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Radio / The Stan Freberg Show

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"You may not find us on your TV,
Because in case you did not know,
We're being brought to you on—
Brought to you on—
Brought to you on R-A-D-I-O!"

Stan Freberg's short-lived (15 episodes) CBS radio Sketch Comedy series on from 1957, featuring the voices of Daws Butler, June Foray and Peter Leeds. Greatly influenced The Firesign Theatre in their audio recordings.

Sketches written for the show by Freberg and producer Peter Barnum (and often regular Daws Butler as well) included:

  • "Incident at Los Voraces": A tale of a city destroyed by escalating competition between two casinos.
  • "The Zazaloph Family": The greatest stunt troupe radio audiences can never see.
  • "Uninterrupted Melody": A good and humorous look at the lives of the men who compose ice cream truck jingles. Based on a piece Freberg wrote for MAD.
  • "Gray Flannel Hatful of Teenage Werewolves": A werewolf lives by day as an advertising man on Madison Avenue.
  • "Bang Gunleigh, U.S. Marshal Field": A parody of radio westerns like Gunsmoke and Tales of the Texas Rangers.
  • "The Lone Analyst": A satirical parody of The Lone Ranger and the power of psychoanalysis.
  • "Sam Spillade": Film Noir with no plot, just a private eye getting knocked unconscious every two minutes.

The show also recreated many parodies from Freberg's classic comedy records ("St. George and the Dragonet," "Wun'erful, Wun'erful," "The Honeyearthers," "Day-O," "Sh-Boom"), and included musical interludes with Peggy Taylor, the Jud Conlon Rhythmaires, and Billy May and His Orchestra.

This show provides examples of:

  • Accidental Discovery: Puffed Grass, the result of having lawn clippings falling into and getting shot out of a puffed oat gun.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Would Stan be speaking with Miss Jupiter if she didn't?
  • Amusing Alien: Miss Jupiter. She's only two feet tall.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": The "real-life" spokesperson for the Puffed Grass Parody Commercial, a monotone, robotic-sounding test pilot named Jet Crash:
    "Believe you me, I couldn't break through the sound barrier every morning if I didn't start off my day with a stomach.... (long pause) ....full of Puffed Grass."
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: The abominable snowman interviews.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Miss Jupiter has "shapely wheels".
  • Clip Show: The fifteenth—and final—episode of The Stan Freberg Show is essentially comprised of skits and characters from the previous fourteen. However, this being live radio, they redo the bits (and Freberg apologizes for running out of time to reprise the Tuned Sheep skit).
  • Crushing Handshake: In the interview between Stan Freberg and the Abominable Snowman, the latter gives the former a very painful-sounding handshake:
    Stan: Would you mind squeezing my hand the other way to get it back in shape?
  • Dated History: History is deconstructed humorously in the "Great Moments in History" sketches with "the real stories" behind those moments, including Washington crossing the Delaware and the midnight ride of Paul Revere.
  • Doom It Yourself:
    • The build-it-yourself piano.
    • Dr. Herman Horne on building a do-it-yourself hi-fi speaker system.
    Stan: It [...] concludes Dr. Horne, who'll say nothing of Strudelmeyer.
  • Full-Name Basis: When out of character, Stan frequently addresses Daws as "Daws Butler, as they say on radio".
  • Irony: "Bang Gunleigh" is advertised as an action-packed western. This episode features nothing more than Bang and a fellow cowboy investigating a damaged fence.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Conversational Troping in one of the Face the Funnies sketches, where the other panelists rib Little Orphan Annie expert Dr. Linus Quoit over Annie appearing to wear the same dress everyday. He angrily insists she has a closet full of identical dresses.
  • No Reprise, Please: In the Lawrence Welk sketch, the song "Thank You For All Those Cards and Letters..."
  • Once per Episode: The opening song:
    This is the nth show of a series,
    of a brand new radio series...note 
  • Orphaned Punchline: One episode featured a "real-life" couple who was listening to the show and would occasionally turn off the radio to talk about what they were hearing. At one point, the husband tunes back in just in time for the apparently hilarious punchline:
    Stan: ... alligator? I thought you said bagpipes!
  • Parody: Quite a few extended parodies of pop culture of The '50s.
    • "Face the Funnies" is a takeoff on Meet the Press and Face The Nation.
    • "Uninterrupted Melody" is a spoof of From Here to Eternity, only it's about the ice cream truck business rather than the military.
    • "Gray Flannel Hatful of Teenage Werewolves" mashes up several films—The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (a character works his way up the corporate ladder), A Hatful of Rain (a character harbors a shameful secret life, in the original film it was as a heroin addict) and I Was a Teenage Werewolf (the werewolf angle)—plus Freberg indulging in some Biting-the-Hand Humor based on his early experiences in the advertising world.
  • Parody Commercial: "Puffed Grass" ("Bang Gunleigh, U.S. Marshal Field"); "Food" ("Gray Flannel Hat Full of Teenage Werewolves"); "Stan Freberg" (the second-to-last episode).
  • Political Overcorrectness:
    • Anyone who isn't of American lineage is labelled as Swiss. That way, nobody gets offended.
    • This gets taken to a rather ludicrous extreme when Stan starts singing a rendition of "Old Man River" in front of a censor, Mr. Tweedly. However, seeing that "old" is a potentially offensive adjective, the title is immediately changed to "Elderly Man River". Furthermore, the poor spelling in the song must be adjusted, for the sake of the tiny tots. How far will Stan go to adapt to the censor's standards?
      • Stan changes words on the fly:
      Stan: He doesn't plant taters... potatoes.
      He doesn't plant cotton... cotting.
      And he, who, them, those that plants them are soon forgotting...
      • Later on, even Stan's grammar is criticized.
      Stan: You and me... (buzzer)
      You and I sweat (buzzer) perspire and strain...
      Bodies all aching and racked with pain...
      • The song builds steam and momentum but then stops immediately before the word "drunk":
      Stan: Take your finger off the button, Mr. Tweedly.
  • Punny Name:
    • Jet Crash, Bang Gunleigh, among others.
    • Edna St. Louis Missouri from Face the Funnies, referencing Edna St. Vincent Millay. Also using the "city name" theme, a character in another episode is named Evanston Illinois.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: How Stan rewords "Old Man River" in order to appease the radio network censor.
  • Running Gag:
    • In several "Great Moments in History" segments, some historical figure like Barbara Frietchie or Paul Revere would say "First give me the money, then I'll _____ (get on the horse, stand on the burning deck, etc.)"
    • Also the nonsensical soundscapes that began a number of episodes.
    • "No, señorita. Swiss. This way we don't offend nobody."
    • The buzzer from "Elderly Man River".
  • Say My Name: A Soap Within a Show parody.
  • Serious Business: Face the Funnies, a parody of Meet the Press, featured experts on Little Orphan Annie, Dick Tracy and Tarzan who treated their subjects with the utmost seriousness and invariably got into heated arguments over them.
  • Shameless Self-Promoter: Freberg did an entire episode near the end (when the show itself failed to attract a sponsor) about advertising himself, complete with jingles.
    Stan Freberg, the foaming comedian
    Floats the jokes right down the drain!
  • Short-Runners: As mentioned above, the show only lasted for 15 episodes.
  • Sketch Comedy
  • Soap Within a Show: The "John & Marsha" routine, which invokes Say My Name and an inversion of Pok√©mon Speak.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: The show would usually pause about midway through for a song (standard practice for network radio comedy). Peggy Taylor, the show's singer, also made occasional appearances in comedy sketches.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: Arguably for The Goon Show, not so much in format or style, but they both were contemporaneous examples of Postmodernism in radio comedy.
  • Translation: "Yes": Monsieur Toulier (and his Tuned Sheep) has a couple of "French" phrases, just a few syllables long, that are translated in English as long run-on sentences.