For about a year, Vaughn Meader was one of the most famous comedians in America, thanks to his uncanny impersonation of John F. Kennedy on the wildly popular humor album The First Family. When Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, Meader's career died right along with the president, but while he never made it back into the limelight, Meader made periodic attempts to find a new career in show business, and since he could no longer portray one of America's most beloved icons, he tried playing another one, in 1971 -- Jesus Christ. Earle Doud, one of the writers and producers of The First Family, once again teamed up with Meader for The Second Coming, in which God (voiced by Joe Silver) decides it's time to send his only begotten son back to Earth. After materializing in Harlem and making friends with a couple of street dudes named Andrew and Bartholomew (one of whom is played by Ted Lange, later a regular on The Love Boat), Jesus hooks up with Joey Judas, a talent agent who books him on the talk-show circuit, gets him a gig opening the bill at a massive rock concert, makes him the grand prize in a "Win a Week with Jesus" contest, and generally attempts to turn him into a multimedia superstar (with the main theme from Jesus Christ Superstar appearing as a running joke throughout the album -- and Ted Neeley, who two years later would star in the film version of Jesus Christ Superstar, helped out with the music here). Meader's Jesus is pretty much the straight man throughout, and the humor walks a middle ground between cynical show-biz shtick and counter-culture-leaning humor pointing out the foibles of life in the United States, circa 1971, including gags about Nixon, women's liberation, Woodstock, and Sesame Street. While Second Coming has dated about as well as The First Family (and if that album can be reissued on CD, there's no reason why The Second Coming shouldn't get another chance to find an audience). If nothing else, it's as much a document of American life in 1971 as The First Family is as a time capsule of 1962.
Second Coming Review
by Mark Deming