8/13/07

BUGS BUNNY--KWAZY JOOSH WABBIT?



Why bother being surprised anymore at what can be found on youtube? One of my favorite early childhood TV habits was Warner Brothers cartoons. (Never Disney, though. Never so much as a cartoon--and forget the boring, overlong features.) Loony Tunes/Merry Melodies cartoons were run every afternoon of KTTV, Channel 11. This was supplemented on the weekends (Sunday morning I think--and on CBS if I'm not mistaken) with the "Bugs Bunny Road Runner Hour" which had the advantage of containing the above "special material" opening. I've been singing this song to myself for the past thirty years without having seen it performed once in the intervening years. Now here it is, thanks to Al Gore...

Some questions arise from the above clip: 1) Who wrote "On With The Show This Is It!"? 2) Is that the title? Or is it "Overture, Curtain, Lights!" ? 3) Was it indeed written specially for this cartoon series, or was it originally written for a Dennis Morgan/Jack Carson Warner Brothers opus of the 40's ("Two Tickets To Taos") and rescued twenty some years later from obscurity by a cunning music supervisor at Warner Brothers (who presumably made sure to share to include his or her name in the copyrite info) ? 4) WHY IS THERE HEBREW LETTERING BURNED ON THIS VIDEO AND WHAT DOES IT SAY?

"Joosh", by the way, was a Walter Winchell-ism, his word for "professional Jews"--in other words, comics who trafficked in their Jewishness, back in the day when Jewish humor was a seperate genre, defined by a Yiddish accent--sometimes heavy (Smith and Dale, Mr. Kitzle of the Jack Benny Show) and sometimes merely inflected--Eddie Cantor, Groucho Marx etc. It's astonishing how popular this form of mildly offensive humor was in the 20's and 30's--a comic strip called "Nize Baby" by Milt Gross was the rage of its day, even putting out a special "yiddishe'dition" of "The Night Before Christmas". But humor can always, in my opinion, be given a pass for political in-correctness on the grounds that it's merely mocking a prevailing attitude of the time that might, in fact, have a darker reality to it. The real anti-semitism of the time--the casual, everyday kind--can be found in advertisments in the New Yorker Magazine, as late as 1938, for new hotels that proudly proclaim themselves "restricted"--in cold print, for all to see and admire. The word "Jewish" is never mentioned, but it didn't have to be.

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