Showing posts with label David Letterman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label David Letterman. Show all posts

Thursday, March 31, 2016

March 31: Happy Birthday, Henry Morgan

March 31: Happy Birthday, Henry Morgan

Meet Mr. Morgan, a bow-tie wearing, wide-grinning, wise-cracking radio host who anticipated the post-modern, bite-the-hand-that-feeds-you attitude of David Letterman, Howard Stern and others who would criticize their own network and sponsors on the air.

Sponsor Adler Shoe Stores, for example, didn't like it much when Morgan said he wouldn't wear their new line of shoes to a dogfight. Asked by the owner himself to recant, Morgan said he would wear them to a dog fight.

Starting out as a page at WMCA, he worked his way up through announcing to getting his own show, even if it was only a fifteen-minute one, in 1940 for station WOR. He would kick off broadcasts by saying "Good evening, anybody, here's Morgan." This was as a sly piece of satire aimed at announcers who addressed "everybody" at the top of their broadcasts, assuming their audience was that all-encompassing.

ABC gave him his shot at a half and hour slot, and he gained a national reputation for his biting wit.

After years of antagonizing his sponsors, Morgan did the next logical thing and moved to Canada to work for CBC, public radio. There, he quickly drew the ire, not of a sponsor, but of a show producer. After the producer said that Morgan's comments had no beginning and middle and end, the cantankerous veteran host interrupted one of his own commentaries by shouting "this is the middle!!" and therefore stopped working for the CBC.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

May 31: Happy Birthday, Fred Allen

Not a lot of show biz icons got their start in a library, but that's exactly how it happened to Fred Allen, born on this day in 1894. Bless that Boston Public Library for hosting a little variety show for patrons--it gave Allen a chance to take up some juggling and perform a bit of comedy. The encouragement he got from impressed audience members sent him into local amateur night competitions, and the rest is history.

We today know Fred Allen as a master satirist and pioneer of meta-humor, with one example being his fictional feud with Jack Benny. This reality-bending brand of comedy would later become more commonplace, finding homes in the repertoires of Andy Kauffman, Sacha Baron Cohen, and David Letterman, whose pugnacious exchanges with various guests were infused with a mock-venom.

We also know him as the long-time host of The Fred Allen Show and then Texaco Star Theater
You may recall, from the latter, Allen's Alley, home to Sampson Souse, John Doe, Socrates Mulligan, Parker Fennelly and others. Let's not forget Senator Beauregard Claghorn whose stammer would become the inspiration for the Warner Bros. cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn.

But what I like best about Fred Allen is that mug of his. Take one look at his face and it's impossible not to think, "now there's a comedian!