Radio & Other
The following are a few references to Joycean allusions in comedy, radio, or spoken word sketches. They are organized by date.
Shelly Berman (1960?)
Commentary by Tom Barran:
Sometime around the beginning of the 1960s, a comedian named Shelly Berman issued an LP recording of some of his routines. I will render it as well as I can, but I no longer have the record, so the quotation marks are there just for the decorative effect. It goes something like this:

I can’t stand it when I’m at a party, and someone starts a conversation with me about a subject I know positively nothing about; someone, for instance, who’s read something by James Joyce. Especially when I’m the guy who thinks James Joyce wrote “Trees.” And what is worse, I say so.
Inevitably, the man in question gives me a pompous, patronising laugh, “Ho, ho, ho, my dear fellow. James Joyce didn’t write ‘Trees,’ Joyce Kilmer wrote ‘Trees.’”
Then I ask “Who is she,” and destroy myself completely.

Firesign Theatre (1969)
Commentary by Gregory Cosby:
I was browsing through the Brazen Head when I discovered that one of the most famous appearances of Joyce in another medium was missing from the “Influence” section. This is, of course, the classic 1969 album by the Firesign Theater, entitled How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You’re Not Anywhere at All. At the end of the first side, the fast-talking used car salesman Ralph Spoilsport suddenly drops out of his salesman patter and begins reciting the closing lines of Molly’s soliloquy.
The actual description of the piece, as described in the new liner notes of the CD reissue of the album, can be found at:

Chris Lockhart elaborates:
The album starts off with Ralph, a used car dealer, and his typical radio ad. In this story the nameless main character buys a car because he “can’t wait to get away from it all.” The main character enters a pyramid which turns out to be a hotel. He’s asked to fill out a card at the front desk, which already has the name “Mr. and Mrs John Q. Smith from Anytown, USA” and from this point on he represents everyman – at least in the USA, also “the little guy,” as well as America itself... “across him all we flung one shining steel rail.” And the sound of the train is imitated with the words “rockefeller” and “home of the free.” Adolf Hitler is parodied, in a scene in which the Nazi shout “seig freud;” and John Smith gets enlisted in the military.... Anyway, the album ends by returning to Ralph’s ad, only now he’s selling smuggled marijuana “handpicked by froggy little native boys by the sea o the sea crimson sometimes like fire.” etc.

Prairie Home Companion (2000)
The March 4, 2000 edition of Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion was aired live from RTE studios in Dublin. Joycean references were rife throughout the day, and one sketch was even called “James Joyce Business School.” You may hear the entire program and read through the scripts at the Prairie Home Companion Web site.

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Go To:

Main Page – Back to the Joycean influence main page.

Joycean Fiction – Works of fiction directly inspired by Joyce or using Joyce as a character.

Joycean Authors – Authors and playwrights influenced by Joyce.

Nonfiction – Nonfiction making frequent references to Joyce.

Film & TV – Joycean allusions on the screen and tube.

–Allen B. Ruch
14 July 2003

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