'American Humor' series coming
Thursday - November 21, 1974
Last Update: 05-22-2015
NEW YORK (AP) - For the past two months, Tenold R. Sunde has been toiling on 30 different studies of American humor. And soon, he and the CBS radio network will let listeners in on the gags.
Sunde is the producer of a project called "A Sense of American Humor," which CBS Radio will air the weekend after this in 30 segments ranging in length from four to nine minutes. The series is hosted by Roger Mudd.
It starts off by asking Steve Allen , Phyllis Diller, Jonathan Winters, Bill Cosby, Jean Shepherd, Carol Burnett and Stan Freberg what they feel makes Americans laugh and how it helps us.
Subsequent segments go into various laughter branches - the humor of cartoonists, of newspapers, of vaudeville and burlesque, of radio, TV and Hollywood, of music, of ethnic and dialect jokes and so on.
There also are segments on great comediennes and comedians on satire, on Americen political humor and even silent humor, the last a possible first for radio.
Producer Sunde, who said he acted as surrogate for host Mudd in gathering interviews for the series (Mudd being tied up on the Washington newsbeat), said he got the assignment last summer.
He said he spent a month planning it. Then, after CBS approved what he proposed to do, he grabbed a tape recorder and spent most of September on the road, interviewing more than 60 humor experts.
They ranged from such well known citizens as Sid Caesar and Woody Allen to the not-so-well-known Dr Walter Blair, a University of Chicago scholar in the field of early American humor.
October was spent culling more material from books and articles and pulling recorded material from the CBS archives
"Now, it's just a question of weeding this down," said Sunde, Who was in the process of weeding and writing when interviewed.
In one segment on great comedians, the work of the late Lenny Bruce is among that of six comedians studied. Bruce initially was known as the first of the "sick humorists," a title later dropped as public tastes and tolerances broadened.
Sunde says none of Bruce's "sick humor" routines will be uscd - a Bruce satire on airlines will be run instead - even though CBS put no restrictions on what material the series could use.
"I'm only bound with what I believe Is good taste, so I'm not going to use a Lenny Bruce hit that will sound terribly offensive to someone listening to it," he adds.
He half-jokingly conceded that his work on the humor series tends to harm his funny bone: "The trouble is, you hear everything about 100 times. You hear it first when you're interviewing people."
"Then you hear it again when you replay the interviews and again when you dub and edit the tapes. . . When you hear a joke or a funny line for, conservatively the 10th time, you don't break up any more.
"So it does take its toll." ||
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|Engineer and others in Booth