Wednesday, February 10, 2016
In appreciation of Bob & Ray
Bob Elliott & Ray Goulding were a comedy team that worked primarily in radio but also did TV and a little Broadway.
Bob Elliott passed away last week. He was 92. For my younger readers, he was Chris Elliott’s father.
Bob & Ray were absolute masters of comic timing. They would deliver the most outrageously absurd material completely deadpan.
They would take turns being the straight man, they would conduct ridiculous interviews, do soap operas and movie parodies, and pitch goofy products. Among those fictional items: the Monongahela Metal Foundry (“Steel ingots cast with the housewife in mind”), Height Watchers International, and of course, Einbinder Flypaper (“The flypaper you’ve gradually grown to trust over the course of three generations”).
Their material could be very broad, but they always performed them deadly serious, which only made them funnier. And they could be incredibly subtle. One of Bob Elliott’s most famous characters was correspondent Wally Ballou. Whenever they would throw it to him to conduct an interview he always came in a split-second late. So he would announce himself as “..ally Ballou here.”
At this point I need to take a moment to also acknowledge that many of their inspired bits were written by Tom Koch. Gotta give credit to the writer.
From the ‘50s through the ‘70s Bob & Ray were a mainstay on New York radio and on national radio. During the early days of television they also had a network TV show. And they were spokesmen for several national products. Over the years they appeared on many TV variety shows from ED SULLIVAN to SNL, and even had a Broadway run performing their understated silliness to SRO crowds.
What’s amazing is that even though some of their bits are fifty and sixty years old, they still hold up.
Thanks to the internet, I don’t have to describe their bits. I can let you hear for yourself. Here are just a few of the classic routines from Bob & Ray. As many of you know, I’m a radio freak. And I just revere these gentlemen.
If you would like to read more about Bob & Ray, there is a sensational biography of them called BOB & RAY, KEENER THAN MOST PERSONS by David Pollock.
Here now are some classic, BOB & RAY routines. Especially if you aren’t familiar with them or their brand of humor, I’d love to hear what you think after listening. Thanks.