4/19/18

RIP CHUCK McCANN PT. 3--THE 'AFTER-SCHOOL YEARS'





The late (as of last week), great Chuck McCann emerged as a comic force when he began hosting his own after-school hours comedy/variety/TV puppet shows in the New York area. They had names like 'The Puppet Hotel' (WNTA-TV, Channel 13), 'Laurel and Hardy and Chuck' (where he intro'd L&H shorts), 'Let's Have Fun' (great title, don't you agree?), 'The Great Bombo's Magic Cartoon Circus Lunchtime Show' and (finally) 'The Chuck McCann Show'. Most of these aired locally on WPIX, Channel 11.

Chuck's love of show-biz, which dated from his youth when his father was a musician in Vaudeville pit orchestras, encompassed not only a love of the great ones, but a delight in the seedy and failed show-biz fringe element. The two sketches posted above are celebrations of the indomitability of die-hard show-biz types who, even without talent, continue to attempt to entertain--albeit with a certain defeated air. The first is his famous Ventriloquist sketch. The second features 'Bombo, the Human Cannonball'. Enough said.

The show itself has a bit of the air of the Soupy Sales show of the period, with no studio audience but with scattered laughter coming from the crew off-stage (Howard Stern later cited this as an influence on his radio show--the open mic in the studio allowing a sloppy, free-for-all vibe that felt less constrained and restricted than better planned shows). Most likely it was a live broadcast as these appear, quality-wise, to most definitely be Kinescopes. Convefe!

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