Posted ByLL on February 19, 2004 at 03:03:47:
In Reply to: "Bashing" Harry Conn posted byGerry O. on February 18, 2004 at 15:50:01:
: Actually, Laura, I DO agree with you on the corny radio gags of Harry Conn....but back then EVERY comedian on the radio was corny like that!
An excellent point, and reflected in Jack's consistent honors from groups like Radio Guide and the New York World Telegram, plus his ranking of 2 or 3 for the 1933-35 seasons (technically from 1933 to 1940, when he took over the #1 slot...but just talking about the Conn years).
: I think where Harry Conn's writing skills were strongest were in stage-oriented routines (the kind of things that Jack later did on TV and in personal appearances). When we think of classic
: Conn-written Benny routines, they're almost always visually-oriented stage bits.
Which is pretty ironic, considering that he was writing for radio! Just a little clarification on my previous comments...I'm not saying Harry Conn was a bad writer. He was good for Jack at the time. But I think had he continued as the main writer for Jack, I wonder if the "magic" would have lasted. Also, I don't know how much of a script is Conn vs. Boasberg, and with Boasberg's sudden demise in 1937, how different the scripts would have been without Al's touch.
The additional fact that Conn couldn't seem to make it with any other comedian is telling. This is just my opinion, but I think that was a combination of his ability to write for Jack specifically, plus a lack of ability to evolve his comedy writing style with the times. And maybe a dash of over-inflated ego.
I think I remember a story that Conn would continue to submit gags to Jack over the years, and he still paid him even when he couldn't use the gags. We will probably never know exactly how many of the ongoing gags that started in 1937+ were actually penned by Conn, and inserted into other writers' scripts.