Blog Archives

Comedy Writer and Saturday Night Live Alum Tom Davis has Died

 

From the L.A. Times:

Franken & Davis on SNL

Davis died Thursday at his home in Hudson, N.Y., his wife, Mimi Raleigh, told the Associated Press. He had throat and neck cancer.

Classmates while growing up in Minneapolis, Davis and Franken developed stand-up routines in Minnesota and Los Angeles before landing the gig on “Saturday Night Live.” They wrote and performed on the show, creating the Coneheads characters and skits featuring Bill Murray‘s Nick the Lounge Singer.

As performers, Davis was the quiet one, overshadowed by the flashier Franken, who is now a Democratic senator from Minnesota. Davis told the AP in 2009: “If we were Sonny and Cher, he would be Cher.” The two had a falling out in 1990 but later reconciled.

Davis stayed with “SNL” from its first season until 1980, then returned for another run from 1985 to 1994 and again in 2002-03. He was among the “SNL” writers who shared Emmy Awards in 1976, ’77 and ’89. He won another writing Emmy in 1978 for a Paul Simon variety show.

 

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The Mellow Moods sign… Bradley Sanders’ Best

I’ve been watching Bradley make this in his shop for some months now. Cutting and carving the names and decorations into the wood, working the copper for the centerpiece with the tree, forming and welding the decorative arms that hold it to the front of the building… all of these things made as fine craft.

Yesterday morning, Bradley and Mr. Bill came over and hung it over the Mellow Moods entrance as we all watched. Phil Mastrangelo, owner of the Mood, kept going in and out to check the progress, worried that the height was too low (which it wasn’t) and smiling like you can’t believe.

Anyway, here are both sides of the sign which now bring new life to German Street:

 

 

This is a great addition to our historic and arts-oriented district. Bravo to Bradley and congrats to Phil.

 

 

A few non-bin Laden related updates…

“Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.”

Jack Handey, Saturday Night Live

The news this morning and into the afternoon has been fairly single focused and I haven’t had a chance to get back to some things I’ve been discussing in  the last week or so. I’m sitting over at Mellow Moods having a cup of coffee  and a vegan sandwich (black bean burger with fruit and salsa roll-up) and their wifi is working… so here goes:

4 Days into my SuperFocus glasses…

Focusing... a snap!

I know I bored everyone over the last few weeks with my enthusiasm and expectations for the SuperFocus glasses I ordered and have bee. waiting for. Well, they arrived late on the 28th and I’ve been wearing them for a hair over four days now.

And they are spectacular!

It took a little over a day to get used to changing the focus manually depending on what distances I was looking at. And I found out that, unlike my old bifocals, there were at least five regular viewing ranges I use regularly: reading, short distance, average distance, driving and very long distance. I’m amazed at how minimal a concern as my daily crossword puzzle now doesn’t require squinting and tilting my head to make sure I was at the close bifocal distance. And I can actually read road signs quite a way down the highway now.

I really like them. My wife got so interested that she just made an appointment with her optometrist and will be ordering her own soon (right now she wears trifocals and has great trouble with computer-use distances.)

—–
Getting Excused From Jury Duty

I got called up for a month of Jury Duty in June and I had to call my Doctor and get a note about my ischemic seizures which can happen at any time (the meds I take have them pretty much under control, but I’ve had at least one in the last few weeks.) It would be awfully embarrassing to go into a seizure while watching testimony… not to mention the fact that there’s a lot of driving back and forth and my wife is convinced I’ll have an attack at 60 miles per hour.

Anyway, my Neurologist’s office is giving me the note to attach to the form I had to fill out. Apparently they do this kind of thing all the time.

—–

I’m working this afternoon on the basis of my podcast. I’m still very unsure of how everything is done, but I’m doing it live at 10 AM tomorrow. If you listen to it then, or get it later, please excuse my early user mistakes. I’ll get better.

In Case you missed the White House Correspondent’s Dinner last night…

Here’s the fun that Obama and Seth Meyers had with Donald Trump…

I don’t think The Donald has much of a sense of humor… he certainly couldn’t take the kind of attacks that he hands out… there’s Obama’s strength,

And did you know Michelle Bachman was born in Canada? 🙂

I got to thinking about Bob & Ray after yesterday’s post about Ernie Kovacs…

Ray Goulding and Bob Elliott hosting The Name'...

Ray Goulding and Bob Elliot in 1955

Bob and Ray were to radio what Ernie Kovacs was to television (although the famous radio team, who met as announcers at Boston’s WHDH in 1946, also did television, film and live performances on Broadway in their 43-year career), and were as influential on generations of comedians as Kovacs was, if not more so.

Performing right up to the late 80s when Ray was too ill to work (he died in 1990), Bob Elliot & Ray Goulding developed many characters who became treasured and respected names among listeners: Wally Ballou, Mary McGoon, Webley Webster, the McBeebe brothers, Biff Burns and so many others.

I often think that the reason their characters seemed so real over time was that Bob & Ray believed they WERE real… that there really was a radio soap opera producer named O. Leo Leahy (who they often put in their credit list after a show) or that Wally Ballou really was out on the street interviewing ordinary people and always being upcut by the broadcast engineer. I suppose when you perform the same characters for decades in so many different situations they DO become real.

Their comedy was performed without a single bad word or objectionable situation. They were rarely political (although the one exception may be the poke they gave to Senator Joe McCarthy on their soap opera parody “Mary Backstayge Noble Wife” in the late 50s) and never offensive, but remained much funnier than most of their competition.

Here’s a Wally Ballou interview sample (this is from “Bob and Ray, The Two and Only”, their Carnegie Hall performance in the 1980s):

I played that last piece because it is one of my favorites and so typical of their work… which they talked about in this interview with a very young David Letterman, who was very much influenced by them:

Letterman, of course, gave a major career start to Bob’s son Chris Elliot… and Chris’ daughter, Abby Elliot is now on Saturday Night Live, making Bob Elliot, 88 years old this year, the head of three generations of funny people.

Fortunately there is a large quantity of recordings of Bob & Ray’s work going back to the late 40s available on CDs, cassette tapes and DVDs. YouTube has a nice collection as well. These are certainly worth your time whenever you are feeling down… they never cease to provide a laugh.

Ernie Kovacs Invented Television Comedy…

Ernie Kovacs

Ernie Kovacs

Salon did a very nice article on the late Ernie Kovacs this morning because his widow, Edie Adams, has just released a complete set in DVD form of Kovacs’ kinescopes from the fifties and very early sixties (Kovacs died in an automobile accident in January of 1962… something I remember clearly as a prep school student who kept a copy of his obituary tucked into a copy of Show Business Illustrated with an article on the great man. I still have it.)

From the article:
Some of TV’s most innovative people and programs drew inspiration from Kovacs: Rowan and Martin, the Smothers Brothers, Monty Python, Kids in the Hall, SCTV, the “Saturday Night Live” casts, every host of NBC’s “Tonight Show,” and all the talk shows modeled on “Tonight.” Morning shows raided him, too: Kovacs’ 1951 program “Three to Get Ready,” broadcast live on Philadelphia’s WPTV, was the first morning program anywhere, and was supposedly the inspiration for NBC’s “Today.”

Go over and take a look at the whole piece… it is loaded with YouTube videos of Kovacs kinescopes. Meanwhile, here’s one of my favorites (I don’t think it’s in the Salon post) of the Kovacs character, poet Percy Dovetonsils:

Boy, it’s been 50 years and I still miss Ernie Kovacs.

Actor Steve Landesberg Dies of Cancer..

Former standup comedian and veteran actor Steve Landesberg, perhaps best known for his role as an intellectual detective on 1970s police sitcom Barney Miller, has died at age 65. He had been suffering from cancer for some time.
Landesberg was Det. Arthur Dietrich on Barney Miller, and joined the show after the first few seasons.
Here’s a video from the show:

Sunday Night Entertainent: Chicago Newscasters Screw Up…

I hope you like this… I got a kick out of it:

Oh well… we all miss the big one at some point.

The Dirty Two Weeks…

At 2 weeks until the election on November 2nd we are entering into the time of filthy tactics… and, as it seems, the filthiest of the tacticians are Republicans disguised as Tea Party people or Republicans hidden by Supreme Court supported corporate anonymity.

In Nevada we have a right-wing Hispanic “front” group running commercials to persuade Latinos not to vote as a method of telling politicians that they won’t be used anymore… an obvious play to withhold votes for Harry Reid and get Sharron Angle, the Tea Party lunatic, into office. As of this past afternoon, Univision, the great Hispanic television network has refused to run these ads… and Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC pinned Mr, Posado, the creator of the ads, to the wall…exposing him as a Republican front.

The Delaware debate yesterday morning had Christine O’Donnell revealing how little she knew about the Constitution when she made it clear she knew nothing about the separation of Church and State in the First Amendment, something Chris Coons explained for her. And she kept coming back with the same comment. Listening to people laugh at her, the facial expression she gave out was indicative that she thought she had smashed Coons. This is a brainless woman… scary to think of her in office.

Sarah Palin is Tea Party Busing around the country making more comments revealing her lack of knowledge of who is running where confusing West Virginia candidates with Pennsylvania candidates.

I think Saturday Night Live is wonderful… once a week. It’s when real life becomes SNL 24 hours a day that I wish it all would go away. Yet my big fear is that after the election we will be living in an unrecognizeable country run by Glenn Beck and spending most of its time trying to repeal the 14th Amendment.

Art Clokey, Creator of Gumby, Dead at 89…

clipped from www.artknowledgenews.com
Animator Art Clokey, whose bendable creation Gumby
became a pop culture phenomenon through decades of toys, revivals and satires,
died Friday. He was 89.
Clokey, who suffered from repeated bladder
infections, died in his sleep at his home in Los Osos on California’s Central
Coast, son Joseph told the Los Angeles Times. Gumby grew out of a student
project Clokey produced at the University of Southern California in the early
1950s called “Gumbasia.” That led to his making shorts featuring Gumby
and his horse friend Pokey for the “Howdy Doody Show” and several series through
the years.
He said he based Gumby’s swooping head on the
cowlick hairdo of his father, who died in a car accident when Clokey was nine.
And Clokey’s wife suggested he give Gumby the body of a gingerbread man. Clokey
said that though Gumby eventually became one of the most familiar toys of all
time, he was at first resistant to roll out the bendable doll.

Eddie Murphy brought a surge in Gumby’s popularity in the 1980s with his send-up of the character on “Saturday Night Live” as a cigar-smoking show business primadonna.

Clokey said he enjoyed Murphy’s profane Gumby.

Words To Live By

“Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.”

– Jack Handey, SNL