Appellate Judge Erick Harper thinks that this DVD could go far—and the sooner, the better!
From the entertainment capitals of the world! From televison, nightclubs, stage and screen, wherever laughter is king, it's One Man Show!
This disc houses two episodes of One Man Show, which appears to have been a late 1960s/early 1970s late-night television program from WABC in New York. Its host is Ed Jordan, who has only a few credits to his name, including short stints as an announcer on both The Price is Right and The $10,000 Pyramid. Information on the program is hard to come by.
Details on the show may be scant, but this DVD packages appearances by two well-regarded stars: Groucho Marx and Redd Foxx. Groucho is clearly past his prime in his 1969 appearance, seeming feeble and having lost some of his famous razor wit. He gives an opening monologue that seems to start out OK, but quickly deteriorates into a painful, uninspired litany of the aged Groucho's daily routine. Still, he's more than a match for the knuckleheads in the audience. I have to ask: who, when given the chance to ask a question of a legend like Groucho Marx, wastes his time on political questions, Lyndon Johnson, and the like? Groucho does have some fun turning the tables and interviewing members of the audience, including a lawyer who claims that he wants to begin a career as a comedian. Even this past-his-prime version of Groucho blows the loser off the stage, although the guy's sheer lameness gives even the great Groucho precious little he can work with. Later on there is an appearance by famed practical joker Alan Abel, who comes on representing his fictitious organization the Society Against Indecency to Naked Animals. The material, dealing with Abel's crusade to clothe the naked farm and zoo animals of the world, is mildly funny, and evoked at least a smile or two if not an outright chuckle, but mostly it was sad to see the legendary Marx reduced to playing second banana to someone else's trademark shtick.
The other episode features standup by Redd Foxx. The package proclaims that this appearance was taped shortly before Foxx was tapped as the star of Sanford and Son. He makes a few requisite jokes about his childhood poverty and his wife's cooking before launching into a bit more original territory. It's easy to see that Foxx is holding back, probably due to being on television; the only blue material here is the polyester of his suit. Foxx takes a gentle, non-threatening approach to most of his humor, which allows him to make some jokes and observations about race, Viet Nam, and other issues which must have been fairly controversial or shocking at the time.
The real gem on this disc is labeled as "Groucho Marx Bonus Footage." In reality, it is another television appearance by Groucho, this time a 1964 appearance as guest host of The Hollywood Palace. It's amazing what a difference five years can make; in this earlier footage Groucho is still in fine form, his comic timing and penchant for puns and other witticisms all still impeccable. Groucho does a short monologue as host and then segues into a comedy/song and dance sketch starring himself as "Dr. Quackenbush" and featuring a passel of long-legged "nurses." It's a lot of fun and more than makes up for his painful performance on One Man Show.
Picture quality is fairly good on both episodes of One Man Show, certainly better than forgotten late night television from 1969 has any right to expect. There are some horizontal defects or scan lines stretching across the screen at times, clearly artifacts of the footage's long slumber on videotape. Being old enough to vaguely remember some mid-to-late 70s television myself, I've got to say that these old episodes look remarkably good. The 1964 footage, in fairly crisp black and white, holds up nicely as well.
For the most part, this is a disappointing look at one legendary comic on the way down and another one just starting on his way up. The Hollywood Palace footage adds a lot of value to this disc, however.
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• Groucho Marx Bonus Footage
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