Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday's Favorite OTR

Our Miss Brooks: “Tape Recorder” 4/26/50

I probably don’t include enough comedies in my Friday’s Favorite OTR feature. I love old-time radio in large part because it is such an effective storytelling tool; adventure and mystery shows are the best examples of this. But radio gave us some of the best comedy ever (much of it, of course, by way of vaudeville): Jack Benny, Burns & Allen, Abbott and Costello, Fibber McGee and Molly, the Great Gildersleeve, and so on.

Our Miss Brooks is another hilarious example. Eve Arden played the title role—a put-upon high school English teacher with a sharp and sarcastic wit. Arden was a brilliant comedienne, perfecting a dry delivery that was just right for drawing the biggest laughs out of her dialogue.

She was ably assisted on Our Miss Brooks by Gale Gordon as the penny-pinching school principal, Jeff Chandler as the biology teacher who never quite grasped that Miss Brooks had a crush on him, and Richard Crenna has an overly-enthusiastic student whose voice never quite finished changing. Gordon especially helped make the show—the man was one of the finest comedic actors of the 20th Century. (As he repeatedly proved in other radio shows such as Fibber McGee and on television sitcoms such as The Lucy Show.)

This episode is a comedy of errors that builds up to a rolling-on-the-floor conclusion. It involves a tape recorder, a miscommunication about which bill to send to the school board and a frog in the biology lab that was apparently homesick for the swamp. This all ties together in the end, when some out-of-context conversations recorded on tape are inadvertantly played for the head of the school board.

Gee whiz, my summary of the show doesn’t sound all that funny at all, does it? Just listen to the thing instead. Trust me, it’s funny.

You can listen to this episode or download it HERE.

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