But Was it Funny?

eddies laugh jamboree - green goodHello out there! What a lucky girl am I. I have started researching a third book. Just writing those words down makes me have to stop and ponder. I’ve never considered writing 3 books. Just the one-about my father- a rags-to-riches biography about the legendary Eddie Green, Old Time Radio icon (Duffy’s Tavern once a week radio show and others), composer, filmmaker, singer, dancer magician, TV star. A Black American who made it big despite the travails of Blacks in the early 1900s.

I never thought I would write a second book about a 70s TV sitcom, The Jeffersons, which I am working on finishing as I begin work on my new book about another 70s TV sitcom, Maude. Remarkable.

The first choice was mine, the next 2 were my publisher’s idea. Imagine that. And, it’s been a blast. I love research. I love reading. I started reading when I was four years old. My father left me a set of classics and a set of encyclopedias. I love words. Also, I have met the nicest people, period.

What these books have in common is that they are about Comedians and comedy. My father was into producing, he owned a string of restaurants, he wrote music, but he was first and foremost a comedian, he made his fame as Eddie the waiter, on the Duffy’s Tavern radio program in the 40s. The TV programs, The Jeffersons and Maude were comedic, while managing to focus on social controversial issues, such as abortion, politics and racism. But they made people laugh.

I was struck by a thought one day (probably because of the civil unrest these days) that most of the writers on each of these shows were White. Even on the almost all Black show The Jeffersons. One of the White writers on the Jeffersons was once asked by a Black person how he, a White man, could write for Black people. Basically his answer was a question: Did you laugh?

duffyscastonstageDuffy’s Tavern was on the air for ten years. It was funny. Especially Eddie the waiter’s lines. Apart from a very few, the weekly guests were White. The cast was White. The announcer was White. Eddie was the only Black cast member on that show. And he was hilarious.

The Jeffersons had very few Black writers. But the show was funny. It ran from 1975-1985.

I thought Maude was funny. Most of the writers were White. And I’m Black.

I think it sucks that Black writers, good Black writers, have to work at getting into script writing. Or that when they do get in, the public does not hear about it. I’ve spoken with a Black writer that wrote for a White TV show (had one Black cast member that I can think of) and that TV show made a mint for everybody thanks to that Black writer. Because people thought it was funny.

Maybe its just about being funny.

7109066004r (2)My father made a movie titled Mr. Adam’s Bomb (1949).  His idea was to show the world how regular every day Black people reacted to the use of the Atom Bomb. It was a horrible episode in our country. Eddie, as an ex vaudevillian and as a comedian chose to include humor and singing and dancing as in this movie as he had in his first four movies.

From the reviews I have read over the past ten years, some Black people don’t get it. They don’t get the dancing. The audience singing. And of course the comedy is way old time. But it was the only way Eddie knew to express himself as an entertainer. A Black comedic filmmaker, who liked using chorus girls in his movies, taking on the aftermath of the Atom Bomb through his people for his people and by his people.  But like I said above, some Black people today don’t get a Black man’s sense of humor from 1949. Eddie always wanted to look at the “up” side of life.

Anywho, maybe it doesn’t matter the color of the comedy writer. Maybe it’s just about being funny. Or silly. Some of the Walter and Maude lines cracked me up. Florence playing a old timey Black maid and shouting “Oh lawd” and throwing her hands up was too funny. Eddie in Duffy’s Tavern laughing out loud because someone called to make a reservation was hilarious.

The bobsSchillerandWeiskophNow here’s a Fun fact: Mr. Bob Schiller and Mr. Bob Weiskoph (both gone now) wrote for Maude. The two Bobs also wrote for Duffy’s Tavern and probably knew my father. I love their picture.

I hope you can find something to make you laugh out loud or to make you smile.

Thanks, for stopping by.