Bob and Ray

Tom Koch, RIP. Not that I ever heard of him, actually. But I heard him, heard his stuff. Some stuff too. He wrote for Bob and Ray from 1955 on. Thousands of sketches.  Bob Elliott says the material came by mail. Says he met Tom Koch–pronounced Cook–three times. Three times in three decades. Ray Goulding never met him at all. It’s Bob and Ray, who knows if that is true or not, but it’s a great story and that’s what matters.

Bob and Ray were natural improvisers, and their early stuff was free form when jazz musicians were still playing be bop. On NBC the execs demanded order, though, so in 1955 Bob and Ray somehow found Tom Koch. He’d provide sketches for them to take off on. The head arrangement. Be bop. It worked brilliantly. The Bob and Ray Shows on CBS every day from 1959-1960, each a quarter hour long, are hands down the funniest stuff I have ever heard in my life. Seriously weird. Take it from me. I know. I once spent an entire day at work in a silent office listening to Bob and Ray. The ’59-’60 episodes. Eight hours’ worth. That’s like eight thousand shows in dog years. I emerged at day’s end in a post-LSD state. I think it damaged my chromosomes. Soon afterward I quit the LA Weekly and joined the priesthood and no one has seen me since. And no wonder. The human brain is not designed for that much concentrated Bob and Ray. You don’t mess around with that stuff. I was like Cary Grant after 300 acid trips, acting odd on the set. Judy Judy Judy he chanted, scaring the extras. Me, I left the office mumbling like Webly Webster. I should have known. The humor on Bob and Ray is deep. There are sages high in the Himalayas who spend their whole lives trying to get one joke. They say the humor on Bob and Ray is so deep it might be a couple centuries before the rest of civilization catches up with it. We’ll have big throbbing brains and communicate by telepathy and Bob and Ray will be gods. Then the world ends.

–ick Wahl, the Finley Quality Network


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