Thursday, February 4, 2016
bob and ray
I'm pretty sure I've never written here about anyone famous who has recently died but I heard just a little while ago that Bob Elliott of the famous old comedy team of Bob and Ray passed away yesterday. Among my favorite memories of living in New England in the 70s and 80s was listening to their radio shows when we were out driving. I've always associated their droll humor with Boston and the east coast of the US as the hosts of an ostensibly serious radio program. Their 'staff' (all voiced by the two of them) was a comic menagerie of reporters, book reviewers, actors and all other manner of radio personalities, all of whom interacted with Bob and Ray as well as with each other. Almost all of these characters had picturesque names, as in one sketch where Bob introduced Ray as one Maitland W. Mottmorency, who then replied, "My name is John W. Norvis. I have terrible handwriting."
They worked together from the 40s until 1990 when Ray Goulding died and over the course of those five decades played more characters than I can count. Parodying radio commercials of the time was a standard routine with a typical show having such 'sponsors' as:
* The Monongahela Metal Foundry ("Casting steel ingots with the housewife in mind")
* Einbinder Flypaper ("The brand you've gradually grown to trust over the course of three generations")
* The United States Post Office ("Makers and distributors of stamps")
* The Croftweiler Industrial Cartel ("Makers of all sorts of stuff, made out of everything")
* Cool Canadian Air ("Packed fresh every day in the Hudson Bay and shipped to your door")
* The United States Mint ("One of the nation's leading producers of genuine U.S. currency")
* Penuche ("With or without nuts, the greatest name in fudge")
* Kretchford Braid and Tassel ("Next time you think of braid or tassel, rush into your neighborhood store and shout, 'Kretchford'!")
The only real way to enjoy Bob & Ray is to listen to them. With that in mind, here's one of my favorites, with Bob Elliott as the Komodo-dragon expert being interviewed by Ray Goulding:
They were so low-key you could almost forget you were listening to satire.. until:
"You can run a big operation like I've seen here and only take in 12 dollars a week?" asks an incredulous Elliott while interviewing Goulding's paperclip factory chief.
"We have a low wage structure," responds Goulding, noting that employees make 14 cents a week and "live in caves on the edge of town and they forage for food."