Stan Freberg

Face the Funnies

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This long-player contains key components from the short-lived yet highly influential Stan Freberg Show -- the final CBS Radio comedy which aired for 15 weeks from July through October of 1957. The regular cast was nothing short of an all-star voice-over ensemble consisting of Daws Butler, Hans Conried, June Foray and Peter Leeds with Billy May and the CBS Radio Orchestra handling the musical scores and chores. "Elderly Man River" is surreal in its timelessness. The underlying subject matter of the rather pointed sketch is censorship and its effects on art. The network censor is given the suitably milquetoast moniker of Mr. Twidley and is brought to life by Butler. The premise of "Face the Funnies" likewise has no expiration date. In true absurdist fashion he mocks typical "serious" roundtable discussion programs. Here, the so-called experts have their degrees and/or authority not in the typical current events, but rather the two "L'il's" -- Orphan Annie and Abner, as well as Tarzan and Dick Tracy. Nowhere is Freberg's uncanny knack for perfectly scripting and authentically executing sketches that expand the "theater of the mind" concept better exemplified than on the made-for-radio "Zazaloph Family" acrobatic troupe. Or the idea of "Tuned Sheep" as Freberg interviews a French instrumentalist whose act, as it were, are sheep. Their version of "Lullaby of Birdland" isn't bad either. The controversial "Incident at Los Voraces" -- which is presented in its complete 21-plus minute glory -- is the centerpiece not only of Face the Funnies, but the entire Stan Freberg Show series. The original -- which is used here -- was not cleared for public broadcast because of biblical and cold war references. Not to mention the stinging attack on the increasingly seedy Las Vegas strip -- and this was in 1957! So, before the very first show went to air, Freberg and producer Peter Barnum had to re-script, re-rehearse, gather a second studio audience, and re-record the lengthy bit as was deemed suitable for broadcast by CBS Radio. The piece is given several distinguishing subtitles, such as "Rock Around Romeo and Juliet," "Florence Chadwick Spectacle," "Inaugurieties of 1960," and "Gaza Strip Revue." Parties interested in hearing all 15 unedited installments of the Stan Freberg Show are heartily encouraged to seek out the Stan Freberg Show, Vol. 1 and Stan Freberg Show, Vol. 2 (1996) box sets.

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