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  Komedy Kingdom - 10 hours [Audio CDs] #RA068



 
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10 hours - Audio CD Set


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The Komedy Kingdom



The cast of KFRC's "Blue Monday Jamboree", pictured here in 1927, includes the comedy team of Doakes and Doakes and the show's musical director, 21-year-old Meredith Willson. (Courtesy Barry Mishkind)Ask the average senior citizen for their memories of radio and they'll usually recall the well-known classics: Jack Benny, "Fibber McGee and Molly," "The Lone Ranger," and perhaps "The Shadow." But ask anyone who grew up on the west coast during the early 1930s and they might well remember a much-loved depression-era variety program titled "The Blue Monday Jamboree."

Though little known today, "The Blue Monday Jamboree," airing from station KFRC in San Francisco, was ideal entertainment for depression audiences. Airing for two full hours each Monday evening, the program was a broad mix of comedy sketches, monologues, music, dramatic performances, dialect humor, and practically anything else that the diverse and talented performers and their guests could come up with to entertain audiences. First heard locally in 1927 and airing well into the mid-1930s via both CBS and the Mutual-Don Lee Network, the "Jamboree" was the kind of program that inspired tremendous listener loyalty - and no wonder, with so many soon to be well-known performers involved in its production and presentation:

* Don Wilson, who would later spend decades working as Jack Benny's announcer, began his career on the "Jamboree" as a member of the singing "Piggly Wiggly Quartet"

* Meredith Willson, who would go on to musically direct hundreds of radio programs and later write "The Music Man" and other Broadway shows, left his career as a flutist with the New York Philharmonic in 1929 to become the show's (and the station's) musical director at the ripe old age of 21

* Ralph Edwards and Art Linkletter, both to later become radio and television legends with their "Truth or Consequences" and "House Party" shows, began their careers as staff announcers at KFRC

* Radio character actress Bea Benaderet, as well as comedians Morey Amsterdam and Al Pearce, rode the radio fame they first enjoyed on the "Jamboree" and other similar KFRC programs to long-time broadcasting careers

"Komedy Kingdom" hostess Elvia Allman, shown here in the mid-1940s, would become a comedic staple on both radio and television for many decades to come.Another performer who enjoyed and appreciated her time associated with "The Blue Monday Jamboree" was a young singer and comedienne named Elvia Allman. Hailing from North Carolina, Allman was in her mid-twenties when she first appeared on the program - but it was obvious from the first that her talents fit the program like a glove. Despite her youth, she quickly proved herself by singing novelty musical numbers, acting as straight woman with various comedians, performing in delightful solo skits (some of which she also co-wrote), and enacting hilarious characterization such as etiquette and beauty expert Auntie MacCasser, high society matron Octavia Smith-Whiffen, and home economist Pansy Pennypincher. By the time Al Pearce left KFRC in 1933 to host his own national program on NBC, Allman was the leading comedy star of the "Jamboree."

Another person who appreciated the appeal of both the show and Elvia Allman was Lindsay MacHarrie. MacHarrie's association with the program was limited - he was the dramatic director of KHJ, the Don Lee station on which the "Jamboree" aired throughout the Los Angeles area - but he knew a good thing when he heard it. In addition to his duties at KHJ, MacHarrie was also the production manager for Transco, the Hollywood-based Transcription Company of America, which had successfully duplicated the formats of many other local and network shows for prerecorded distribution to subscribing radio stations nationwide. Transco had already had some success with a syndicated variety program titled "The Laff Parade" with host Ken Niles - why not do something similar with "The Blue Monday Jamboree"?

1937 was a banner year for Transco, the Hollywood-based producer of "Komedy Kingdom". By November of that year, their new holiday release, "The Cinnamon Bear", would be heard on radio stations nationwide - establishing a yuletide tradition that lives on to this very day.In 1937, MacHarrie decided to do just that. By this time, the "Jamboree" had left the air and Allman and some of her fellow performers had come to Hollywood to further their radio careers at the new west coast studios of NBC and CBS. Their relocation (and a radio performer's ongoing need for a regular income) made them more than willing to record shows for Transco, utilizing some of the same material they had earlier performed at KFRC. To avoid possible infringement problems, Transco called upon their long association with KFRC, with which it had worked as early as 1931 in recording the series of "live" big band remotes that first made its reputation, and received their blessing to recreate the pleasures of "The Blue Monday Jamboree" for national distribution.

MacHarrie and his Transco associates titled the new show "The Komedy Kingdom" and hired Elvia Allman to be the hostess and star comedian. Unlike the "Jamboree", which received two full hours each Monday night, "The Komedy Kingdom" was to be a quarter-hour variety show; the fifteen-minute format was far more acceptable to the local stations who would line up local and regional sponsorships for their individual airings. In addition to Allman, MacHarrie contracted with a number of her "Jamboree" colleagues - singer Tommy Harris, comedian Morey Amsterdam, singer/guitarist Tony Romano, the comedy team of Doakes and Doakes (Betty and Hardy Gibson) - and a wide variety of other singers, monologists, comedy teams, and ex-vaudevillians to fill out the bills of each show. A total of 39 fifteen-minute programs were recorded in short order, each performed before a live audience, then quickly pressed onto 16" discs by the American Record Corporation to be contracted station-to-station by Transco's sales force.

Later known for his supporting role on "The Dick Van Dyke Show," comedian Morey Amsterdam makes many hilarious appearances on "Komedy Kingdom".From all accounts, "The Komedy Kingdom" was a successful show. Small stations appreciated the chance to offer "big time" entertainment to their listeners, larger stations enjoyed the opportunity to supplement their own locally produced variety shows with a similar program, and even big city stations with network affiliations appreciated the advertising income that a syndicated show like "The Komedy Kingdom" could generate. In addition, 1937 proved to be a banner year for Transco, with a wide range of diverse series in distribution and, later in the year, production starting on "The Cinnamon Bear," a limited run series that would entertain and enthrall young listeners for many decades to come.


Who is Elvia Allman? Take a look at this photo from the classic "Candy Kitchen" episode of "I Love Lucy" and we bet you'll remember her shouting "Speed 'er up a little!"Heard today, "The Komedy Kingdom" affords us the chance to hear what a typical variety show was like in the mid- to late-1930s and, in particular, to appreciate the wide range of performers who appeared on them. Radio enthusiasts who remember Elvia Allman for her appearances with Bob Hope (as the man-hungry spinster Cobina Gusher), Burns and Allen (as Gracie's best friend Toots Sagwell), on "Blondie" (as the wife of Dagwood's boss Mr. Dithers) and with both Abbott and Costello and Jimmy Durante (as Mrs. Niles, the battle-ax wife of announcer Ken Niles) will be surprised by her singing voice, her charm as a hostess, and the diversity she demonstrates on these programs. Likewise, for those who enjoyed Morey Amsterdam as comedy writer Buddy Sorrell on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" of the 1960s, it will be a real delight to hear him in his youth. For vaudeville aficionados, appearances by such veterans as Al K. Hall, Al Herman, and Gus Van (half of the legendary song and dance team Van and Schenck) will be a real surprise. And for film buffs, the chance to hear "bit" performers like Ben Carter ("The Harvey Girls") and Mabel Todd ("Hollywood Hotel") take "star" turns is a rare opportunity indeed.

Best of all are the musical numbers. Thanks to both Hollywood movies and frequent airings on the radio, the 1930s was the golden age of the popular song. Interpreted here by talented singers such as Clark Ross, Tony Romano (who would later tour with Bob Hope), Maureen O'Connor (who would later become a star with "The Hollywood Barn Dance"), and Loretta Lee, as well as by delightful and swinging musical groups like The Rhythmettes, Eenie, Meenie, Miney, and Moe, The Basin Street Boys, The Hallelujah Quartet, and The Yodelers Three, modern day listeners will delight in a virtual cornucopia of songs both familiar and obscure, shining and bright in stylish 1930s arrangements.

The discovery, preservation, and restoration of the complete thirty-nine episode "The Komedy Kingdom" series is a real delight for Radio Archives - particularly as we have been able to preserve these programs direct from a collection of previously unplayed 16" Transco file copy discs. The result of our efforts are shows that sound bright, fresh, crisp, and sparkling -- frankly, they sound as if they were recorded just yesterday, instead of more than seventy years ago.

Return to the 1930s and take a visit to the joyous and laugh-filled musical court of Queen Elvia and her "Komedy Kingdom." It's a time-traveling trip we know you'll enjoy for many years to come.


#1 Royalty
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#2 Marriage
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#3 Sports
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#4 Music
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#5 Movies
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#6 Geography
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#7 Etiquette
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#8 Dancing
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#9 Restaurants
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#10 History
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#11 The Gay Nineties
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#12 Singing
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#13 Home
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#14 Weather
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#15 Babies
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#16 Love
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#17 School Days
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#18 Vacations
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#19 Sailors
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#20 Pets
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#21 Fashion
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#22 Gardens
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#23 Afternoons
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#24 Hobbies
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#25 Personality
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#26 The Orient
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#27 Explorers
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#28 Hecklers
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#29 Beauty
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#30 Moods
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#31 Hitch Hikers
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#32 Reducing
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#33 Money
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#34 Broadcasting
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#35 Farmers
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#36 The Seasons
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#37 Travel Bureaus
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#38 Sweethearts
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication

#39 Ghosts
1937 - 15:00 - Transco Syndication



Average Customer Review: 4.5 of 5 | Total Reviews: 2 Write a review

  1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
 
Some of That Comedy is Pretty Lame March 4, 2013
Reviewer: Leonard Maltin  
Thanks for sending the Komedy Kingdom set. Some of that comedy is pretty lame, but I actually like the music on the show a lot!

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  2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
 
What a Wonderful Collection September 18, 2009
Reviewer: Steve Atkinson  
The Komedy Kingdom - what a wonderful collection! Great sound, lots of laughs & music. Thanks so much for the wonderful work you are doing! I have also purchased the Fibber McGee and Al Jolson Kraft Music Hall collections - they are equally superb! Thanks so much for letting us hear OTR as it really was!

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