Saturday, August 07, 2010

Happy birthday, Stan Freberg

Stan Freberg is 84 today. Freberg has made me laugh for over 50 years, and I want you to spend some time here today reviewing what I consider Stan Freberg's greatest hits.

First up, from Stan's The United States of America Volume One, the classic "Yankee Doodle," mixing jazz with the "mouldy fig" music of the American Revolution.

Bad Scene, Bix!

Freberg was an advertising man, among his many other talents. This commercial, which came out in 1967, combines the Lark cigarette man, the Lone Ranger and Tonto with the William Tell Overture, and the Jeno's Pizza Rolls jingle.

Pizza Rolls

Lawrence Welk, whose distinctive voice and speech patterns made him easy to mimic, is skewered by Freberg in this skit, originally from his radio program, but so popular it was put on record. In this YouTube video it's set to actual footage from the Welk program by a fan. Welk was reputed to have hated Freberg's record. No wonder! But to the rest of us it's...

...Wun'erful Wun'erful

One of Freberg's most popular take-offs on songs of the day is "Sh-Boom," a hit which came out in two versions, one by the original doo-wop group, The Chords, and the other "white" version by the Crewcuts. Freberg incorporated "A Streetcar Named Desire" in his version, with "Stellllllllaa!" The sound quality on this one is a little bit less than I like, but it is done from the original 78, on an old record player, and by itself that makes it worth it.

Another song done to the chagrin of the original artist is "C'est Si Bon." Eartha Kitt, who sang the original, told Freberg she couldn't wait for his version to go off the charts.

Sh-Boom & C'est Si Bon

Finally, Freberg in his advertising mode, did this Busby Berkeley takeoff for Great American Soups. Years later he complained that people told him they remembered it as being Campbell Soups. That meant he had failed, because it was supposed to implant the brand name in the mind of the viewer. What we remember is Ann Miller, her long legs and black hair, dancing on the soup can while singing the jingle.

Ann Miller makes a production out of everything

Stan Freberg with his song parodies and commercials, Harvey Kurtzman with Mad comics, and Sid Caesar with his television show all set the standard for satire from the early 1950s until today. They laid the groundwork for a show likeSaturday Night Live and every comedy since. We Baby Boomers would be the poorer for not having had these geniuses to make us laugh.


Kirk Jusko said...

My favorite Stan Freberg commercial is one that might seem a bit politically incorrect these days, but that I find funny nonetheless. An announcher claims that Jeno's Chop Suey is recommended by 9 out of 10 physicians. We next see 10 physicians. 9 of them are Chinese.

El Postino said...

Or there was the commercial for Sergeants Three, a movie starring the Rat Pack. Freberg's voice intones "Don't you dare miss it!" and an Indian standing with folded arms ends the commercial by saying, "Me miss'um if me want to."

I remember the Jeno's commercial, too. Yeah, they can't make them like that anymore, and I'm not all that sorry, but if anyone could get away with it it was Freberg.

DEMiller said...

Recently met Stan the man at the SF Wonder Con. Any one that can be that funny is a real hero of mine.

El Postino said...

When I first saw your comment I thought you meant Stan the Man as in Stan Lee. What was Stan Freberg doing at WonderCon?