Monday, August 24, 2009

Stan Freberg - Elderly Man River

Stan wrote this prescient sketch for his 1957 radio comedy show. It was performed on episode 6 and reprised on the last episode in a slightly different version. This transcript is an amalgam of the two versions.

Freberg: Well, it's great to be with you tonight. We have a—

Tweedly: Pardon me Mr. Freberg, but my name is Tweedly.

Freberg: Well, we all have our problems.

Tweedly: I'm the censor from the Citizens Radio Committee. And uh, I feel—

Freberg: You are from the Citizens Radio Committee, you say?

Tweedly: Exactly what I said, yes. I—

Freberg: And what is your purpose in being here?

Tweedly: I must OK all the material used on your program here. And I think the best method is to just sit back here and interrupt when I feel it's necessary.

Freberg: You mean you plan to stop me every time I do something YOU think is wrong?

Tweedly: Exactly. I'll just sound my little horn like this :HONK: and then you stop and I'll tell you what's wrong.

Freberg: Somehow I can tell this is going to be one of those days.

Tweedly: You just go right ahead, Mr. Freberg. Don't mind me.

Freberg: Yeah. Now I'd like to sing— :HONK:

Tweedly: You forgot to say "Thank you", Mr. Freberg. Politeness is an essential in radio programming. Your program goes into the home, we must be a good influence on children.

Freberg: I see uh... that's a nice little horn you have there.

Tweedly: Mm-hm.

Freberg: Thanks very much, Mr. Tweedly.

Tweedly: You're welcome, I'm sure.

Freberg: I'd like to sing a old river song in honor this week of National Mississippi River Boat Paddle Wheel Week. Mr. May, if you please.

Tweedly: Very polite, Mr. Freberg.

Freberg: Thank you.
:sings: Old Man River, that Old :HONK:
:speaks: All right Tweedly, politeness I dig, but what in the world is wrong with "Old Man River"?

Tweedly: The word "old" has a connotation some of the more elderly people find distasteful. I would suggest you make the substitution, please.

Freberg: I suppose you insist?

Tweedly: Precisely. You may continue.

Freberg: OK, music. :HONK:

Tweedly: You forgot to say "Thank you".

Freberg: Yes, okay. Thank you, Mr. Tweedly.

Tweedly: You're quite welcome, I'm sure.

Freberg: :sings: Elderly Man River, that Elderly Man River,
he must know somethin' but he don't say nothin :HONK:
:speaks: All right, hold it, fellas. Now what, Tweedly?

Tweedly: The word "something". You left off the "g".

Freberg: But that's authentic, "somethin', somethin'," that's the way people talk down there.

Tweedly: I'm sorry, the home is a classroom Mr. Freberg.

Freberg: I know, you said that.

Tweedly: Keep in mind the tiny tots. And furthermore, think back. You'll recall that you said, "but he don't say nothin". That was in quotes. Now really Mr. Freberg, that's a double negative. Do you mean "he does say something"?

Freberg: No I just wasn't using my head I guess.

Tweedly: I mean, after all, it should be grammatically correct. Keeping in mind—

Freberg: The tiny tots, yes.

Tweedly: You probably mean "he doesn't say anything".

Freberg: I-I-I I suppose I mean that, yes, I guess. All right, fine, you win. All right, Billy, music. :HONK: Thank you! Thank you.

Tweedly: You're welcome, I'm sure.

Freberg: :sings: Elderly Man River, that Elderly Man River,
he must know something but he doesn't say anything,
he just keeps rollin', rolling, he just keeps rolling along.
He don't :HONK: doesn't plant taters, potatoes, he doesn't plant cotton, cotting,
and them, these, those, that plants them are soon forgotting,
but Elderly Man River, he just keeps rolling along.

Tweedly: Excellent!

Freberg: :sings: You and me :HONK: :speaks: The tiny tots again was it?

Tweedly: Exactly.

Freberg: Sorry about that, here we go.
:sings: You and I, we sweat :HONK: perspire and strain,
bodies all achin' and racked with pain—
:speaks: Well, we got by that one.
:sings: Tote that barge! Lift that bale! You get a little—
:speaks: Take your finger off the button, Mr. Tweedly. We know when we're licked.
Well, that concludes "Elderly Man River." Now turning to the sports page here :HONK: Oh yes, and thank you for being with us, Mr. Tweedly.

Tweedly: You're welcome, I'm sure.

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