OK! Enough with the weirdness, back to the… Bob & Ray obsession. Never mind.

Damnit, I keep running into material on Bob & Ray that I wish I’d found before I started writing this threatening-to-become-widely-disseminated article. First there were those Baillett New Yorker profiles, and now Gerald Nachman’s Seriously Funny: The Rebel Comedians of the 1950s and 1960s, which contains a chapter on B&R as an adjunct to Jean Shepherd. (Whom I may now need to check into more closely, as well.)

The facts still line up. It’s just that I worry that I’ve made them sound almost completely personality-less in RL, which turns out to be… well, not exactly true. But still.

This is still not the definitive account. Nachman’s research has clearly been rather slapdash and his POV is largely Larry Josephson’s, meaning it’s as much about Josephson’s efforts to ‘rescue’ their legacy from the scrap-heap of comedy history as anything else. With occasional mild asides from Bob (but, oddly enough, not Ray’s family) suggesting that that they at least were perfectly OK with their legacy as-was, thanks.
Josephson is an erudite and witty man, and he obviously respects them and deserves the same … it’s just that legacy-keeping has a tendency to lead inevitably to head-patting (cf. Charlotte Bronte’s biographical sketch of her deceased sisters, which similarly sets my teeth on edge).

There’s some quite interesting commentary from writer Tom Koch as well, discussing his perhaps-a-bit-too-unsung contribution to the mythos. Also one amusing anecdote from — of all people — Jonathan Winters, who describes falling in love with what he assumed was B&R’s totally ad-libbed style and thus being ‘wiped out’ later, as producer of his own TV specials, to discover he couldn’t just haul them on-set and tell them they were now Minutemen being interviewed by Washington. Apparently, his idols just sort of stared at him. For some time. Oh, to be a wall-oriented fly with a time machine…

At any rate, just to set the record straight: Both Bob and Ray had perfectly interesting personalities, I’m… almost sure. At any rate, they remain a fascinating case study in the attraction of opposites. Bob was — is? — reserved and precise, artistic but also ‘studious…a ‘creature of habit’; while Ray had more ‘flair’, ie., was a walking Irish stereotype: ‘basically sweet and outgoing’ but nevertheless possessed of a ‘volcanic temper’, stubbornly refusing to give in to his failing body almost to the end.

…and in the end, I suppose, despite best efforts all ’round, their legacy will still be irretrievably theirs regardless.

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