Old Radio Comedy Classics

Old Time Radio Comedy ran the spectrum from the early situation comedy of Jack Benny to the country style humor of Lum and Abner and everywhere in between.

America has a lasting love affair with comedy radio and those lovable personalities that made everyone burst out laughing. Our Miss Brooks, Fibber McGee and Molly, The Life of Riley, Duffy’s Tavern, Dean martin and Jerry Lewis, My Friend Irma, My Favorite Husband with Lucille Ball, Ozzie and Harriet, Abbott and Costello, The Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Minnie Pearl, Mae West, Amos and Andy, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Eddie Cantor, Al Jolson, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Father Knows Best, The Bickersons, The Aldrich Family, Bringing Up Father, Moon Mullins, Mel Blanc, Henry Morgan, Jean Shepherd, Stan Freberg and the list goes on and on!

Plus that’s just the American Shows. Old Time Radio and thus Old Time Radio Comedy was a worldwide phenomena. With magnificent radio shows originating from England, Europe, Africa, Australia and elsewhere.

So, where to tap in to all of this wealth? The giant Old Time Radio archives to be found at such great OTR websites as Bookzap and Radio Treasury contain more comedy routines, shows and entertainment than most could listen to in a lifetime! These two great sites have it all and with crystalline clear sound quality. Below are just a few of the most memorable and wqell loved old time radio show collections that you can acquire on Bookzap or Radio Treasury. Below at the end of this article you can find the link to these two exemplary websites.

Jack Benny, among the most beloved American entertainers of the 20th century, was know by many as the “King of Comedy”. Jack Benny was an extraordinarily sweet comedian who could crwack you up wjust by looking at you!

Our Miss Brooks was a big comedy hit on radio from the beginning. Within just months of its debute the show landed several honors. It depicted a woman comic in a new way which was niether clutzy or scatterbrained.

Fibber McGee and Molly were arguable the most loveable couple on odl time radio. The Humor was so funny and the characters so familiar and memorable that this series ran in one form or another for about full two decades.

The Life of Riley,

The Life of Riley was an early version of a typical American situation comedy, it was co-developed by Gummo the non-performing member of the Marx Brother family. The Life of Riley appeared on both radio and television in the 1940s and 1950s. It helped to introduce “nuclear family” concept to American broadcasting. THE LIFE OF RILEY was an early version of the “dumb husband” type of comedy, which is a formula often repeated still in TV sitcoms.

Duffy’s Tavern

Duffy’s Tavern was heard on the radio from 1940 to 1952 and was widely loved from the beginning by both critics and the working-class. Though DUFFY’S TAVERN made the transition to television in 1954, it only lasted for one season. Duffy’s Tavern ran for years on radio but didn’t translate as well to film or television.

An American radio situation comedy which aired on both CBS and NBC, Duffy’s Tavern often featured famous stage and film guest stars. But the show almost always centered around the misadventures, schemes, and romantic missteps of the title establishment’s manager, Archie, played by Ed Gardner.

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were a little-known vaudeville team when they made their screen debuts in a movie adaptation of the 1940s radio show MY FRIEND IRMA (1949). They became the biggest comedy team of the late 1940s and early 1950s. They were especially a popular team in the 1950s, making many movies, television appearnces, and several comedy radio performances together.

My Friend Irma

My Friend Irma, created by writer-director-producer Cy Howard, was a top rated, long-running radio situation comedy. It was so popular in the late 1940s that its success escalated to films and television.

My Friend Irma, played by Marie Wilson, tells the tales of a very dim-witted blonde secretary named Irma Peterson, and the daily high-jinx that she gets into with her various screwy friends.

My Favorite Husband with Lucille Ball

My Favorite Husband was Lucille Ball’s very popular late 1940s radio program which preceded her famous Lucy Ricardo character of I Love Lucy. Lucille Ball was one of radio and television’s foremost pioneers, and many believe, the pre-eminent woman in the history of American comedy.

Ozzie and Harriet

Before they got their own radio show (1944), Ozzie and Harriet were regulars on Red Skelton’s radio show. However, When Skelton was drafted into the military in 1944, Ozzie and Harriet were offered the vacated time slot. So they filled it with The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.

The children of Ozzie and Harriet were originally played by actors. But were soon the actors were replaced by their own two sons, David and Ricky Nelson.

An early portrayal of the conventional American nuclear family, with Dad bringing home the bacon and Mom cooking it for him and the kids, Ozzie and Harriet was a very popular and entertaining show for many years on radio during the 40’s and later TV during the 50’s.

Abbott and Costello

Abbott and Costello were among the most successful comics at making the transition from burlesque to radio and film. A quintessential American comedy duo, Abbott and Costello’s work in radio, film, and television made them one of the most popular comedy teams in history. Not known for droll or witty humor, they were outright comics relying more on verbal than physical humor.

The Marx Brothers

The Marx Brothers were masters of slapstick and double entendre comedy which enabled them to get past the censors of their time. Somewhat less well know is the fact that they were also gifted they were also musicians. The Marx brothers were American radio, stage, and film stars who during the 1930’s domiated comedy with their lunatic antics.

W.C. Fields,

Of comedy Fields once said, “The funniest thing about comedy is that you never know why people laugh.

After Vaudeville, W.C. Fields made many films during his career, but he also continued to perform on the radio. Fields could always deliver the clever phrase, and he delighted radio listeners with his long standing feud with Charley McCarthy.

Amos and Andy

Amos and Andy were simple down to earth characters for the purpose of comedy. They were black characters portrayed by white actors wearing blackface makeup. Amos and Andy were a very popular comedy team on radio, but NAACP objections to the show occurred because it was considered to stereotype African Americans.

Bob Hope,

Bob Hope was a comedian from the latter days of vaudeville who achieved wonderful success in radio and television. He was definitely a triple-threat superstar of radio, film and television during the 1940s and 1950s. Bob Hope, was the king of the spontaneous one-liner, a beloved performer, and a great supporter of our men in uniform. Bob Hope was among the first performers to entertain the troops.

George Burns and Gracie Allen

Burns and Allen were a very popular American comedy duo consisting of George Burns and his wife, Gracie Allen. Married for forty years, Burns and Allen first met on the vaudeville circuit in the 1920’s. The were considered by many to be the finest husband/wife comedy team of all time.

Father Knows Best

Father Knows Best was first a radio series on NBC Radio. The show debuted in August of 1949. Four years later, the show moved to CBS television and was a popular TV series throughout the 1950’s and early 60’s. It was a situational comedy in the setting of a typical Midwestern community. Father Knows Best’s Andersons portrayed the ideal middle class American family.

The Bickersons

The Bickersons was a popular American radio comedy program that aired from 1946 to 1951. The battling couple may have seemed to have no business being married at all, but their show was funny and it functioned as an early prototype later comic couples as Ralph and Alice Kramden of The Honeymooners and Peg and Al Bundy of Married With Children.

The Aldrich Family

The Aldrich Family was so popular situation comedy across America that it aired for almost 14 years from 1939 through 1953.

Of course there are many more great ccomedy acts that sprung up during the golden age of old time radio. These are but a few of the the most popular in my opinion. If you want to revisit some of these shows, or thousands of other old time radio programs I highly recommend visiting Bookzap or Radio Treasury and enjoying the shows!

Top 15 Comedies From the Golden Age of Comedy – The 1980s

I am a huge fan of comedy movies and there have been some great ones lately. The Hangover was an instant classic that immediately jumped onto one of the Top 3 spots on my all-time favorite comedies list. The Aughts had great ones like Wedding Crashers and Old School. And of course the 90s had a couple of my favorites in The Big Lebowski and Swingers.

But for my money, no other decade rivals the 1980s for Comedy Movies; it was the Golden Age of Comedies. The amazing thing about the 80s was the sheer depth of great comedies as well as the creativity of the writers. You don’t believe me? Well consider that on my personal list of the Top 30 Comedies of the 1980s, Airplane! and Sixteen Candles do not show up until numbers 20 and 21. That is depth.

Because of the deep comedy field from the 1980s it is fun to browse through all the member rankings for this category as they vary dramatically. Using the rankings of all members, we have compiled a weighted average composite ranking of the Top 35 Comedies from the 1980s. However, to accommodate our ever-shrinking attention spans, we present the Top 15 from that list with short Twitter-like descriptions.

1. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Combine 3 high school seniors with spring fever in Chicago, throw in Dad’s vintage convertible Ferrari and you end up with an epic adventure is the envy of every hooking-playing teenager.

2. Caddyshack

Often lands at the top of lists for both Sports movies and Comedies. This hilarious movie about golf caddies really shines because of brilliant performances by Bill Murray and Ted Knight.

3. Airplane!

Not one of my favorites on the list but many consider it a Top 10 Comedy of all time. This is the granddaddy of the parody movie poking fun at the disaster movies of the 70s. “And don’t call me Shirley.”

4. The Blues Brothers

“It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, its dark and we’re wearing sunglasses. Hit it!” And thus starts one of the silliest, most destructive car chase scenes in movie history.

5. Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Jeff Spicoli! That’s really all you have to say as this movie has one of the greatest comedic characters ever created for a movie – and performed by a non-comedic actor. Brilliant!

6. Ghostbusters

“Boy, the Super’s gonna be pissed!” This is one of many great lines from this cutting edge classic. I still remember the boys going on David Letterman before the movie came out and they deadpanned it so well that I honestly could not tell if they really believed in ghosts or not.

7. The Breakfast Club

Some purists might say that TBC was a drama not a comedy, but it is still one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. Great characters, a classic storyline about stereotypes and a hilarious setting in weekend detention, what more could you want. And kudos to John Hughes for landing two of the Top 7 comedy slots.

8. This is Spinal Tap

Before there was reality TV or mock-umentaries like Blair Witch, there was Spinal Tap. Talk about originality. This fictional story about the rise and fall of a heavy metal rock band is outstanding. Nigel describing his amp that goes to Eleven in volume is one of my favorite scenes.

9. Big

This story has been remade many times over the years but this is the original – as far as I know. A guy caught up in the rat race becomes a kid again and through that process, rediscovers what is important in life. While funny at times, I preferred Hanks in Splash, which unfortunately did not even make the Top 35 list.

10. Bull Durham

Another of the great Sports Comedies, Bull Durham is the story of players struggling to deal with life in the minor leagues. This also ends up at the top of a lot of sports lovers lists and overall is a must see comedy.

11. Raising Arizona

Its part dark comedy, part comedy caper and overall a non-stop adventure. We get Goodman’s first great comedic role, Holly Hunter and Nicholas Cage blossom as comedians and the Coen Brothers launch a brilliant comedic career with this classic.

12. Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Steve Martin and the late John Candy are fantastic in this tale of business travelers trying to get home for the Thanksgiving holiday. This is right up there with Roxanne, as one of Steve Martin’s best comedic roles. While the laughs are big, the film is also touching and poignant. A real gem.

13. Vacation

Definitely Chevy Chase’s best movie role, unfortunately it was mostly downhill from there for Chase. Road trips have been great comedy fun over the years and this is the granddaddy of them all.

14. Spaceballs

This is a Mel Brooks parody of the Star Wars series. I have to admit that I have never seen this movie so it is tough to comment. However, I have heard that everyone loves John Candy’s role as Chewbacca.

15. Revenge of the Nerds

This is the original after which every Michael Cera and Jon Heder movie is shaped. It is a hilarious college comedy of the little guy overcoming the BMOC. I loved Napoleon Dynamite and Superbad, but you must view the original to truly enjoy the newer geek flicks.

Various Types of Comedy Films

Humour plays an important role in a comedy films which usually has a happy ending with the exception of black comedy. Comedy is one of the oldest genres in film with the first silent movie being a comedy. Comedy lays emphasis on individual performers, with a number of stand-up comedians turning to films due to their popularity.

Comedy films have a very lighthearted script with the sole purpose of entertaining. However other comedy films carry a social or political message like wag the dog and man of the year.

William Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing is considered to be the first comedy of manners, however the genre actually became prominent during the Restoration period. The plot of the comedy consists of an illicit affair or some other controversy or gossip. The witty dialogues of the comedy is more important than the story.

In a particular kind of comedy the main character or characters find themselves confronting an unusual situation which causes humour. Such situations may arise for example with the exchange of gender roles as in Tootsie (1982); changing age role, as in Big (1988); an individual enjoying freedom placed in a structured atmosphere as in Police Academy (1984).

A parody or spoof is a comedy film that uses sarcasm, stereotype and jeering of scenes from other films. Blazing Saddles (1974), Airplane! (1980) and Young Frankenstein (1974) are examples in this genre.

The anarchic comedy film employs meaningless and ridiculous, stream-of-consciousness humor which often satirises some kind of authority. These types of films have originated from a theatrical history of anarchic staged comedy. Prominent films in this category includes Duck Soup (1933), National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).

Black comedy films satirises death, murder, suicide and war which are usually considered to be the prohibited subjects. Examples include Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), Monsieur Verdoux (1947), Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), The Ladykillers (1955).

Gross-out films are of recent origin and deals with sex and toilet humour. There’s Something About Mary (1998), and American Pie (1999) are examples in this genre.

The romantic comedy revolves around the relationship between man and woman. The light-hearted romantic comedies usually shows social interactions and sexual tensions between the couple. Examples of this kind of film include It’s a Wonderful World (1939), The Shop Around the Corner (1940), Sabrina (1954), When Harry Met Sally… (1989), Pretty Woman (1990).