Past masters: Bob and Ray

Bob Elliott was a DJ and Ray Goulding a newscaster on a Boston radio station in the late 40s. They started to sit on on one another’s show to riff with each other, filling time when there was a rain delay in the broadcast of a Sox game. Thus was born one of the most inventive comedy teams of our time. They soon were offered a show called “Matinee with Bob and Ray,” dubbed that because as Goulding pointed out there just wasn’t the same pleasant ring to “Matinob with Ray and Bob.”

Bob and Ray would lampoon, mock, and deflate the media. But they would do it in such a subversive way that the media would invite them back for more and more lampooning, mockery, and deflation. They moved on to television, movies, records, Broadway, and even contributed in the early days of Mad magazine. In the 50s NBC Radio had a weekend show called “Monitor”, and Bob and Ray would actually camp out at the studio all weekend in order to jump in and do bits to fill time. If you’ve ever been a radio guy, you have a place in your heart for them just for that.

I always enjoy it when one of my favorites is also a favorite of one of my other favorites. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was a huge fan of Bob and Ray:

“Their jokes turn out to be universal, although deeply rooted in old time radio, because so much of life presents itself as the same dilemma: how to seem lusty and purposeful when less than nothing is going on. Given the possibilities and limitations of radio, Bob and Ray are as funny as anyone can be. You might think that once their bodies were out in the open, on stage before cameras, they would have to leave many of their radio characters behind. But this hasn’t been the case at all. Those characters are so well written, so amusingly conceived, that Bob and Ray could become them, if necessary, while dressed as hula maidens or encased in deep sea diving suits.”

High praise indeed. Attached here, if it works right, is one of their funniest bits, “The Komodo Dragon Expert.”

And more:

I’ll end this the way Bob and Ray would end each of their shows: “This is Ray Goulding, reminding you to write if you get work.” “And Bob Elliott, reminding you to hang by your thumbs.”

(Photo from bobandray.com; video clips from Youtube.)



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