Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

05 April 2008

Bob and Matt and Bob and Ray

I love my friends. They make me laugh. I guess I naturally gravitate to people with a "good" sense of humor...which is to say a sense of humor similar to mine.

I was out having dinner with my friend / son-I-never-had, Matt and his fiance Alisha, a couple I've now taken to calling "Malisha" since it's in vogue these days. The sound system in the place was playing some cheesy 80's music at a thankfully unobtrusive, ignorable volume. Eventually they played the classic chestnut, "Just A Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody" by David Lee Roth, who was most recently a former NYC radio "personality," and before that an EMT, and before that was the frontman of a little group called Van Halen (can't hold a job, Dave?).

You know the song. It's the one that trails out...

I ain't got no-bod-d-d-d-d-d-y
Nobody cares for me
I-I-I-I-I-I-I'm so sad and lon-n-n-n-n-ely...

Etc., etc.

As the song played, Matt cocked an ear and, totally deadpan and assuming that I was listening to the music said, "Uhh, to be grammatically correct, shouldn't that be, 'I ain't got anybody?'"

Hoo-man, I laughed. My pizza nearly came out my nose, I laughed. And agreed! And we "riffed" on that subject for a bit. Alisha, who had not been listening to the background music, just looked at us like we were crazy. As she usually does. And I was reminded of something I'd read about the legendary radio comedy team of
Bob and Ray.

If you've never heard of them, Bob (Elliott) and Ray (Goulding) were two comedic geniuses who specialized in understated deadpan satire. In a career spanning nearly fifty years, they created bizarre spoofs and skits and fake commercials with multitudes of characters (all voiced by Bob and Ray) and sound effects. It's not a stretch to say that if they didn't actually invent it, they perfected the "morning zoo" type of shows you hear on radio stations all across the country. The new ones are all pale imitators, pretenders.

Their humor was rather low-key and dry, especially by today's standards. Over the years, as what passed for humor got racier and edgier, Bob and Ray deliberately avoided controversial topics. They weren't punch-line-driven skits by any means. And although their act worked best on radio, they were even funny on t.v., as is evidenced by an appearance they did below. (The volume is kind of low so you'll probably need to turn it up.)

Though their career in radio started the mid-1940's, they were still going strong in the 1970's, when I would listen to and laugh along with their afternoon show on WOR-AM radio in New York City back when we still listened to radio shows instead of constantly flipping up and down the dial as we do now. They kept up their act until 1990. (By the way, Bob Elliott is the father of comic actor Chris Elliott.)

But as funny as they were together and on the air, apparently they were quite different personalities and were not hilariously funny guys individually. They just never got tired of trying to crack each other up. Which is the line about them that came to me in the pizza place with Malisha and the David Lee Roth song.

I'm not saying that Matt and I are incredibly funny people. We just spend a lot of time and effort trying to crack each other up. And succeeding, most of the time. Matt has probably never heard of Bob and Ray. But I bet he'd like them.


Hal Johnson said...

Wow, I haven't thought of Bob and Ray in years. To me, they had a "hand grenade" sense of humor, with sort of a delayed fuse.

Anonymous said...

Back when I commuted by rail to NYC a group of 6 or more of us used to congregate in the doorways, rather than sit, and 2 of my friends did exactly what you're referring to during the entire ride. It was always fun to catch various people giggling as they tried to discreetly listen in. Eventually, others started relocating to our car for the free comedy.

Thanks for sharing that, Bob. It just brought back some great memories.


David said...

There is nothing like Friends that we can hammer on and be hammered on by and bounce off of.

They are the same ones that put a wrench in your hand before you realize it's the next one ya need.

They are the ones that will stand with you no matter what.

The ones that we will stand beside or in front of if the situation calls for it.

The ones that make us "Wealthy Souls".


Bob Barbanes said...

David, my soul is very wealthy indeed!

Jeff said...

I thoroughly enjoyed talking with you today..it's great to know someone who shares the same "logic"
I Sat down and read every March entry of your blog...
Well done.
The page is bookmarked!