Old Time Radio Comedy ran the spectrum from the early situation comedy of Jack Benny to the country style humor of Lum and Abner and everywhere in between.
America has a lasting love affair with comedy radio and those lovable personalities that made everyone burst out laughing. Our Miss Brooks, Fibber McGee and Molly, The Life of Riley, Duffy’s Tavern, Dean martin and Jerry Lewis, My Friend Irma, My Favorite Husband with Lucille Ball, Ozzie and Harriet, Abbott and Costello, The Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Minnie Pearl, Mae West, Amos and Andy, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Eddie Cantor, Al Jolson, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Father Knows Best, The Bickersons, The Aldrich Family, Bringing Up Father, Moon Mullins, Mel Blanc, Henry Morgan, Jean Shepherd, Stan Freberg and the list goes on and on!
Plus that’s just the American Shows. Old Time Radio and thus Old Time Radio Comedy was a worldwide phenomena. With magnificent radio shows originating from England, Europe, Africa, Australia and elsewhere.
So, where to tap in to all of this wealth? The giant Old Time Radio archives to be found at such great OTR websites as Bookzap and Radio Treasury contain more comedy routines, shows and entertainment than most could listen to in a lifetime! These two great sites have it all and with crystalline clear sound quality. Below are just a few of the most memorable and wqell loved old time radio show collections that you can acquire on Bookzap or Radio Treasury. Below at the end of this article you can find the link to these two exemplary websites.
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Jack Benny, among the most beloved American entertainers of the 20th century, was know by many as the “King of Comedy”. Jack Benny was an extraordinarily sweet comedian who could crwack you up wjust by looking at you!
Our Miss Brooks was a big comedy hit on radio from the beginning. Within just months of its debute the show landed several honors. It depicted a woman comic in a new way which was niether clutzy or scatterbrained.
Fibber McGee and Molly were arguable the most loveable couple on odl time radio. The Humor was so funny and the characters so familiar and memorable that this series ran in one form or another for about full two decades.
The Life of Riley,
The Life of Riley was an early version of a typical American situation comedy, it was co-developed by Gummo the non-performing member of the Marx Brother family. The Life of Riley appeared on both radio and television in the 1940s and 1950s. It helped to introduce “nuclear family” concept to American broadcasting. THE LIFE OF RILEY was an early version of the “dumb husband” type of comedy, which is a formula often repeated still in TV sitcoms.
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Duffy’s Tavern was heard on the radio from 1940 to 1952 and was widely loved from the beginning by both critics and the working-class. Though DUFFY’S TAVERN made the transition to television in 1954, it only lasted for one season. Duffy’s Tavern ran for years on radio but didn’t translate as well to film or television.
An American radio situation comedy which aired on both CBS and NBC, Duffy’s Tavern often featured famous stage and film guest stars. But the show almost always centered around the misadventures, schemes, and romantic missteps of the title establishment’s manager, Archie, played by Ed Gardner.
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Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis
Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were a little-known vaudeville team when they made their screen debuts in a movie adaptation of the 1940s radio show MY FRIEND IRMA (1949). They became the biggest comedy team of the late 1940s and early 1950s. They were especially a popular team in the 1950s, making many movies, television appearnces, and several comedy radio performances together.
My Friend Irma
My Friend Irma, created by writer-director-producer Cy Howard, was a top rated, long-running radio situation comedy. It was so popular in the late 1940s that its success escalated to films and television.
My Friend Irma, played by Marie Wilson, tells the tales of a very dim-witted blonde secretary named Irma Peterson, and the daily high-jinx that she gets into with her various screwy friends.
My Favorite Husband with Lucille Ball
My Favorite Husband was Lucille Ball’s very popular late 1940s radio program which preceded her famous Lucy Ricardo character of I Love Lucy. Lucille Ball was one of radio and television’s foremost pioneers, and many believe, the pre-eminent woman in the history of American comedy.
Ozzie and Harriet
Before they got their own radio show (1944), Ozzie and Harriet were regulars on Red Skelton’s radio show. However, When Skelton was drafted into the military in 1944, Ozzie and Harriet were offered the vacated time slot. So they filled it with The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.
The children of Ozzie and Harriet were originally played by actors. But were soon the actors were replaced by their own two sons, David and Ricky Nelson.
An early portrayal of the conventional American nuclear family, with Dad bringing home the bacon and Mom cooking it for him and the kids, Ozzie and Harriet was a very popular and entertaining show for many years on radio during the 40’s and later TV during the 50’s.
Abbott and Costello
Abbott and Costello were among the most successful comics at making the transition from burlesque to radio and film. A quintessential American comedy duo, Abbott and Costello’s work in radio, film, and television made them one of the most popular comedy teams in history. Not known for droll or witty humor, they were outright comics relying more on verbal than physical humor.
The Marx Brothers
The Marx Brothers were masters of slapstick and double entendre comedy which enabled them to get past the censors of their time. Somewhat less well know is the fact that they were also gifted they were also musicians. The Marx brothers were American radio, stage, and film stars who during the 1930’s domiated comedy with their lunatic antics.
Of comedy Fields once said, “The funniest thing about comedy is that you never know why people laugh.
After Vaudeville, W.C. Fields made many films during his career, but he also continued to perform on the radio. Fields could always deliver the clever phrase, and he delighted radio listeners with his long standing feud with Charley McCarthy.
Amos and Andy
Amos and Andy were simple down to earth characters for the purpose of comedy. They were black characters portrayed by white actors wearing blackface makeup. Amos and Andy were a very popular comedy team on radio, but NAACP objections to the show occurred because it was considered to stereotype African Americans.
Bob Hope was a comedian from the latter days of vaudeville who achieved wonderful success in radio and television. He was definitely a triple-threat superstar of radio, film and television during the 1940s and 1950s. Bob Hope, was the king of the spontaneous one-liner, a beloved performer, and a great supporter of our men in uniform. Bob Hope was among the first performers to entertain the troops.
George Burns and Gracie Allen
Burns and Allen were a very popular American comedy duo consisting of George Burns and his wife, Gracie Allen. Married for forty years, Burns and Allen first met on the vaudeville circuit in the 1920’s. The were considered by many to be the finest husband/wife comedy team of all time.
Father Knows Best
Father Knows Best was first a radio series on NBC Radio. The show debuted in August of 1949. Four years later, the show moved to CBS television and was a popular TV series throughout the 1950’s and early 60’s. It was a situational comedy in the setting of a typical Midwestern community. Father Knows Best’s Andersons portrayed the ideal middle class American family.
The Bickersons was a popular American radio comedy program that aired from 1946 to 1951. The battling couple may have seemed to have no business being married at all, but their show was funny and it functioned as an early prototype later comic couples as Ralph and Alice Kramden of The Honeymooners and Peg and Al Bundy of Married With Children.
The Aldrich Family
The Aldrich Family was so popular situation comedy across America that it aired for almost 14 years from 1939 through 1953.
Of course there are many more great ccomedy acts that sprung up during the golden age of old time radio. These are but a few of the the most popular in my opinion. If you want to revisit some of these shows, or thousands of other old time radio programs I highly recommend visiting Bookzap or Radio Treasury and enjoying the shows!