Because by now we could all use a good political chortle…

…other than watching the Republican ticket lurch from strawman to strawman hoping one’ll keep them dry in the storm, that is.

Seriously. Wasn’t their reaction to the Obama infomercial just too precious? To think, a candidate for President, raising lots of money to campaign on – and then to actually go and campaign with it. The elitist jerk had the nerve to try and give the public a coherent vision of what might be should they vote him into office.
Next thing you know, he’ll be trying to convince the masses thet thar derned sci-en-mit-if-ical research has a purpose. Casting doubt on the idea that the Good Lord Above created the universe in seven days – and not a second more, d’y’hear? (I always picture Jesus, beside him, holding a stopwatch – “Hurry up, Dad, don’t bother to fix the guy nipple thing! They’ll work it out!”).
Why, I bet that Barack Hussein fella didn’t even notice when the soda-pop folks took the words ‘Under God’ off the Pledge of Allegiance cans awhile back. Godless commie terrorist heathen – uh, black guy!

…and oh, do I wish I was kidding, about the pop cans. But no.

Anyway, besides that. As it developed over the course of a few more threads on the CC, the person posting as ‘Wally Ballou’ there is also only in their mid-thirties! There are two of us! Reason for yay!

To celebrate, here’s a short (15min) Bob & Ray spoof from their 1980 Carnegie Hall show: In-Depth News With David Chetley. Basically: If Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert had existed in 1975. (The specific reference is to NBC’s iconic Huntley-Brinkley Report).

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Bob & Ray musings of the week (now with new download action!)

Being a Bob & Ray fan is a peculiarly fraught business, betimes.

Over forty years they racked up many thousands of hours of radio and TV comedy…much of which was ad-libbed, and all of which was performed without a mikeside script. No human being could be expected to consistently bring the funnie over that kind of a period. That they ended up with even a 60-40 average is enough for immortality…and I’m by no means sure of that number. Might be closer to 70-30.

This is why their output exists today mostly as neatly-collated individual skits scissored out of the random mass. The stuff that features a a well-set-up beginning, a middle containing…discernable humour (with these two, asking for punchlines is pushing it) and a neat windup at the end. Which is of course the only sane way to appreciate anyone’s comedic brilliance.

As she has mentioned before, however, yours truly enjoys hearing Bob & Ray’s ad-libbed bits above all else – their natural interaction and improvisation – and thus it can sometimes be a bit of a slog, plowing through entire programmes and picking out the really good bits. You can’t predict it nohow. They can be merely puttering along for hours in a row, and then all of a sudden one or the other will toss out a completely throwaway quip and it’s like Dorothy just stepped out into the Technicolour.

The other problem with this approach is being a listener who’s fascinated with Bob & Ray, themselves. Or, more accurately perhaps, with their ability to keep their selves hidden. Occasional mentions aside (usually of their children), they exhibit an uncanny ability to efface their personal lives from their comedy stylings. Let alone their celebrity ones. Whitney Baillet, whose two New Yorker profiles constitute a large chunk of their public biography, suggests this near-pathological shyness simply is normal behaviour among humourists…I’m not entirely sure. It may be that I’ve only encountered the ones who base their entire careers around their own intimate lives and times, but there does seem to be an awful lot of those.

Anyway, the point of all this – I swear – is that my favourite Bob & Ray material is quickly becoming their very early stuff, the Matinee shows of 1948-50, which are entirely ad-libbed and nearly every word of it…well, if it isn’t always brilliant, or revealing, it’s at least endlessly, endlessly charming. They hadn’t yet acquired anything much in the way of dignity, then, or even of purpose. Nothing distracts from their sheer delight in their own ability to make laughter, their eagerness to explore it.

So that when I discovered a set of twenty intact eps on CD for sale online, I immediately turned to Shoemom my financial advisor and de-mothballed the power wheedle, splendidly heedless even of that gorgeous new dress I overspent on last week.
Took awhile, but eventually I was permitted to join the paid-membership ranks of geekdom, and must never again mock those who spend hundreds on a Barbie doll they’re not going to take out of the box….wait, yeah, those I can still mock. Also those who spend hundreds on, say, an Actual Genuine Replica Slaying Knife as used on Buffy…Maybe I should start with model-train collectors and work my way up.

To celebrate mine purchase, I thought I’d provide download links to two more of the bootleg Matinee eps I’ve just discovered, both from September 1948. The usual random off-duty staffers, friends and family have been augmented somehow into a full-fledged studio audience, and as a result both men are at the top of their game. Rated PG for some mild playground stuff – I’m guessing the audience may have consisted largely of college students. Enjoy!

Episode 1

Episode 2

Warm obsession. Makes me happy.

I have until now been a little chary of posting from my cache of bootleg Bob & Ray mp3s, primarily because

1) I’d rather not set myself up in direct opposition to, one of the most comprehensive and well-maintained official celebrity sites out there, which offers – via both CD and iTunes – pretty much their entire career neatly packaged in high-quality audio skits. If you don’t want to pay for same, your local library probably has copies of at least a few cassette sets; and

2)After all, the free stuff is available to anybody with half a brain half able to work a search engine. It’s awfully easy to be noble when even ruddy Wikipedia’s doing the dirty work for you.

However. In the course of comments on my article, mention was made that I’d inspired others to go hunt up Bob & Ray material on their own…and, seeing as how same comments, not to say the reading that inspired them, were made at I’m sure great personal sacrifice of time and trouble…I kind of wanted to say thanks, and figured this might be the best way to do it. Besides which, as previously noted, I needed an excuse to relisten, badly.

After all, a small sampler selection of my favourites shouldn’t cause any real harm….the skits are amazing in and of themselves, but the shows in their entirety – they’re just special. Besides, as I informed the last sputterings of my conscience, once you’ve stomped all over the copyrights of Patrick McManus, you’re pretty much on the bottom twist of the downward spiral anyway.

Thusly, I offer below my personal Best of the standard p2p collection of Bob & Ray downloads… More