The Christmas Episode: “Christmas Shopping With Jack”. Original Broadcast: December 15, 1957.
Some of these things just write themselves, folks.
As you could imagine for a show that ran from the dawn of creation (of broadcasting), there was a traditional Jack Benny Christmas show, which first aired in 1945. It was a slightly different story every year, but the same basic situation: Jack Benny is a disaster at Christmas shopping, and Mel Blanc (America's cartoon hero!) is the poor soul stuck with him. Again. And again. And again.
Oh, we do get Frank Nelson oozing contempt as that unctuous floor walker…
"Are you the floorwalker?" "What do you think I am with this carnation, a float in the Rose Parade?"
…and Dennis Day sings “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” surrounded by a bunch of kids...
AND THE FABULOUS NAIROBI TRIO (plus two)!
But all you really need to know about any of the Jack Benny Christmas shopping shows is that Jack is trying to buy a gift for Don Wilson, and due to his endless second-guessing (and accompanying return visits to the counter) spends the rest of the show innocently wearing down the clerk’s (Mel) faith in humanity. It’s very simple, but these are two pros who know how to wring endless laughter out of a situation.
See how happy he is here?
(extra large for extra Mel)
That’s not going to last.
Any time you put these two together, it's a joy to watch, so you should watch it very soon. A few more like this, and this set will be $5 well spent.
Our Holiday Lesson For Today: As somebody who did time in the retail trenches, truer words were never spoken: “The customer is always right! And that jerk is the customer!”
Spot ‘Em: Richard Deacon pops up again (that’s the easy one), but as you watch, see if you can place the voice behind this face.
That's Charlie Cantor, known to old radio fans as Clifton Finnegan, the beloved drunken idiot from Duffy’s Tavern. To everybody else, he’s “that guy who sounds like Pete Puma,” and I’m wondering if Stan Freberg had the same idea.
But Don’t Take My Word For It: You rub the lamp, the genie gives you Youtube. Use your other two wishes wisely.
Next: One more New Year's Eve with Jack.