Henson Perspective: Guest-starring Phyllis Diller!

Pete and Ben hunker down in the Sadness Café and try to tickle the ivories and make them laugh more than Phillis Diller did.  They also talk about how authentic a stand-up comedian needs to be, how great of a sax player Zoot is, and whether it’s time to join the great Spotify exodus.

Sources and References:

Here is New York magazine’s running tally of artists and creators who have yanked their content from Spotify for Joe Rogan-centric ethical concerns. Ben has not yet gotten around to delisting the program from them. Maybe someday.

“Mississippi Mud” by Paul Whiteman featuring the Rhythm Boys is redistributed here, with the original lyrics. So, content warning: racial epithets abound. Another YouTube video of Hoagy Carmichael singing “Lazy Bones” has appended sound from an interview where Carmichael cites the sales of the sheet music of the song and makes the claim that said sales helped lift the country out of the Great Depression. Carmichael featured in a couple “Jazz Shorts” where he performed songs in order to demonstrate the wonders of the talkies. One is available on The Criterion Channel, while another one focused on “Lazy Bones” from 1941 is available at lesser quality and features Dorothy Dandridge and Peter Ray as dancers providing a minstrel-derived performance for the problematic lyrics.

“Hugga Wugga” was, indeed, first performed in its transformed format for the Nancy Sinatra spectacular in Las Vegas. The online version of Jim Henson’s “red book” has a sketch of John Lovelady’s “Heegie-weegie” bird-like muppet that first appeared in that form. Prior to that, as mentioned, the sketch had a different soundtrack and call-signs, and was referred to as “Schrapp Flyapp”. A 1965 black and white version of the sketch on Jack Paar, and a 1968 color version are both currently on YouTube.

Shortly after Diller died, the New York Times did indeed claim that both Lady Gaga and Eddie Murphy had been heavily influenced by her onstage persona and techniques. “Babs” opening for Phyllis Diller is briefly recounted in James Spada’s Barbra Streisand: Her Life, and Phyllis Diller shares a brief memory of it in the Barbra Streisand Scrapbook.

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