Friday, April 15, 2011

Vic's Wide Brimmed Hat and The Royal Throne Barber Shop!

OTR Friday and time again for some of the finest Americana humor ever conceived with Paul Rhymer's "Vic & Sade".

The first episode I'm sharing today is from June 19, 1940 and features more of Rhymer's insightful running gags which made the show hum. I say insightful, because it wasn't out of laziness or economy that these things were used (though I'm sure that was part of the reason for them to come into play...when you're doing 5-6 scripts a week, it happens) but for a couple of other values. Repetitiveness and familiarity are BIG parts of humor, when the audience can be part of the joke, it personalizes and tickles another part of the funny bone. But Rhymers use of these themes (hmmmmm, maybe I ought to call them themes instead of running fits Rhymer's work better, I think) was maybe repetitiveness, but never repeating. A new slant was taken each and every time. Sometimes very slight, but never completely.

I say "insightful" because it is just these running themes (see how much better that sounded?) that make this the pure humorous examination of the American life. What is more American that the familiarity of little situations that keep us ticking and what's more familiar that living our struggles and comforts with them over and over and over again. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Sheer genius.

Back to the episode. This one revolves around Vic's penchant for wide-brimmed hats. For such a down to earth business man, Vic as a flair for exaggeration of language and panache that belies his having to have his feet planted so sturdily into firm ground. It's his way of adding magic to his hum-drum work-a-day life. And who doesn't appreciate that? The problem with wide-brimmed hats is, his wife Sade says that when Vic wears one he "looks like a peeled onion". I'm not even sure what that means, but I can hear my Mom or her friends saying it and the others nodding knowingly. He apparently also looks like "a cowboy from the wild west show". That one sounds so familiar, I'm sure my mother said that about me. If not for a hat then for a goofy shirt or pair of shoes I was fond of. Rhymer's in my head again.

This episode also mentions that pesky $2 bill from Kleeburger's Department store which Vic has been happily dueling with for years and also a mention of Bijou Theatre favorite, Miss Gloria Golden, this time quoting her admiration of men who wear wide-brimmed hats. God this is good stuff.

Rhymer's knack for nonsensical names and places also shows as Vic reads a newpaper clipping quoting "K.Z. Globbers who lives in the South-Western part of Eastern North Dakota".

I'm gonna shut up now and let you listen. You'll be glad you did.

The second in our weekly 1/2 hour of OldTime Radio distraction is from June 21, 1940. It's a hot summer day in our little Illinois town and the family discussion takes place on the porch of the little house half-way up on the next block. Rhymer's storytelling and scene-setting flexes as every now and then the conversation pauses to enjoy a cool breeze. Damn he was good.

Vic is very proud that Hank Gutstop has been hired as marketing director for "The Royal Throne Barber Shop"! Hank has big ideas for building the business by using his networking contacts he has at "The Lazy House Pool Hall", "The Brigth Kentucky Hotel" and as Exhaulted Little Dipper in "The Drowsy Venus chapter of the Sacred Stars of the Milky Way" lodge.

Just typing that last sentence makes me want to listen to this one 2 or 3 more times. Why don't you give it a listen. You'll be glad you did.

Our visual portion of this radio classic comes from the Winter 1942 issue of "Radio Album" and a brief look at our little family in an article of radio "families".


Talk to you soon.

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