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What Baby Boomer-aged people-and-older doesn't look back and smile when
recalling this popular television program from the late 1950s? Steve
Allen offered a lot of fond memories.
What I remember best are three comedians who became well-known, thanks in large part to Allen's show: Don Knotts, Tom Poston and Louis Nye. Those three killed me (and my dad) every time!
In addition, I loved Allen's constant ad-libs and his versatility. He could do about everything, especially write songs (over 7,000!). He must have been very popular in Hollywood, too. Just look at the huge celebrities that came on his program three or more times. It's like a "Who's Who" of show business.
This hour-long program was consistent in entertaining us folks with a good blend of music and comedy - monologues, interviews, skits, etc.
"Genius" is a very overworked word but Allen's case, it fit. He was a true genius in his field of show business. I wonder how many people know that this guy started "The Tonight Show." He was the first host, long before Johnny Carson and Jay Leno.
Better than his intelligence, he was simply a nice guy whom everyone seemed to like and respect.
Steve Allen was not only a show host. He was a composer, an actor, a
writer ans a comedian. A very erudite man, he had the greatest sense of
humor ever programmed on air. He challenged Ed Sullivan's boring
mainstream smoothness. For a very short moment, censure was left
outside, enabling Lenny Bruce and Bob Dylan to play their stuff as it
was meant for stage and not clean cut TV. He also played some Poetry
and Jazz with Jack Kerouac.
In his introduction to Lenny Bruce, Steve Allen gave a powerful warning: "We get a great deal of mail from our viewers commenting on our sketches, indicating their dislikes, and whether you realize it or not, there is just about no joke or sketch, particularly of a satirical sort, that will not offend somebody, a cowboy or a drunk. I don't want to equate those two; already I can see the cards coming in! Here is how we are going to face the problem, we have decided that once a month we will book a comedian who will offend everybody. Then, we'll get it over with, see? A man who will disturb a great many social groups. I'm serious, his satirical comments refer to many things not ordinarily discussed on TV; it serves you right. That way the NBC mail department will know in advance that complaints are coming in, they hire a few extra girls, and they get the answers ready, "We're very sorry, we didn't mean a thing", and the who thing is handled with neatness and dispatch. So, ladies and gentlemen, here is the very shocking comedian, the most shocking comedian of our time, a young man who is skyrocketing to fame, Lenny Bruce!"
Very daring for the end of the 50's!
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