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Monday, August 24, 2009

Jack Benny Ain't Got Nuthin' on Me

Perhaps you remember Jack Benny's classic schtick, here in a sketch with Grouch Marx... which reminds me of my son's first aquarium, where we named the fish after the Marx Brothers: Grouch, Harpo, Chico, Zeppo and Karl, but that's really not what I want to write about today...

When I was growing up, Jack Benny (1894-1974) was already a thing of the past or, more accurately, he was a thing of the past by the time I became aware of him, since he passed away when I was four years old. Benny was, of course, famous for his comedic vices of bad violin playing, tight-fistedness, and vanity. I became aware of his comedy through the persistent references of senior citizens in churches I served who would always claim that they were the same age as Jack Benny.

Well, as of today, I can claim to be everything that Jack Benny was. I'm a lousy violinist, having had only one semester's worth of instruction from a friend when I was in college. I'm fairly aggressive in not spending money -- in fact, I've never quite outgrown the "grad-student mentality," though I have, at least, stopped buying only generic groceries. And now, I can finally join all of those elderly church members in saying that I'm the same age as Jack Benny.

Oh, Rochester...