Friday, October 23, 2009

In Praise Of Soupy Sales

Filmmaking - There Was A Man Dept.

Soupy Sales was so funny and so talented. I loved him as a kid, and still remember many of his great jokes.

"If you brush your teeth twice a year, you'll see your Dentist three times a day!"

I remember seeing his tv show in black-and-white (tape or kinescope, it wasn't live in Seattle).

He did his noon show "Lunch with Soupy" from Detroit, and later an evening show from KABC in Los Angeles, with occasional big-name drop-ins. Other shows, in New York and L.A. again, oh it was wild.

Soupy was a regular panelist on lots of other national shows, like "Hollywood Squares," "To Tell The Truth," and "What's My Line."

Soupy's real name was Milton Supman, and his stage and radio name for a while was Soupy Hines (as the autographed picture reads).

Soupy was always funny, and what's as important, good-natured. A sweet guy. And...with the occasional wicked sense of humor. Maybe you've seen the clip where the crew sent a birthday topless stripper to his kiddie-show door.

Soupy collected $80,000 in US and Monopoly money, got suspended a week, and then went back on the air.

Parents were outraged, but why? What he did was not that much different from telling kids to buy cereal and send in the box tops, is it? On that level, his bit was high-level satire. Go Soupy!

Soupy Sales was such a fixture in my youth, and he lasted 83 years until today, and if you didn't see him growing up, well I just feel sorry for you.

I have Soupy Sales in my DVD collection.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Who Sings Chrysler 300c Ad With Dean Martin?

Who Sings Chrysler 300c Ad With Dean Martin?

It nagged me all night, so I looked it up. It's definitely Dino. Nobody else sounds that smooooth. Dean Martin's voice oddly mixes with the husky voice of...lovely Julie London.
Mix done by Matt Haines, wonderful photographer.

Matt grouses he was only paid a flat fee long ago, but hey Matt your work is in a national ad.

I do agree though - getting paid would be better! You can read about it here. Listen to the mixed song.

And here is Dean Martin & Julie London's album.

Dean Martin
Julie London
Chrysler 300c
Sway Me Now!
Dean Martin & Julie London's album
Matt Haines, best Ventura County photographer

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Firesign Theatre - And Why I Love Them

The Firesign Theatre - And Why I Love Them

They are the very best. Funny, witty, persistent, disciplined, weirdly cool. I know they're primarily radio comedians, but they have done video and movies. ("Everything You Know Is Wrong" is my favorite). They have affected my filmmaking profoundly, so I'm posting about them in my filmmaking pages.

I remember first hearing them in high school, they were so much funnier than the other new comedians of the early 1970s. Not standup, not sketches really, not entirely improv, but all the best elements of those, and an anarchic, surreal quality all their own.

I borrowed a copy of their album "Don't Touch That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers," and I listened to it until I'd worn it out, and you could see light through it.

If you remember what high school was like - maybe yours championed football over scholarship and encouraged sitting down and shutting up, as mine did - you may understand what was such a big deal - Firesign made it "okay" to be funny and smart.

40 years later, it's still that way. If you look up "funny" or "smart" in the dictionary, there are little pictures of the Firesign Theatre.

My friends and I had listening parties, and listened to all their albums. We were wild kids, and largely unsupervised, so we listened to them all.

"Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me The Pliers,"
"Waiting for the Electrician or Someone Like Him,"
"How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All,"
"The Tale of the Giant Rat of Sumatra,"
"Everything You Know Is Wrong," and of course,
In the next twenty years, I went to Hollywood, and worked on big movies, and owned an improv theatre, and produced movies and stage and radio shows myself.

I helped out in their studio, on their new comedy CDs, during the "Give Me Immortality Or Give Me Death," "Boom Dot Bust," and "Bride Of Firesign" era.  It was an incredible privilege to see them work, and glimpse their creative process. They are brilliant, and have evolved their own production style. I have to admit, it was nothing like I expected it to be.

They were Grammy-nominated for those works in 1998 and 2002, and we all went to the Grammy Awards in 2002. Because of security, we could only get within a few miles, and then rode a bus to the Staples Center.

When I got aboard, I remember Phil Proctor grinning at me, like the divinely-inspired fool he is, and they all are. Phil and I said together, "I think we are all Bozos on this bus." It wasn't particularly hard to think of, just perfect for the moment, and yes, funny.

Later, I was delighted to learn my Film Editing and Sound Designer idol,
Walter Murch is also a firehead. So is Matt Groening, and I'll bet if you love his "The Simpsons," Firesign's witty insanity is also a good mental fit for you. Think how far-reaching their influence is. Firesign has affected everybody. "They're in everybody's eggs."

They are touring again. If you are in traveling distance, and not actually incarcerated, run do not walk, and see their show. We will not soon see their like again.

Here's a cool article about The Firesign Theatre. Here's their website.

This just in...Check out their massive mp3 DVD called "Duke of Madness Motors." Say, "Sam sent me," and click my secret link. Shh!

9 March 2012
Peter Bergman passed away today.
I am grateful to Peter for the talks we 
had, and for what I learned from him. I remember being surprised that crusty Peter Bergman was quite the nice guy. He taught me not to be cynical, to be an idealist, and not just to watch life, but to dive in and be part of the parade. Thanks, Peter. We'll meet again.

19 June 2015
Rest in Peace, Phil Austin, you were always so great, made brilliant improvisation look easy, and you were soooo smart. I adored your work, and every minute I spent with you. Today you went bravely into...the Unknown. I'll see you again. I like to think you and Peter are already together, on the Other Side of the record. My deepest sympathy, and sincere condolences, to dear Oona, Philip and Melinda, and David and Judith. What all this brouhaha was about. "Further Adventures of Nick Danger, Third Eye"

A rare 1981 "Evening At The Improv" appearance by the guys, hosted by Avery Schreiber and Bud Friedman

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Even rarer 1969 Firesign Theatre Jack Poet Volkswagen commercial in Los Angeles, 
with all the important numbers spelled out for you.

Sam Longoria

best comedy
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firesign theatre
firesign theatre

best comedy movies
Phil Proctor
Phil Austin
Peter Bergman
David Ossman