31 Comments

  1. Yes, I figure it’s probably for us geezers.

    And it’s a pun. It’s a pun that has been probably made since he was first famous, but a pun nonetheless. Therefore, according to some, its a joke.

  2. Totally geezer. I don’t think young people have any idea who he was. It’s like a Fred Allen reference or something.

  3. . Very, very geezer. I’m 57. The only reason I know who Red Skelton is is that my father was a fan. And I think Dr. Demento would play his Pledge of Allegiance thing occasionally. Although, he was on TV pretty much continuously right up until 1971. But I don’t think anybody under about 50 would have a clue.

    The only reasons I know anything about Fred Allen is, again, Dr. Demento and the bit of Jose Jimenez that’s in The Right Stuff. Now that I think about it, Dr. Demento is probably well on his way to geezer-dom too.

  4. DemetriosX
    Interesting how much 5 years can make. I remember watching his Television show weekly. And on Saturday afternoon occasionally watching one of his movies. This would have been around 1962 or latter.
    .

  5. Just because something is ancient doesn’t mean no one under 50 has ever read anything about that era.

    As a musician, I know Red Skelton primarily from his music (namely “Red’s White and Blue March”) and I’ve seen video of his Pledge segment (which, of course, sours me on him a bit). I admit I’ve not seen his comedy bits much.

    Fred Allen I’m not familiar with, but he died over sixty years ago and didn’t have much success on TV (so video is hard to come by).

  6. Is it enough for a pun to contain a play on words, or does there by definition have to be something funny about it? Serious question. If the sports page has a headline Giants Come to Town accompanied by a drawing of two giants, does that qualify as “pun” without any attempt at cleverness?

    Similarly, we have seen a lot of “Yes, Bill, that’s all there is” comics here, consisting merely of a literal drawing of some common phrase

  7. No, something doesn’t need to be funny to be a pun.
    But that may be a requirement for “this is a good joke based on a pun”.

    My favorite high-literary sports-based pun, is from the poem “Pale Fire” by eminent American poet John Shade:

    “A curio: Red Sox Beat Yanks 5-4
    On Chapman’s Homer,
    thumbtacked to the door. ”

    Is it funny? Or just clever? Or just show-off?
    I’d say funny.

  8. DemetriosX

    I think that anyone who consumes media but also has a curiosity and appreciation of media will be interested in the history and culture of media. I’m about your age (one year older) and my mother was very late in allowing a television into our home (Spring 1971) and my sister watched probably one of the very last Red Skelton shows. I didn’t really like it much but it was memorable because I thought “Red Skeleton? That’s a weird name” and because my sister said he’s a famous comedian so I figured I should make a note. I heard reference to him for the rest of my life by I’ve only seen him two other times (20 years later on the “It’s Gary Shandling’s show” and five years ago one of those inevitable public television pledge drives; my partner couldn’t understand why I was watching and I insisted it was to understand the historical context).

    Similarly I know who Fred Allen is simply because the commedians I do follow respect and remember him. He died over *60* years ago? I’m surprised. I was pretty sure he must have been alive while I was alive….

  9. Fred Allen was fondly remembered by Dick Cavett and Johnny Carson (The Mighty Allen Art Players), and of course Jack Benny, so may be familiar to those who haven’t seen much of him.

  10. ‘No, something doesn’t need to be funny to be a pun.
    But that may be a requirement for “this is a good joke based on a pun”.’

    +1
    ‘My favorite high-literary sports-based pun, is from the poem “Pale Fire” by eminent American poet John Shade:

    “A curio: Red Sox Beat Yanks 5-4
    On Chapman’s Homer, thumbtacked to the door. ”’

    I’m either not high-literary enough or not enough of a sports enthusiast to see any joke or pun there.

  11. Well first of all, I probably shouldn’t have made it harder by playing along with the trickery of treating John Shade as real and attributing the “Pale Fire” poem to him. (Though it might have made it simpler, and the actual case is sort of irrelevant to the pun.) Let’s not stop for a full explanation, but the main thing is that the novel Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov includes as a character John Shade the poet, and incorporates the text of his last, long poem.

    A large part of the poem is Shade remembering, and mourning, his dead teenaged daughter. The quoted lines come from such a section, and he is fondly remembering her love of literature and odd happenstance, keyed by seeing this newspaper clipping she thumbtacked to her door.

    The joke about the clipping is that it (is supposed to be real, and) is just a report of a baseball game. Apparently the Boston Red Sox beat the New York Yankees by a score of 5 to 4, and their winning score was accomplished when a player named Chapman hit a home run. But the reporter, or the headline writer, knew of a poem by John Keats called “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer”, often casually called by the shorter phrasing “On Chapman’s Homer”; and crafted the headline to incorporate that phrase “On Chapman’s Homer” as a bit of poetic name-checking while still accurately reporting the baseball outcome.

  12. I know much, much more about comedians and writers and the like of the 30s and 40s (I’m 74) than I do of those of the ’00s and the ’10s, but then: I’m an old time radio fan and have (for instance) listened to all of the extant Fred Allen radio shows, and I collect old pulp magazines and thus have read much more of, say, Perley Poore Sheehan than I have of, say, Brett Austin Ellis. (I was also an Elizabethan/Medieval lit major in grad school and thus have read and recited and enjoyed more of the first rap poet, John Skelton, than of all his recent descendants, but maybe that’s getting too esoteric.)

    And while I did watch RED SKELTON on tv as a kid, in recent years I’ve heard more old RED SKELTON radio shows than I’ve seen or re-seen old RED SKELTON tv shows (the latter amount being none), so the comments that suggest old stars can only be known of today if they had a large tv presence doesn’t register with me. TV isn’t everything.

  13. I remember a Li’l Abner comic strip way back around 1960 in which Abner is suddenly surrounded by Russian spies who tell him how comparable the U.S.S.R. is to the U.S.A. For instance: “You have Red Skelton on TV. WE have red skeletons … in Ukraine!” (There was a famine at the time.)

    Come to think of it, that may have been Yakov Smirnoff’s inspiration. You know, “In Russia, TV watches YOU!”

  14. As It’s JustMe notes, Jose Jimenez was Bill Dana, so I know absolutely nothing about Fred Allen.

  15. To partly unearth the probable source of confusion, Bill Dana’s recurring bit as Jose Jiminez was part of a sketch on the Steve Allen weekly variety show. Not the Tonight Show with Steve Allen, nor anything to do with Fred Allen.

  16. I’m 46 and I only have vague recollections of who he was. I get him confused with Red Buttons.

  17. Until 1958Fury mentioned Red Buttons, I didn’t realize I was already mixing up the two. If we had been called on to summarize the career of Skelton, I probably would have mentioned The Longest Day. (Which Buttons in fact appeared in.)

  18. “I’m 46 and I only have vague recollections of who he was. I get him confused with Red Buttons.”

    Oh…. me too.

    It was Red Buttons who was on the “It’s Gary Shandling’s show” …. which if “Tex Avery worked a “red skeleton” joke into “Who Killed Who?” (1943)” is true then Red Skelton ought to have been dead or very infirmed by 1988. It does explain why his humor (He was basically pulling his ear and saying “hi-ho” and making pee jokes?????) didn’t bear any resemblence to my memory from 1971 at all or to the scene I saw in 2015.

    Which still supports my contention that one needn’t *experience* a thing to *know* about the thing.

  19. ” If we had been called on to summarize the career of Skelton, I probably would have mentioned The Longest Day. (Which Buttons in fact appeared in.)”

    Longer than mine. I’d say: He was a golden age radio and maybe or maybe not screen comedian. He had skits of characters with names Freddy the Freeloader and Clem Cadiddlehopper (sp?) but I don’t know if he ever played a role consistently. Had a television show in the early sixties. He appeared on “It’s Gary Shandling’s Show” where he seemed to be a poor man’s Don Rickles.

    As for Re Buttons: He was a screen comedian with a funny name.

  20. @Mitch4: “Jose Jiminez was part of a sketch on the Steve Allen weekly variety show. Not the Tonight Show with Steve Allen, nor anything to do with Fred Allen.”

    Bit IIRC, Dayton Allen also sometimes appeared on those Steve Allen sketches, just to complicate memories of us future folk even further.

    (On the other hand, I don’t think Doodles Weaver ever worked with Charlie Weaver, so there’s that, or rather, so there isn’t that. But Dave Philley used to play for the Philadelphia Phillies. Some things were just meant to be.)

  21. The best same-surname set that are unrelated and I was always surprised to be reminded of that would be Buster Keaton, Diane Keaton, and Michael Keaton. I didn’t check just now, but I think in all 3 cases those were their original names.

    Charley Weaver would not be related to others named Weaver, since that was a … pseudonym, sort of. But he is actually related to some well-known actors, since Rosanna Arquette and Patricia Arquette are his grand-daughters. (Yes, there are even more in that family.) His name was Cliff Arquette.

    “Charley Weaver” was not exactly a stage name, but more like a character name — but he generally stayed in character for interviews, sidekick work, and Hollywood Squares. So it ended up kind of like a stage name. This is odd. I know of only a couple others who have done that — like Father Guido Sarducci appearing under that name (and in clerical garb) as a chat guest for late-night shows. (And then Don Novello would instead appear as Laszlo Toth when he needed to promote a book.) I think for a while Bob Einstein took his character “Super Dave” into interviews and chats too.

  22. Buster Keaton’s real first name was Joseph, the same as his father’s. He was 18 months old and had already been on the vaudeville stage with his parents when he acquired the name “Buster”. With two Joes in the act, Buster stuck. Buster Keaton claimed that the name had never been used as a boy’s name before. The Buster Brown comic strip started several years later.

    Other families:

    Martin Sheen and his two sons Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez. Estevez is the original last name of the family.

    Edgar Bergen and Candace Bergen and of course Charlie McCarthy.

  23. Oh, yes, Bob “Super Dave” Einstein is the brother of Albert Einstein.

    Not Albert Einstein the physicist. Albert Einstein who goes by the stage name of Albert Brooks.Their father was Harry Einstein who went by the character name of Parkyakarkus.

  24. Powers – Fred Allen was on TV in the 1950s on “What’s My Line” which is still in reruns now.

    Red Skelton is in movies that are rerun on TV in addition to his TV show. When very young I thought he was one of my uncles as I thought he looked looked like one of them.

    I will say now, although I will still be posting tonight – “Good night and may God Bless” – Red Skelton’s closing line of his show.

  25. Many of those mentioned – if not all -are also in movies which are still run on TV, especially TCM.

    Mark in Boston – and Ramon and Renee Estevez are Martin Sheen’s children also who act.

  26. The Red Skelton Show is currently in reruns on a channel called zliving.

    Sitting in the kitchen reading the local newspaper online as I figured it was better than touching page after page of it (husband is starting to get me as a paranoid as he is about getting sick). I ran through the TV channels and found an old Martin & Lewis movie and when it ended – The Red Skelton Show cam on. It is apparently part of what they call “ZClassics”. Show on right now is from season 4.

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