Archive for March 2012

The long and short of comedy

March 14, 2012

Our mantra while on furlough last week: If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.

Over at our home blog — AM, Then FM — we took our lemon and made lemonade. We spent the week spinning vintage comedy bits, mostly from the ’70s.

I dug out more than a dozen comedy albums, most of them bought as dollar records over the last few years. For all the hours of material on those records, and I listened to much of it, it seemed that shorter bits held up best. Among them, Bill Cosby’s “Lone Ranger,” Richard Pryor’s “Exorcist” and Cheech and Chong’s “Dave.”

When it came to my National Lampoon records, which I’ve had since the ’70s, I went with a couple of pieces from “Radio Dinner” rather than something from “Lemmings,” the Woodstock satire best heard in its entirety, and thus in context.

Likewise, there’s only one way to listen to the great Rodney Dangerfield. To bring it over here, to The Midnight Tracker, to capture what his weary yet rapid-fire stage persona was like.

We saw Rodney Dangerfield do a live show in a Vegas-style dinner theater here in Green Bay in the early ’80s. It must have been 1980 or 1981. I remember none of the jokes. They came much too quickly (and I’m sure Rodney would find a joke in that line). That said, I vividly recall laughing from almost the minute Rodney walked on stage to the minute he walked off.

I am certain it went something like this:

“No Respect,” Rodney Dangerfield, from “No Respect,” 1980. This is Side 1, one long cut. It runs 18:46. Recorded live at Dangerfield’s nightclub in New York City. I pull out the record to double-check something and I see there is no sleeve. No respect, I tell ya.

I haven’t seen a lot of comedy shows over the years. Rodney Dangerfield was the first comedian I ever saw live. Hard to top that.

We saw Bill Hicks at a comedy club in Memphis one night in the late ’80s. He was on his way up. That came close.

We rode in an elevator with Sam Kinison in a Milwaukee hotel in the early ’90s. A mischievous-looking boy, maybe 10 or so, got on, too. Kinison gave the kid the evil eye and asked “You getting off soon?”

Yeah, we’re done here tonight. You’ve been a great crowd.