'The Funny Side' was a very condescending comedy/variety series that wasn't especially good, although it did have some talented performers and decent songs in well-staged musical numbers on minimalist, generic sets. The great Gene Kelly was ingratiating as the host, but he didn't participate in any of the musical numbers.
The supporting cast consisted of five married couples who were meant to represent 'types'. This was extremely condescending, as it assumed that all of these people would conform to their demographic rather than responding as individuals. So we have here the young couple, who of course are 'hip' and liberal. And we have here the upper-class couple, who of course are snobbish and repressed and (oh, of course) politically conservative. The senior-citizen couple are stereotypical feisty eldsters. The prole couple are working-class stereotypes. And the black couple act 'black', meaning they act like black characters on a TV show rather than actual human beings. They talk 'black' too. (Dig it, child!)
Gene Kelly would introduce the episode's theme, which would be some aspect of everyday life -- such as food or exercise or travel -- and then each of the couples would do a skit or a musical number relating to that theme from their demographic viewpoint ... or a skit leading into a musical number. Most of the skits were painfully unfunny.
The songwriters for this series made a creditable attempt to write to character: the songs written for the young couple were vaguely rock-n-rollish, the songs written for the black couple were gospel-inflected, and so forth. But this added to the overall condescension of the series. In real life, most people have musical tastes which transcend their own narrow demographic.
Of the resident troupe, the best performers were John Amos (an underrated actor) as the black husband, and Queenie Smith as the elderly wife. Way back in the 1920s, Queenie Smith starred on Broadway in the Gershwin musical 'Tip-Toes': it's really too bad that she didn't have a more significant career. Her elderly husband on this series was played by the geriatric actor Burt Mustin. I was pulled up short by one skit in which Mustin appeared in a doughboy uniform, claiming to be a World War One veteran ... pulled up short when I realised that Mustin (born in 1884) was actually too OLD to have been conscripted into that war! I'll rate 'The Funny Side' 3 points out of 10, and one point is out of sentiment for Gene Kelly's career.
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