Novelty songs have been a constant in the record business since its inception, and this collection presents 24 examples of outright comic recordings originally released between 1926 and 1947. The sequencing of the album roughly moves in two directions at once, first backwards in time and then across the Atlantic. The first half of the album primarily consists of songs by American performers from the 1940s, as U.S. stars Jimmy Durante, Bing Crosby, Ethel Merman, Groucho Marx, and Al Jolson, among others, are heard cavorting through comic numbers, many of which were first heard in Broadway musicals or Hollywood movies. Toward the middle of the disc, novelties from the R&B and country fields are heard, such as Lonzo & Oscar's immortal mind-twister "I'm My Own Grandpa," Slim Gaillard's "Flat Foot Floogie," and Tex Williams' "Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)." As of the 12th track, Flanagan & Allen's "We're Gonna Hang Out the Washing on the Siegfried Line," the scene abruptly jumps back almost a decade and over to the U.K. American listeners are liable to find less amusement in this second half, which includes some heavily accented voices and jokes with a distinctly British orientation. But the wit of Noël Coward's "The Stately Homes of England" transcends its setting, and by the end the collection has returned stateside for tracks by Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller. The selections range from laugh-out-loud funny ("Lydia, the Tattooed Lady") to merely good natured ("When You're Smiling"), which may mean that this isn't the funniest comedy album ever assembled. But it is a very amusing one.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann