Matinee with Bob and Ray
November 17, 2008 11:36 AM   Subscribe

"Wally Ballou here, reporting for the Matinob with Ray and Bob from the World Wide Internets..." Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding are better known as Bob and Ray. Spending over four decades on the radio, television, print, and Broadway, beginning in Boston in 1946, they pioneered absurdist, satirical, dry, improvisational sketch comedy, influencing a legion of future comics (and others). The duo was inducted into the NAB Hall of Fame in 1984. They last appeared on the radio in NPR's "The Bob and Ray Public Radio Show" from 1982-1987.

More Bob and Ray via the internets:

Their page on the Radio Hall of Fame's website has a media player.
• has a few more sketches in RealAudio format.
• Here are some mp3's of Bob & Ray on : 6/6/1959, 1/25/1975, 1/26/1975 [via]
NPR's site has clips, but no mention of the 1982-87 show on their own network!
• From the LP Bob and Ray Throw a Stereo Spectacular: Dr. Ahkbar's Castle; The Laboratory
One fan's blog.

Kurt Vonnegut said of Bob and Ray: "You might think that once their bodies were out in the open, on stage before cameras, they would have to leave many of their radio characters behind. But this hasn't been the case at all. Those characters are so well written, so amusingly conceived, that Bob & Ray could become them, if necessary, while dressed as hula maidens or encased in deep sea diving suits." Here's proof:

• from Bob and Ray, Jane, Laraine, and Gilda (1979): 1 | 2

• On David Letterman's show in the early 80's:
Interview: 1 | 2 | The Next President of the United States

• On Johnny Carson's show:
- Most Beautiful Face Winner / Wally Ballou and Four Leaf Clover Farm (With interview)
- Interview with a Whooping Crane Expert
- Interview with a Comparison Shopping Expert
- Interview with a Condor Photographer
- Interview with a Vegetable Hobbyist
- Interview with the head of a Paperclip Factory

• On the Finley Quality Network: Interview with a Komodo Dragon Expert [text]

• Live on stage: the famous STOA sketch.

An animated 1950's Advertisement for Piel's Beer

Ray Goulding died in 1990; Bob Elliott continued in show business, usually supporting his son, Chris, in a movies (Cabin Boy), a book, and a television show (Get a Life).

Bob Elliott Remembers Ray Goulding in this 7 May 1992 NYT article

More clips from Get a Life.
posted by not_on_display (27 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
"Einbinder Flypaper: the brand your family has gradually grown to trust over a period of several generations."
posted by Madamina at 11:39 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

You missed that granddaughter Abby Elliott has just been hired by SNL, in the wake of the departing Amy Poehler. [imdb]
posted by dhartung at 11:48 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

omg how did MeFi miss out on Bob & Ray for so, so long?!

And thanks a trillion for the Komodo Dragon clip. I've searched for this on the internets off and on over the years because it never fails to send my wife into hysterics and I melted our cassette tape of it.

Reminding you to hang by your thumbs and write if you get work, DU out.
posted by DU at 11:55 AM on November 17, 2008

The first thing I look at when invited to somebody's house is their bookshelf. You can tell so much about somebody by the books they choose to keep and display. If they happen to have Write if You Get Work on their shelf, my assumption will be that they are worth a damn.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:58 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

I believe you mean "-ly Ballou here".
Awesome post, n_o_d.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 12:22 PM on November 17, 2008 [3 favorites]

Can't wait to peruse the links, but for now, I can only say "This mass of Cass glass is classed as cast glass, while this mass of Cass glass is classified as gassified glass" and hope I am remembering right from the depths of my childhood.

Also, please tell me Rule 34 is wrong and none of those links is Bob/Ray slashfic.
posted by The Bellman at 12:39 PM on November 17, 2008 [6 favorites]

Thanks for this. I blame Bob and Ray for the fact that I've spent the last 30+ years of my life poking fun on the radio. In another ten I just might have a moment or two that is as good as their worst.
posted by Floydd at 12:39 PM on November 17, 2008

> If they happen to have Write if You Get Work on their shelf, my assumption will be that they are worth a damn.

My dad is a lifelong Bob and Ray fan and brought us up well. However, he's clinging to his copy of that book. (And hang by your thumbs.)
posted by ardgedee at 12:54 PM on November 17, 2008

After listening to them over the years I got the impression the only reason they weren't funny every second of twenty four hours of every day is that they occasionally had to inhale or sleep. Every exhaling waking moment they were hilarious. There is something about their humor that works every time with me. Theirs is a flat world, barely tilted world where all of the marbles roll off one by one, clattering in an endless chatter of mayhem.
Their skits like the satellite that circles the globe at 10,000 feet to bring information to you faster cracks me up just from memory (or off-memory in case it was 15,000 feet).
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:56 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

We'll be right back to "Elmer W. Litzinger, International Spy" after this message from the Monongahela Metal Foundry. Ladies, are your dull, rusted steel ingots an embarrassment at parties?

Have all three books, and Daddy's Boy, signed by the wrong Elliott.
posted by ormondsacker at 3:42 PM on November 17, 2008

Plus Bob Elliot did a wonderful bit as the bank guard in Quick Change
posted by IndigoJones at 4:06 PM on November 17, 2008

There is a part of my brain that is owned by Bob and Ray. By that I mean, I think in their language, rather than English or Spanish. "Brought to you by the planet earth. For your next vacation, consider earth." "The planet earth - now in blue." They own this language, they own a tumorous part of my cortex that makes everything familiar foreign and everything foreign familiar.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:12 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

The funniest part of the Jane, Laraine, and Gilda special is sadly now missing from YouTube: Picture the three women singing the verse, then Bob and Ray singing the chorus, of "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?"

Sorry, it's much funnier than it sounds.
posted by evilcolonel at 4:44 PM on November 17, 2008

Hang by your thumbs.
posted by plinth at 4:57 PM on November 17, 2008

Don't miss those '48/'49 WHDH shows on the link, the original Boston shows, which reportedly came from a stack of transcriptions found in a warehouse. Even compared to their better-known CBS and WOR work, they're just amazing, featuring some crazy-ass improv work when they go off script. "The time is 1:16, and if we were on a network, we'd probably be fired for not welcoming our affiliate stations..."
posted by Kinbote at 5:28 PM on November 17, 2008

I am clearly FTOA material.
posted by jessamyn at 5:51 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

dhartung: You missed that granddaughter Abby Elliott has just been hired by SNL, in the wake of the departing Amy Poehler. [imdb]

That is so cool -- thanks for the link! I love the UCB, and if genetics have anything to do with funny, YAY! (And I loved Chris Elliott on SNL, that brief season he was on with Michael McKean.)

jessamyn: I am clearly FTOA material.



posted by not_on_display at 6:22 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Hey! Two thumbs uAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUGGGGGGghhhh .....................*piff*
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 6:58 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Hey keep the PDA off of threads you two lovebirds!
posted by wheelieman at 7:23 PM on November 17, 2008

Ah, Garish Summit and it's stately splendor, far removed from the squalid village below. These guys shaped my sense of humor more than anyone else courtesy of public radio's rebroadcasting vintage episodes during the 1980's. As a result, the only people who laughed at my jokes when I was 11 years old were middle-aged. Thanks for that Bob & Ray.
posted by well_balanced at 7:41 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Bob & Ray: two of my heroes.
posted by pmurray63 at 8:11 PM on November 17, 2008

Friday I was quoting the winner of the Most Beautiful Face Contest. When asked if he did anything to protect his beautiful face in the winter, wear a hat or a protective muffler about his features, he replies, "Naw, I just walk with my back to the wind."

If you can find Bob and Ray: The Two and Only get it.
posted by pointilist at 8:58 PM on November 17, 2008

You can still hear Bob and Ray on XM's Books and Drama (formerly Sonic Theater) and Laugh USA channels, and every once in a while as filler on the Old Time Radio Classics Channel, too. The books are great, but you really need to hear them.

This is Biff Burns, saying this is Biff Burns saying goodnight.
posted by julen at 10:23 PM on November 17, 2008

Many of their shows are available for listening at the Museum of Television & Radio in New York and Los Angeles. The MT&R has such a large collection of Bob and Ray tapes that many of these remained uncatalogued for years.

posted by woodblock100 at 6:17 AM on November 18, 2008

One of my fondest childhood memories is of my family driving to New England for Thanksgiving, tuning in to Bob & Ray on WOR as we passed through New York. Mary Backstage, Noble Wife & the saga of the House of Toast always made the miles fly by.
posted by scalefree at 9:33 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Bonus: Interview with a former astronaut from the 1972 TV movie "From Time to Timbuktu," based on Kurt Vinnegut's writings.
posted by not_on_display at 1:54 PM on November 19, 2008

That's Kurt Q. Vinnegut, who is often mistaken for the author with the similar name, Kurt Vonnegut.
posted by not_on_display at 9:30 PM on November 24, 2008

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