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My Sense of Humor (written): Benchley, Perelman, Marx and Keillor

I want to mention briefly the kinds of written humor I find most amusing. My all-time favorites are Robert Benchley, S.J. Perelman, Groucho Marx and Garrison Keillor. Note that there is not a belly-laugh in the bunch. For some reason Art Buchwald and Dave Barry leave me cold. Benchley, Perelman and Marx loved to play with the language and use unusual vocabulary for comic effect. And Keillor, in writing as in spoken performances, has this gentle buildup to absurdity that just rocks my world. It is hard to explain, and I shudder to think what my taste in humor says about me, but there you are. (You may enjoy my My Prairie Home Companion Script, if you know the show).

Last, but not least, I find Andy Borowitz (of the Borowitz report in the New Yorker) to be uniformly hilarious―like the Onion but with taste and wit.


My Sense of Humor (Audio): Firesign, Python, Freberg, Keillor

Of course my favorite is The New Eugene Oregon Show, a radio program I wrote and starred in that was recorded during January 1972 and broadcast over WTBS-FM (now WMBR-FM), the MIT student radio station in Cambridge, Mass.

The New Eugene Oregon Show

My taste in audio humor runs to Firesign Theater, Monty Python, Stan Freberg and Garrison Keillor (can you find the odd name on this list)?

Firesign’s late work, Give Me Immortality or Give Me Death was their funniest and most coherent album since All Hail Marx and Lennon in 1969. Boom Dot Bust is also hysterically funny. Although it takes a truly coherent story line (even one as flimsy as "day in the life of a radio station," which was the plot for Immortality), their spot-on parodies of cultural artifacts include city-boosting videos, films shown to visitors at national parks, commercials, Civil War-style documentaries, Infomercials, Cable-TV shows. Is nothing sacred? Not to the Firesign Theater. Alas, they are half gone, having lost Peter Bergman and Phil Austin.

I ran this list once without mentioning Tom Lehrer; a serious omission. I was introduced to his work a half-century ago at MIT (where he once sang The Subway Song, a Boston-area novelty, at my old radio home, WTBS), I have loved him ever since. I have been told the lyrics in my love songs are Lehreresque; I take that as a compliment. An especial favorite is Vatican Rag. What’s not to love about the rhyme “there the man who’s got religion’ll/tell you if your sin’s original.” I borrowed the tune for my love song When Your Hand Is On My Knee.

I love Freberg. I've loved him since the first time I heard him, in a Freberg marathon on KSFO in 1967, as my family drove to LA from Portland on a trip to Disneyland.

Here are the notes on a collection of his greatest hits:

Stan Freberg was one of the most popular comics and satirists of the '50s and '60s. Tip of the Freberg includes selections from his Capitol albums, from radio programs (an entire disc's worth of never-released radio spots) and a Freberg video.

Of course everyone knows and loves Monty Python, even though they, too, are half gone (Terry Jones, Graham Chapman). I flew to London for the sole purpose of watching their farewell concert at the O2 coliseum, Terry Jones’ last appearance. If you haven’ heard the Dead Parrot sketch or the Cheese Shop sketch, you haven’t lived.

Top 5 Number Ones

Top5 was a humor writing collective I belonged to for many years. It is now gone, but you can see all of my No. 1’s here. These are two of my favorites:, (They are all Copyright  by Chris White) Click the link and you can see all the hilarious contributions that day.


The Top 18 Signs Your Mechanic Is Losing It
July 13, 1994.
1> Won't stop humming "The Wheels on the Bus Go 'Round And Round."
Selected from 135 submissions by 44 contributors.
Today's Top 5 List authors are:
Paul E. Schindler Jr., Orinda, CA - 1

[ The Top 5 List ]
[ Copyright 1999 by Chris White ]

The Top 15 Movie Quotes We’d Like to See
(Part II)
1> “Oh, my God! They killed Freddy! The bastards.”