About Bob & Ray
Bob & Ray
“Bob & Ray invented, dreamed up the lines for, and then played, mainly on radio and television, a surrealistic Dickensian repertory company, which chastens the fools of the world with hyperbole, slapstick, parody, verbal nonsense, non sequitur, and sheer wit, all of it clean, subtle and gentle… Bob & Ray’s humor turns on their faultless timing and on their infinite sense of the ridiculous. It is also framed by that special sly, dry, wasteless vision of life perfected during the last couple of centuries by middle-class New Englanders…”
— Whitney Balliett, writing in The New Yorker
Bob [Elliott] & Ray [Goulding], legendary American humorists, were loved by fans and by fellow humorists, comedians and broadcasters. Every humorist and comedian and humorist from 1946 to the present was influenced by Bob & Ray including Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Jay Leno, George Carlin, Al Franken, Garrison Keillor and Kurt Vonnegut, who wrote:
“Their jokes turn out to be universal…because much of life presents itself as the same dilemma: how to seem lusty and purposeful when less than nothing is going on.”
Bob & Ray’s 40-year career began at WHDH, Boston. Bob was a disc jockey, and Ray a newscaster. When the Red Sox games were delayed on account of rain, they began to amuse each other to fill the time. Soon they had a daily show of their own, “Matinee with Bob & Ray,” an improvised, madcap exercise in controlled chaos. Over their long career, they created more than a hundred characters, all played by Bob or Ray. Wally Ballou, the hapless journalist, Mary McGoon, whose recipe for frozen ginger ale salad prefigures Martha Stewart; Biff Burns in the sports room, Webley Webster, Barry Campbell, a third rate actor with an ego the size of the universe, Mary Backstayge, Noble Wife whose pals travel the world in search of goofy adventure.
Their humor is subtle, dry, intelligent and clean. Bob & Ray have a keen ear for language, how it is used and misused by the con artists, hucksters and hustlers who populate radio and television. Their humor is timeless. Bob & Ray ‘s satire of soap operas, game shows, radio shrinks and other self-appointed “experts,” and commercials, is as pertinent today as it was in 1946. They belong in the pantheon of American humor, alongside Mark Twain, George Ade, Will Rogers, and S. J. Pearlman.
In 1951 NBC brought them to New York for a daily 15-minute television program, and numerous radio shows. Over the next thirty years they appeared on every major network, and on three powerful New York stations. They finished their radio career on public radio with the “The Bob & Ray Public Radio Show” (1982-2004), and a farewell appearance at Carnegie Hall (1984). All of these performances have been preserved on CDs from BobandRay.com™.
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Some of the most legendary comedians of our time count Bob & Ray among their heroes. Click on the names below to read what each has to say about Bob & Ray:
“Bob & Ray were two of the funniest – and most influential – humorists of their time. They were my guests on The Tonight Show too many times to count. They always cracked me up.”
“The amazing thing about Bob and Ray’s work is its consistency. Over the years they must have produced thousands of hours of material, and all of it is terrific.
…When I do a Q&A, I’m often asked about my favorite comedians. I include Steve Martin and Woody Allen, but it’s always interesting what happens when I mention Bob and Ray. There are always one or two Bob and Ray fanatics who end up coming up to me at the end of the evening to talk about their favorite pieces.”
“Bob & Ray are two of the most influential humorists of the twentieth century. Their dry, subtle wit influenced a generation of comedians, including this one. They created hundreds of characters, all performed by Bob & Ray!”
“Their jokes turn out to be universal, although deeply rooted in old time radio, because so much of life presents itself as the same dilemma: how to seem lusty and purposeful when less than nothing is going on.
…Given the possibilities and limitations of radio, Bob & Ray are as funny as anyone can be.
…You might think that once their bodies were out in the open, on stage before cameras, they would have to leave many of their radio characters behind. But this hasn’t been the case at all. Those characters are so well written, so amusingly conceived, that Bob & Ray could become them, if necessary, while dressed as hula maidens or encased in deep sea diving suits.”
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