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Friday, November 15, 2013

READ THIS: Bob and Ray, Keener Than Most Persons The Backstage Story of Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding by David Pollock foreword by Dave Letterman Our Coverage Sponsored by Skylight Diner

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Abbott and Costello, Burns and Allen, Martin and Lewis...all household names, for sure. But Bob and Ray? Revered by many showbiz and comedy insiders, Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding were together for 43 years - longer than any of the aforementioned comedy duos. And in those 43 years, they brought laughter into the lives of millions of Americans. However, in today's world, their legacy has been somewhat overshadowed. Thanks to author David Pollock, though, Bob and Ray are finally getting some of the credit they deserve, in a new book entitled Bob and Ray, Keener Than Most Persons. Published by Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, this book chronicles the journey of Bob and Ray and their unique brand of comedy, with input from Bob Elliott, himself, Ray Goulding's widow, Liz, and a number of Bob and Ray's colleagues. From their humble beginnings, working in the "electrified fish house" in Boston (a radio station which specialized in announcing fishing boat arrivals and current fish prices to the skippers at sea) to their network TV and radio shows, movie appearances, and hit Broadway show, The Two And Only, Bob and Ray truly were two of a kind. Their beauty in their brand of humor was that it relied entirely on the interplay between them - by entertaining each other, they thoroughly entertained their audiences, and won over the hearts of millions. Mr. Pollock does a terrific job of sharing the story of Bob and Ray, and the book is a thoroughly enjoyable (and informative) read from start to finish. Think back to early David Letterman days, to a strange guy who "lived" under the stairs. His comic routines were funny in a weird sort of way, and his name was Chris Elliott. Remember? Well, Chris came by his funny bone genetically, it would seem, as he sprung from one of the duo in "Bob and Dave." We may not be as familiar with their names, but every comic in the business of entertainment cherishes their routines. Post WWII, radio, United States, silliness was needed, and somehow, by the grace of God, Bob and Ray came together, and stayed together for 5 decades of nonsense. Their track is recognizable, written here by David Pollock. The foreword was penned by David Letterman himself, perhaps as a nod to his "guy under the stairs," and the early days of radio comedy. Oh, they wound up on television, absolutely, because that was inevitable. And their skits, characters, monologues, dialogues and "interviews" are part of comedy history. "Keener Than Most Persons" brings us the wit and wily wisdom of two cracker barrel comics who based their routines on a bizarre perception of reality. Reading the book (Mr. Pollock is an established comedy writer with credits that astound) brings you closer to the days when your shoestring budgets ran an empire, and effort got lots of gold stars. Comedians owe much to both Messrs. Bob and Ray, and you owe it to yourself to catch at least one routine on Youtube. Johnny Carson fell over laughing, and had them on several times a year. He was a fan, and now you can be a fan, too. Highly recommended!


By the established comedy conventions of their era, Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding were true game changers. Never playing to the balcony, Bob and Ray instead entertained each other. Because they believed in their nuanced characters and absurd premises, their audiences did, too. Their parodies – broadcasting about broadcasting – existed in their own special universe, and their complete absence of show-business slickness set them apart from the very institution they were mocking, yet were still part of. They resisted being called comedians and never considered themselves “an act.” 

In Bob and Ray, Keener than Most Persons, David Pollock, with the full cooperation of Elliott and of Goulding’s widow, Liz, and with the insights of numerous colleagues, traces the origins and development of the unique sensibility that defined their dozens of local and network radio and television series, later motion picture roles, Carnegie Hall performances, and hit Broadway show, Bob and Ray – The Two and Only. 

Bob and Ray’s many parodies, including “Mary Backstayge, Noble Wife” and “Mr. Trace, Keener than Most Persons,” and storehouse of recurring characters, such as news reporter Wally Ballou, cowboy singer Tex Blaisdell, and book reviewer Webley Webster, were known and adored by millions, but the twosome deflected all intrusions into the personalities behind their many masks and the dynamics of their relationship, and rarely elaborated on their career trajectory of methodology. 

Bob and Ray were a team for 43 years, longer than Laurel and Hardy, Burns and Allen, Abbott and Costello, and Martin and Lewis. Bob and Ray, Keener than Most Persons explores the craft and culture behind that longevity and behind the laughter they brought into millions of American homes. 


David Pollock, with writing partner Elias Davis, has written for The Steve Allen Show, The Don Rickles Show, The Carol Burnett Show, All in the Family, M*A*S*H, Cheers, and Frasier, and wrote nightclub material for Jack Benny. Their play, Points in Time, was produced by the South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, Calif. They have won an Emmy, a Peabody, a Writers Guild and two Humanitas awards. 

 Hardcover 978-1-55783-830-8
320 pages 6" x 9" 8-page photo inserts
Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard 

Bob & Ray CDs and MP3s available on iTunes and the Official Bob & Ray site

Visit for a book trailer narrated by David Pollock and Bob Elliott.

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