Elaine May / Mike Nichols / Mike Nichols & Elaine May

Mike Nichols & Elaine May Examine Doctors

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The third and final LP from Mike Nichols and Elaine May has the pair taking on the serious medical profession on Mike Nichols & Elaine May Examine Doctors (1962). As they had done on their previous two platters, Nichols and May improvise a variety of offbeat scenes. The ten episodes heard here were originally aired on NBC Radio's distinguished Monitor program. Displaying a tremendous range and scope, these scenarios take a satirical stab at the multifaceted and otherwise complicated relationships that exist between physicians and their patients. The overtly sexual overtones between a surgeon and his nurse on "A Little More Gauze" build into a darkly entertaining and highly inappropriate conversation. A variation of that is likewise revisited on "Physical," as May is now the medical examiner, to Nichols' dismay. Even more jarring is the surprise ending to "Merry Christmas, Doctor" when the tables turn on a psychiatric patient's request to cancel his Christmas Day session in order to spend the day with his family. There are many allusions to famous doctors, as well. "Out of Africa" references Dr. Albert Schweitzer, while "Transference" combines layers of Freudian theory with Oedipus overtones. Many modern listeners may find both "Bedside Manner" and "Morning Rounds" cut a little too close for comfort, as they delve into the omniscient physicians' ego as they refuse to relegate attention away from themselves and toward the ailing victim. The final cut, titled "Nichols and May at Work," features four-and-a-half minutes of raw and unedited spontaneity that allows listeners a bit of insight into the session work and methodology behind creating characters and dialogue "in the moment." The results are as startling and funny as anything else on this album, proving the adage that getting there is half the fun.

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