern at their day job, given that radio announcers were supposed to speak smoothly and intelligibly… whereas nobody cared what the comedy team sounded like. And if the comedy team in question already had a hyper-quick ear for cliches, the result comes out sounding something like this:

Bob: …Anyway, we have a new thing we’re taking up today, for those of you who may possibly be planning to eat at a restaurant, in the near future.

Ray: Those of you who like to put on airs.

Bob: We have, ah, gone to no expense, practically, and gone into, ah, quite a bit of research on this problem of impressing the waitress. When you order your dinner.

Ray: Mm-hm. There’s only one drawback to that, of course: the more you impress the waitress, the bigger the tip you feel you should leave…

Bob: Yes, it’s something of a vicious circle.

Ray: …and of course that is something we all try to avoid.

Bob: Now, if you are nobody —

Ray: A real nobody. By that I mean, you’re nothing, brother.

Bob: We’ll give you a few phrases that you can use when ordering your meal; and only while the waitress is at your table, of course. Don’t continue these phrases after she leaves you. You don’t want to have to impress the person with you…

Ray: It’s best to have a companion with you. It’s awfully hard to go ahead and do a lot of boasting without anybody to talk to.

Bob: No, no; the waitress will see through your flimsy scheme right away. However. If you have one or more people sitting at your table, here are a few suggestions on how to impress your waitress.

Ray: First of all, if you’re in Boston, people in Boston don’t hit their ‘R’s very hard. Now, a suggestion here would be to hit your ‘R’s like that, friends. Hard. In the Midwestern twang. Then they will think that you are from St. Louis, or Indianapolis, or Cleveland, Ohio

Bob: Or Peoria, Illinois.

Ray: Peorier. Right. So be sure and hit your ‘R’s like that, friends —

Bob: Say, "I would like some orange juice." That right off the bat lets the waitress know that you are probably from out of town.

Ray: Right. Or, "I would like two erggs, sunny-side-up."

Bob: She may possibly have some trouble deciphering those words, but you would keep saying them over and over again.

Ray: And thank her; say "This was very nice water."

Bob: And say erggs. Erggs! So she will understand English.

[The stressed-‘R’ business continues, softer but noticeably, throughout:]

Bob: Then, the problem of what to talk about to your companion at your table, while the waitress is serving you, comes up.

Ray: I suggest just one little snatch of a sentence is enough.

Bob: As if you had been talking on this same subject for, oh, several minutes.

Ray: Sure. You see the waitress coming — you time your next sentence to begin with this. As you figure that she’ll be at your left side, with the eggs, or pancakes, or waffles with sausage. 

Bob: But just a quick footnote before Mr. Goulding demonstrates this: you will find it very convenient if you tip your companion off to let you know when the waitress approaches, if she is approaching behind you. Now, what would you say in this case?

Ray: You time it so you’re saying this to your companion: "I was pushing west from San Angelo one Tuesday morning… when I noticed an oil gusher."

Bob (as helpful table companion): "That so, Charlie?"

Ray: Yes. See, she’ll stop, and hesitate and arrange napkins, just to hear what happened to that oil gusher. If she does stay, then continue on.

Bob: Just make it sound as authentic as possible.

Ray: Say you remember you bought some land in Oklahoma, but you didn’t know exactly where it was located…

Bob: Or something like this. "Say, Charlie?"

Ray (as helpful table companion): "Yeah?"

Bob: "You remember that straight stretch out of Abilene, towards Houston? That straight stretch of road, down there?"

Ray: "Yes, of course?"

Bob: "I was travelling out of there the other morning, and… ah… I got the new Caddy up to about ninety…"

Ray: "Uh-huh?"

Bob: "…and, uh, I looked off to my right." Now, by this time, the waitress should’ve left your table. But she’ll be interested!

Ray: And if this companion is a true friend of yours, he’ll say, "Did you say a ’49 Cadillac? Cream-coloured, convertible?"

Bob: And you will say, of course, "Yerss!" And that hard-‘R’ proves that you are, still, from out of state.

Now, another thing is to be surprised by things you see around you. Things which are not native to you, that seem different, but to us seem common-place, having lived here all of our lives.

Ray: Say, "The public garden here in Boston is very very pretty. We don’t have anything like that, out the Bahamas way."

Bob: Yes; or you could say, "Boy, this weather is quite a change, isn’t it, from up there at the North Pole!" ‘Course, you wouldn’t use the North Pole, you’d say something else maybe.

Ray: Yeah, I don’t know as that would help. She wouldn’t expect a tip, she’d expect a little piece of blubber left under the plate.

Bob: And there are other things we can talk about…

Ray: But friends, we can’t go on like this forever. If you do want us to continue on, "How to Influence People By Being a Complete and Total Phony", simply address a postcard to the Bob & Ray Phony Clinic, here at this station.

Bob: Right-ho. And [mimicking somebody, I have no idea who] you will be awarded the certificate that shows you are a complete dunderhead


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