Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Scrounger’s Cheapjack Christmas Special! #31: Colgate Comedy Hour

Just Enough Information: The Colgate Comedy Hour was NBC’s first successful counter-programming to CBS’s unstoppable Ed Sullivan. From 1950 to 1955, a fistful of rotating hosts (including Martin and Lewis, Eddie Cantor, and Jimmy Durante) presented one of American television’s earliest big-budget comedy-variety spectaculars. The series was also the first to air live from Hollywood to the rest of the country, tipping the balance of video production power away from New York and Chicago, and the first experimental network color telecast.

It also marked the first TV starring vehicle for Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, our featured stars in this episode, and if I have to tell you who those guys are, we might as well just stop here.

The Christmas Episode: Original Broadcast: December 14, 1952.

This program is brought to you by the Colgate-Palmolive-Peet company, makers of Colgate Dental Cream. Four out of five creepy old-timey dentists recommend brushing daily with Colgate. The fifth one gets a sad, distant look as soon as you open your mouth…and well, you don’t want to know what happens when he hits the gas.

Maybe after the cleaning you'd like to see my collection of vintage torture devices?

Also by Fab laundry detergent, where the announcer declares “Now there’s a smart girl!” when the mother uses the product. Fortified with condescension for 1953!

Give the 1950s housewife a break, you jerk. That finger-crushing monster was her washing machine.

There’s not a lot to say here: The Colgate Comedy Hour is what they used to call “vaudeo”. There’s dancing with Buster Shaver and Olive, a very good performance saddled with an unfortunate “doll and desperately lonely salesclerk” motif…

…and the Nicholas Brothers, who are awesome as always. Also, we get a few songs from Margaret Whiting (who I’m pretty sure wouldn’t have been in color on this show at this time, but Livefeed wanted to show off in this clip).

You also get a couple of guys doing the kind of comedy acrobatics that you could get away with before Cirque du Soleil loaded the whole “flexible people flipping all over the place” trade with kinky overtones.

These days they'd be spanking each other to Lady Gaga's "Poker Face".

But the stars of the show are Bud and Lou, and for Lou’s Christmas present, Bud’s taking all the punishment tonight. So just for once, it’s Bud who gets pushed through store windows.

Bud gets to wear the turkey butt on his head.

And of course, Bud gets to go bald.

Frankly, Lou could (allegedly) be such a little bastard in real life that I'm stunned he didn't play this card sooner.

I kind of have a soft spot for the old-school variety shows, mainly because it’s a program category that went extinct in America while I was still learning my multiplication tables. I’ve managed to buy this particular show three times—two times on purpose, even. So yes, this is a recommendation.

Our Holiday Lesson For Today: Oh, I don’t know, the only thing that came to mind was “If you want to beat up your partner once for Christmas, you have to take it for at least ten years.” And that just isn’t in the spirit of things…

No full version online unless you want to buy it from Amazon Video On Demand. Those Youtube clips are pretty much all you get as freebies. You should see it, though. Maybe Netflix can help you out, because I’m stuck.

Next: Petticoat Junction!


Anonymous said...

Buster Shaver and Olive Brasno are the Dick Clair and Jenna McMahon of Dancing!

Anonymous said...

Olive Brasno is of Croatian origin. Her last name means flour in Croatian.

Eric said...

Anonymouses (Anonymii?): Those are definitely connections I wouldn't have made. :)