Re: Chicago History Fair Project - Jack Benny

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Posted Bykurt on March 19, 2002 at 00:07:48:

In Reply to: Chicago History Fair Project - Jack Benny posted byDaniel Cohn on March 18, 2002 at 22:44:25:

OK, I'll go first, and I expect Laura to jump in here any time!

A. Comedians influenced by Jack Benny. The current example of a Benny-influenced show is, of course, "Frasier," although space here doesn't permit an examination of all the examples.

Comedian most influenced by Jack Benny who always credited his influence: Johnny Carson. His delivery and mannerisms during his monologues are straight from Jack Benny.

Other stand-up comics who have acknowledged Jack Benny's influence: Alan King and Rodney Dangerfield.

b. In what way would he be considered historical? He might be considered arguably the most influential comedian of the 20th century. Benny's dry, sophisticated style was the antithesis of baggy-pants burlesque and vaudeville clowning, and made him a top vaudeville master of ceremonies. His conversational radio delivery and his half-hour character-based radio program became known as "the Benny model" in the 1930s.

c. Has there been anyone more popular? Of course, because comedy styles and popular tastes change. Jack unseated Ed Wynn, Eddie Cantor, and Baron Munchausen at the top of the earliest radio ratings, but by 1942, he was usurped by Bob Hope. He was consistently on everyone's top 10 list of favorite radio comedians, although Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy usually bested him in the ratings, and Fred Allen had a greater following among intellectuals.

The quality of Benny's radio shows can be seen this way: If you've ever listened to a variety of radio comedy shows from the 1930s and 1940s, seldom, if ever, will you laugh, because the gags are dated and the jokes stale. You WILL, however, laugh at the Benny program because the humor is character-based and the characters easily recognizable. That's the power of good writing and timeless humor.

Hope this helps.

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