I’m pretty certain that most of my friends have never seen an episode of The Jack Benny Program. In fact, I venture to wager a bet that many have never even heard of him. Jack Benny was among the great comedians during our nation’s golden era of media. His contemporaries included George Burns, Gracie Allen, Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, the Marx Brothers, Ed Sullivan, and many more legendary media-makers.
His character, always 39 years old, is cheap, obsessive, and ego-centric; Jack is a terrible violin player. His deep desire to be right at all costs, coupled with his temperamental intolerance of the righteousness of others makes Jack irresistibly intriguing. There is a little bit of Jack Benny in each of us and he is right, talented, funny, handsome, rich, and he is an extraordinary musician.
Jack’s guests inspire and entertain, and mostly, they set the record straight about Jack. Tonight, Nat King Cole joined the show and, as a classic crooner, punctuated an important reality that haunts me daily: The greatest entertainment artists of recent history are slowly but surely vanishing from modern memory, along with the appreciation of all they did to give our world extraordinary music, gut-busting humor, and innovative expression of culture, society, and the human experience.
Treat yourself to a vignette from history and allow yourself to witness two of our greatest: Jack Benny, the awkward-but-outragously-talented comedian/musician, and Nat King Cole, the best friend a song could ever have.
I long for days when music sounded like it was created by musicians and instruments, not computers; when TV was a channel into innovative performance and talented expressionism; when the stage was revered, when artists wore suits, and when entertainers delivered talent over twerk.
Treat yourself to something special: a departure from modern day media. I promise you the discovery of a treasure more commonly known as history. It’s a beautiful, funny, wonderful thing.