The 1950s comedian, Pat McCaffrie, who you’ll hear with Hawaiian band leader, singer and composer, Johnny Pineapple, on this week’s Phantom Dancer (Sets 3 and 4 – see play list below) somehow reminds me of funny men characters Bobby Bittman and Krusty the Klown.
Judge for yourself when you listen to this week’s Phantom Dancer.
You’ll also be treated to a set of Harry James from live 1960s-70s radio, a set of Australian swing from 1930s-50s Sydney radio – plus Lee Gordon’s beatnik 1959 Sydney release – ‘She’s The Ginchiest’ – and Charlie Parker on live 1949 New Years radio.
The Phantom Dancer, presented by 1920s-1930s singer and band leader, Greg Poppleton, since 1985, is your non-stop two hour mix of swing and jazz from live 1920s – 1960s radio and TV.
While The Phantom Dancer is a music mix, it’s also a first hand social history of the mid-20th century.
And sometimes I find something that is so awkward, I feel compelled to play it for you in its entirety.
The talent and professionalism of all actors in this broadcast is beyond dispute.
It just seems that radio had captured that one unfortunate ‘bad night’ , and everyone has bad nights, where anything that could go wrong beyond their control, sound-wise and audience-wise, did go wrong. This week’s Phantom Dancer has such a time for your edification…
NEW YEAR’S DAY 1958
I’m guessing this sixty year old tape with the awkward broadcast I’ll be playing for you today was recorded by someone in their home tuned into WGN radio Chicago for New Years.
They were taping the live bands WGN were broadcasting as part of their annual bringing in of the New Year. (I’ve also added the religious talk at the end of the broadcast day and the station sign-off for your enjoyment).
One of the bands that 1958 New Years Day, from the Polynesian Room of Chicago’s Edgewater Beach Hotel, was Johnny Pineapple.
As well as his band Johnny Pineapple had a floor show in his hour radio spot on WGN, including dancers, a girl vocal group called The Polynesian Sweethearts one of whom calls out “Wait!” before they launch into Jingle Bells, and a comedian.
Perhaps the tape ran out during the comedian’s story about New York and the recordist had to find a new spool to thread on the tape recorder.
Or perhaps the recordist didn’t have an ear for comedy gold and switched the comedian off to save tape. Whatever the reason, there’s a break in Johnny’s hour spot that reduces the total play time to just over 30 minutes.
David Kaonohi, dubbed ‘Johnny Pineapple’ by Hollywood movie scouts who spotted him performing while he was in his first year at university in 1938, made several appearances in Hollywood films but was primarily a Hawaiian musician and entertainer.
He played in New York’s Lexington Hotel and Stork Club and at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago from where he is broadcasting on today’s Phantom Dancer during New Year 1958.
He wrote 25 songs and died in 1981.
WHO’S THE COMIC?
He’s Pat McCaffrie. And he’s having something of a tough night in this Johnny Pineapple show. He even asks, jokingly, if he’s in the wrong place. No-one’s laughing.
Quoting his IMDB bio, “Pat McCaffrie was born on January 12, 1919 in Chicago, Illinois, USA as Patric Francis McCaffrie. He was an actor, known for Get Smart (he was Agent 47) (1965), The Beverly Hillbillies (1962) and A Guide for the Married Man (1967). He died on December 4, 1992 in Orange, California, USA.”
What I love about McCaffrie’s comedy and awkwardness, though, is that he instantly reminded me of my favourite Second City TV character, funnyman Bobby Bittman.
I’ve been a big fan of Second City TV since it first aired in Sydney, usually around 1am Monday mornings, in the early to mid-1980s – we got it late.
And one of my favourite SCTV characters is funnyman, Bobby Bittman, played by Eugene Levy.
There are some who see a stylistic connection between Bobby Bittman and Krusty the Klown on The Simpsons.
And I hear a connection, in the delivery and tone of voice, between McCaffrie’s stand-up and Bobby Bittman.
I’m not saying there is a connection, like McCaffrie inspired Bittman. I just hear one, as a fan joining dots that are highly unlikely to actually exist.
But it’s also a good excuse to introduce you to some classic Bittman from SCTV. It’s your Phantom Dancer Video of the Week. Enjoy! And enjoy Pat McCaffrie and Johnny Pineapple live from New Years 1958 on The Phantom Dancer!