Saturday, September 15, 2007
Building Better Bickersons
We prefer to present a relatively true-to-life Old Time Radio experience when we perform - utilizing real-world music (that's the multitalented Virginia Fitzgerald on the keyboards) and live sound effects wherever possible (not pre-recorded). And although the major impetus of our shows is that the audience has FUN, a secondary objective is that we actually educate - presenting little-known information and dispelling common myths about these great shows from the past.
Although sometimes we will make some changes to the old shows: for instance, a typical television comedy of today is paced with something like two laughs per minute. The typical OTR comedy had much more space between laughs, something like two to five minutes, depending on the show. For a Jack Benny Center fundraiser years ago, we decided to do a Drene Time "Bickersons" recreation. Now, the Bickersons (starring Kenosha, Wisconsin native Don Ameche and Frances Langford) are some of the funniest radio comedy shows ever done, especially since just about all of the adults in the audience can sympathize with both John and Blanche Bickerson, the snappily-married couple. But we thought that the pacing seemed to be just a tad slow for such hilarious bits to go over as well as they could. So our resident actor/scriptwriter Shawn Fitzgerald went ahead and created a hybrid episode, editing together the funniest bits from a dozen or so Bickersons shows. He somehow made these handfuls of unrelated comedy situations flow together as if they were originally written that way, even throwing in a few zingers of his own.
So what our audience heard that night was not actually a standard Bickersons episode, as they may have thought. It was (dare I say it?) BETTER - it had that one-two punch of multiple repeated laughs, one after the other, through the entire show...much more akin to what today's television-minded audience is used to.
So we broke our own rules a bit, to improve the show. Please don't be upset. We did it for you...you did enjoy it, didn't you? Thought so.